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The Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case is back in the news, as the judge rules the defense can attempt to put the victim on trial.

Why not? If you're going to have a circus, might as well make it a big one. The authorities never wanted to bring this case, and did so only after intense public pressure. Florida's incredibly dumb Stand Your Ground law puts a gray fog over any reasonable distinctions about self-defense.

And prosecutors loaded the dice, deliberately overcharging Zimmerman with murder, requiring intent, instead of some degree of manslaughter - which only requires recklessness. They're essentially saying, you want a trial? You're getting one, and that's all you're getting.

Many will howl for Zimmerman's head, insisting he should be found guilty: he followed Martin, which lead to the events resulting in death, and therefore he should be held responsible for that death.

But really, he shouldn't. Let's break down this theory using that supreme model of logic and philosophy, The Simpsons.

I'm driving through my neighborhood and I spot someone in a red 1998 Canyonero. My pal Homer drives one just like it, I mistakenly think it's him, I start to follow, figuring he's headed to the local pub to quaff a few Duffs.

The driver sees me following him, and given my hideous monster-like face (I usually hide it under a helmet, but its a humid evening in Florida) and reckless disregard of the use of turn signals, he panics. Thinking I'm stalking him, he decides to take off at a high rate of speed.

Careening down the street, trying to get away from me, he barrels through a crosswalk, striking and killing a pedestrian.

It never would have happened if I hadn't been following him. Am I responsible for that death? Should I be locked up for that?

Hint: By following him, I was not committing a felony, so the felony murder law does not apply.

So no, setting the events in motion is not enough.  Could I reasonably foresee that following someone was at all likely to result in a death?  No.

And to bring the principle to the Zimmerman case, if the defendent's account is to be believed, he had stopped following the victim by the time the confrontation occurred. Making the result even less foreseeable.

None of this makes Zimmerman a paragon of good judgment. Outside of a courtroom, there's enough information available about him to make one suspect he could be a few french fries short of a Happy Meal.

Try to set that aside when you hear the news of his acquittal, because on principle, it isn't germane in this case.


If you were on the jury, would you find Zimmerman...

24%13 votes
16%9 votes
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43%23 votes

| 53 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  WOW are you ever unpersuasive (9+ / 0-)

    Your Simpsons  story is insulting. There was no need to bring a jovial tone to, or use a cartoon character in your example. Here's a test? Would you tell your cute little Canyonero joke to one of Trayvon Martin's relatives?

    Not to mention yours is a pathetic apples-to-asphalt comparison FAIL. There is no similarity between seeing a friend in traffic, and in stalking a stranger while armed.

    What possessed you to compose this insulting nonsense?

    •  Hypotheticals work best... (0+ / 0-)

      ...when you strip out the incendiary parts of the real story.  By setting this in the realm of a cartoon, I take out the elements of race, I strip away the strong emotions, and I enable the reader to acheive a more detached point of view.

      As for my comparison: in my example I am following a stranger. The stranger perceives me as stalking. In my mind, I wasn't stalking the person.

      In the real life incident, Zimmerman claims he wasn't stalking Martin ( in the sense of intending to harass or persecute (someone) with unwanted and obsessive attention).  He thought this person might be a burglar, and he was trying to keep his eye on the  young man to make sure the police apprehended him.

      So let's see: Person A is following Person B, who is a stranger. Person A doesn't think they're stalking, but Person B could very reasonably think that's exactly what's going on.

      Seems like a pretty good comparison to me.

  •  If your main point... (4+ / 0-)

    Is that manslaughter would have been easier to prove you may be correct.

    And to the possibility that Zimmerman walks...and becomes a hero to millions of kill-crazy bigots...yep, I gotta agree that under that fucked-up law and the fucked up Florida justice system it's a strong possibility.

    As for the rest...well, Trayvon didn't kill an innocent bystander.  He was killed by the stalker.  Your comparison pretty much falls apart right there.

    First off, Zimmerman's state of mind is completely different from your tale.  He wasn't following

    And Zimmerman did not only stalk Trayvon with his car.  He escalated it by leaving his vehicle.

    Now Trayvon is being stalked on foot by this weird older guy.  

    Just not the same thing at all.

    And "if the defendant's account is to be believed..."

    If anyone falls for that illogical, inconsistent mish-mash of half-truths and outright lies I'd love to sell them some prime Florida swampland.

    If your are preparing us to disappointed by the verdict you may, sadly, be on to something.

