Skip to comments.Trayvon case: Has the media prematurely declared Zimmerman's innocence?(Left wants April back)
Posted on 05/22/2012 11:32:20 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Much of the media is now fixated on the pictures of injuries George Zimmerman sustained on the night he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
A consensus appears to be building that those photos -- of scratches, abrasions and wounds to the back of Zimmerman's head -- bolster, or even prove, Zimmerman's claims of self-defense. Some news outlets have gone so far as to ask whether second degree murder charges against Zimmerman should be dropped altogether, on the premise that if the Miami teen struck the 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, Zimmerman was justified in shooting to kill, under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.
But is that what the law says?
Legal experts say no.
In fact, after initial reports on the shooting portrayed Zimmerman as an overly aggressive neighborhood watchman obsessed with black male "suspects," or even a vigilante, Coffey says, "there is this counter-wave flooding back, saying Zimmerman was hurt so he must be innocent."
Coffey, a Miami attorney who was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, says the pictures of Zimmerman's injuries, and the medical examiner's report showing a small cut on one of Martin's fingers, prove far less than that.
"What it proves is that [Zimmerman's] got credible evidence on one of the elements of Stand Your Ground,' which is the claim that he was in reasonable fear of serious bodily injury. But that doesn't answer the question of who stated the fight, or the other critical question: did Zimmerman have to finish the fight by killing Trayvon Martin. Those questions are obviously not addressed by anybody's photographs."
And Catherine Crier, a legal analyst and former district court judge in Texas, says the "Stand Your Ground" statute has other provisions that could prove problematic for Zimmerman's defense.
"There's an interesting provision right at the end of the statute [that says] you can't use 'Stand Your Ground' if you initially provoke the use of force, unless that person is coming at you with such great force that you really are fearful for your life, and you've exhausted every other means of escape other than force," Crier says. "And you can't use it unless you withdraw [from the situation], or indicate clearly that you want to withdraw, and that other person continues to use force that could cause serious bodily harm or death."
"You're telling me that George Zimmerman -- armed -- has a gun, and he is terrified that Trayvon Martin is going to get him, and he has really tried to run?" Crier asks. "All you've got to do is pull that gun and say, 'hey, I'm walking away from this.' Show's over."
Zimmerman's family members have claimed he was returning to his vehicle when Trayvon Martin attacked him. But Sanford Police homicide investigator Chris Serino, in filing a "capias" request recommending a manslaughter charge against Zimmerman, stated in his report that Zimmerman could have avoided the confrontation with Martin by remaining in his vehicle, or by identifying himself to Martin to "allay his concerns."
In fact, in another case also prosecuted by the office of Duval County State Attorney Angela Corey, the special prosecutor appointed to take over the Trayvon Martin case in March, Marissa Alexander's "Stand Your Ground" claim was dismissed by a judge, who ruled that the 31-year-old could have avoided the confrontation with her abusive husband by leaving their home, rather than confronting him and his sons with a gun and firing it over their heads. Alexander was convicted of three counts of assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced to a mandatory 20 years in prison.
Both Crier and Coffey say Martin, a teenager being pursued for unknown reasons by a stranger in a car, who then got out of that car and began chasing him on foot, can also be reasonably portrayed as having been in fear for his life. In that case, Martin would have had no "duty to flee" his pursuer - a textbook definition of "Stand Your Ground."
"If in the course of Zimmerman's pursuit of Trayvon Martin, if he, in effect, creates on the part of Trayvon Martin a reasonable fear of serious bodily injury, Trayvon Martin would be within his rights to use lethal force to save himself," Coffey said, adding that such lethal force "isn't limited to guns. It could include using your fists to try to save your life."
And while the pictures of Zimmerman's bloody head and scratched face caused a media sensation, Coffey says that doesn't prove the prosecution has no case, or even a weak one.
"The photographs and the other evidence of Zimmerman's injuries were not breaking news to the prosecution," Coffey says. "They were fully aware of that information, and yet reached a conclusion that they could prove second degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt. Rushing to judgment that Zimmerman is innocent is equally as wrong as rushing to judgment that he is guilty."
In releasing some of the "discovery" in the case to the media, prosecutors in the office of State Attorney Angela Corey held some things back. We have, for instance, not seen transcripts of video of the interviews between Zimmerman and Sanford police. We have not seen video of any reenactments that were done at the crime scene.
Indeed, even Zimmerman's attorney has thrown up caution flags. The following note was posted on Zimmerman's legal defense website on Monday:
...The State Attorney's Office has made much of the evidence in the George Zimmerman case public record on Thursday, May 17, 2012. Mr. Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, has stressed that people should not make up their minds about this case based upon the partial evidence available. The O'Mara Law Group has estimated that only about half of the discovery has been made available by the state so far. The remainder of the discovery is currently being scrutinized, and certain information is being properly redacted -- especially information that puts witnesses in potential danger or risks unnecessarily inflaming the cultural tensions that surround this case. We agree
The posting indicates that it may be "several weeks" before Zimmerman's defense team receives all of the information from prosecutors, and they note that the public -- and the media -- may never see the remaining evidence at all.
