Uncomfortable Truth: The State Of Evidence in the George Zimmerman Prosecution

I have said this from the get go: In the case of State of Florida v. George Zimmerman, under the actual facts of the case from the State of Florida’s own disclosure, as opposed to hype from Benjamin Crump and his public relations team, who have self interest from representation of family members in a civil damages case, not to mention well meaning, even if uninformed, mass and liberal media, there has never been a good factual rebuttal to George Zimmerman’s own account of self defense. You know why? Because there is not any compelling rebuttal within the facts as adduced in the investigation and entered in the record at trial. And the presumption of innocence and burden of proof in the American criminal justice system still mean something.

Yes, I know what I am saying runs counter to the popular meme and what people emotionally feel and want to hear. But everything I have noted from the start of this case has been borne out in the trial evidence and resulting posture as the case heads to closing arguments and to the jury for deliberation.

Did you know that powerful local mayoral office politicians involved themselves, by meeting with only the victim’s family and their attorneys, in an improper ex-parte manner, to go over the most critical evidence during the early stages of the investigation and before said Martin family members’ statements were relied on to file charges? I bet you did not, but that has been the testimony in the trial record.

Did any of you see the young female neighborhood homeowner, Olivia Bertalan, that testified Wednesday as to the crime spree that was ongoing in her and Zimmerman’s neighborhood, Retreat at Twin Lakes, including the home invasion where she and her child were victims of one or more home invaders, and who was effusive in her praise for the concern of the neighborhood watch program and George Zimmerman? Did you know that, thanks in part to the actions of Zimmerman and his wife, the juvenile suspect was caught and sentenced as an adult by this same judge, Debra Nelson, to five years in prison? Probably not is my guess. But that, too, is the evidence.

Did any of you see the other neighbors, of all races, in Retreat at Twin Lakes who testified on Zimmerman’s behalf about the the facts of the case, that Trayvon Martin was the aggressor on top of Zimmerman when the shooting occurred, and the crime afflicting the neighborhood and the need for the neighborhood watch program? My guess is you did not. But that, too, is part of the evidence in the trial record.

Did any of you see the parade of witnesses that laid the foundation for the fact Trayvon Martin was the aggressor in the actual critical physical encounter between him and Zimmerman, and was on top of Zimmerman, and beating Zimmerman, both moments before, and at the time of, the key gun shot? And supported by both the case detectives and one of the foremost expert pathologists, Dr. Vincent di Maio, in the world? My guess is you did not. But that, too, is in the trial record as hard evidence.

Yes, all of those facts are exactly what was testified to in open court. Most of the witnesses were literally the state’s own witnesses, including the two main case detectives, Detective Chris Serino and Detective Doris Singleton. Did you know that the state’s own veteran case detectives, Serino and Singleton, testified they believed George Zimmerman and thought his version of the facts consistent and credible? My guess is you don’t know that. Yet all of that is exactly what the sworn testimony has been in open court.

LadyJusticeScalesDid you know that the state, by and through Angela Corey, relentlessly engaged in Brady violations with regard to discovery and evidence disclosure and that, as a result, discovery and depositions thereon have been ongoing even during the trial, all to the detriment to, and prejudice of, Defendant Zimmerman? My guess is you did not, but that too is part of the record.

In spite of all of the above, the political, and cravenly so, prosecution may still tug on enough emotional and falsely racial heartstrings to wrongfully convict Zimmerman. Almost surely there will be no conviction of the always wrongfully charged 2nd degree murder charge; but the possibly of a flawed compromise verdict to a lesser included charge of manslaughter, battery, or other lesser included offense, is very real. If so, it will, despite all the emotions of this case, be a tragedy of justice.

No matter what you think of George Zimmerman personally, the rule of law should militate in favor of an acquittal. Yes, if the burden of proof in the American criminal justice system is truly “beyond a reasonable doubt”, and if there really exists a common law right to “self defense”, then acquittal is exactly what the verdict should be, and must be.

I have no affinity for George Zimmerman. Frankly he strikes me as a hapless dope. Under no circumstances do I support George Zimmerman, or anybody else, wandering around with concealed carry, locked and loaded, firearms on neighborhood patrol (even though he was not on patrol, but only on his way to Target for family shopping). It is a tragic event waiting to happen and nowhere close to what the founders had in mind with regard to the Second Amendment. But my, and your, beliefs are not the law of the land either in Florida or anywhere else in the United States under District of Columbia v. Heller. And that is the law of the land, both for the Zimmerman case at bar, and and all others elsewhere.

We shall see how willing to follow the law the jury will be, and what their verdict is. But this case is not now, and NEVER has been, about what has been pitched and portrayed in the media. Never. It is not about racial prejudice and profiling (and the DOJ Civil Rights Division so found), and it is not about murder. It is about a tragic and unnecessary death, but one that is not a felony crime, despite all the sturm and drang.

State of Florida v. Zimmerman is a straight up traditional self defense case. It has never been pled as a Stand Your Ground defense case, irrespective of all the press coverage, attention and attribution to Stand Your Ground. It’s never been Stand Your Ground, and certainly is not now that the evidence is all in on the trial record. It is a straight self defense justification defense, one that would be pretty much the same under the law of any state in the union including that which you are in, and that I am in, now (so don’t blame “Florida law”).

There is nothing whatsoever unique in the self defense posture that has been effected in this case. Nothing. And it is, whether it is comfortable or not, a compelling self defense case. Actually, let us be honest: It is not comfortable. Not even close. But no matter how uncomfortable it is to say, Zimmerman needs to walk, because the self defense case is strong. The burden of proof in the instructions to the jury will read that not only is there a general presumption of innocence afforded Zimmerman but, moreover, the state must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman did NOT act in self defense. Under the facts as adduced in the trial record that ought be, by all rights, an impossible burden for the jury to get past, whether on the pending count of 2nd degree depraved murder or any possible lesser included charge given to the jury.

The facts, the rule of law, and the constitutional burdens of proof compel an acquittal. Uncomfortable to hear; yes, it is. Necessary for an acquittal to occur; also, yes it is.

[UPDATE: Just a couple of quick notes. First off, the jury instructions: Judge Nelson accepted a lesser included for standard voluntary act manslaughter under FLRS 782.02(1). Nelson, thankfully, denied the wild request by the state to give a third degree murder instruction based on child abuse. It was a ridiculous attempt by the state and would have provided fertile ground for an allegation of reversible error had there been a conviction. So, the jury will deliberate only on the 2nd degree murder and the lesser included manslaughter charges, which is how it should be.

Prosecutor gave a long closing argument this afternoon. Parts of it were pretty good, parts fairly diffuse and rambling. Overall competent though, and he will still have a rebuttal after the defense closing tomorrow by Mark O’Mara.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.
233 replies
  1. Dennis says:

    Nice piece.

    I think it’s on O’Mara to close the door on any compromise verdict. He can start by reminding the jury that their charge is a legal one, not a moral or corrective one.

  2. LeMoyne says:

    Thanks for making the reasonable doubt case and principle so clear. I don’t know the law very well, but it seemed way over the top to charge someone for murder when they were the one tackled and being beaten. By no means do I hold Zimmerman completely innocent: he took a gun and created a fight scene – he followed alone and got too close and never gave warning. On the other hand, I can see evidence for and accept that Martin, high on energy drink and f^&*ed up on multiple food colorings treated his stalker as a defensive back would: ran at him fast, knocked him over and proceeded to dominate him, i.e. ~mugged him then self-defense goes to cover alot of otherwise excessive force.

    To my mind there is no escaping that Zimmerman created the encounter, he brought the gun and took steps that left himself with no other option. If the defense was really able to use ~all of the prosecutions neighbor witnesses to establish Zimmerman’s credibility for being on the premises with a gun then the prosecution should lose and lose hard. With the Bill Lee video it just gets sadder and sadder. I remember being impressed with him at the time – definitely has the vibe of a real straight arrow peace officer.

    Words before violence on either side and none of the life ending/changing fallout had to happen. I haven’t followed the story since I heard the tape of screaming way back when and intuitively knew that was Zimmerman getting rolled. When I heard the defense strategy was basic self-defense I turned it all off figuring something like this was missing from all the shallow or slanted media drama. Thanks for these elements of the story before the verdict.

  3. Happy Dog says:

    Spot on. It’s partly an indictment of the media I think. Even organizations who think themselves to be respectable failed horrendously in relaying the realities of the case. The general public completely fell into line behind their ideologies, and the media coverage and headlines simply failed to lay things out.

    It’s a real shame that news outlets consistently failed to use informational headlines & put the primary relevant facts together in their articles. All it took was a quick skim of the controversy’s Wikipedia article to know that the anti-Zimmerman crowd were in trouble, especially from the strict legal point of view.

    Obama did not help in any way by commenting on the case and deserved criticism for that. What he said was simple fact, but his emotional/sympathetic comments fueled the fire of an already high-profile, sensitive, and racially tinged case. He was perceived as taking sides, and only increased racial tensions/sense of outrage and victimization.

  4. kal says:

    Why is the aggressor in this conflict able to claim self defense when his aggression goes bad?

  5. john francis lee says:

    ” … the state must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman did NOT act in self defense … ”

    Are you kidding me ? He killed the only witness to his crime. You kill an unarmed someone, that’s wrong. You have to prove that you were defending yourself in so doing. Murder is prima facie wrong. You lawyers might have ‘changed that’ somehow. You have an outstanding record of dealing out injustice lately. You’re wrong.

  6. murph says:

    What outraged me about this case was that it was somehow possible for a man to be found with a dead teenager he admitted to shooting – and yet somehow this man is released without a full investigation.

    That a full investigation has happened and the facts do not merit a conviction at least means that the authorities were shamed into doing their jobs.

    The circus that grew up around this fiasco has taken it beyond the public’s right to know exactly what happened – and we find ourselves in the realm of grandstanding and groundless hyperbole.

    Thanks for spelling out the facts of the case, there’s been far too little of that.

  7. Frank33 says:

    Actually, Trayvon was guilty of “standing his ground”.

    Was he, Martin, justified in standing his ground and defending himself when this stranger, an apparent stalker, approached him in a threatening manner?

  8. bmaz says:

    @john francis lee: No, I am most certainly not kidding you or anybody else. The defendant has the burden of demonstrating a basis for getting a jury instruction on self defense. But, once the court agrees to give the self defense instruction, it reads that the state then bears the full burden – beyond a reasonable doubt – of proving that the defendant DID NOT act in self defense.

    And, no, that is nothing “new” that lawyers conjured up or “changed”, that is a traditional common law principle, and always has been.

  9. bmaz says:

    @kal: Legally, the “aggressor” is who initiated the physical altercation, not who was following who, since those acts are completely legal. But initiating the physical altercation is not, and that is the legal aggression point. Save for Rachel Jeantel, who was only an auditory, and not a visual, percipient witness, the best evidence indicates that Martin may well have initiated the physical altercation, and was thus the “aggressor”.

  10. charlie says:

    I’m seriously worried about urban riots. Black people think that Marin was gunned down in cold blood. (Similar case in Alexandria, VA a few weeks ago). Hot summer, and I suspect the jury will take about 5 minutes to decide this case.

    Obama once again blew a “teaching moment” on this. We’ll see he can rise to the occasion when the jury decides.

    Weird lawyering on both sides. I honestly don’t see why the judge is letting this go to a jury; state failed to put on any evidence. And why waste the court’s time with this stupid animation?

    I don’t understand why they didn’t call on expert on the “street”. Pretty clear what happened. Martin in a new area, thinks this is back in Miami, and wants a little respect. Unfortunately in central Florida crackers carry guns.

  11. greengiant says:

    Really nice piece. Speaks to the politics of the prosecution, the state, the media, and anyone who says Martin was a victim. It is sad for me that it takes an evil circus like this to remind me of how so many people of color, poverty, etc have been railroaded and persecuted by the same means.
    I do not know what to make of the media bias nor the predictions of civil unrest.
    I don’t know what could help anyone who thinks Martin was a victim. Personally when a neighbor would be burglar woke me up, I just sent him on his way, unlocking the double deadbolt so he would not have to climb back through the window. But he did not assault me.

  12. P J Evans says:

    GZ could have walked up and said something like ‘Hi, I’m George with Neighborhood Watch. Are you new around here?’ and defused the situation.
    But he was sure Martin was Doing Something Illegal and what he decided made the situation much worse.

    I thought manslaughter was the most they could prove. Murder was reaching.

  13. scribe says:

    In re the third-degree murder by child abuse charges the prosecution is now trying to get before the jury, BMAz and I will be working in the background to take up a collection to send a nice new bale of sandbags to the prosecutors and the judge. Details to follow.

  14. Roman Berry says:

    @kal: Why is the aggressor in this conflict able to claim self defense when his aggression goes bad?

    You’re confused as to the facts, apparently relying on the impression left by the media and the “progressive” community who tried and convicted the “racist” Zimmerman from the get go, evidence be damned.

    There has been zero evidence that Zimmerman was “the aggressor.” My advice to you would be to go and read the extensive coverage at TalkLeft, to follow some of Bmaz’s links from above and just generally step back to consider that what you think you know is likely wrong.

  15. Roman Berry says:

    @john francis lee: You kill an unarmed someone, that’s wrong.

    Not when that “unarmed someone” is trained in mixed martial arts, is on top of you, beating you in the face and bashing your head into the concrete.

    Murder is prima facie wrong.

    Verdict before trial? Sentence first, trial later? Did the Queen of Hearts steal your login?

    The trial is to determine if there was a murder. By all evidence so far, it appears there was not.

  16. JTMinIA says:

    Hate me if you wish, but I don’t give a hoot about this trial. What I worry about is the possibility of riots when the public, pumped up by the moronic media, is faced with the completely reasonable (IMO) verdict of not guilty.

  17. JTMinIA says:

    After a brief discussion of this with my wife (who is often called as an expert witness and is also an experimental psychologist), I have a question: has there been any empirical research on so-called “compromise verdicts,” where a person is simultaneously charged with a greater and lesser crime (for the same act) and ends up being found guilty on the lesser charge when it becomes clear that there isn’t enough evidence to convict on the greater charge? Most of all, I would love to see rates of conviction on the lesser charge (in a lab study, so the actual evidence is exactly the same) for the case where there isn’t a greater charge as well, versus when there is. Our suspicion is that the conviction rate for the lesser charge will be hugely higher when a greater charge was an option, again, due to the jury members going for the “compromise verdict.” Thus, prosecutors with lousy cases “should” open with the greater charge and then add the lesser at some point (such as right before instructions at the end) to get some kind of conviction when they ought to get no conviction at all.

