As all of North America now knows, prosecutor Angela Corey charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder. She was in a position of 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' as had she gone with the lesser and easier to prove charge of manslaughter there'd be those who would feel it was a miscarriage of justice, even if he was convicted. But by going with the charge she decided upon she has raised the bar with regard to the burden of truth.
It is now incumbent upon Corey to prove Zimmerman acted from hatred or, as criminal defense attorney Richard Hornsby told msnbc.com
: "Second-degree murder requires him to have engaged in an intentional act with ill will, hatred or spite. It means he basically went and was looking to shoot Trayvon Martin." Given what we know about that Feb. 26 night that is not what happened so by charging him with second-degree murder, the prosecution has ensured Zimmerman will go free.
Charges against Zimmerman hard to prove
What happened isn't fully known, but some events are, and they do not show Zimmerman went looking to kill Trayvon Martin. There was a struggle, we know this because two witnesses saw it, and a struggle paints a picture different from someone going out with the intention to kill. After all, if you want to kill someone and have a gun you don't have to fight them first. You'd just shoot them and have it done with.
Further, both witnesses said Zimmerman was on the bottom and losing and one said he yelled out
to him for help. There are no witnesses that say Martin was on the bottom losing the fight; one witness did say that after
the shot was fired she saw Zimmerman standing over the body, but not before. The only two who saw actual fighting saw him on the bottom and losing.
That there was a fight, as those two witnesses say, and Zimmerman was losing, conspires with other compelling information to suggest second-degree murder won't stick. Here's other pertinent points: the injuries to the back of his head and a medical report that says his nose was broken (if such a report exits);
the 'stand your ground' law and the notion of self-defense;
the 911 transcript that strongly indicates Zimmerman stopped
following Martin when it was suggested that he do so by the operator.
On that final point we know he stopped following Martin because his breathing changes from that of a person running to someone walking, this right after it's suggested he stop the pursuit. He then talks to the operator
calmly for a minute and 45 seconds as he walks back to his vehicle. That part of the conversation was underreported. But it happened. There's no evidence he went after Martin after the operator had told him "we don't need you to do that." They met, obviously, and tragically, but there's nothing to prove that Zimmerman returned to following and stalking Trayvon Martin.
Voice on the Transcript: Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman
The only evidence that could defeat the above is the voice heard screaming on the 911 call made by a neighbour. Two experts believe it wasn't Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin's parents say it's their son screaming. If it is proven to be Martin's voice it will be enough to go to trial and perhaps enough for a conviction. After all, to shoot someone while they're screaming for help, a clear indicator they're losing the struggle, that speaks to hatred and intention to kill
But Zimmerman's family insists it's Zimmerman screaming, friends also recognize the voice, they say. It jives with Zimmerman's story, but that doesn't prove it was him. But wouldn't a man with a background in criminal justice know about voice analysis? He would and that suggests he would not lie about it. The suspicion here is that, as the witness who saw the fight said and Zimmerman and his family say, it is Zimmerman's voice. But whichever one of them is screaming, it is hoped that it can be determined conclusively who that person is.
Special Prosecutor Angela Corey: Tough choice
The evidence does not seem to be there and a conviction seems to be highly unlikely, but Corey had to push it toward trial. Justice must not only be working but be seen to be working and there needed to be a venue for all this testimony to come out, for the truths to have the opportunity to combat the media and public's rush to judgement. Without the trial, or evidentiary hearing, then the facts come out piecemeal through the media. There'd be no putting it all together and the perception that Zimmerman is guilty of intentionally taking a life would continue.
Would he be found guilty of manslaughter? Maybe, but he cannot now be charged with that. The hope is that when the evidence is heard and understood, which ever way it goes, that everyone, regardless of where they stood at the start, will accept the result as being the right one. The gamble Corey has taken is that if Zimmerman walks, and again that seems likely, there will be many who'll say, regardless of what the evidence said, that it was a miscarriage of justice.
So the special prosecutor would certainly have been damned had she not charged him with second-degree murder and she may end up being damned for having done so.