Jury Finds George Zimmerman Not Guilty In Trayvon Martin’s Death

Jury Finds George Zimmerman Not Guilty In Trayvon Martin's DeathGeorge Zimmerman never denied shooting Trayvon Martin, but he said he did so in self defense. Late Saturday night, a Florida jury found him not guilty in the teenager’s death.

‘Intentionally committed’

The verdict caps a case that has inflamed passions for well over a year, much of it focused on race. The six jurors — all of them women — deliberated for 16½ hours. Five of the women are white; one is a minority.

To convict Zimmerman of manslaughter, the jurors would have had to believe he “intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of Trayvon Martin.” That charge could have carried a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, though the jury was not told of that possible sentence.

‘Deadly encounter’

Both sides of the case asked for peace after the verdict. In the immediate aftermath, they appeared to have gotten their wish — even though the Internet erupted with outrage. But now that Zimmerman is a free man, his defense and his brother fear for his safety.

The deadly encounter took place on February 26, 2012, as Martin walked back to his father’s fiancee’s house through the rain from a Sanford convenience store. The 17-year-old was carrying Skittles and a drink. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, spotted him and called police. Sometime after that, Zimmerman and Martin got into a physical altercation that ended in Martin’s death.

Are you satisfied with the jury’s verdict for George Zimmerman? Why or why not?

Source: Greg Botelho and Holly Yan | CNN

Image: NBC News

George Zimmerman Case: Mounting Confusion With ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law

The fatal encounter between a 17-year-old black teenager and a mixed-race neighborhood watch volunteer has created a furor over “stand your ground” laws, which have been enacted in more than 20 states; legislation is pending in others.

Murder vs. manslaughter: Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder, “an act imminently dangerous to another, and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life.” But a Miami criminal defense attorney who teaches trial strategy explained that “[s]econd degree murder is a crime that is hot-blooded and committed with a depraved mind.”

Is “stand your ground” actually relevant to George Zimmerman? In terms of legal defense, maybe not. “Stand your ground” is an expansion on the so-called Castle Doctrine, the right to defend one’s homestead. Instead of defending yourself on your own personal property, though, “stand your ground” lets you carry that immunity into public property, which can include places of business, like a bar.

Confusion around the law: Supporters such as former Republican senator Durell Peaden and Rep. Dennis Baxley, who co-sponsored the bill, or former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who signed the bill into law, have said Zimmerman lost his right to this defense when he sought out Martin. Bush stated that “Stand your ground means stand your ground. It doesn’t mean chase after somebody who’s turned their back.”

But since the law may be confusing to enforcement—the controversy blew up when Sanford police declined to make an arrest—it has bolstered critics ranging from State Senator Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to call for widespread reform. If self-defense is sufficient, they argue, “stand your ground” may, literally, be legislative overkill.

Who makes the decision? Rather than ask how relevant “stand your ground” is in the Martin-Zimmerman case, the real question may be who makes the decisions in the first place. The Sanford city manager claimed that the law “prohibited” police from making an arrest. Should police make the arrest and leave it to the district attorney to bring charges, as would happen in self-defense cases? Should such cases appear before a judge? Does a jury make the call? These are some of the core questions that will be revisited in the coming months, if not years.

Source: Yahoo News

Image: The Grio