    Apologies in advance if the study is well-known or if BMAZ already linked to it.

  18. lysias says:

    I so often hear Martin described as an “unarmed teenager” in the news reports on the trial that I think media management must have issued instructions always to use the phrase.

  19. JTMinIA says:

    And, yet, I have never seen or heard Abdulrahman al-Awlaki described as an “unarmed teenager” in the main-stream media. Weird.

  20. Seattleite says:

    @lysias: Or perhaps that’s just what he actually was?

    That is, unless you believe the defense hyperbole that “Trayvon Martin armed himself with the concrete sidewalk”.

    As a wise friend of mine said recently, “sidewalks don’t kill people, people kill people”.

  21. [email protected] says:

    Behold, the white male conservative douche cart, the veritable fungi, the soi-disant cognoscenti of the American juris corpus; bmaz of emptywheel.net! I am reminded again why I usually prefer to load my tag link = “posted by” [emptywheel ]

    Hey bmaz ; you’re an unbelievably limited intellectual, and a pseudo jurist at best.

    George Zimmerman committed criminally negligent homicide, stand your ground (or whatever moronic colloquialism you would like to wield to describe the frontier “justice” at the heart of that state law), Heller, et cetera are all irrelevant!

    Not withstanding prosecutorial misconduct heretofore that I somehow missed, or incompetence in the phases that remain, George Zimmerman will be convicted of manslaughter (intrinsically a mansalughter plea/verdict is always “criminally negligent homicide”). He will of course have a right to appeal…

    I thought it good to tell you in so many words, as a fellow white male ;

    you make me sick bmaz

    And If I didn’t respect the intellection of (Cf. a cultivated, seasoned intellect unlike that which you posses “bmaz”) emptywheel and her valuable contributions to the law of warfare, I’d shut emptywheel down with a shell and a five line script!

    Does anyone else feel that George Zimmerman has a remarkably big head? Perhaps there’s a myoblastoma where his neocortical structures should be? Bmaz? comments?

  22. Orestes Ippeau says:

    @JTMinIA: That’d be a difficult “lab study” to set up. How does one overcome the ‘investment’ factor: an actual jury and actual jury members knowing they’re involved in a real trial involving real people and consequences, versus play acting? For example, I don’t see how one gets the verdict in the first OJ Simpson criminal trial on the double murder in a “lab study”, when you wouldn’t likely get it in a reality world trial in Santa Monica rather than L.A. county.

  23. gmkjr says:

    None of this should surprise anyone who has been paying attention, and it is disingenuous to suggest otherwise. The real issue is the weight to be accorded to the different pieces of evidence. Let’s keep in mind that all complete accounts of the incident are based on Zimmerman’s extra-judicial and likely self-serving statements to law enforcement officers and other persons. Because Zimmerman did not testify, the jury will not have an opportunity to weigh his credibility, but the absence of direct testimony is likely to raise doubts about the veracity of his extra-judicial statements. The jury will be well-aware that the opinions of defense experts are ‘shopped’ and have been bought and paid for, and that post-incident photos do not reflect the “violent confrontation” described in Zimmerman’s extra-judicial statements. Zimmerman’s previous history strongly suggests he had some sort of cop/ hero complex, he armed himself and went out of his way to create a confrontation, and then shot and killed an unarmed teenager. The jury is obligated to weigh the evidence and the possible and likely sequence of events. It is not obligated to interpret every fact in the manner most favorable to the defendant. Zimmerman could get off, but I wouldn’t be surprised by a so-called “compromise verdict” and the manslaughter conviction equally warranted by the facts of this case

  24. P J Evans says:

    @Roman Berry:
    My advice to you is to turn down your rhetoric. We don’t need people making it worse than it already is. (Also: Assumes facts not in evidence: to wit, the identity of the aggressor and the force being used.)

  25. Teddy says:

    This entire post reminds me of the motto of my grandpa’s Mens Bridge Group, which I have embroidered somewhere around here by one of the many wives who claimed credit for the group adopting it:

    “Often in Error, Never in Doubt”

    I’ve never read anything quite so Bar-Card-Holder self-serving in my entire life.

  26. bmaz says:

    @Teddy: Your attempted insult is not appreciated. And where in the world you come up with “self serving” I have no idea. I have no self interest that could be served in the least in the Zimmerman case, save for wanting constitutional rights and the rule of law upheld. All citizens should want that.

  27. K Collins says:

    Sorry, bmaz, but this is a load of crap. I agree there are weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, but your so-called analysis is completely pro-Zimmerman, or, more accurately, anti-prosecution. I’m not going to address every single point that you have chosen to ignore, but here is my rebuttal to just the points you mention here:

    1. I get that you think that this was a politically motivated prosecution from the get-go, that the charging documents were flawed, etc. but so what? Politics aside, your opinion of Atty. Crump and his representation of the Martin family aside, either Zimmerman committed a crime and he should be convicted or he didn’t and he should be acquitted. BTW, there is also a pretty strong argument to be made that the initial decision to not arrest or charge Zimmerman was political, made in the environment of a small town in Florida with a notorious history of racial discrimination, where the shooter was a white Hispanic whose father was a local magistrate, and the dead “suspect” (as Zimmerman called him) was just some nameless black kid.
    2. So, a bunch of defense witnesses testified there had been a local crime spree and Georgie was just a good guy trying to help out. Again, so what? Trayvon Martin had not been involved in any crime spree and was not committing any crime when he was followed by Zimmerman and shot. Are you really suggesting that Zimmerman was justified in what he did because of those other “f*#cking punks,” the a-holes that “always got away?” (Again, I’m quoting Zimmerman from his 911 call.)
    3. Your characterization of the testimony as to who was the aggressor is completely off-base. None of the witnesses who saw part of the physical altercation saw the entire fight. At best, the testimony suggests that at some point, Trayvon may have been getting the better of Zimmerman, it does not establish who threw the first punch. The only person who says unequivocally that Martin threw the first punch is Zimmerman himself and he told so many versions of his own story, with so many contradictions, that the jury could choose not to believe his self-serving claims. (Especially since Zimmerman blatantly lied in his interview with Sean Hannity when he said he had never heard of the “stand your ground law.”)
    4. The testimony by the investigating officers that they believed Zimmerman’s account of the incident was ruled by the court to be improper and was stricken from the record. It is not in evidence and should not (and hopefully will not) be considered by the jury. Also, have you forgotten that Detective Serino also thought Zimmerman should have been charged with manslaughter?
    5. Also, by the way, as you well know, acts of self-defense have to be reasonable. The jury may very well conclude that shooting a kid dead because you’re momentarily losing a fistfight that only happened because Zimmerman profiled, targeted, and followed Martin was not reasonable. (That is a very different issue from whether Zimmerman violated Martin’s civil rights.)
    6. You are completely missing the point (possibly deliberately?) about the evidence concerning Zimmerman’s conduct in getting out of his car and following Trayvon. It may not have been illegal, but following Trayvon, along with the remarks Zimmerman made to the 911 operator, goes towards establishing Zimmerman’s depraved mind for the Murder 2 charge.
    7. As for Brady violations, I am not up on all the details of what’s happened in this case in that regard. I agree that is a huge problem in the criminal justice system in general, something needs to be done about it, and if it occurred in this case, the attorneys should be sanctioned. But this really doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the evidence.

    Finally, on a couple of points of law: I disagree with you about Florida law on self-defense being the norm. In many jurisdictions (I think it’s actually most, but I haven’t done a survey,) self-defense is an affirmative defense that must be proved by the defendant by a preponderance of the evidence. Second, this did not end up being a “stand your ground” case, but the defense certainly considered using that defense in the beginning. Finally, you have been a trial lawyer for how many decades and you don’t know what the “best evidence” rule is? (See your comment at 10. Look it up.) In short, as a fellow attorney, I’m disappointed in your entire commentary on this case.

  28. bmaz says:

    @K Collins: I simply disagree completely as to your characterizations of the evidence, but respect your take. And, no I have not missing any point as to Zimmerman getting out of his car etc. All of that conduct is perfectly legal behavior, whether you, I or anybody else likes it or not. The initial act of “aggression” was the initiation of the physical confrontation, and there is every bit as much, if not more, evidence that that person was Martin. And, as you note, there was no percipient eyewitness to that. However, the timing of the movements and reports of Jeantel and physical trail of evidence tend to support and bolster Zimmerman’s account.

    I actually think it is you are misstating the self defense instruction. There is a burden by preponderance on the defendant only to get the instruction; once it is given though, and it has been by the court, the FULL burden to disprove it lies with the state. And, yes, that is the common law process in most jurisdictions.

    My comment at 10 was not, in any way, a reference to the “best evidence rule” and I cannot how anybody would think that it was.

    All that said, thank you for your comments, irrespective of whether we agree or not.

  29. Saywhatnow says:

    Bmaz, this is solid. I think you’ve also kept up with Jeralyn Merritt over at TalkLeft, who is a lefty and also happens to believe in the Constitution and its protections for criminal defendants. I think there’s something to be written soon about lefty (criminal defense)lawyers who have been shocked by the Zimmerman prosecution.

    This case is sad. A bad case. And will be bad for the country for quite a while.

    I have been taken aback by the polarization (shouldn’t be, I suppose, given a similar black/white split over O.J. Simpson). What really hit me has been the response of African-American journalists and intellectuals, such as Jonathan Capehart at the Washington Post, James Peterson at Lehigh University, Jelani Cobb at The New Yorker, and on and on and so on.
    I offer this analogy knowing full well that, for some, it’s like using the Holocaust as a comparative example for explaining something else. But here goes.
    Racism has a terrible history in this country and, yes, it continues. It’s not that long ago that black men were lynched for little or no or the wrong reason. For example, a white woman would be raped, someone would say a black man did it, then a black man who walked by the wrong place at the wrong time would be snatched up by a mob and lynched to avenge the “honor” of the white woman.
    Today we have black intellectuals, such as Peterson, talking on TV about how a guilty verdict for Zimmerman is necessary “for my people.”
    Zimmerman is, as you say, a dope. He’s also become a proxy. Black folk are pissed off and want “justice,” even if it’s by way of an injustice. To me that is analogous, in enough ways, to avenging the “honor” of that white woman those many years ago, who may or may not have been raped and, if so, likely was not raped by the man strung up from a tree limb.
    Terrible stuff.

  30. Teddy says:


    Ah, name-calling, last (or is it first) refuge of the scoundrel?

    By the way, are you among the “black folk” you claim are pissed off, or do you just refer to African Americans that way because you’re down with them and just so street?

  31. bmaz says:

    @Dennis: Well, only one sentence by Chris Serino as to Zimmerman’s overall credibility was struck. All of his testimony before and after, as well as all of Doris Singleton’s testimony in full, remains on the record, and they both supported the individual elements of Zimmerman’s statements and testified that they found no disqualifying inconsistencies etc. All of that stands on the record.

    As to the submission, it is my understanding that Serino was under some pressure and that a decision to put it in the hands of the district attorney (the original local one before it was yanked by the state and given to Angela Corey), but such a submission required a charge be designated, so manslaughter was stated. That, however, is just my understanding, I have no independent information.

  32. bmaz says:

    @Saywhatnow: It is a very strange dynamic to watch play out. How often has it been that the person sitting in the defendant’s chair under these circumstances is a black man? I dunno, I just hate every part of this case. Irrespective of the verdict, there will be no winners. Two families’ lives are ruined and a community will be torn. No winners.

  33. Dennis says:

    @bmaz Yes, I saw all of Serino’s and Singleton’s testimony. I was just responding to that one point by K Collins. Indeed, and to the chagrin of the supporters of the state’s case I’m sure, both individuals said the inconsistencies in Zimmerman’s story were minor, to be expected, and did not change their view about it’s veracity.

  34. bmaz says:

    The following was inserted into the main post as a quick update:

    Just a couple of quick notes. First off, the jury instructions: Judge Nelson accepted a lesser included for standard voluntary act manslaughter under FLRS 782.02(1). Nelson, thankfully, denied the wild request by the state to give a third degree murder instruction based on child abuse. It was a ridiculous attempt by the state and would have provided fertile ground for an allegation of reversible error had there been a conviction. So, the jury will deliberate only on the 2nd degree murder and the lesser included manslaughter charges, which is how it should be.

    Prosecutor gave a long closing argument this afternoon. Parts of it were pretty good, parts fairly diffuse and rambling. Overall competent though, and he will still have a rebuttal after the defense closing tomorrow by Mark O’Mara.

  35. joeff says:

    I’m sorry, this is bizarre. I feel like I have wandered into RedState or something. Is this a satire?
    GZ was CARRYING A GUN. He was TRAINED in police techniques. Yet he lets himself get into a tussle with an unarmed kid and ends up on the bottom? What a putz!

  36. Teddy says:


    Yeah, I recall someone– can’t think who that was? — telling me via email that lesser includeds were always part of the deal in Florida when I asked if there would be any. And now we have the judge specifically allowing some and disallowing others.

    Someone who claims uncomfortable truths about this case… Who was that, bmaz?

  37. Seattleite says:

    @Teddy: All of my questions about this case could be resolved if bmaz would agree to straddle that poor dummy in the same way that both the defense and the prosecution have felt some bizarre need to do.

    Come on now…bmaz…show us your straddle.

  38. Ian Welsh says:

    Martin was trained as well. This idea that police techniques are the best is simply not the case. A well trained martial artist with some actual combat experience will likely wipe the floor with your average cop, let alone a vigilante. In particular, MMA training is very heavy on grappling. You start rolling around on the ground with someone with MMA training and you are in for a world of hurt if you don’t have the necessary training.

  39. bmaz says:

    @Teddy: What I said was that there were mandatory lesser includeds in Florida and that they would be given, and so it is. Voluntary act manslaughter is a mandatory lesser to 2nd degree depraved murder.

    There are also other crimes that parties sometimes argue should be included as permissive lesser includeds that are left to a trial judge’s discretion in light of the facts and posture of the case as to whether they apply and should be given. In this case, the state attempted that with third degree child abuse homicide and, initially, with aggravated assault. They withdrew the request for agg-assault because there was caselaw directly against them; they should never have attempted to seek inclusion of third degree murder, and the judge denied it.

    So, no, you have not masterfully caught me in a discrepancy as you seem to oh so proudly and falsely think you have.

  40. Teddy says:

    @Ian Welsh:

    Anyone who thinks martial training, especially that provided by the USArmy at SERE, is useful needs to only watch the two most recent episodes, on the Discovery Channel, of “Naked & Alone” in which the hippie chick not only mops the floor of the island (desert) retreat with the SERE (or USMC) trainer, but she saves his damn life several times in 21 days.

