Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Zimmerman trial

Here's my take on the Zimmerman trial, for what it's worth:

There will be no "winners" here, no matter what the verdict. The fact is that Trayvon Martin is dead, and that is a tragedy.

There is no evidence that Martin was doing anything wrong when Zimmerman set out after him. Martin was visiting his father's fiancee with his father, and he was doing nothing wrong by being in the gated community.

There have been stories about Martin's misbehavior (he had been suspended from school, etc), but there is no reason to believe that had anything to do with his actions the night he was shot.

Zimmerman was part of a neighborhood watch, which was a good thing. He left his car to follow Martin, and carried his gun. Those are bad things. He should have just called the cops.

There was an altercation. If Zimmerman was winning the fight, or at least not in great personal danger, then shooting Martin was a serious crime-- second degree murder or manslaughter.

If Martin was winning the fight, and Zimmerman had reason to believe his own life was in danger, the shooting was in self-defense.

Zimmerman must have a fair trial, and the trial should be about the facts. There is no place here for fanning racial fires, supporting one side or the other based on race, grievances, etc. Again: this trial should be about the facts.

This tragedy has been a heyday for hate-mongers.

There are people on the Right who denigrate the life of Trayvon Martin and imply somehow that Martin "had it coming" because of his history or behavior or whatever. That is despicable. Martin's death is an unmitigated tragedy. He was doing no wrong when Zimmerman set out after him. His killing is perhaps murder, or perhaps justifiable homicide following an altercation that was clearly incited by Zimmerman's reckless behavior. Zimmerman was a reckless fool, at least.

Martin didn't deserve any of this. He was just walking home. Even if there was an altercation, and Martin behaved aggressively, it is clear that Zimmerman was the original aggressor. Armed private citizens should not be taking after "suspects". That is what police are for.

There are people on the Left who cynically use Martin's death to stoke racial fear and hate. There is no question that the Left used this killing to gin up the Democrat vote for the November 2012 elections, while they were assaulting the Tea Parties with the IRS to suppress the Republican vote.

Efforts to fan racial hatred here are beneath contempt. The fact is that an innocent young man is dead, and an overzealous man is on trial for his freedom and is forever burdened with this horrible killing.

We need to pray for all-- Martin and his family and Zimmerman and his family, and pray for justice, and pray for peace.


  1. As far as I know, Zimmerman was only able to reach for his gun after Martin got off of him and was presumably trying to get away. That tells me that it's not self defense. Second degree murder sounds right.

    But it's not a racial issue and the narrative being pushed in the media has reached heights of absurdity.


    1. White on black crime is so rare that they couldn't even find an honest-to-goodness white man to make their narrative work.


    2. Trish, "Zimmerman was only able to reach for his gun after Martin got off of him and was presumably trying to get away" is news to me. This rather inflammatory claim needs more support than merely AFAIK. Can you provide a link to a news story?

    3. Trish,

      I disagree.
      The account given by Mr Martin was that there was a struggle for the gun as Mr Martin declared that Zimmerman was going to 'die tonight..".
      According to Zimmerman that was when the shots were fired and when Mr Martin was killed. This all took place within seconds, according to the testimony of prosecution witnesses and even the recordings of the 911 calls.
      The distance between where witnesses saw the fight and the position of Mr Martin's body can be explained by many factors other than what the prosecution suggests (running away etc).
      Having personally been in firefights, I can attest to what dying men can do in an attempt to extricate themselves.
      Any soldier who has seen combat could easily explain that to a jury. No doubt the defence will find expert witnesses that can also attest to this fact.
      That is a serious doubt that can be cast on the prosecutions already tenuous case - and ANY doubt will do for the defence.
      Remember: This is a criminal case in which the primary evidence is the account given by the defendant.
      That account is not only backed up by the time line, but also by the defendant's injuries and level of cooperation.
      All that said, I see a clear cut case of self defence here.

  2. A series of pro-Zimmerman articles by independent writer and producer Jack Cashill are available here.

  3. Adm. G Boggs, Glenbeckistan NavyJune 29, 2013 at 8:45 AM

    It's unfortunate this turned out to be another show trial. Naturally, the idiot in the White House had to inject his inane and vacuous opinion as soon as he noticed a photo opportunity. Fortunately, this time the nation will not be embarrassed by the spectacle of another made-for-tv "beer summit".

    Personally, show trials bore me to tears. How anyone expects a sober and considered decision by a jury in a media orgy like the one going on in Florida is beyond me. But there's a pile of money to be made and the jackals are feeding. It won't end until every trace of marrow has been gnawed out of the last bone.

