The Case Against George Zimmerman Is Weak

So said TalkLeft’s Jeralyn Merritt:

Why Zimmerman reported Trayvon to the non-emergency number is a red herring. It doesn’t matter if he profiled him or unfairly suspected him of criminal activity. It doesn’t matter that he was a crime warrior. He didn’t break the law. His neighborhood watch program, set up with the assistance of the police, instructed residents to report suspicious activity. That’s what he did. He wasn’t on watch that night, he had a concealed weapons permit, and it wasn’t a crime to get out of his car to see where Trayvon had run off to, so he could tell the police when they got there.

All that matters legally is whether Trayvon Martin’s physical attack on him caused him to reasonably believe he was in danger of serious bodily injury or death. Zimmerman’s testimony, which is supported by proof of his injuries and witnesses observing the struggle, is that Martin broke his nose and banged his head against cement. He tried to get up and couldn’t. Using an objective standard, a reasonable person in that situation would fear imminent serious bodily injury if he didn’t react with force.

The state is unlikely to prevail in arguing Zimmerman was the aggressor because to be the aggressor, Zimmerman had to contemporaneously provoke the force Martin used against him. Zimmerman’s profiling of Martin and call to the non-emergency number were not contemporaneous with Martin’s attack. Even if the state could convince a judge or jury that Zimmerman was following Martin, rather than walking back to his car, rendering his pursuit a contemporaneous act, it is not an act that provokes Martin’s use of force against him. Demanding someone account for their presence does not provoke the use of force. Even if it could be construed to be provocation for using force, all it means is Zimmerman had to attempt reasonable means to extricate himself before using deadly force in response. W-6’s steadfast insistence that Zimmerman was struggling to get up and out from under Trayvon, right before the shot went off, fulfills that requirement. Zimmerman will say the same. And no witnesses saw anything different.

Now, this all speaks to the legal case and not the underlying social issues. Having said that, I found this account very convincing and – unless new information comes to light, less than comfortable with the prosecution. (This was written a while back, but a scan of what has been written since doesn’t move the needle). Merritt’s explanation of events – even keeping in mind that she is a defense lawyer – has changed my mind on the legal aspects (again, pending more information). I had a lot of skepticism of Zimmerman’s story in the more immediate aftermath of the story.

The underlying social issues I wrote about here remain in tact. And none of this should be construed as believing that Martin “deserved” what he got. Even if it wasn’t a crime, it was a horrible tragedy. I’d need to see a robust explanation from the prosecution, but as it stands, I’m less neutral on the “What if I was a juror?” question than I was. If what Merritt cites as law (what qualifies as a provocative action on Zimmerman’s part and so forth – more here). I’m also less sure about the “acted immorally” part, though Zimmerman’s actions still don’t sit right on a gut level (or I’m not entirely sold on his narrative… or both).

There’s been a lot of talk on the issue over here and thought I would share my updated perspective.

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.


  1. Hey Will…..your article sure does assume alot pal……you are assuming Zippy Zimmerman is telling the truth and we all know he is a liar….Do you have any idea what kind of person it takes to do what Zimmerman said this kid did? Any idea at all? There is only a minuscule % of the population that would double back in a situation like that for the sole purpose of administering a brutal beating to a complete and total stranger…a stranger that was menacing him….a stranger who he originally ran away from…a stranger who got out of his vehicle and ran after him on foot….in other words…a lunatic….the more likely scenario is that Zimmerman caught this kid because the kid was in unfamiliar surroundings…the grass was wet…maybe the kid slipped down…only little Zippy knows for sure….Hero wannabe caught that kid and the kid fought to get away from this unknown loon who never even bothered to identify himself…maybe while they were struggling, little Zippy is the one who slipped and busted the back of his head on the concrete but the kid then fell on top of him because Zimmerman didnt want to let him go….there are a MILLION different scenarios to account for the minor injuries Zimmerman had….your entire premise is that the kid attacked Zimmerman just like Georgey said he did….I call BS on that Will…..there is not one shred of evidence that this kid had what it takes to do what Zimmerman says….if he did, you can bet there would be plenty of evidence the kid was violent, yet not one single person from this kid’s neighborhood has come out and said he was a bad kid…not ONE! None of his friends…none of his enemies….none of his teachers…none of his neighbors…none of his coaches….etc etc…..wake up Will….wake up son!

    • You are so right man. No evidence what so ever from anyone other than George who claim that Trayvon was violent. The author does not like the facts of the case and is willing to pretend he never heard Zimmerman’s contradictions on the re-enactment vs the NEN call.

    • I don’t assume that Zimmerman is telling the truth, but I do think it remains enough of a possibility that in conjunction with witness statements and evidence to warrant “reasonable doubt.”

      I thought Zimmerman’s original story – that he was jumped on the way back to his truck – was ludicrous until I read Merritt’s piece. She put together a timeline that both makes sense and corresponds with evidence. All of that can be true and Zimmerman still could have thrown the first punch or verbally threatened physical harm… but I don’t think it meets the threshold (and I’m not sure the threshold should be where it is met).