  41. Sharon says:

    Here’s the deal. What we have here is the conclusion that Trayvon was guilty because he unnecessarily attacked Zimmerman? And because he had the gall to walk somewhere he belonged because he was black?
    Sounds to me that by Florida law if Trayvon had shot Zimmerman dead because of all the “implied threat” BS, he should have walked. Of course, if he had he would not have walked (that’s where the racism comes in, folks). Also he couldn’t have shot Zimmerman because he was holding nothing.
    And oh yeah, he can’t walk anyway because he is dead.
    Why is it cool to shoot someone who scares you but not beat up someone who scares you?
    ALSO, I’m getting kinda sick of this story about the woman terrorized by black youths, as if that proved Zimmerman was right to terrorize Trayvon, why? Because he was a black youth, silly! How dare he walk through his family’s neighborhood while black.
    I am thrilled to hear that lots of multi-color folks thought Zimmerman was a great guy. Too bad he killed one of those neighbors. I guess Trayvon’s family is just suffering from sour grapes.
    This is a manslaughter case.
    Zimmerman fucked up by trying to be a hero and follwoing and scaring a kid because and only because the kid was black. Making that sound like a logical reason to heighten an innocent situation to the point of killing an innocent minor is nuts. Zimmerman DESERVES JAIL TIME. He took an innocent life.
    By the way, I have an Asian relative who was banned from a ton of stores because one employee in one store KNEW she was someone who had shoplifted, though she had not. They called police and harrassed her and all the white employee had to say was, “I know it was an Asian woman.” At least she didn’t get fucking shot.
    Nice to be white in America, isn’t it?

  42. bmaz says:

    @Sharon: You understand that this is a real trial, in a real court, with constitutional burdens of proof and all those kind of thing not just an emotional spewing outlet, right?

  43. Sharon says:

    @bmaz: Sorry. I don’t agree with your conclusions and thought the neighbor talking about black youths did not justify anything Zimmerman did. I guess I figured just because you say racism has nothing to do with this case is not really good enough for me. And then there were all these reply buttons and such…

  44. K Collins says:

    @bmaz: Thank for the response, bmaz. I respect your take, also, but we obviously have some strong disagreements on both the evidence and the law. (I still think I’m right on the burden of proof issue for self defense and that Florida law is not the norm, but I haven’t researched it so let’s just put that one aside, it really doesn’t matter for this trial.) In short, I’ve watched as much of the trial as I could (which has been most of it, I’m not working at the moment.) In my opinion, the jury could easily disbelieve the self-defense claim in it’s entirety or, at the least, believe that Zimmerman’s actions were not reasonable. I also think there is plenty of evidence which, if believed by the jury, would support a finding of a depraved mind and with the other evidence would support a conviction on Murder 2. On the other hand, this seems an unlikely result, but I do think the evidence supporting an Involuntary Manslaughter conviction is very strong. So, we’ll see. BTW, sorry if I jumped on you about the Best Evidence thing, I know you weren’t talking about the BE rule, that was my point. I clerked for a Philadelphia trial court judge my first year out of law school (a few million years ago) and one of his pet peeves was lawyers using the phrase “best evidence” when they meant “strongest” or “most persuasive” evidence. He was a stickler about a lot of stuff like that and it all rubbed off on me, I sometimes forget myself and get obnoxious about it. (He was a tough guy, taught me well!)

  45. Sharon says:

    So you tell me, because you’re an expert. If a guy with a gun is trailing after me, do I have the right to beat him up so he can’t use the gun on me? I understand Zimmerman claims his gun was down the back of his pants and Trayvon didn’t know he had it, but then if he was having his head slammed into the ground, how’d he get it out of the back of his pants?
    I have a job, so I didn’t see every second.
    What is Z’s lawyer’s story about why that kooky little Trayvon attacked Z for no reason?

  46. K Collins says:

    @bmaz: This is for Dennis @40 also, but I’m not very good at this commenting stuff so I don’t know how to reply to two comments at once. My original point, Dennis, was that bmaz was talking about the evidence and Serino’s remark about Zimmerman’s general credibility was stricken from the record as improper. In other words, it is not proper for a witness, particularly a police officer or similar official, to state an opinion on whether the defendant is telling the truth or not. That is different from asking the officer’s professional opinion on whether they saw any inconsistencies in the evidence they uncovered in their investigation including the statements of the defendant, without commenting on the truth or falsity of the statements. As for Serino claiming he was pressured into filing charges (and I don’t really know much about that issue,) that might raise some questions about his credibility since he signed a sworn affidavit supporting the initial manslaughter charges (I believe.)

  47. bmaz says:

    @K Collins: In Florida law, there are multiple forms of manslaughter. I put a link to the statute at 49 above. The one given to this jury will be voluntary act manslaughter, as opposed to involuntary or culpable negligence manslaughter.

    By the way, you can reply to as many people in one comment as you want, just hit the different reply buttons. For instance, @K Collins: and @Dennis:

  48. Dennis says:

    @K Collins: I understand your point but I think you’re splitting hairs. Answering that inconsistencies are not a problem is saying you believe the story. As to the credibility of Serino, I simply countered your point to bmaz that he wanted to charge manslaughter.

  49. K Collins says:

    @bmaz: Thanks for the info on commenting, it’s helpful. Interesting, I had talked about Involuntary manslaughter because that’s what all the “expert” commentators on MSNBC, CNN, and, God help me, even HLN (I’m a chronic insomniac, can’t help myself) had talked about. I didn’t see anything specific today about what was submitted for jury instructions on lesser-included offenses and until ten minutes ago I had not looked at the Florida statues. It’s actually kind of confusing, it doesn’t really seem to differentiate between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, just talks about culpable negligence. Maybe I’m missing something (it is pretty late and I’m not doing major legal research at this hour) but based on my quick look, I still think the prosecution has a good case for manslaughter under the Florida statute. I’ll look into it tomorrow, I certainly could be mistaken on the law here. As I just finished this, I am listening to a guy on the repeat of Lawrence O’Donnell’s show, a former Florida homicide prosecutor, explaining the Manslaughter charge and it seems that Florida doesn’t technically differentiate between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, there is just manslaughter and there can be different facts that establish it. Again, could be wrong, but that’s how I see it at the moment. Oh, and I agree, I don’t know what the prosecution was thinking by going for the third degree murder charge, they just looked like idiots with that one.

  50. K Collins says:

    @John Casper: Thanks, John, I really appreciate that. I don’t comment a lot on any blog because of too much BS, it’s nice to have the opportunity to have an intelligent discussion.

  51. K Collins says:

    @Dennis: Of course, I’m splitting hairs, I’m a lawyer, that’s my job, LOL! Seriously, though, there are rules of evidence that lawyers and judges have to follow and while they may seem picayune sometimes, they all have a reason and they are all important. One person’s splitting hairs or “legal technicality” is another person’s Constitutional violation leading to an improper conviction, sometimes of an innocent person.

  52. K Collins says:

    Or, sometimes,the “technicality” might seem to hurt the defendant, but on the other hand, there are the competing rights of the victim and society to consider. It’s very much a balancing act.

  53. K Collins says:

    Now I’m hearing some guy who is supposedly a former Florida trial judge (but my husband informs me has a TV show on which he is known as “Judge Alex”) explaining that that there is some kind of difference in Florida law between involuntary manslaughter and manslaughter “by act” and that the prosecution hasn’t proved the first but maybe has evidence for the second, but who the f*#k knows, who the f*#k knows about law, and more important, who cares? Zimmerman bad, Trayvon good! Georgie good, Martin bad! Good god.

  54. jeff says:

    I agree with all that you stated but why do you have to call Georges Zimmerman a hapless dope?
    Won’t you have like yourself to use a gun while your head is smashed against the concrete and that you could die?

  55. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Interesting to follow all these comments but I have a couple of questions/comments for the legal types.

    1. What rights does Trayvon Martin possess or, since he’s dead, does this no longer matter?

    2. No offense, but anyone who believes Zimmerman’s account is a putz. I know TM wasn’t my size (I’m 6’4″) but if I repeatedly beat your head against the concrete you’re going to come away with more than a couple scratches on the back of your head. In fact, I should be able to do more damage than that with the first bounce of your head. By the time I bounce you repeatedly you’re probably going to be ‘out’ for a while. I would say this holds true for most males – even Zimmerman. I don’t think you need to be 6’4″ to do extensive damage with concrete.

    3. Why does the state now get to bring out multiple charges? If they thought it was manslaughter then that is what he should have been tried for originally.

    4. Granted, I haven’t watched much of this on TV (I actually did three hours of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives one night to avoid it) but from what I understand there isn’t a single person who saw the entire fight. Some saw parts of the fight but no one saw it all so all the testimony seems to revolve around Zimmerman’s account. WTF? He shot the other guy. The other guy is now dead. Why do they even allow these other people to testify on ‘snippets’ of a confrontation. It’s just as likely that Zimmerman attacked Martin and by the time all these so-called witnesses heard the commotion and looked out their windows the little putz was getting his ass kicked and Martin was on top. Seems to me, speculating of course, this is more likely than Zimmerman’s account given Zimmerman’s lack of injuries. Martin simply didn’t have time to ‘repeatedly’ beat Zimmerman’s head into the concrete because he was just getting on top.

    5. If we allow a guy with two small scratches on the back of his head and a bump on his nose to start shooting other people and get off then this country is screwed. There is going to be shootings all over the place. You folks down in Arizona are going to have to get the Earp’s back to keep the peace. It’s going to be a free for all. Frak, the lesson to be learned if he gets off is shoot first, shoot to kill and then make up any cockamamie self defense story you can think of since the other guy is dead and can’t testify. Is that what the legal system really wants?

    6. While I respect what defense attorneys do and would rather see 10,000 guilty go free rather than 1 innocent get convicted sometimes defense attorneys seem to want people to believe that cowshit isn’t cowshit. Maybe that’s their job. I don’t know but of all the ones I’ve seen on TV discussing this case I haven’t seen a single one who can explain why a guy with a couple scratches on his head and a bloody nose should fear for his life to the extent that he shoots an unarmed teenager in a confrontation that never would have happened had he not got out of his car with a loaded gun. It’s like nothing that happened previous to the tussle on the ground even counts for anything. Seems kind of illogical to me.

  56. bmaz says:

    @K Collins: Heh, yes Judge Alex is a TV judge. But he is also a former Florida Circuit Court judge. Frankly by the horrid standards of most TV legal commentary, he is very far from the worst. You are correct the statute looks pretty nebulous, but it does make out different forms of manslaughter. Culpable negligence is one of them, and the court specifically excluded that and other variations, only instructing in this case on what is known as voluntary intentional act manslaughter. Voluntary or involuntary in Florida appears to be described better in their historical case law than the actual statute itself.


  57. Voddy says:

    Question about the aggression issue: was GZ not told to stand down and stop following TM by the 911 operator? Does his wanton disregard of that instruction from the police not constitute an act of aggression?

  58. bmaz says:

    @Voddy: First off, it was NOT a “911 operator”, it was a common non-emergency phone receptionist who was not a law enforcement officer. Secondly, the statement was NOT to “stand down”, the exact quote of the statement was “we do not need you to do that” (i.e. continue following Martin). The evidence tends to support that at that instance Zimmerman said okay and headed back toward his vehicle and that it was after that when Martin affirmatively confronted Zimmerman. So, no, your “wanton aggression” does not hold water.

  59. seasandcakes says:

    It’s apparent that many Martin-supporters simply don’t know the facts of the case. It is difficult to keep up with the “Zimmerman stalked Martin” refrain when you realize Martin had about four minutes to get home if that’s what he wanted to do, in fact he could have gone home and back several times in that period of time. According to Martin’s own friend who was on the phone with him, Martin himself started the verbal confrontation by asking Zimmerman basically “What are you following me for?” – and this was four minutes after he had run away, it appears it was Martin actually stalking Zimmerman, especially considering where on the sidewalk the confrontation started. Also, not only is it completely illogical for a person who knows the police will be there any minute to begin a physical confrontation, besides the gunshot there was not a single injury on Martin anywhere, not a torn piece of clothing or anything to suggest Zimmerman attacked Martin in any way whatsoever. The only injuries visible on Martin’s body besides the gunshot were on his knuckles. That people can claim equivocation when the evidence is so heavily in favor of one side of the story shows they either don’t know the evidence or are so emotionally worked up in this case that they can willfully look right past it.

    Always good to see fellow lefties not fall in line to media-assigned positions. Let’s remember there are many on the right the same way, Fox doesn’t speak for them like some liberal-leaning news-show talkers do not speak for us.

  60. seasandcakes says:

    Also, on the manslaughter charge: it shouldn’t stick simply because there is not a single shred of evidence that in the time before the shooting Zimmerman committed any crime whatsoever.

  61. seasandcakes says:

    @Voddy: First, Zimmerman’s call was to the police non-emergency number, not 911. Secondly, the same operator twice asked Zimmerman to let them know where Martin went, and “we don’t need you to do that” (even disregarding the previous contradiction) is not a command from a police officer. Even if it were a suggestion from an actual officer, Zimmerman would still have been within his legal rights to follow Martin, though evidence suggests before the fight Zimmerman never left the main straight of the sidewalk that T’d off to the home Martin was supposedly running to, that he walked to the end (to supposedly get the address) and then back down the sidewalk to where his truck was.

  62. geoschmidt says:

    The first pictures of GZ when he was in custody, he didn’t seem to be bloodied up or anything, then he went home, and later came back with visable scratches, don’t anybody remember that stuff?

  63. Voddy says:

    @bmaz: thanks for the response – as you might be able to tell – I have not followed this very closely and have only heard soundbites from the media.

  64. seasandcakes says:

    @geoschmidt: The pictures of his bloody and swollen nose, and of blood coming down from two gashes on the back of his head (and other obvious injuries on both sides of the head) were taken at the scene.

  65. IC says:

    The George Zimmerman trial is one of the most absurd displays of American jurisprudence.

    How can a trial be about whether the defendant acted in self defense, when the defendant created the situation in which he killed someone. In particular when the officer on the phone told the defendant not to engage the boy. This is voluntary manslaughter at the very least or second degree murder. Following someone and then confronting them for no other reason to either harass or intimidate and then claim self defense is completely “bizzaro world” law.

    Can anyone today who is losing a fist fight pull out a gun and kill with impunity? Serially battered and abused women are barely afforded this type of defense if at all when they kill their abusers.

    This is on top of 40 plus days and mass outrage that occurred prior to Zimmerman even being properly questioned and charged with a crime.

  66. Palli says:

    Worry more about the future individual moments of quick decisive violence by gunslingers. Conceal Carry and Stand Your Ground laws are on their side and there is no presumption of innocence for dead victim.

