I admit it, I was wrong when I surmised that Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey would not charge George Zimmerman with the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Obviously her mandate (either real or self-imposed) was to get charges filed against the guy. And what terrible race riots we would have seen had she not! Since those charges, and Zimmerman’s subsequent arrest, the hoo-hah…what I’ve termed “Z Furor” over this shooting has all but disappeared. Al Sharpton has gone home. The media has turned to other stories that they can exaggerate and misreport. Like ohhhh…maybe an Australian airline pilot who had to make a go-around because he was distracted by an incoming text message on his cell phone TWO YEARS AGO.
But will we see a return of Z Furor?
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder. Any charge of murder includes the concept of malice aforethought. The court will have to prove that Zimmerman intended to kill Martin prior to the shooting. Zimmerman will counter that he only shot the guy when he felt his life was in danger. He will invoke Florida’s so-called “stand your ground” law which permits just that. Whether the court will say the law is applicable in this case remains to be seen.
But hang on a sec. Second-degree murder? Can the state really prove that?
If I were Z, here’s how I’d tell the story:
Hey, Your Honor, I was just doing my job...making my rounds for the Neighborhood Watch, as I always do. There’ve been some thefts and break-ins in the subdivision, and I saw a guy in a hoodie walking around and acting suspiciously. I called 911 and requested that a police car come. The Dispatcher said he didn’t need me to follow the guy, but I didn’t want to lose him before the cops got there. And hey, all I wanted to do was ask him some questions! I got out of my car, and the guy turned around to confront me. Before I could ask him anything he got all up in my face. Then he started fighting with me. I’m, like, “Whoa, whoa! Settle down, Beavis!” But he knocked me to the ground and started punching me and beating my head against the pavement. At that point I felt like my life was in danger, so I pulled my gun and fired a shot. Honestly, Your Honor, I never intended to kill the guy prior to him trying to beat me to death.”
The defense will introduce witnesses who will corroborate the part about Zimmerman being on the bottom as the two were fighting on the ground. And they’ll also introduce photographs showing the wounds on the back of Zimmerman’s head (as all of us have probably already seen on the internet).
Anyone who knows me or has read even one of these blogposts knows that I can be a pretty cynical and skeptical guy. And so I wonder now if Ms. Corey didn’t go for second-degree murder knowing that they’d never get a conviction. Three things will happen: 1) The judge will agree that “stand your ground” applies and throw the case out; 2) The judge will rule that Zimmerman is innocent of second-degree murder; 3) The judge convicts him. Skeptical me, I’m not at all sure that number three is a possibility, as much as some people would like it to be.
Methinks Ms. Corey pulled a little fast one here. If she had just gone for a lesser charge she would have appeared weak, and it would have outraged the black community. “Self-defense manslaughter, are you kidding me, Ms. Bee-atch? That was MURDER dammit!” Going for second-degree murder makes her look like a tough prosecutor to most of us (which also happens to make her look like the “good guy” to the black community). But she knows…or at least she must have a pretty good idea…that a judge is going to have a hard time convicting Zimmerman of second-degree murder.
What Angela Corey has done is skillfully and cleverly avoided responsibility for the race riots that are sure to come if (maybe when?) Zimmerman is acquitted. If so I say, “Well played, Ms. Corey!”
You think I’m crazy? Look, O.J. got off, didn’t he? And what about that other, more recent Public Enemy #1: Casey Anthony? Acquitted! All it takes is a good lawyer and weak evidence against you.
Now, obviously there may be things that have not come to light yet. The prosecution may have plenty of evidence suggesting that Zimmerman’s shooting of Martin was in fact premeditated. They may have witnesses who’ll testify that Zimmerman is an extreme, white-sheet-wearing, KKK-club card-carrying racist who hates blacks and was just itchin’ to shoot one that night. Who knows what they’ve got? (We all will,
during the "discovery" phase of the trial.) Many people have leapt to the conclusion that this is an open-and-shut case of aggravated white-on-black murder. But like all things in life, it might not be that clear when it comes to trial – we’ve seen that before.
George Zimmerman may very well have targeted Trayvon Martin for death that night. Even so, he might not be found guilty of it. I’m guessing…okay, betting…that he’ll be acquitted *if* it even goes to trial. Let’s just hope that happens in the cold of winter and not the heat of summer. Because Z Furor will return!