Op-Ed: Trayvon Martin case is it much ado about nothing?
With the shooting death, and future murder trial of Trayvon Martin, many on either side of the fence are missing the point in regards to the case.
George Zimmerman has been charged
with second degree murder in the shooting death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin. This comes two months after the shooting on February 26th and a firestorm of controversy which has seen the media and civil rights leaders converge on Sanford Florida, a police chief resign
, and the replacement of one state attorney
and creation of a task force to investigate the shooting.
Some have said that George Zimmerman is a racist
, his family has said otherwise, most recently his former attorneys stated on Anderson Cooper's 360 that Zimmerman actually mentored black teenagers
alongside his ex-wife and that one of the kids mother said Zimmerman gave her no reason to fear him or think of him as a racist.
A debate can still be had over whether or not Zimmerman used a racial epithet in his call to Police. His attorneys state that Zimmerman is actually saying goons, the affidavit
filed by the prosecution says Zimmerman is saying punks.
The debate about race will not go away anytime soon, and in my opinion has gotten a fresh jolt of life considering the affidavit also claims Zimmerman 'profiled' Trayvon Martin, who was not committing a crime. The affidavit goes on to say that he followed him in spite of being told not to, that he confronted him a struggle ensued and that Zimmerman admitted to Police that he had shot Trayvon Martin.
On the other hand Martin has not been immune from criticism
either the discussion of his suspensions from school, his twitter account and whether or not he was up to something the night of his death or if he had in fact attacked George Zimmerman.
However none of this matters, nor is it supposed to in the eyes of the law. Especially in the prosecution of the case against Zimmerman. He has not been charged with a hate crime, it's unclear but doubtful that race will be used as a factor to prove his guilt, such a tactic would open the door wide to an appeal down the line. The Justice Department is looking into the case but I suspect that they will only make a decision on their own actions to be taken until after the verdict is in since to say the Sanford Police mishandled the case or violated the young man's civil rights now would create prejudice in a future jury's mind.
The question is this, was the shooting of Trayvon Martin justified?
What the prosecution will have to prove to meet the second degree murder
standard is that Zimmerman acted with indifference towards Martin's life and that the shooting was unlawful.
Some have said the case is an overcharge, and they have room to state that considering that right now State Attorney Angela Corey is involved in a lesser known case in which she sparked controversy by charging a 12 year old as an adult for murder, Cristian Fernandez is the youngest defendant charged as an adult in Jacksonville Florida's history. Corey however is negotiating a plea deal and she has said she does not want to see Fernandez face life in prison.
In my opinion I believe that the State Attorney has hit the nail right on the head. What will come back to bite Zimmerman is the fact he got out of his car and followed Martin and continued to do so even though a Police dispatcher told him not to. One of the factors in determining second degree murder is aggravated stalking. The State Attorney's office will most likely paint an image of Zimmerman over zealous about his job as a watch captain and too quick to confront Martin late at night with a loaded gun on his hip.
What people have gotten stuck on his more so people's reactions then there actual actions. Is Zimmerman a racist? No one knows for sure, does it matter, no. In the very least if any evidence to the contrary will be used as character testimony, but it will not help him prove his innocence. Was Martin a troubled youth, even violent? Maybe, maybe not. However that too is a pointless discussion since it has nothing to do with proving what took place the night of February 26th. Kids get into fights at school, they tweet things they shouldn't and some even take pictures holding up the middle finger or even in extreme cases flashing gang signs. Most of the time at heart these youths aren't troubled, aren't burglars and aren't gangsters. Furthermore most likely if they are confronted with a real life situation of violence someone pointing a gun at them they would not know what to do with themselves. I believe Trayvon Martin most likely fell into this category.
Zimmerman's defense is that Martin attacked him and he stood his ground and defended himself. The case will boil down to who struck first George or Trayvon, the trial will probably not begin for another year at the earliest and one could spend all that time debating just that, who struck who first and still not get any closer to the truth until all the facts come to light.
What is important is not what took place five days before the shooting, or three months before, or even years before, whether positive or negative for either Martin or Zimmerman. But what took place in those 2 or 3 minutes which probably felt like hours. That is the only way the truth will come out.