  67. Palli says:

    @Dennis: @jeff:

    I also wondered about Bmaz using the word “hapless” but for quite different reasons.
    How was Zimmerman “unfortunate”?
    He was “fortunate” to aim the gun away from himself while fighting.
    He was fortunate to be free with his family for 40 days before he was even held accountable for the death of a human being.
    He is fortunate to reach hundreds of other people to pay for his defense.
    He is fortunate to live to maturity, to be able to contemplate his actions in the calm of everyday life.

  68. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Can anyone today who is losing a fist fight pull out a gun and kill with impunity? Serially battered and abused women are barely afforded this type of defense if at all when they kill their abusers.

    This is what I want to know also. If this is the way it is going to be then we all need to start carrying to protect ourselves.

  69. bmaz says:

    @IC: You blitely waltz in here and have been around for a grand total of TWO comments and you are insulting me and accusing me of intellectual dishonesty?? Take a look in the mirror pal. A good hard look. My post is based on actual evidence on the trial record. Yet you come in blowing a bunch of platitudes that is not. Now who is engaging in intellectual dishonesty?

  70. Bay State Librul says:

    I’m sitting here having a few Kirkland Ales and reading your post. Do you really believe that George Z should be
    acquitted? I don’t.
    He was told to desist and he didn’t.
    As a result, a young man is dead.
    Need I say more?

  71. Palli says:

    @GulfCoastPirate: That’s what the NRA wants- all citizens carry a gun.
    Gun & coffin sales go through the roof.
    Lawmakers in piggy heaven passing laws to facilitate all the frightening confusion.

  72. GulfCoastPirate says:

    @IC: I don’t know about that. I respect all these people (well, except for that one above who gave bmaz such a hard time) and I know there are a lot of lawyers who maybe look at things a little differently than some non-lawyers. However, I do agree that many want to look at the ‘facts’ or ‘evidence’ starting at particular points in time that tend to support their arguments. I personally believe that you have to look at things from the beginning and you raised a very pertinent question about the future if Zimmerman gets off. If he does get off and I’m a black man in America, given the history of this country, I’d never leave my house unarmed again. Never. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t know enough of their niceties to determine if any of the people here should be disrespected or not for their opinions but I don’t need to be a lawyer to know that Trayvon Martin certainly didn’t get his side of the story told. He’s dead and dead men don’t talk.

    If the law says to shoot first and ask questions later as it appears to be doing in this case to this non lawyer then I guess we all need to strap on our holsters – especially if you are black.

  73. GulfCoastPirate says:

    @IC: You should back off. I’ve never met the man personally but we do communicate occasionally and bmaz is a stand up person who believes in what he does for a living. He’s analyzing the situation from his perspective which he is entitled to do without some of the rancor that is in this thread.

  74. stratocruiser says:

    Old red-neck line as justification for carrying a gun.
    “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6.”
    Zimmerman got his wish. he’s being judged by 12 now.

    If you carry a gun on your person, you have already pre-meditated a killing.
    If you approach someone, with that gun on your person, you do so with the intent to kill him if you don’t get what you want.
    That’s why people carry guns. period.
    When you carry a gun, the knowledge you have the power to kill makes most people aggressive, not compromising.

    If someone approaches me with a gun or aggressively, I’ll take the first punch. The only other choice is to die meekly.

    Zimmerman is a thug. I don’t want him on the streets at all.

    Given a choice between dying or five years in jail, I’ll do the time. If Zimmerman doesn’t pay a price, it’s open season on whoever is unpopular.

  75. GulfCoastPirate says:

    @Palli: Possibly but I personally think the NRA is irrelevant. I think this just falls under the law of unintended consequences.

  76. IC says:

    @GulfCoastPirate: How could this be unintended consequences?

    Zimmerman voluntarily chose to disregard the only person with some color of state authority to tell him not to follow this boy anymore. He then chose to voluntarily leave his truck with a loaded weapon. He voluntarily proceeded to get into a physical altercation with this boy resulting in the death of said boy.

    Imagine if Zimmerman was a cop with the full blown color of authority. He tells dispatch the same and yet proceeds to confront the young suspect who has committed no crime and the resulting death.

    When carrying a loaded gun, a possible outcome of everyday is that it would be used to perhaps fatally wound someone or something through some set of unintended or intended circumstances. Zimmerman voluntarily decided to create the circumstances that resulted in the death of a boy who committed no crime or personal attack towards Zimmerman. He voluntarily decided to leave his truck with a loaded weapon and proceeded to confront this random boy.

  77. Dennis says:

    People crack me up. Zimmerman was never ordered not to follow, nor is there any evidence he confronted Martin. But, hey, this is the intertubes so what use are facts.

  78. GulfCoastPirate says:

    @IC: I was referring to the NRA and the possibility of increasing numbers arming themselves if there is an acquittal. I studied physics, not law, so as far as I know those who argue for an acquittal may be 100% correct. Like I stated previously, Martin didn’t get to tell his side of the story and it seems to me that those who argue for an acquittal want to start the episode at the point where Martin supposedly confronted Zimmerman – which I don’t entirely understand but for all I know they may be correct in their legal analysis. Having said that, like I also stated previously, if he gets off and I were a black man in this country I’d never again leave my house unarmed. Never.

  79. GulfCoastPirate says:

    @Dennis: So you are arguing that armed white guys can follow unarmed black, male teenagers around whenever they wish and should never be confronted by those they follow?

    That’s an interesting argument. Cracks me up.

  80. IC says:

    @GulfCoastPirate: To begin the timeline of events to establish the mental state of the defendant begins at the phone call. Why? Because what is called in criminal legal terms “mens rea” must be determined. As an impartial person, through Zimmerman’s actions can one know that he made several conscious choices that resulted in the death of some random boy.

  81. bmaz says:

    @IC: Okay, I have related this previously, as have others, but because I do not wish other readers swayed by a false statement of facts, I will one last time.

    Zimmerman was NOT on the phone with anybody operating under any color of law whatsoever; instead he spoke with a common non-emergency operator (effectively the desk receptionist at the station). It was about as far from “dispatch” as is possible.

    Secondly, the conversation was simply to the effect, and this is a direct quote “we don’t need you to do that (follow Martin)”. At that point, Zimmerman, by both his own statements, and consistent timing of observations of other percipient witnesses and physical evidence of where the confrontation really did start, including even the statements of Rachel Jeantel, appear to have immediately complied with that statement and headed back toward where he came from. He did not disobey anything, much less any official order.

    From the testimony of Jeantel, Martin had been literally at the entrance to the house he was staying at. Yet he did not stay there or go in it, he went away from the house, toward Zimmerman, and confronted Zimmerman. It is crystal clear Martin initiated at a minimum the verbal confrontation, again, well away from the safety of the house he had been at.

    The above is all corroborated by the trial record, from the state’s own witnesses, not just Zimmerman, including even by Jeantel’s testimony on the record. The evidence admitted and extant on the trial record further reflects that only one person suffered injuries from assault prior to the gunshot and, from a direct eyewitness, John Good, it was Martin on the top of Zimmerman hitting him. By the end of the trial, the state effectively conceded Martin was on top of Zimmerman.

    That is what the evidence in the trial record reflects. Not the pasture you have argued.

  82. bmaz says:

    @IC: And so did Martin. By leaving the safety of the area of the residence he was staying at, pursuing and confronting Zimmerman, and assaulting him. Both made regrettable decisions that led to an unfortunate and tragic death. That does not make it necessarily murder or manslaughter though, nor does it mean it could not have been self defense. We don’t really know, and that constitutes reasonable doubt.

  83. IC says:

    @bmaz: Zimmerman through his action of leaving his vehicle with a loaded weapon made the conscious decision that led to him getting into a fight with a random boy.

  84. GulfCoastPirate says:

    @bmaz: Let me see if I understand you correctly. If an unknown, unidentified man is following me with a loaded gun I’m supposed to lead him back to my home where my wife, children and 95 year old mother-in-law reside? If I fail to do so and confront him instead so as to attempt to protect my family he then has the right to kill me if I bloody his nose and scratch his skull because he considers that threatening?

    Is that really what the law says and is that really what the legislators who make the laws intended?

  85. bmaz says:

    @IC: Well, hell, they all got up that morning too. That also “led to” it all. Martin left the safety of his house to go confront this oh so scary man; that also “led to” his death. But, the fact of the matter is, until there was a physical assault, there was simply nothing illegal from either one of them. I don’t like people carrying guns any better than you seem to; still, that too is quite legal, whether we like it or not.

  86. bmaz says:

    @GulfCoastPirate: Martin had no idea there was a gun as far as I know. To the best of what can be discerned from the evidence, it appears there was no pursuit, Zimmerman was no longer following, no longer in visual contact or proximity and Martin went looking for him and picked a fight. So, yeah, if you do that and start bloodying the guy and he fears imminent great bodily harm, he is justified in shooting you. Like it or not, that is indeed the law, and it always has been.

  87. GulfCoastPirate says:

    @Dennis: I don’t believe I commented on either of the two things you mentioned. I don’t believe I said anything about whether or not he was ordered not to follow or whether or not Zimmerman confronted anyone. I asked you a question based on your statement.

  88. GulfCoastPirate says:

    @bmaz: I certainly defer to your knowledge of the law; however, the logic of that law totally escapes me. My take on things from what you say is everyone needs to arm themselves now so if you confront a stalker and he pulls out a gun you can shoot first and ask questions later. The idea that Martin or anyone else in that situation should lead the follower back to his family is something I find preposterous and would be the last thing I would do. I’d purposely try to lead the person away.

    Here is my question again which I have not seen answered. Since there was one witness who saw Martin on top but did not see the entire episode how do we know that Martin started the fight? Was there another person who testified to that?

    I understand there was none of Zimmerman’s DNA on Martin. How can that be if he was doing all this punching and banging the guy’s head against the concrete all these many times?

  89. bmaz says:

    @IC: Who cares? It was completely legal behavior, as even the prosecutor admitted in the initial summation. People do not have to have provocation to get out of their vehicles and walk around their neighborhood.

  90. bmaz says:

    @GulfCoastPirate: Zimmerman was not in any contact with Martin at the time he was by his house. And there was no basis for Martin thinking he was. As to who started the fight – we do not know with certainty. The best take on the evidence is that Martin started the confrontation verbally, but the key is the physical first blow. As to that, there is Zimmerman’s statement, the fact that Zimmerman was the only one with substantive injuries from a fight prior to the shot, and extrapolation backwards from the fact Martin was on top and hitting Zimmerman. But there is no definitive evidence, and doubts have to be resolved in favor of the presumption of innocence.

    Further, since the court gave the self defense instruction, the jury must also find beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman did not act in self defense. Are there questions here? Yes. Those questions are the epitome of reasonable doubt despite the passion and emotion the case brings.

  91. GulfCoastPirate says:

    @bmaz: Thanks – although do you really consider those substantive injuries or is that the lawyer in you talking? :)

    I see one of my Island pirate golf buddies hit the big time of TV land and made it on Hardball tonight. Do those guys get paid for those appearances? If so I know who’s buying drinks.

  92. bmaz says:

    @GulfCoastPirate: Ah, that is why I said substantive as opposed to substantial (although maybe I could have found a better word). They certainly exist, and both the lead case detective, the state’s pathologist and the defense pathologist said the action that created those injuries was of the type that could reasonably place an individual in Zimmerman’s position in fear of imminent great bodily harm or death. Two of the state’s own key witnesses said that.

  93. IC says:

    @bmaz: Who cares?
    The American law of jurisprudence cares, thus the necessity to establish the “mens rea” of the defendant.

  94. bmaz says:

    @IC: It is a perfectly legal act that does not establish squat as to mens rea, and I know a little about this jurisprudence thing you speak of.

  95. IC says:

    @bmaz: You are saying that the actions Zimmerman took after making the phone call in no way allows an impartial person to establish the state of mind of the defendant? What law school did you go to?

    I went to St. Mary’s University in Texas

  96. bmaz says:

    @IC: Yes, I am saying that it was perfectly legal behavior that in no way, shape or form constitutes evidence of depraved mind.

  97. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Now that the legal niceties are out of the way let me ask a more general question. I’ve lived in Texas (one of the few progressive areas of Texas) for 60+ years. I’ve traveled all over the South so I think I know a little about Florida. Are there any of you folks who are arguing in support of Zimmerman who truly, truly think that if a 30 year old black guy in the South had followed a white teenager on his way back from buying Skittles and ultimately put a bullet through his heart and killed him that the black guy wouldn’t already be in prison on his way to the chair – or maybe the end of a rope, no matter all the legal niceties we’ve seen in this thread? Do any of you truly believe that?

    I’m just curious ….

  98. bmaz says:

    @GulfCoastPirate: I am not positive, but there is a very decent chance. Which is one of the strange dynamics of this case. But neither case should be the case. And I would say the same thing for such a black defendant as I do the brown one who is at bar. The fact that there is an ugly history of this in the south is no reason to scapegoat this defendant in the face of reasonable doubt. Justice should be color blind.

  99. P J Evans says:

    That’s how it should be. But the legal authorities in Florida seem to think that a murdered black teenager isn’t worth bothering about; let the guy who did it go.
    It might be legal, but I’d expect to hear about Zimmerman in the future, in a similar situation.

  100. greengiant says:

    I have been wondering why national political figures were calling for the prosecution of Zimmerman. I mean if they can’t figure this out as well as bmaz and others, they have people who can don’t they?
    So here goes.
    A. To deter future violent confrontations?
    I don’t think so, the mean spirited will not be deterred even if Zimmerman is convicted of manslaughter. Except for where prohibited, open and concealed carry are very popular. And I have heard first hand that people have illegally carried in places like DC or NYC. Like they are going to stop?
    B. Pandering to the votes back home? Maintaining their reputation?
    Those votes are already in their pockets. But they go through the motions, dress in hoodies, let the prosecution and jury figure out the almost predetermined outcome. They can tell Martin’s parents there was a trial. I give this a partial motivation.
    C. New legislation? Maybe so. Gun legislation is going nowhere in red and even in some blue states. Maybe some new kind of personal interaction law is the agenda?
    D. They literally don’t give a damn.

  101. bmaz says:

    @P J Evans: There was NO 911 operator or police dispatcher. There was only a non-emergency desk aide that was not a law enforcement officer or official of any kind. That person said “we don’t need you to do that” in reference to trying to follow Martin, at which time Zimmerman appears to have immediately ceased doing so.