    But I think you, quite likely without meaning to, are drifting perilously into Zimmerman apologia here.

    "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

    by Notthemayor on Sat Oct 20, 2012 at 09:20:46 AM PDT

  •  I personally hope that if he does walk (0+ / 0-)

    ...he is stripped of the right to bear arms, and spends the rest of his life looking over his shoulder.  The way Martin did.

    America, we can do better than this...

    by Randomfactor on Sat Oct 20, 2012 at 09:29:03 AM PDT

  •  Zimmerman will go free because of (3+ / 0-)

    police misconduct and incompetence. Willful misconduct on the part of the Chief of Police. Zimmerman has been overcharged which will make getting a conviction near impossible. Remember how badly screwed up the Casey Anthony case was. I am not saying Casey Anthony is guilty or innocent I am saying that the police were incompetent. The political climate in Florida will make it difficult to empanel a jury that is not pro-gun rights completely. And by putting Martin's character on trial the jury can justify Zimmerman's argument of being in fear of his life without considering whether that fear was justified.

    Stand your ground is an obscene law. But it is the law. And the best way to get justice for Trayvon is to change the law. Because Trayvon will not receive justice in a Florida courtroom.

  •  This diary is an apology for George Zimmerman. (4+ / 0-)

    Your entire argument is premised on the notion that Zimmerman's account is true.

    And to bring the principle to the Zimmerman case, if the defendent's account is to be believed, he had stopped following the victim by the time the confrontation occurred. Making the result even less foreseeable.
    You describe people who want justice in this case as desiring a circus, and as howling for Zimmerman's head. In a later comment you insult people who view the killing of Trayvon Martin from a civil rights perspective by describing them as irrational and driven by emotion.
    By setting this in the realm of a cartoon, I take out the elements of race, I strip away the strong emotions, and I enable the reader to acheive a more detached point of view.
    This reads like a PR effort from Zimmerman's defense team, and it doesn't belong on this site.
    •  By setting this in the realm of a cartoon, I take (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lost and Found

      out the salient facts which are the only case to be made...

      •  Explain this to me (0+ / 0-)

        Why is the reason that Zimmerman initially followed Martin a salient fact to the murder charge, other than that it was without criminal intent?

        If you can make a case for Zimmerman following Martin with intent to harm him, then yes, that would be different. But he didn't.  He was calling 911 trying to get the police there.

        That's why I used the hypothetical, which strips away non-salient facts like why Person A was following Person B.  Its not relevant to the murder charge.

        It wouldn't be relevant to a manslaughter charge, either, since the death was not a reasonably foreseeable outcome.

        •  Because Zimmerman began the entire cascade of (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nuclear winter solstice

          events by committing a criminal assault called stalking.
          Everything that follows is a direct result of that cascade of events that lead to a confrontation between the two.
          And the fact that Zimmerman was armed is the sole reason that Trayvon was shot, and is the sole responsibility of Zimmerman.
          That even includes failing to secure his gun properly assuming he is telling the truth that Trayvon ever got his hands on it. (There are NO Trayvon fingerprints on the barrel or on the trigger area of Zimmerman's pistol.  And t the shot was fired straight into Trayvon's chest from a distande of as much as 18 inches.)

          We don't know exactly how the two managed to come face to face, but unless Zimmerman can show some proof that the confrontation was initiated by Trayvon, and why would it be, then all acts and results are directly the result of Zimmerman stalking and being armed.

          •  Stalking, that word does not mean what you think (0+ / 0-)
            Because Zimmerman began the entire cascade of events by committing a criminal assault called stalking
            Your GED in law seems to fall a bit short. Stalking and assault are actually different things. Let's see if what Zimmerman meets the legal definition of stalking
            A person who intentionally and repeatedly follows or harasses another person and who makes a credible threat, either expressed or implied, with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm
            Hmmm, "repeatedly", no.  

            "makes a credible threat" - possible, but not that we can remotely prove, unless a new witness comes forward or Zimmerman confesses.

            "reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm" - again, possible but not provable in court.

            Let me make it simple.

            You: He committed this  crime
            Me: There are specific elements to that crime, which can't remotely be proven.

            That is true of the murder charge, and that's true of your criminal stalking charge.

        •  calling 911 to get the police THERE? Baloney I (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lost and Found, Quicklund

          say again. He was calling the police because he hoped they'd say "thanks, George, stay with him for us- BUT THEY DIDN'T!  They said stop now, it's NOT your job.