  4. A few thoughts on the situation.

    I would have to agree with the Adm that this trial is a media circus and his comments about the totally inappropriate racial injections of the American president. I would also have to agree with the doctor that there are people on both sides of the political spectrum turning this into a political event by 'taking sides'. I would actually take it a step further and say this trial is being used as a distraction for the conditioned public. While war brews and government scandals loom, the circuses begin.

    This is a very dangerous strategy, as there is real potential for civil strife if this trial does not come up with a politically correct verdict. If Mr Zimmerman is vindicated: Look out!
    There has already been assaults and brutal attacks resulting in horrific injuries and, if I am not mistaken, death in the name of 'Trayvon'. If Zimmerman 'walks' there could very well be a result akin to the Rodney King riots.

    As to the events themselves: I cannot say I think Mr Zimmerman did anything morally wrong. Was it stupid or overzealous? There is an argument for that, surely. The police, after all, told him not to follow the kid. On the other hand, the police could not find him - and I can see his frustration (with dispatchers etc) leading to his actions. As far as carrying a side arm goes, he had every right to do so. He held a permit and there is a constitutional right to bear arms in his country and state.
    I see no conflict there. Mr Martin, on the other hand, had no right to attack Mr Zimmerman.

    As for Mr Martin's past, I do not see how pot smoking and skipping school have anything to do with this case. I do, however, think him posting images of holding handguns on social networks is relevant - as Mr Zimmerman has indicated he felt Mr Martin reaching for his (Zimmerman's) gun.
    If the facts show Mr Zimmerman's account of events to be more or less accurate, I think Mr Martin was legally killed. Not that he 'had it coming', but that the immediate circumstances merited Mr Zimmerman's reaction.
    Mr Martin had attempted to brain Mr Zimmerman on the pavement, issued death threats, and attempted to get 'the gun'; then a stunned and confused Mr Zimmerman used the resources he had (a side arm) to ensure it was not his life lost in this conflict once he managed to free himself (all within seconds, according to prosecution witness -Mr Good- testimony.
    We cannot say what Mr Martin would have done, had Mr Zimmerman simply not resisted or removed himself once Mr Martin was thrown off. Was Trayvon running away? If so, why was he running away?
    Was he looking to see if he had a few more seconds before the authorities arrived?
    Was he simply spun around in the fight and trying to get his bearings before launching another assault?
    We don't know. We cannot know from forensics, and the witnesses all seem to miss this critical moment (hiding indoors).
    All we have is the bloody and wounded Mr Zimmerman's account: That Mr Zimmerman feared for his life and reacted as such. That he 'defended himself'.

    There is a lot of talk about Mr Zimmerman waiting for the police. What about Mr Martin? Instead of confronting the 'creepy ass cracker' with a blow to the face, could Trayvon have not simply waited for police to arrive (or even called them himself?).
    If he had done so, he could have clearly proven he had a right to be present. He did not. Instead he beat a man senseless, and according to his victim attempted to kill him and told the victim he was going to. First by bashing his head on concrete and then by attempting to take Zimmerman's legal fire arm from him (while issuing threats).

    1. CTND

      Sadly, I think this is a case of a young man who deluded himself into thinking he was a 'tough guy' ('gansta'? 'thug'?) who could resolve the issue with violence. He dressed the part, and spoke the part. He walked the walk, when he attacked Mr Zimmerman. If there was a racial motivation involved in this crime, it was clearly on the part of Mr Martin ('cracker' etc).
      It all ended that night with his death at 17 years of age. Now a decent (if not brilliant) man is standing trial for murder under political circumstances that could end in more tragedy and violence (depending on the verdict).
      This is, indeed, tragic.

      Even more tragic is that if any of the residents had approached while the calls for help (I think they are clearly Mr Zimmerman's adult voice) this situation could have been a simple assault. Instead they cowered indoors. No wonder Mr Good is ashamed and a reluctant witness. I would be too, had I taken his course of action.

      On a personal note: Last year there was an assault in broad daylight in front of my house. A pretty rare event in these parts.
      A young man had mounted and was beating an older fellow in a drunken dispute. As it turns out it was over a young woman's affections.
      Myself and one of my neighbours intervened and pulled them apart as my wife (and several others) phoned the police. I received a minor injury in the scramble, but was otherwise unhurt and did not press charges.
      The relevant fact is, however, that when the police arrived they discovered a 9" blade in the young man's jacket. They also discovered he had told the young woman and his friends that he was going to 'scalp' the older man. It also turned out he was into all the 'gansta' crap that is being fed to the youth these days. Had we (myself and my neighbour - who said he came to MY aid) hid indoors, there could have been a very serious assault or a killing. We did not, and there was not. Nobody died, and nobody went to jail for life. Both the neighbour and I were scolded and applauded or 'getting involved' by different police and citizens.
      I am not suggesting that I or my neighbour are/were heroes, but neither were we vigilantes. Just citizens doing our duty to keep the peace and prevent serious harm.
      So, I have to admit this case hits home with me in many ways.