    It was not that the law enforcement authorities did not care, it was that they did not believe there was sufficient probable cause to arrest. That view was also supported by the local district attorney. And, for the record, I have read most all of the state’s discovery including that of the initial investigation and, save for some failures to preserve evidence appropriately by the state medical examiner’s office, the police did a pretty competent job.

    I am telling you, the real facts of this case are quite far different than most people think.

  102. P J Evans says:

    I have a nephew who won’t be safe in Florida. Or most of the other southern states.

    And in other news … the prop8 backers are trying to appeal it to the CA courts. Some of us, in news site comments, are trying to get across the idea that standing matters, and they don’t have it.

  103. bmaz says:

    @P J Evans: You know, the Martin/Zimmerman case sucks for everybody. It is horrible for everybody involved, their families, the people of Sanford Florida and everybody else in the country. Nothing good is going to come out of it, irrespective of the verdict.

    As to California, that crap is going absolutely nowhere. Fast. My guess is it will be denied and punted by early Tuesday morning, if not indeed Monday night.

  104. Andrew de la Flor says:

    @bmaz You make some interesting points but i have a question. Where did you get the idea that the mayor meeting with the Martin family is improper ex parte communication? The mayor is not part of the prosecution, not that there is any wrong with the prosecution meeting with the victim's family; it's done all the time. Also, you say "the facts, the rule of law and the constitutional burden of law (which is really part of the 'rule of law') compel acquittal". But isn't that a question for the jury to decide. In my experience, one can never know how a jury views the facts until the verdict is in.

  105. bmaz says:

    @Andrew de la Flor: The term was used in its general Latin meaning, not the legal/judicial sense. Somebody at another forum complained too; frankly it never occurred to me anybody would think I meant it in the judicial sense (although clearly it should have I guess). As to the conclusion, that is my opinion and, hopefully, I get to have have an opinion even though I have no jury vote.

  106. greengiant says:

    @P J Evans: Anyone can be attacked anywhere. My son got a mild concussion from an attack and the county median household income is 52K.
    I have been thinking about Martin and social behaviors, and I am thinking Martin did not think for a minute that Zimmerman was armed. A bad assumption to make is what rulebook someone else is using.

  107. JoeP says:

    @bmaz: ouch. i really feel for you, having to belabor that point that there was no 911-operator or law-enforcement issued order to Zimmerman to “stop following” Martin or whatever.

    Surprising tho to see someone keep engaging w/ people who are either lying or ignorant (wrt some commenters)…

  108. BS Skeptik says:

    Since when did the allegations of a party who killed someone be counted as factual evidence? The party is facing a long jail term and has every reason in the world to fabricate self-serving scenarios of the events that occurred. The person murdered has their character assassinated while the person that committed the murder is taken for granted to be truthful. This person who perpetrated the killing perfectly fits the profile of a PSYCHOPATH (Read “Beware the Psychopath, My Son” Clinton Callahan)


    BTW didn’t we just spend $1Trillion on a war because we accused someone of being guilty until proven innocent. Strange, Trayvon Martin is still being alleged to be GUILTY!!!! EVEN IN DEATH!!!!! His killer is still, with all evidence tending to the contrary, being given, far over and above, the presumption of innocence!!@#$% And an entire population of US citizens believe through the most contorted rationalizations of diabolic logic THAT THEY ARE RIGHTEOUSLY CARRYING OUT THE DUTIES OF DEMOCRACY (WITH THE MOST SINISTER UNFAIRNESS EVER IN THE 21ST CENTURY). REMEMBER AMERICA: KARMA IS ALWAYS EXACTING. BELIEVE IT OR NOT!!!!!! As long as unfairness has no immediate consequences we take liberties to judge as whimsically as we please in cases such as this. But when we know we will instantly feel the heat for a mistake in judgement we become much more circumspect in our judgements.

  109. Dennis says:

    Anyone hear that some jurors were tearing up during John Guy’s rebuttal? I can’t imagine men would be receptive to his overly dramatic style.

  110. bmaz says:

    @BS Skeptik: Since when does that happen? Uh, for the uninformed, that would be since the founding of this country and our Constitutional form of government. Defendants are entitled to due process, fundamental fairness, the right to confrontation of witnesses against them and the right to testify and provide evidence in their own behalf. Now, granted, juries and judicial triers of fact get to afford such evidence what weight they find appropriate, but there is an absolute right to present it.

  111. GulfCoastPirate says:

    @bmaz: Here is my problem with your analysis. While Zimmerman may have a right to present his evidence there is no requirement that the jury believe him or think he is being truthful. Frak, I’ve had worse scratches on the back of my head trying to hit my golf ball out of the trees after a bad tee shot. There is also no testimony about the entire fight sequence other than Zimmerman’s. There is a person who saw Martin on top at some point AFTER the fight started. In other words – I think Zimmerman is lying.

    The reason there is no competing testimony is the other person is DEAD so its a little hard for him to testify. It seems to me your analysis (which may certainly be correct legally) is that Zimmerman’s story can’t be shown to be a lie since the other guy is dead (and there are no other witnesses) so therefore he brings enough reasonable doubt to the case so that he must he acquitted. Maybe that is the correct legal analysis but I have a big problem with that.

    There are multitudes of Zimmerman types in the south. It’s a big problem for us (has been for years and years) and the law protects them as opposed to protecting 17 year old teenagers no matter if they are black, brown or white. I don’t know how to fix that but I think those of you supporting Zimmerman need to understand that this is not necessarily about a bunch of liberals who want to see the white guy hanged for a change even if the Constitution says otherwise (as someone other than you indicated above). I simply don’t believe Zimmerman and the evidence he presented and I’ve not seen anyone who can explain to me what I should do as a juror if that is the case.

    Anyone, that’s for the explanations. I’m off to Lake Charles to play with the one-armed bandits. I’ll be cure to check in tomorrow when I get back to see if you folks kept this going since I find some of it quite interesting and informative. Wish me luck.

  112. BS Skeptik says:

    @bmaz: Without consulting all the legal casuistry. We must look at the fact that since the one essential unbiased witness to this case is unable to speak………..And BTW the one witness (OJ style) will not testify in their own behalf due to the fact they most certainly will self-incriminate BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT in the direction of their own demise. How about we the “DISINTERESTED” look at the unspoken near possibilities of the case. No, how about just one. I personally would risk, not my ETERNAL DESTINY, BUT AT LEAST A MILLION YEARS IN THE DEPTHS OF HELL JUST TO SEE THE DIABOLICALLY DISINGENUOUS GO AND STAY THERE FOREVER, for the sake of truth, that that chilling agonizing scream for help was that of a 17-YEAR OLD (UNLESS YOU ARE FIENDISHLY MENDACIOUS) who was being held by his clothing as he tried to get away then killed by a ritual murderer possessed by paranormal hatred (by one well aimed gunshot to the heart). His clothing was extended because it was being pulled by the person in control of the situation. With legal knowledge of how to stage a murder “in self-defense” and a past littered with pathological lying (will enumerate if need be) and a prejudicial public that he skillfully predicted in his favor (no matter what the facts),IT WAS A GOOD BET THAT HE WOULD GET AWAY WITH THIS. ACCORDING TO TESTIMONY THAT NO ONE WISHES TO HEAR TM SAID “GET OFF” “GET OFF” WE COULD EASILY SURMISE that the CHILD was being mounted MIXED MARTIAL ARTS STYLE, NO DOUBT BY THE ONE WE KNOW WAS TRAINED WELL IN MIXED MARTIAL ARTS AND BEING TOLD, WHILE HIS PHONE WHICH HAD AN EARPIECE SPLASH INTO “THE WET GRASS”, “YOU ARE GOING TO DIE TONIGHT MOTHER@#$%&$!” The CHILD STRUGGLED FOR HIS LIFE, PUNCHED GZ IN THE NOSE AND GAVE GZ A MUCH HOPED FOR INJURY (THE BEST A TERROR LADEN CHILD COULD ADMINISTER) AND GZ REACHED FOR HIS GUN WHILE GRABBING THE SCREAMING CHILDS HOODIE AND SHOT HIM!!! PLEASE REPLY WITH A CONTROVERTING SCENARIO NOT SOME SMOOTH MACHIAVELLIAN SOPHISTRIES (ALA JOHNNY COCHRAN/MARK O’MARA).

  113. Palli says:

    @GulfCoastPirate at 85:
    Here’s an adage for you: Unintended consequences usually aren’t {unintended}.
    If you carry a gun-especially a concealed gun-you are ready to use it. You expect to use it.

    BTW, the adage above also applies to the process of lawmaking when one party wants fights for “compromise” outside the mission of the law.
    And sometmes the sdage is abundantly true: Conceal Carry (now in all 50 states) and Stand Your Ground laws are deliberately written to create fear and timidity in the populace and divide the population with distrust and violence.

  114. IC says:

    @bmaz: You are displaying an utter disregard of the totality of events that led to the death of an innocent boy. The logical pretzels you are putting your self in trying to create some plausible defense for Zimmerman is astounding.

    What Zimmerman did wouldn’t be legal even if Zimmerman was a cop. So please stop pretending that Zimmerman did not display any intent in confronting that dead boy in particular after he spoke to someone on the phone about the soon to be dead boy.

    Your total disregard of logic and common sense is what makes the law profession so sleazy at times. Again, what law school did you attend that told you that ‘mens rea’ isn’t important in a criminal case?

  115. bmaz says:

    @IC: Listen, I never said mens rea was not important in a criminal case. I completely disagree with your posture as to application in this case, and your posture does not comport with the self defense instruction being given by the court in this case. And you are completely full of shit with your analogy of the cop. Any person, law enforcement or civilian, would be entitled to the same self defense instruction, presumptions and burdens as have been given and apply here.

    Where I went to law school is irrelevant, and I could care less where you went.

  116. IC says:

    @bmaz: How in all of jurisprudence you justify killing an innocent person because the defendant (an adult male) decided to get into an altercation with some random boy (a minor) in which the defendant could have easily avoided the situation?

    You are so emotionally wrapped up in your own illogical inconsistencies you don’t realize what absurd statements you are making.

    Zimmerman appointed himself to be “the sheriff” of this neighborhood and decided he needed to investigate this boy at the very least this boy was a suspect in Zimmerman’s mind, thus the phone call to the real authorities.

    He displayed intent in confronting this boy after the phone call by leaving his vehicle with a loaded weapon and pursued him on foot. So obvious his intent, that Martin prior to his death remarked about it to the person he was talking to on the phone (again minding his own business).

    At some point Zimmerman gets in a physical altercation with Martin( again a situation in which Zimmerman voluntarily put himself in but could have easily avoided). Zimmmerman knowing he has a loaded weapon his person.

    Your moronic attempt to parse through the minutiae of the physical altercation( again something that could have been totally avoided) shows what a flimsy defense Zimmerman has.

    If Zimmerman gets acquitted, then it will be a travesty of justice. It will not be the first nor the last. It will occur because of the ineptitude of the prosecution and not because of some justified killing of some random boy the defense is trying to sell.

    The timeline of events begins at the phone call and ends with the death of the random boy. Not in the middle of the fight that could have been avoided in the first place.

  117. IC says:

    @Dennis: The phone call and then following on foot in the rain. If Zimmerman just wanted to watch the kid he could have easily done it from his vehicle.

  118. BS Skeptik says:

    The hellish sophistries we present for the exoneration of a psychopathic murderer some of us not-so-secretly admire indicates a moral compass headed for the abyss. Incrementally, as will be our just deserts, we will come to a point where we feed one another to the lions as a public spectacle (not too far in the future). Ah, America, the land insulated from the idea of cause and effect by our immense wealth, swimming in free market propelled sensibilities that anesthetize us to the sense that all the privileges we enjoy were designed by men and women of a moral physical and mental fiber that was inured to hardship that we refuse to endure even minimally. After all, the self-absorbed populace we live in cannot understand co-operation such as mere beasts execute with celestial elan and puissance. We murder one another over jots and tittles. Technology instead of giving us leisure time that we utilize for the maintenance of mutual aggrandizement and perpetuation encounters human selfishness of a scale so abysmal and infernal we use for bullying teenage girls to the point of suicide!!!! Edward Gibbons, Hegel, and Oswald Spengler sure do have some delightful prognostications for our sorry rumps. Hear my schadenfreude loud and clear when our nihilistic collective subconscious spews forth the karmic fruit of our insistence on self-destruction. Can’t we all just get along? Hell no! For when the taste of bestial revenge seeking overpowers the rarefied atmosphere of fine rational discourse barbarism will be the inevitable state of society that we even now cannot sense is chillingly imminent. Notice that when we have no sensible recourse of mutual argument in these times in America we degenerate into Congressional-style ad hominems, and silly, demonically filthy insult-swapping (ala Rushbo). On this blog the loser will always degenerate into name calling (due no doubt to the malady of cranius vacuumus). What is entitled to be the highest existence of well-being known to mankind here on these shores is sinking into the saddest case of what might have been.

  119. BS Skeptik says:

    @bmaz: Well you notice I decided in favor of no more capital “punishment” for thy sake? Wouldn’t it be heavenly if the strident use of upper-case letters were our only source of human misery?

  120. seasandcakes says:

    @IC: IC, your arguments would be more compelling if you weren’t making up facts as you go along to suit your point. There is ZERO evidence Zimmerman approached or confronted Martin. Zero. Even according to the friend Martin was on the phone with it was Martin himself who started the verbal confrontation (about four minutes after running from Zimmerman and then hiding out/stalking him). Zimmerman did NOT “appoint himself sherriff” – this was done by the neighborhood.

    Also, it’s more than bizarre that you and others keep using words like “innocent” and “unarmed” to describe Martin when we have rather clear-cut evidence he was the perpetrator of serious felony assault/battery, using the concrete sidewalk as a weapon.

    And something Martin supporters just cannot come to terms with – Zimmerman did absolutely nothing wrong by following Martin – nothing wrong or illegal whatsoever. He was entirely within his rights to follow Martin – the simple act of following Martin is in no way a “aself-defense” justification for Martin’s violent battery of Zimmerman, you can’t break someone’s nose and bash their head into concrete just because they followed you.

    I wonder how many people who think “we are Trayvon” ever take into account that he was clearly guilty of a thuggish crime – a crime that put George Zimmerman’s life into jeopardy. Or how many realize the only injuries Martin suffered besides the gunshot were to his knuckles – not a single scratch, torn piece of clothing, nothing whatsoever to suggest he had been a victim in any way before the shooting.

  121. Dennis says:

    @IC: He couldn’t keep an eye on someone from his car that was within that part of the complex in question. And following does not mean intention to confront. But cheer up, because as the clock keeps ticking a guilty verdict becomes more likely and I’m going to assume at this point that at least some jurors aren’t accepting justified self-defense.