          If he believed the police he would have stayed in his truck and nothing would have happened because Trayvon Martin was an innocent citizen walking home from a store and there was NO PROBABLE CAUSE for ANYONE to be following him, least of all an asshole stalker with bad intent otherwise known as Zimmerman.

    •  You're reading in things that aren't there (0+ / 0-)
      Your entire argument is premised on the notion that Zimmerman's account is true.
      No, my entire argument is based on there being no way to prove intent.

      Are you forgetting that the burden of proof is on the prosecution? I'm constructing a scenario based on the only account we have.

      If I were on the jury, and Zimmerman testified, the case would largely hinge on whether I believed him.  If he chooses to not testify, you have to ask whether his account raises reasonable doubt.

      You describe people who want justice in this case as desiring a circus
      No, I do not.  I decribe the case itself as a circus, and explain that is because the prosecutor deliberately overcharged him, in order to guarantee a not guilty verdict.  

      Holding a trial to satisfy public demands, while sabotaging your own prosecution to insure an acquittal, is a circus.

      and as howling for Zimmerman's head
      Uh, you haven't noticed a whole lot of people howling for Zimmerman's head?  

      My whole point of using a hypothetical was because the things that outrage you, me, and a whole lot of other people about this case aren't relevant to the criminal case

      Do I think Florida's Stand Your Ground law is stupid? Yeah.  Do I think Zimmerman is a wanna-be hero with bad judgment?  Yes. Do I buy his story of events?  No, but I don't entirely dismiss it either, pardon the pun but on that the jury is still out.

    •  it is impossible to rationally take race out of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lost and Found

      this case because according to Zimmerman himself race is exactly why he was stalking Trayvon.
      So for the article to do so basis a large part of its logic on a false  premise.

      In fact it shows a level of "intent" by the writer to edit his facts to fit his premise, not the other way around.

      •  The law, how does it work? (0+ / 0-)

        Is it illegal to follow someone because of their race?  To call the police on them because of their race?

        Oh, its asinine, obviously. But we're talking the realm of criminal charges.

        That's precisely the problem with discussing the case, because these incendiary elements - which are not relevant to whether a crime occurred and if so, which one - overwhelm the discussion.

        I can't state it any more clearly. Things that make him a jerk and/or an idiot are not things that make him a criminal.

  •  Your Simpson example assumes that the follower (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lost and Found, Quicklund

    knew, or thought he knew, who he was following, and that he was following for a nice reason, and also makes the dead person a random bystander rather than the very person actually being stalked by a man who acted as though he had been deputized even after directly being told to stop by the authorities.

    There is no comparison here and your diary is a bag of baloney.

    Zimmerman may very well be acquitted, but your example won't be the reason why.

  •  Judging from the limited perspective (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lost and Found, Quicklund

    of facts that have so far been revealed, it seems likely to me that Zimmerman is guilty of first degree murder. But also that it will be very difficult to prove this, beyond a reasonable doubt.

    On the other hand, it seems almost certain that he is guilty of manslaughter, at least, and that this would not be hard to prove.

    So yes, he was over-charged. Not from a moral standpoint, but from a legal one.

    "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy

    by native on Sat Oct 20, 2012 at 11:14:40 AM PDT

  •  You miss one on the main points. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lost and Found

    Zimmerman was a stalker.  Stalking is criminal.

    Legal assault can be defined from the point of view of a potential.  If the victim can reasonably feel threatened, he has a right to act to defend himself.

    Trayvon was stalked and could reasonably feel threatened as Zimmerman closed with him and confronted him.

    Even if Trayvon stopped and turned to allow Zimmereman to face off with him, Zimmereman could have stopped the pursuit as soon as Trayvon stopped and turned to face him.

    Even assuming Trayvon took the first swing, and there is no proof if that, (Why would he?) Zimmerman can only use such force as would sufficient to defend against the force used against him.  Instead he shot Travyon through the heart.

    Question.  Taking Zimmerman's personality and his actions that evening how likely is it that he did not already have his pistol at the ready when began following Trayvon on foot, especially when he chose to follow Trayvon down a long and very dark walk way?

    Question.  If Trayvon had been armed, would he not, under tort law and Stand Your Ground, have the right to use the force necessary to stop a strange man from stalking him, especially once they came face to face?  If he does (Why shouldn't he if Zimmerman does?) then everything Trayvon did is legally defensible and nothing that Zimmerman did, once he began stalking, is.

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