I’ve been thinking about the Zimmerman trial as it proceeds and I’ve come to the conclusion that George Zimmerman is most likely going to be acquitted. Now, I’m going to come right out and admit that I don’t think he SHOULD be acquitted. I think he murdered Travon Martin. I’ll explain why in a moment. But the DA in Florida – the one who didn’t want to charge Mr. Zimmerman in the first place – seems to have turned this whole thing into a show trial. I think he “over-charged” Mr. Zimmerman, knowing the burden of proof was higher – too high to be achieved.
For the most part, my sources on this situation are the same as have been available to everyone else. As we all know, the media in America have become such a poor showing of corporate protection, misinformation, propaganda, and ‘celebrities-doing-what’ distractions that anyone paying attention knows better than to trust anything that comes out of it. Still, I use two bits of (admittedly unverifiable) information to come to my conclusion: One, a “transcript” of an interview Mr. Zimmerman allegedly gave to police after the shooting and two, a video of Mr. Zimmerman doing a walk-through with police the day after the shooting and – according to Greta Van Susteren – before any lawyers were hired. BOTH sources offer what is to me, the all important moment that turned a simple misunderstanding into manslaughter.
Honestly, I don’t have any problem with Mr. Zimmerman following Mr. Martin. As part of the neighborhood watch, it seems it was within his purview to do so. But, for me, the critical idea comes from the reality that Mr. Martin became aware he was being followed and to HIS point of view, “followed” quickly became “stalked”. This, in turn, initiated the very human “fight or flight” response and the information I’ve seen suggests that Mr. Martin wasn’t a “flight” kind of guy…
According to both of the aforementioned sources, Mr. Zimmerman indicates that Mr. Martin at some point approached Mr. Zimmerman’s truck. According to the written “transcript”, Mr. Zimmerman says Mr. Martin knocked on Mr. Zimmerman’s window. When Zimmerman rolled down his window Martin demanded, “Why are you following me?” Zimmerman replied, “I’m not”.
In the video walk-through of the events created the day after the shooting, the verbal exchange is not reported but Mr. Zimmerman makes clear that Mr. Martin approached the truck. In the video, Mr. Zimmerman explains that Mr. Martin circled the truck then moved off in the same general direction he had been traveling previously. Either way, THAT, to me, is the critical moment.
Even if there were no verbal exchange, Mr. Martin had made clear that he was aware of Mr. Zimmerman’s presence by approaching and circling the truck. In that moment, Mr. Zimmerman had an opportunity – no, an obligation – to diffuse the situation by explaining that he was with the neighborhood watch and he (Zimmerman) didn’t know who he (Martin) was. Sure, Mr. Martin could have become angry or even pseudo-outraged that he had been racially profiled but he would have known that he was not in danger.
To me, that’s the critical moment…and the failure is Mr. Zimmerman’s. Now, I say again, my sources are all from the media and I have no way of knowing what’s actually happening in the courtroom. If that detail is wrong, I would have to reassess my position but it seems clear from most accounts that at some point, Mr. Martin doubled back to confront/identify the guy who was following him and there are no indicators that Mr. Zimmerman identified or explained himself. This failure exacerbated the situation and led directly to the shooting a few minutes later.
But it “only” rises to the level of Manslaughter, defined as killing without malice aforethought, not Second Degree Murder – an assault in which the death of the victim was a distinct possibility. If media reports are to be believed (and they’re not) the arresting officer intended to charge Mr. Zimmerman with Manslaughter. So, why did the D.A. up the ante with a charge of Second Degree Murder?
I’ll tell you this: The D.A. will henceforth insist that he was trying to “throw the book” at Zimmerman and stubbornly reject the notion that he intentionally sabotaged his own case by setting the too-high-a-burden standard, but no matter how I run it in my mind, it always comes back to SOME variation of: the DA wanted Zimmerman to walk free…