  122. BS Skeptik says:

    @bmaz: I take that brevity as a capitulation to the aforementioned description of the one suffering from cranius vacuumus. You are hereby excused from the necessity of straining that capacity of yours from further cogitation by the court of higher reasoning. BTW you can appeal the verdict.

  123. Dennis says:

    @BS Skeptik: An eyewitness, John Good, who was trying to be so neutral and objective that he took it to an absurd level, saw Martin on top of Zimmerman throwing punches and said he thought Zimmerman was calling for help.

  124. BS Skeptik says:

    @seasandcakes: Once again the scenario produced by Zimmerman is self-serving hearsay from whom habitual lying is evident from the beginning of this case. His word is standing unimpeachable as evidence as long as he does not testify and withstand even mild cross-examination. So we take the word of someone with a clear interest and ability in producing the scenario closest to reality (to avoid detection of deception) but deviating enough from the salient facts to exonerate him!!!! His response latency to answering the initial police interrogation shows a cognitive taxation that deception places on the mind. “Little Johnny, did you knock that lamp over?” “Ummm……no” And this on top of his passport scheme, ad infinitim…….. Truthful guy indeed. Who wouldn’t lie to save their own neck unless burdened with unbearable guilt?….. which everyone would almost consider an extenuating factor in his behalf!!!!!!

  125. bmaz says:

    @BS Skeptik: You can take that only as me not being willing to waste my time on an interloper troll that is not willing to engage in the normal discussion modalities of this blog.

  126. BS Skeptik says:

    @Dennis: An eyewitness who was told when he said he would call the police “No don’t call the police help me with this guy” An eyewitness who could be intimidated to just say enough untruth to be undetected if the facts didn’t match up with his testimony but enough exonerating “evidence” to say in a court of law. An eyewitness who did not have the professional credentials to help in an emergency situation but more than likely didn’t want mob-style coercion in the future hanging over his life. Why not call the authorities well because to much incriminating evidence was undoctored at that instant. So “help me with this guy!” After hearing the screams for help, a gunshot and being confronted with a blood-curdling stare in your direction from the killer instantaneously seeking your “help” and your diversion away from calling the authorities verbal intimidation is not necessary the frightening cues are already in place. Kinda like: “DO YOU WANT SOME TOO?” Remember we live in a gangster state, founded on gangsterism, perpetuated on gangsterism, that will end due to gangsterism.

  127. seasandcakes says:

    @BS Skeptik: That Zimmerman is a “liar” is hardly a given, especially since police themselves said his statements that he gave repeatedly to them with no lawyer always told the same story. But even if you threw out everything that he said, virtually all the evidence we have still is in line with the account he gave police.

    You’d think evidence would matter to you, since this is a legal trial, but it seems you think throwing enough personal attacks at Zimmerman will somehow make him guilty. Unfortunately all of the evidence we have points to Martin being the agressor of a violent fight that put Zimmerman’s life at risk.

    Sure, he should have probably stayed in his truck, maybe should have found the time to identify himself as neighborhood watch, but none of his errors broke the law in any way – nothing he did justified Martin’s assault/battery.

  128. bmaz says:

    @BS Skeptik: What the fuck is this?? There is NOT ONE IOTA of this in evidence at trial. It is impertinent to the trial record and actual state of evidence in the case and, from all that I have read (and I have read most all of the official state’s disclosure), it is pure unadulterated duplicitous bullshit.

  129. BS Skeptik says:

    @bmaz: Great appeal. Appeal granted. If you wish you may continue to hold forth with yours truly. In spite of your glacial response time to my most trivial conversation I can and will condescend to your bandwidth in hearing what you contribute to the discourse. Awaiting your response hopefully within this millennium.

  130. IC says:

    @Dennis: This is very reason why Zimmerman could not take the stand. The question would have been asked “why did he feel compelled to leave his vehicle to continue to follow this person in the rain when he had no real reason to do so?

  131. seasandcakes says:

    @BS Skeptik: “An eyewitness who was told when he said he would call the police “No don’t call the police help me with this guy””… – what are you even talking about? Zimmerman had been on the phone with police, knew they were coming, and even after he lost Martin he told the dispatcher to still have the police come out. He knew they were on the way and would be there at any minute already.

    As for your fantasy scenario with Zimmerman and witness Goode, it’s beyond disturbing that you can so cavalierly make up facts in order to argue for sending an innocent man to jail. I guess you obviously don’t have real facts/evidence to do this, so I guess making things up as you go is your only option, but it’s still disturbing.

  132. IC says:

    @Dennis: This is very reason why Zimmerman could not take the stand. The question would have been asked “why did he feel compelled to leave his vehicle to continue to follow this person in the rain when he had no real reason to do so?

  133. bmaz says:

    @BS Skeptik: Appeal? Are you on drugs or something? Seriously go troll you unhinged from evidence horseshit somewhere else. You came here only for this purpose, you can sure as hell leave that way.

  134. BS Skeptik says:

    @seasandcakes: Once again what evidence? We have scant evidence except a dead 17 yr old A living 29 yr old who dispatched the 17 yr old and a TESTIMONY from the 29 yr old who for all we know could have inflicted the wounds himself!!!! Where is the evidence that Trayvon Martin got in a single aggressive act at all? No cameras. No immediate eyewitnesses and an UNCOOPERATIVE LIVING WITNESS ALA OJ. Who says the accounts given while unlawyered were absolutely truthful. Wouldn’t that be the perfect time to embellish every fact in your favor especially with the superlative legal knowledge as GZ possesses?

  135. IC says:

    @seasandcakes: @Dennis: What “Dirty Harry, Wild Wild West” fantasy land you inhabit where you need to focus on the part where Zimmerman was supposedly getting beat up after he had more than one opportunity to not let the situation get to that point?

    Cognitive dissonance doesn’t even begin to explain your train of thought.

    Relying on what the defense put forth as evidence for self defense is always self serving and not necessarily true.

    Even if Martin supposedly turned around first to confront Zimmerman it was after Martin realized he was being followed, proven by the conversation on his cell phone. What Martin is not within his legal bounds to confront the person who is obviously following him?

    Under what legal authority did Zimmerman have to even be following Martin? Even as neighbor hood watch captain he has no right to be harassing people he doesn’t like who happen to be walking in his neighborhood.

    You and others may argue that Zimmerman was within his legal rights to leave his vehicle and walk around the neighborhood in the rain but yet want to ignore all the things he said and did prior to getting out of his vehicle and focus on the fight.

  136. BS Skeptik says:

    @bmaz: If you can come unhinged after receiving a lump or two from the playful verbal horseplay you initiated believe me I will gladly disengage with you. Stay on your level and you might come out unscathed in a scrap. THAT is the epitome of what ails this society. Your drone attacks are OK. But in a real lobe to lobe scuffle you cry FOUL. Please……. no more you tempt me to smugness. NEED I RECONSTRUCT YOUR IVORY TOWER IT CERTAINLY APPEARS TO BE CRUMBLING.

  137. evolute says:

    @bmaz: If we believe Rachel Jeantel, she said her last conversation with Martin ended with a “thump” then Travon ssaying, “Get off, get off” followed by the ” sound of wet grass”. Doesn’t this version make Zimmerman the aggressor?

  138. BS Skeptik says:

    @seasandcakes: PRESUMED INNOCENT. Is that not the law? IRAQ was presumed GUILTY until…………. so believe me I do not want to see an innocent party go to jail. Guilt gets away too much is that not a sentiment we have heard recently? one thing is for sure this is the most KAFKAESQUE bundle of irony I have ever witnessed in life.

  139. Dennis says:

    @BS Skeptik: Interesting speculation, but Good’s testimony matches the grass stains on the knees of Martin’s pants and the wet and grassy back of Zimmerman’s jacket. Of course, I’m sure it’s also possible that Good was actually working with Martin and it was he who hit Zimmerman in the nose, back of the head, and the side of his head but feared some kind of retribution from The Man.

  140. bmaz says:

    @evolute: First off, I have no idea why Rachel Jeantel should be considered credible since she is a) and admitted perjurer in relation to her testimony in this case, and b) is not a percipient visual witness to the events.

    Moreover, no that does not at all make Zimmerman “the aggressor” since the only evidence of “wet grass” is one of Zimmerman on his back and Martin with stains on his knees such that he was on top of and straddling Zimmerman, which is exactly what witness John Good described.

  141. BS Skeptik says:

    @Dennis: Besides the scant material evidence we have in the case (composed of molecules and empty space) we have GZ’s TESTIMONY which we can only SPECULATE on the veracity of. All the legal system can do is SPECULATIVE once you look at the evidence we have here. SPECULATION will be rendered in a universe of biases the defense and the prosecution will each in turn do their skillful best to EXPLOIT to produce a set of logical sequences in the mind of the jurors favorable to their desired outcome. That is all we can hope for. PERIOD. As adults haven’t we all been circumstantially accused (and sometimes logically though wrongfully so) of something we were not guilty of? And also have we not watched as someone we know (maybe ourselves) slithered into the grass OUT OF THE SIGHT OF JUSTICE and evaded detection for something we or they were absolutely guilty of? And please it is a childhood instinct to lie to avoid impending punishment. After years of practice lying is executed with more or less consummate skill. But add secondary education in the detection of lying to your resume and you the investigator as criminal become the ultimate master at evasion. Zimmerman if innocent absolutely should be subject to punishment for at least negligent homicide (too late) but with his legal knowledge he knew his pursuit could statistically turn into a confrontation (hence he carried a gun with him) so please tell me this was just an OOPS? Oh well he was just a little F@#$%^g punk doesn’t matter. And if it wasn’t a confrontation he wasn’t prepared for why didn’t he wait for the cops who he had called? BTW inconsistencies cause GUILTY CRIMINALS to get away perpetually he knew that and probably figured if they can do it I WILL also. Remember this is all SPECULATION.

  142. greengiant says:

    These commenters make the most convincing case of Zimmerman’s complete legal and moral innocence that I have ever read.

  143. Dennis says:

    @BS Skeptik: As you so finely put, we don’t know. And if we don’t know, then we don’t know. You know?

    I do, of course, fully understand how you and others see this.

  144. BS Skeptik says:

    We have all heard of the FIGHT OR FLIGHT mechanism in all animals have we not? Whichever instinct predominates at an instant has a latency before the other instinct can overcome it. The two can fuse but rational thinking will be severely disengaged when they do. GZ had the opportunity to retreat from the bear to a place of sure safety but he didn’t need it there seemingly was enough MOTOR IMPULSION (cops and gangsters share this psychological component close together on the spectrum of neurological behaviors) to propel him in the direction of what he perceived as a threat he would prevail over even if an unexpected encounter with that threat occurred. In movies and real life the ability to go after a dangerous individual is an admirable quality that would make us all wish for a GZ on our neighborhood watch! But a prejudicial, and certainly determined acceleration into the death of your selected (2 mins I believe was the total time between “get off” “get off”, screams of help, and BANG!) is more like the time it would take a skilled MMA individual to tiger pounce a gazelle to its last breath. Who goes looking for an address to give to animal control if there’s a hyena lurking somewhere in the bushes? He said he was scared. I can’t imagine being pumped up with a hot, exasperated, OSTENSIBLY hunting mode of mind (not necessarily depraved) being “scared” while self-sacrificially venturing out to apprehend some f@#$%^g punk. A time will come when we need more than a few good men like GZ (incidentally grotesque as that may be)to meet the challenge BUT PLEASE WE MUST BE TRAINED WITH THE SOCIETAL READINESS FOR THAT SORT OF HUMAN RESOURCE, TO INDEMNIFY AGAINST THE COLLATERAL DAMAGE THAT WILL ENSUE IN A MOMENT OF OVER-ZEALOUSNESS! Please forgive my Col Jessup moment it was not meant in levity, but sincerely is philosophically credible to me.

  145. stevelaudig says:

    I look forward to disciplinary charges being filed against the prosecutors who withheld evidence. I personally doubt any punishment will be imposed but the charges must be filed.

  146. JoeP says:

    @bmaz: I found your analysis/explanation of the case to be helpful in shifting my perspective and better informing me. thanks.

  147. john francis lee says:

    George Zimmerman acquitted in Trayvon Martin case

    George Zimmerman walked free from a Florida courtroom late on Saturday after a jury acquitted the neighbourhood watch leader of murdering an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, in a case that played into the national debates about race, civil rights and the proliferation of guns in US society.

    Hey! Hey! Open season on black kids in Florida ! You better get you a gun and get down and kill you some !

    It’s consistent. Obama has his Pakistan and Yemen. All his acolytes now have Florida.

    Suspected … your favorite epithet here … Kill ’em dead ! Unarmed ! Underage ! No problem !

    The gamekeepers in the black robes aren’t sticklers on limits.

    The fish rots from the head, and it’s been rotting for a loo-o-ng time now.

  148. klynn says:

    Thanks for your comments bmaz. I guess when my kids have someone stalking them in threatening manner I will now instruct them to submit and be shot. Don’t turn and confront. Especially if the stalker pulls out a gun. Just. Be. Shot. For being guilty of being.

    The fact that someomeone stalking another and in possession of a gun, ended up being a fact distegarded as an act of agression. is bull. The law as written is pure crap. Zimmerman knows what he did.

  149. Gonzo says:

    It’s pretty easy to tell from the comments who didn’t read the actual text of this. There has been a lot of talk that if Zimmerman was not armed, Martin would not be dead, but from the evidence of the trial, it seems reasonable that Zimmerman could have been. And that’s precisely why the original law enforcement reaction was not to prosecute, they had sufficient evidence that supported Zimmerman’s claim, and no evidence against it. Everything presented in the case that was discovered from the subsequent investigation has been to the character of the two participants, not of actual events, and most of that was struck down as evidence.

    It boiled down to a feel-good narrative of the younger participant being the innocent victim vs the facts that Martin was engaged in beating up Zimmerman when the shot was fired.

  150. bmaz says:

    @klynn: I believe that is a completely false depiction of what happened. And there is not even the slightest shred of evidence that Zimmerman brandished his weapon at ANY point prior to Martin being on top of him and hitting him. None. In fact, if you want to paint it as “stalking, you might also want to take into consideration that the evidence adduced at trial, and in the underlying investigation, can also be easily interpreted to support the thought that Zimmerman had turned and was walking away when Martin pursued him and initiated an encounter.