And the posting continues:
Because of the interest in this case, it is understood that there will be wide public examination of the evidence. The O'Mara Law group stresses that while the George Zimmerman case will be explored deeply in the media and by the public, the only proper place to determine the guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman is in court, and indeed only the jury will have all the evidence required to make such a determination.
Meanwhile, prosecutor Bernie De La Rionda hinted, at Zimmerman's bond hearing, that Zimmerman's account of the shooting to police might have varied. If that is the case, Coffey said it could be a key piece of evidence at trial.
"If he's disbelieved about relevant aspects of his account of self-defense, any such false testimony could contribute to a conviction for murder," Coffey says. "If a defendant is lying about an incident, those lies can be some of the strongest proof of guilt."
And Coffey believes Zimmerman would almost certainly have to take the stand at a full-blown trial.
If that happens, "the most critical information in the trial could be his believability," Coffey says. "This defendant is asserting self-defense and it would be very difficult to assert self-defense without taking the stand to explain how it happened. All the more difficult if the police are holding in their hands contradictory accounts."
But the bottom line, Coffey says, is that we simply don't know how a court case against Zimmerman would transpire.
"It's premature to assume we know how this trial is going to turn out."
You can’t be declared innocent before trial, you ARE INNOCENT before trial. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. Trials are UNFAIR to the STATE.
Crier asks. “All you’ve got to do is pull that gun and say, ‘hey, I’m walking away from this.’ Show’s over.”
Apparently Crier doesn’t know that in most states if you flash a gun you’ve just bought yourself a heap of legal woes.
Catherine, how long has it been since you practiced? Think about what you just said.
In most states, if you draw your weapon on someone without sufficient cause, it's called brandishing and is a misdemeanor.
The question I still have is who initiated contact. That will determine his guilt or innocence, although I don't see a 2nd degree murder case at all. Manslaughter or acquittal.
Zimmerman’s alive, and you’re an idiot.
Is this the same Catherine Crier from CNN? That would explain her stupidity.
Are we living in so much terror that a resident of a distinct community, and member of Neighborhood Watch to boot, cannot walk up to someone to offer help and dissuade suspicious activity? Seriously?
Being armed means avoiding confrontations lest situations escalate, yes; at the same time being disarmed ALSO means avoiding confrontations lest situations escalate (and one lack the tools to cope). If it's stupid to enter into an interaction armed, it's stupider to enter into that same interaction unarmed.
The answer does NOT entail hiding in steel boxes waiting for "the authorities" (who are, to the apparent misunderstanding of many, normal humans and not minor deities) to arrive and magically resolve the situation which by then no longer exists. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Z himself observed that "wait for the police" had been tried many times before, leading to continuation of petty crimes because nobody had the guts to walk up to an odd-acting stranger and say "may I help you?"
AHEM...the perp screwed up...when he never listened to his girlfriend ....who had it right at night from 250 miles away..’RUUUUN ‘JUS RUUUUN’
You could say the same about TM. If he had stayed inside and watched the All Star game we would not be commenting about this now. If TM did not get suspended...If Zimmerman had shopped the day before or the day after....You can go on and on about what should have happened.
It was not his girl friend. She is a serial tweeter and only mentions TM was killed once or twice. The parents did not know about her at all. She never called TM’s parents after the shooting.
Zimmerman is innocent until proven guilty. He doesn’t have the burden of proving himself innocent.
The rule is INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.
The lynchmob mentality of the liberal press and New Black Klan aside. THEY prematurely convicted him of premeditated murder of a peaceful smiling 12-year old school boy on suspension, high on dope, and with a gangbanger wannabe cred.
This forum had/has more than its share of the lynch Zimmerman mob. For some strange reason, lately their fingers have been either broken or out of action. But they are still here.
He got out of his car and approached Martin first.
Has this been proven now?
It’s a fair question:
Are we better taking no risks, and letting our surroundings go to Hell, praying that it won’t be our home that gets invaded next, and only drawing the line at the door?
I’ve been on both sides of this...I’ve watched and called the cops, who invariably arrive after the miscreants have departed.
I’ve also intervened once or twice, when things were clearly getting out of hand.
If your side doesn’t send out patrols now and again, pretty soon the territory surrounding you belongs to those who do. I can’t see how that military truth doesn’t apply to criminal activity, and if the cops aren’t doing the patrolling, then what?
“All you’ve got to do is pull that gun and say, ‘hey, I’m walking away from this.’ Show’s over.”
Ignoring the fact that Crier isn’t licensed to practice law in Florida, I guess she’s never heard of a brandishment charge?
“There is no such thing as “shoot to wound,” except in the minds of the mindless.”
Agreed. But “shoot to kill” is not authorized either. Shoot to Stop is generally what is permitted for self-defense. That can have the effect of death. But death should not be the intended result.
The fact that you are shooting them means that you are willing to take that chance.
Otherwise you should simply surrender and allow your attacker(s) to do whatever he/she/they want to do to you.
If TM was as close to where he was staying as Dee Dee said, why didn’t he just go in?
The witnesses are caving one by one... changing their stories. Too much pressure.
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