  5. If a black man had gunned down a white boy who was armed with nothing more than Skittles and an ice tea he’d probably be serving his sentence right now. He certainly wouldn’t be receiving thousands of dollars in on-line donations from people that “just know” that he’s telling the truth, and was justified in gunning down a scary black child. The fat racist murderous buffoon Zimmerman is hiding behind and supported by racist conservatives who are going to be pissed if he doesn’t literally get away with murder.


    1. "The fat racist murderous buffoon Zimmerman is hiding behind and supported by racist conservatives who are going to be pissed if he doesn’t literally get away with murder."

      As usual your logic is inverted, KW. How many riots have pissed conservatives initiated in the last few decades? Specifically over verdicts? The political concern is not for conservatives in this case. Nor does it have anything to do with 'skittles'. It has to do with the degree by which the right to lethal force in an incident of self defence is justified.
      Does a man who fears for his life have the right to shoot and possibly kill an attacker? That is the question at hand.
      It is not about the colour of skin ('brown' or 'black'), it is not about whether or not the assailant was armed (he was not). It about the reasonable fear for one's life and the degree of force used to protect oneself.
      The whole situation could have been avoided if Mr Martin had called the police himself, rather than chatting up a girl with tough guy lines about a 'creepy cracker' and then engaging in a violence with the person following him.

    2. @KW:

      [If a black man had gunned down a white boy who was armed with nothing more than Skittles and an ice tea he’d probably be serving his sentence right now.]

      I'm not sure Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman would agree with you on that.

      There are racists among us. It is not restricted to any one race.

      Let's move beyond race.

  6. Here is an interesting piece on the background of Trayvon Martin:

    1. David,

      Martin's background is relevant only in the sense that it may shed light on his behavior in the altercation with Zimmerman.

      Lots of teens have issues. I wasn't exactly an angel myself, in some ways. It doesn't lessen the tragedy of Martin's death, and we shouldn't defile his memory gratuitously.

      Zimmerman's act may have been self-defense, but Martin didn't start out in that neighborhood doing anything wrong, and his death should be mourned.

    2. Other than the watermelon drink and skittles, which can be used with cough syrup to produce 'Lean', no, nothing wrong until the excess of testosterone combined with the attitude prompted him to turn back from the residence where he would have been safe and ambush the guy he thought was disrespecting him.

      It is a tragedy. There was a young black girl some years ago who was shot in Los Angeles by a somewhat elderly Korean shopkeeper. The girl reacted to a perceived insult by punching the shopkeeper. Bad move. Shopkeeper pulled out a pistol with a hair trigger. KA-BOOM. Dead girl. The girl had never been taught that she might frighten other people. Her only attitude towards a perceived affront was to engage in violence. It killed her. Same thing killed Trayvon Martin.

  7. "Zimmerman was part of a neighborhood watch, which was a good thing. He left his car to follow Martin, and carried his gun. Those are bad things. He should have just called the cops."

    You're trying to have it both ways. The world doesn't work that way.

    "... His killing is perhaps murder, or perhaps justifiable homicide following an altercation that was clearly incited by Zimmerman's reckless behavior. Zimmerman was a reckless fool, at least."

    This isn't true; Martin was at fault, and he caused his own death.

    1. Ilion:

      We don't know all of the evidence yet.

      If Martin was assaulting Zimmerman in a way that threatened Zimmerman's life, then the homicide was justified.

      If Zimmerman shot Martin at a time that Zimmerman did not reasonably fear for his life, then it was murder/manslaughter.

      Let's wait for the facts.

      But it appears that the whole incident began with Martin minding his own business. Zimmerman may well have been acting within his rights when he took out after Martin with a gun, but he was reckless and foolish.

      When this horrible episode began, Martin was unarmed and minding his own business. That counts for something.

      It does not mean that Zimmerman committed any crime, but it does mean that Zimmerman escalated a situation that at most should have been handled by the police.

      My diagnosis: too much testosterone, perhaps on both sides, and not enough prudence and common sense.

      The result is a dead teenager, which is a tragedy.

  8. I've just discovered a blog with exceptionally good coverage of the Zimmerman trial by a Clinical Professor of Law at Cornell Law School: Legal Insurrection.