  151. klynn says:

    I went through self defense courses, after being a victim. I was taught how to determine if someone is following you. Then I was taught how to confront. With the facts of the case, the FL law does NOT allow, it appears, for self-defense when followed/staked, based on the definition of aggressor. I was taught to turn on a stalker and assert myself. Based on this case, I will not teach this to my children. I will continue to ask why Zimmerman had to get out of his car. His actions as a well informed individual on the matter of “protection” were terrible, no matter what his state of mind due to recent break ins. I am not saying he brandished a gun. He followed. TM faced down someone following him. Z had a car he could have stayed in. Had a phone to properly notify authorities if TM had attempted a break-in and Z knew he had a gun as a last resort. He did everything wrong. This is Condi Rice, ” You don’t know what it was like,” all over again.

  152. Orpheus says:

    Well, how nice. But you left out a couple of more ‘inconvenient facts’:

    1) The mendacious, duplicitous, hypocritical, quasi-sociopathic Mr. Zimmerman may have been within his ‘rights’ to follow Martin, but NOT to get out of his vehicle and engage Martin then LIE about it.
    So, all this hair-splitting and hand-wringing about who engaged whom is just rationalizing codswallop: Had Zimmerman just done his job and not overreached we’d be arguing about yet another racist who’s thankfully not shot anyone, yet – Paula Deen.

    2) Zimmerman has a history of being overly aggressive – that, too, was in the ‘trial record’, but true to form, most Americans suffer from a rather extreme version of ‘selective fact acceptance/denial’. He wanted a confrontation, and obviously had an axe to grind especially with ‘them’.

    3) Sorry but this bears repeating: Zimmerman LIED about numerous thing but especially the key fact concerning the location of his weapon on his person, and therefore whether Trayvon ‘saw the gun’ and reached for it as Zimmerman testified during interrogation and deposition. This is key because it only stresses Zimmerman’s tendency toward rather sloppy mendacity.

    Look, I don’t believe this case was about ‘race’, per se; it’s about CLASS. Zimmerman’s CLASS versus everyone else; Us v THEM; in-group v out-group.

    Either way, this ‘analysis’ is incomplete and its logic terribly flawed.

  153. bmaz says:

    @klynn: I am saying there is substantial evidence Martin was by the residence he was staying in and himself affirmatively followed and confronted Zimmerman, who was on his way back to his vehicle. There is evidence the final “chase and confrontation” was done by Martin, not Zimmerman. There is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt either way.

  154. Court Jester says:

    Let’s not forget that the jury had the option of manslaughter and found Z not guilty of even that.

    I *had* heard of many of the points you raise here, bmaz, and I don’t think most of them are relevant. I freely admit I’m not a lawyer; I don’t know your background – are you? Prior acts in the same area by different people shouldn’t reduce Z’s culpability. I’d even wonder if having the same judge who previously convicted the juvenile for home invasion was the right choice, since it seems to be a good basis for a recusal. That and the fact you mention about Z’s father being a former judge – I’m surprised they didn’t ask for a change of venue.

    Based on Z’s original 911 call, and his choice of language, and the fact that he pursued M after being told not to by police, all paint a pretty clear picture to me of his mindset prior to the fatal confrontation.

    Noone except Z knows how the fight started, but it would not have happened if Z stayed in his car. Even Z never claimed that he identified himself as neighbourhood watch, nor did he communicate that police had been called and were on the way. He has told to many different versions of what happened to truly know how things actually unfolded, and since he killed the only other person involved, we’ll never know.

    I also wonder at the seemingly minor injuries that Z sustained, in the fight that had him “fear for his life”. You know, the one that justified pulling his gun and killing M.

    The burden may have been too high for 2nd degree, but to acquit Z of even manslaughter seems too unbelievable to be true. A young man is dead. He did not commit any crime. He had reason to be where he was. His killer could have avoided the fatal confrontation by taking any number of common sense steps.

  155. guest says:

    “Did any of you see the other neighbors, of all races, in Retreat at Twin Lakes who testified on Zimmerman’s behalf about the the facts of the case, that Trayvon Martin was the aggressor on top of Zimmerman when the shooting occurred.”.

    How does the fact that at some point in the fight Martin had a relative advantage make him the aggressor? Does that outweigh the fact that his opponent was armed? Does that mean he had a duty not to stand his ground but to flee and hope Zimmerman would let go of him or not fire on him if he freed Zimmerman’s hands.

    Martin was an unarmed pedestrian (or until the defense redefined “armed”) who was stalked by an armed man in a vehicle, and later accosted by the same armed man. I don’t know what happened that night, but BMAZ certainly doesn’t either and has no factual basis for proclaiming Martin the aggressor or probable aggressor. Did the witnesses really declare Martin the aggressor, or is that a word BMAZ put in their mouths because they testified he was on top before the gunshot? Whoever made the first physical threat or attack on the other was the aggressor, and was the only one guilty of a crime that night.

  156. klynn says:

    Thank you for your post and responses. My point is that there is evidence that TM was followed and that TM was scared and acted to protect himself from someone who was persistent in following him. TM is now dead.

    My 9-year-old was with me when listening to this:
    It is difficult to explain to him, after hearing the girl friend’s account, how he should process what he has learned about stranger danger. There is also evidence that TM was followed. TM was scared because he was followed. TM tried to lose who was following him and then as a last resort of personal protection confronted the one following him.

    It is spot on, despite the evidence, for my 9 year old to wonder why Z carries no responsibility. Anyone who has been followed/stalked is personally shaken by the outcome of this case.

  157. bmaz says:

    @klynn: Actually, there is more than a fair amount of evidence that Martin was in a place of safety and intentionally left that to go seek out Zimmerman and assault him. There is every bit as much or more evidence for that as what you are relating. Perhaps people should also consider telling their children to go on home and not seek out and confront people when they do not need to. There is a lot of evidence in the case; a great deal of it is quite different than is being portrayed in these popular memes. If this case is to stand as a parable for children, it should be done so honestly as to the evidence, not disingenuously because that makes for an easier story.

  158. LeMoyne says:

    @SariK: Words could have solved it. But not the kind of words seen on this thread, nor the kind heard on the phone calls.

    I am unconvinced that Martin was in fear for his life because he accosted Zimmerman (phone call) and then ended up on top dealing the damage (eye witness and physical evidence). I wonder how many defenders of Martin have taken the time to consider what they would do if a teenage football player larger than them was sitting on them punching their head. With the injuries to Z’s head and M’s knuckles there is evidence to support self-defense. The prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman was not defending himself. It doesn’t appear that the prosecution did more than dent the assertion of self-defense when they needed to completely undercut or shred it to prove Zimmerman’s guilt.

    Zimmerman screwed up by taking a gun to a fist fight – by not having any effective plan between plan A ‘find the guy’ and plan G ‘give him the gun’. Zimmerman screwed up in not having a partner/buddy before he went looking for what he thought was trouble. Negligence resulting in the death of a minor – OK – manslaughter – maybe, but the state failed to overcome self-defense. Is it murder to shoot up at someone who is on top of you and applying multiple head injuries? I think not.

    Decades ago I grew up in the south and met sick people whose kids bragged about participating in real, fatal lynchings. They travel in packs and disappear the evidence, i.e. feed the body to the pigs and dogs. They don’t wait until they are flat on their back getting beaten. They don’t call the cops to make an official report first. They physically attacked me in my childlike foolishness just for saying ‘black people are people too’ and I am pretty sure they are still out there. But they were not on trial here. Neither were any of us or society or the law on trial here.

    You may think I am prejudiced and perhaps I am – against football players and defensive backs in particular. In general they are among the most aggressive people I have ever met. I have also seen food coloring, sugar and caffeine reduce my otherwise delightful offspring to raving lunatics that endanger themselves and others. My eldest (now adult) has spontaneously confirmed the psychoactive effects of Skittles. My overblown extrapolation of those experiences to this case doesn’t prove anything and I was wrong to bring that in.

    Again, Words could have solved it. But not the kind of words seen on this thread, nor the kind heard on the phone calls. When aggressive action taken out of fearful prejudice meets aggressive action taken out of fearful prejudice fights ensue and people get hurt and sometimes killed. This thread is just dripping with prejudice that runs completely counter to the principle that we are all innocent until proven guilty. The same assumption of wrongdoing appears to be all over the actions of Z and M that night. If enough people keep trying to fight fire with fire we will be very lucky to escape the conflagration.

    It is very sad that the racist murder of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. was not afforded a fraction of the attention that this case got.

  159. jrob says:

    @bmaz: Having read your post and every one of the comments I applaud you for laying out the record and do not second guess the jury’s decision to acquit, as they can only decide on the basis of what is presented to them as evidence and the instructions of the judge. My former husband is a criminal defense lawyer and I understand the unpopularity of being on that side of a case. However, I feel that the acquittal, no matter its correctness as a matter of law, can only bring bitter fruit. Mr. Zimmerman was riding the wave of DIY vigilantism that has at its heart a disrespect for the law and jurisprudence that you are so painstakingly defending. I think much of the anguish many people feel is because they feel that the rule of law is slipping away, we are increasingly subject to the rule of the gun. It is being forced on us and we do not like it. The irony here is that you are arguing the law (correctly, I believe) in support of those who seek to take that law into their own hands and face no consequences by doing so.

    The jury has spoken, but where does it leave us? Must we live in fear of being killed by any citizen vigilante that feels us to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? What is to stop paramilitary groups or private security from using these kind of self defense, stand your ground arguments to immunize themselves from prosecution should they decide to kill people that they disagree with or feel to be a threat to whoever is employing them? I know the pro-gun people are of the opinion that an armed society is a polite society, but polite according to who? This verdict, regardless of the particulars of the case, seems sure to embolden those who prefer violence as a means of solving problems.

  160. klynn says:

    Bmaz, With Z’s “one of them” state of mind, going home would have been view as a break-in.

  161. bmaz says:

    @klynn: Let me say this again, the evidence tends to indicate that Martin was at his house and Zimmerman was not. There was nothing for Zimmerman to see at that point. That is straight from the physical layout and the testimony of the girl on the phone with Martin at the time, Rachel Jeantel. If so, it is simply false to say Zimmerman would have viewed it as a break in, he had no view. I CANNOT emphasize this enough, the facts adduced at trial are NOT what you think. Seriously.

  162. bmaz says:

    @jrob: Wonderful comment. Thank you for joining us, and I hope you continue to on other subjects and post. We do good work here and I think you would like the discussions.

    I do not disagree in the least with your underlying concern; in fact, I agree completely. The gun culture needs to be reeled in, both in terms of laws and just getting some of the guns off the streets. But criminal cases where a defendant’s liberty, for pretty much the rest of his life, is at issue has to stand on its own and not as a proxy for societal ills. I would be thrilled if the case, now that it is over, can serve as a focus point to start changing our society in relation to guns and violence. But a criminal prosecution is not that forum.

  163. Kal says:

    And if Zimmerman had gun in hand? What then? It is just as likely Zimmerman initiated contact. If Martin just kept walking and was touched, does that change anything? When does Martin’s fear for his life kick in to justify taking action?

    There is simply no evidence regarding the events before someone was on the ground above someone else other than the phone conversation in which Martin was said to be running to get away.

    The burglaries and Zimmerman good intentions you attributed to him in the article really are not relevant.

    I agree that you mostly “do good work here” which is why you are in my RSS reader, but it looks like you were playing defense attorney here and ignoring inconvenient issues.

  164. Dirk says:

    @P J Evans: Exactly. Zimmerman wanted to f with this guy. He did not announce himself, he did not, I guess, say he has a gun. Think Trayvon would have fought this guy if he knew he had a gun? Zimmerman did not do what he could have to make sure there was not a fight/death. But I guess this aspect of things doesn’t matter in this particular trial? He just had to be in a fight — no matter who caused it — and be losing to be legal to shoot the kid?

    By the way, writer of this post, if Trayvon, who it seems felt threatened to some degree here, happened to have a gun and shot Zimmerman, I guess that would have been okay? So it’s just who has the gun who wins?

  165. Bay State Librul says:


    I would argue that the legal system has failed us.

    As Charlie Pierce notes here is the outcome:

    “However, in theory, at least, here is what is now possible. Some night very soon, if he so chooses, George Zimmerman can load his piece, tuck it into the back of his pants, climb into his SUV, and drive around Sanford, Florida looking for assholes and fucking punks who are walking through neighborhoods where he, George Zimmerman, defender of law and order, doesn’t think they belong. He can drive around Sanford, Florida and check out anyone who is dressed in such a manner as might frighten the average citizen who has been fed a daily diet of “Scary Black Kids” by their local news and by their favorite radio personalities, and who is dressed in such a manner as might seem inappropriate to their surroundings as determined by George Zimmerman, crimebuster. He can drive around Sanford, Florida until he spots an asshole or a fucking punk and then he can get out of his SUV, his piece tucked into the back of his pants, and he can stalk the asshole or the fucking punk, the one who is in the wrong neighborhood, or who is dressed inappropriately, at least according to George Zimmerman, protector of peace. If the asshole, or the fucking punk, turns around and objects to being stalked — or, worse, if the asshole, or the fucking punk, decides physically to confront the person stalking him — then George Zimmerman can whip out the piece from the back of his pants and shoot the asshole, or the fucking punk, dead right there on the spot. This can happen tonight. That is now possible. Hunting licenses are now available and it’s open season on assholes, fucking punks, and kids who wear hoodies at night in neighborhoods where they do not belong, at least according to George Zimmerman, defender of law and order, crimebuster, and protector of the peace, because that is what American society has told George Zimmerman, and all the rest of us, is the just outcome of what happened on one dark and rainy night in February of 2012…

  166. JC says:

    So, for the sake of argument, if we believe GZ’s account that Martin attacked him, would it not be fair to say that MARTIN was “standing his ground” against some strange man who followed him home ? How would this law be applied if BOTH parties feel they were “standing their ground” ? Sounds like a real clusterfu(|< to me ! The "stand your ground" laws are BS.

  167. CKY says:

    @kal: kal, you are confused. The aggressor is not claiming self defense, he is unable to claim anything because he is dead.

  168. bmaz says:

    @Kal: There is not any evidence whatsoever that Zimmerman “had the gun in his hand”. None. In fact, every ounce of evidence is to the contrary. The state did not even bother to infer, much less argue, such an unsupported thought. In fact, the state’s key witness, Rachel Jeantel, who was on the phone with Martin throughout that phase, testified that Martin had stated he was at the residence he was staying at, then he was moving (which is established to be considerable distance by the physical evidence) and she heard Martin make the first verbal contact with Zimmerman.

    THAT is the evidence in the trial record. Not whatever scenario you, other people, the media or anybody else conjures up out of your imaginations. Trials in the United States are conducted on the record and admitted evidence, not extraneous baloney. And, yes, contrary to your statement, there IS evidence of what happened before the critical shot. There is Rachel Jeantel, there are Martin’s phone records, there are witness statements from other home owners who heard and saw things and, of course, again, there is Rachel Jeantel. I have based my positions on actual trial evidence and record, because that is all that is pertinent to the verdict. I have paid very close attention to this case, actually read and viewed most all of the state’s disclosure and interviews pre-trial, pre-trial motions and the entirety of the trial. I don’t “play defense attorney”, I am one in real life and understand what evidence is in a trial and how it relates to relative burdens of proof, as well as the law and jury verdicts.

  169. Bay State Librul says:


    So do your believe that “the block of concrete” was Tryvon’s weapon?
    In my opinion, Zimmerman was a vigilante…

  170. bmaz says:

    @Bay State Librul: No, thought that was silly. I do, however, believe that the acts of Martin in hitting Zimmerman while he was down on the concrete could have caused Zimmerman to reasonably fear great bodily harm or death as required by the self defense jury instruction.

  171. N says:

    The evidence is questionable, in my opinion, on both sides. Let’s not forget the fact that now a child is dead, and no one is being held responsible to any degree. Shameful.

  172. JSGIUNTA says:

    This guy had me until he started in on the Second Amendment. He obviously has no real concept of what the Second Amendment is all about and more than obviously doesn’t know much about weapons. The pistol Zimmerman was carrying wasn’t “locked and loaded” It was a double action automatic, which is almost the same thing as carrying a revolver. “Locked and loaded” denotes a single action semi auto, with a round in the chamber and the safety on…much like you would carry an Army .45 cal. pistol. Double action automatics, with a round in the chamber, function like a fully loaded revolver, meaning the weapon is fired by pulling a very long and hard trigger, as opposed to a very short and light trigger on a single action auto. There was no external safety on the double action auto Zimmerman used, so it wasn’t locked or unlocked; it was simply loaded,properly, just like a revolver. As for the Second Amendment…it doesn’t say that you only have the right to bear arms when you’re not on your way to Target. He had a Carry Concealed permit, which means he can carry any damn time he wants. And unless this author can guarantee me and Zimmerman, and anyone else, there is no chance I will be mugged or robbed or accosted on any trip to Target, he should STFU. BTW, if Zimmerman HADN’T had a round in the chamber, and had to rack the slide to chamber one, he’d probably be dead right now.

  173. GulfCoastPirate says:

    @bmaz: I’ve asked this a couple of times but not seen it answered. Sorry if it was answered somewhere and I missed it.

    You say Zimmerman was ‘assaulted’. How do we know that? Is it in the record? From what I understand there was a witness who saw Martin on top but DID NOT see the entire confrontation. We simply do not know who started the confrontation do we? If Zimmerman started the confrontation then Martin had a right to defend himself – did he not? Only he’s now dead and he can’t testify.

    I’ve also heard this idea a lot over the weekend that somehow Martin had an opportunity to return to his home. How many people would willingly lead a stalker/follower/whatever back to their home where other family members wold be at risk. I know for a fact I wouldn’t. That is the absolute last thing I would do. If I stalked my stalker and he started a confrontation with me then shot me would I then be liable for my own death even though I had nothing to do with the original stalking/following?

    If I’m carrying a gun and get into a fight am I justified in shooting to death the person I am fighting with under the theory that person may take my gun fom me? That’s absurd if that is the law.

  174. jrob says:

    @bmaz: Thank you for your kind words, I will try. I agree with you that a criminal trial should proceed by the rule of law, free from the taint of politics. However, the nexus of law and politics is difficult to sever as it is politicians who make the laws.

    Most laws passed in recent years addressing guns and their use are extremely political in their genesis and intent. We are just now beginning to see them employed in the real world and cannot be surprised when legislation attempting to manipulate such a deep fault line in our society releases an earthquake as a result. Social structures are only activated and revealed through the actions of individual human beings.

    This killing and the resulting trial have exposed the way these gun laws play out in real life and it is up to us as a society to decide if they function in a way that is acceptable or not. I think the law as it now stands in Florida legalizes murder as long as you structure it correctly. Calling it a hunting license is accurate, and I think it is a tragedy for our society.

  175. bmaz says:

    @GulfCoastPirate: The state’s key witness, Rachel Jeantel, who was on the phone with Martin throughout that phase, testified that Martin had stated he was at the residence he was staying at, then he was moving (which is established to be considerable distance by the physical evidence) and she heard Martin make the first verbal contact with Zimmerman. There was no evidence, from Jeantel, Zimmerman and/or other witnesses that heard and saw movement, nor was the physical evidence of the locations, items found and positions of the body, proffered that indicated Zimmerman was doing anything but walking back to his vehicle and out of visual contact with Martin prior to Martin confronting him. If you look at a diagram of the complex and compare it to the evidence, this is the conclusion that is supported. Further, there was no evidence whatsoever forensically found or determined from the examination of Martin’s body to indicate he had been struck by Zimmerman at all, and that was confirmed by both the state and defense medical examiner/pathologists.

    THAT is the evidence in the trial record. This meme about “leading the stalker back to the house” is just absurd. First off, he was already AT the house at one point, so that certainly was not a concern for Martin. Now if you want to inject all kinds of facts and supposition completely outside of the evidence, then you can say about anything. Before you or anybody else going far with that though, I would sincerely urge you to go read all the disclosure and view all the trial tapes. This case is NOT what it has been lionized by hucksters and media shills to be.

  176. fritter says:

    @bmaz: great article. From MSM accounts I actually blamed SYG for the fatality. I didn’t realize that the evidence pointed to Martin as starting the physical struggle.
    If they exchanged words, everybody legal right, I would expect Zimmerman to avoid a physical confrontation as I though self defense meant you must take certain steps to avoid what you claim to be in fear of. It appears Z may have given the evidence, and the jury obviously agrees. I’m generally supportive of CC though not SYG.

    Do you have a particular opinion on Stand Your Ground (or CC)? If Martin had been armed and shot Zimmerman in self defense of a “stalker” it seems as if he would likely been acquitted as well (based on some comments) under SYG. It seems like a perilous situation to me.

  177. Bay State Librul says:

    @bmaz: @bmaz:

    Are you saying that he was assaulted because of the bruises to his body.
    Did he take a physical before he stalked to prove that he had no bruises
    to begin with?

  178. Paul Mueth says:

    Your initial assertion about this not being SYG is off the mark. The defense does not have to raise it at all. The instructions to the jury in FL routinely have the language included., and cetainly were introduced by the judge. Dem Now covered it today (as did Here & Now, at some length, not a general endorsement, BTW. Based in beta town and never had neighbor Noam from Newton on!!)

    Claiming that this is an ordinary case in FL shouldn’t be much of claim, see

    And MSM , not in video tho, I think

  179. Bay State Librul says:

    Not sure why the prosecution didn’t nix her:

    From Gawker…

    A mere two days after finding George Zimmerman innocent of the murder of Trayvon Martin, juror B37 in the case has signed on with a prominent literary agent, as a prelude to a book deal. This juror is a woman who hates the media and went into the trial mistakenly believing there were “riots” over the case.

    The video above is the entire voir dire of juror B37— the process during which the attorneys question prospective jurors to determine their suitability. During the questioning, the juror, a mother of two who owns “a lot” of animals, revealed the following things:

    – She dislikes the media in general and considers it worthless. “You never get all the information… it’s skewed one way or the other.”

    – “I don’t listen to the radio” or read the internet, she said. Her only news about the case came from the Today show. “Newspapers are used in the parrot’s cage. Not even read,” she said. “It’s been so long since I even read one. The only time I see em is when I’m putting them down on the floor.”

    – During questioning, she referred multiple times to “riots” in Sanford after Trayvon Martin was killed. “I knew there was rioting, but I guess [the authorities] had it pretty well organized,” she says at one point. In fact, despite a great deal of salivating anticipation by the media both before and after the trial, there were no riots in Sanford, Florida.

    – She referred to the killing of Trayvon Martin as “an unfortunate incident that happened.”

    – Asked by George Zimmerman’s attorney to describe Trayvon Martin, she said, “He was a boy of color.”

    Juror B37 found George Zimmerman not guilty. Her book will surely make her a lot of money.

  180. bmaz says:

    @Paul Mueth: Absolute bollocks:

    No, the actual Stand Your Ground law at issue prior to the charges, and all the way through the pre-trial stage until two weeks before trial when it was WAIVED by the defense, the one that all the uproar in this case was over, and that so many people THOUGHT would be invoked was FRS 776.032. That never, at any time, was invoked by the defense, and certainly never played a role in the case, jury instructions or jury deliberations. The word “stand your ground” in the jury instructions are a term of art to convey the relative duty to retreat, or lack of duty to retreat, that is present in every state’s common law self defense law. The words and emphasis vary some across jurisdictions, but the concept is the same.

    Further, the defense position, which was effectively conceded by the state by the time final arguments were given, was that Martin was on top of Zimmerman at the time of the brandishing and firing of the weapon. Under those facts, retreat was physically impossible and both “stand your ground” and “Stand Your Ground” are and were completely irrelevant to any consideration of the facts and verdict by the jury. Those words describing relative retreat were simply present because they are part of the Florida pattern jury instruction 3.6(f) given as part of the justification defense set found warranted and appropriate by the court. Also present in the jury instruction set given to the jury in Zimmerman were justification words and terms of art mentioning excusable “killing by accident or misfortune” and protection of a “dwelling” – neither one of those were part of the facts or verdict either.

    So, no.

  181. jrob says:

    The problem with all the back and forth on the elements of this killing is that, no matter what any of us may think we know about the case, under our legal system the jury is the sole finder of fact.

    Both sides have witnesses present evidence and both are free to try to pick apart the witnesses and the evidence presented. It is taken for granted any witness may be manipulating or concealing elements of what they know, may have incomplete knowledge or misunderstanding of the evidence, or be lying. It is the jury’s job to sort through all this and determine the facts to the best of their ability. The judge instructs them how to apply those facts to the law.

    Additionally there is much information which is not given to the jury because it is deemed irrelevant, immaterial, or prejudicial to a fair determination of the facts of the case. This information can’t enter their deliberation because they don’t know about it or because the judge has instructed them to ignore it. Much of the argument here is about information that falls under that heading.

    It is important though not to confuse evidence with facts. They are not the same thing. Evidence is the the raw material from which the jury deduces the facts. Just because somebody presents something in court doesn’t mean that the jury believes it or thinks it is important. My ex-husband would always try to speak with jury members after a trial to understand what their thought process was and how they viewed the evidence. What they said was often surprising. Without speaking to the jurors in this case you are only second guessing why they arrived at the verdict they did.

  182. bmaz says:

    @jrob: But there is evidence on the trial record, and the state of evidence overall. I have, unlike most people, actually read nearly all of the disclosure by the parties in this case, and watched the trial live or by later video. The things people are throwing at me are outside of both and are in many instances absolute bunk and media generated and/or perpetuated myths. Unless otherwise noted, I have based every position and statement on actual trial record and evidence. You know, that which the jury DID base its decision on. If others would do this, it would be a much easier and saner discussion.

  183. Paul Mueth says:

    The lawyer in the Here & Now interview disagrees entirely with your diminishment of the role of the range of “legal defense”
    In Florida the SYG idiocy is polled as approved by nearly 2/3! If it is a “term of art”, there are a lot of art lovers up south

  184. bmaz says:

    @Paul Mueth: Frankly, I could care less what some guy on “Here and Now” says. I do this for a living, I have for a very long time, I have read and watched most everything in this case (and I very much doubt that person, whoever it is, has) and I will stand by my opinions and analysis. And, AGAIN, my opinion and analysis are based on the actual evidence and actual jury instructions.

  185. Mstephenson says:

    @bmaz: @bmz Your saying mr.z had a right to follow. Well TM had a right to ask why he is being followed. There was no evidence that says mr.z could not have shown the gun before the altercation. Or showed signs of carrying. If he was getting his head smashed he would have been knocked out. Have you ever hit your head on the side walk? It doesnt take much to knock someone out or cause disorientation. And if he was on his back and the gun was behind him how was he able to shoot TM. The gun had to be in front. If travon was dominating, i.e. mounted him he would have seen him reaching behind him. I train in BJJ and when you mount someone its difficult if not impossible to reach behind yourself to get a gun. The gun had to be in front or his side. Likely senario was Z flashed it feeling bold and TM saw it and tackled him got a punch in and then was shot.

  186. Wendell Dryden says:

    I wanted to comment just to say, “Thanks” for your post.

    Of the two dozen or so left-leaning websites and authors I read routinely, this is the only one that has managed a clear-eyed look at the trial and evidence. Everyone else seems so sure they know “the real story” irrespective of details like evidence and testimony.

    It’s disturbing to see that level of…. Well, it’s disturbing.

    So, yeah. Thanks for this. “Because there is not any compelling rebuttal within the facts as adduced in the investigation and entered in the record at trial. And the presumption of innocence and burden of proof in the American criminal justice system still mean something.”

  187. jrob says:

    @bmaz: I’m agreeing with you. However, I understand why people are retrying the case here and in other forums. The consequences of the expansion of permissions with regard to guns have been thrown into very stark relief and people are trying to get their heads around it. I think it’s very disturbing, regardless of one’s position viz a viz concealed carry or stand your ground, and we have to decide as a society if this is really the path we want to go down. Not many people are lawyers and fewer still are criminal law specialists, so it’s not surprising that people are not understanding the points you are trying to make.

  188. bmaz says:

    @jrob: I think I agreed with that earlier; if not, I will now. I would like the gun culture, that has metastasized like a cancer in the US, to be reeled in. There is unquestionably a 2nd Amendment, but I have no illusion that it ever was designed to stand for the idiocy it has been extrapolated out to today.

  189. seasandcakes says:

    @Mstephenson: So… you want to put Zimmerman in jail for something he illogically might have done? With zero evidence to even suggest this? It also begs the question: who goes toward someone carrying a gun???

    Your “likely senario” (sic) is found nowhere but your fantasy. Nothing whatsoever suggests Zimmerman was the type of person to do this, and if he did flash it or take it out, why would the fight have lasted for at least 40 seconds? You’d think the trigger would have been pulled way before that.

    There is no damage on Martin (except the gunshot) anywhere except on his knuckles. No torn clothing or anything to suggest that Zimmerman was even fighting back, much less the aggressor.

  190. JThomason says:

    All of this begs the question of whether vigilantism truly a legal purpose. Of course a reading that deploys the certainty of a legal positivism isolates this question and the existence of the conceal carry permits colors the inquiry as well. But on the moral level, in an environment where moral duty in relation to the law is an issue rising to the fore, it is a controversy that can not be avoided. Nor is it in the discourse surrounding this case.

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