  2. If the jury applies the law correctly, the defense need only raise a reasonable doubt in order to secure an acquittal. So it could be more likely than not that Zimmerman deliberately engineered the encounter with Martin and it could be more likely than not that Zimmerman was the physical aggressor in that encounter rather than the scenario outlined by Ms. Merritt.

    Witness #6’s corroboration of Zimmerman’s story that he had to struggle to get out from underneath Martin in their altercation raises a reasonable doubt, even if not the likelihood, that Martin initiated the encounter and by virtue of using the initiative to get the drop on Zimmerman.

    Reasonable doubt should result in acquittal. Those who thirst for justice should bear in mind that this is a feature of our justice system, not a bug. As a recent commenter pointed out frequently, mercy is the opposite of justice. But by the same token, vengeance is also the opposite of justice.

    • Being able to kill the best witness against you in order to create reasonable doubt results in a very perverse incentive.

        • No. That’s a bug, even if it’s one that’s baked deep into the system.

          My high school physics teacher was crazy. Not weird. Certifiable. He basically never taught any physics; he’d spend the whole period telling stories about things he’d done or seen or thought about. One day he told us he’d surprised some intruders in his backyard, and he was ready to blast them, except that they were too quick to run away and he didn’t think he could explain the hole in the fence. Then he gave us a piece of sage advice: If you ever need to shoot someone, shoot to kill, or they’ll sue the hell out of you.

          • I’ll go you one worse – I know a person who keeps an unlicensed, unregistered firearm in his home, for the express purpose of planting on any unarmed intruder that he might shoot. 🙁

          • that he might shoot with his registered guns, that is. Of which he has plenty.

          • No. That’s a bug, even if it’s one that’s baked deep into the system.

            +1 to that.

            A system that encourages people to kill the witnesses? SYG is state-sponsored witness tampering, nothing more.

          • If the perverse incentive of killing a witness to obviate adverse testimony in a prosecution is a bug and not a feature, then it’s a bug indelibly inherent in the nature of death, not in the nature of our legal system.

            Hypothetically, shift the focus out of the Anglo-American jurisphere, away from the presumption of innocence (also feature not bug), away from the beyond a reasonable doubt standard of evidence.

            In such a system, it’s still the case that if you kill someone, she can no longer tell other people her side of the story. That’s unavoidable no matter what standards you apply. And perverse incentives can be identified — and I take it on faith that at least some individuals will be weird enough to respond to them — no matter how a legal system is structured.

            Anecdotes and big talk from blowhards are not evidence nor are they a substantial basis for theoretical critique of the system. I say, there is no non-anecdotal evidence that the requirement of the state proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt has caused people commiting crimes to escalate them to murder to any appreciable or measurable extent. It is probable that those people who have been murdered would have been murdered anyway were the legal standard of proof for conviction to have been different, because the reasons people kill (the vast majority of times that they do kill) are substantially unrelated to the kind of calculating forethought necessary to evaluate things like prosecutorial evidentiary burdens.

            Assemble enough anecdotes and perhaps you’ll have data. But I haven’t seen anything more than reports of big talkers with guns, things people who seem to have never actually shot anyone say to assure themselves of their own potency and impress others with this self-assurance. Even if these people really would kill in such situations — indeed, these stories are brags about their clever plans to literally commit murder despite the amazing psychological toll such an act would exact and no corresponding tangible gain to be realized from doing it — even if you could show me that such a thing was real and not just big talk from creepy weirdos, that would still not move me. Whatever metric is proper with which to evaluate a legal system, the kooky responses of isolated individuals to half-baked cynical manipulations of it are exceptions and not rules.

            We resist the idea of fundamentally altering our government-funded social welfare system because some isolated individuals cheat it, and we should. From a policy level, we can tolerate the cheaters because the system overall does a net good for society. So too does the legal system’s structure work a net good, even if we were to concede (and for my part, I do not so concede) that there are individuals who cynically manipulate it to get away with murder.

            Feature, not bug.

          • There are two distinct issues. The first is Stand Your Ground. The second is the evidenciary threshold of “reasonable doubt” as it pertains to a claim of self-defense. People seem to be citing the first when the more salient issue at hand in this specific case is the second*. Maybe the two are related insofar as the threshold was changed with the SYG law, but according to the TL commentariat a lot of states have the threshold (I’ve heard 20) while they don’t all have a SYG law.

            * – Merritt convincingly argues, to me anyway, that because a witness saw him try to get away while he was being pummelled, SYG probably isn’t even necessary in this case. However, the threshold is more likely to be necessary so that Zimmerman doesn’t have to demonstrate that he didn’t start the physical altercation.

          • The first is Stand Your Ground. The second is the evidenciary threshold of “reasonable doubt” as it pertains to a claim of self-defense.

            The problem is that SYG changes the evidenciary threshold.

            If prosecutors press charges, any defendant claiming self-defense is now entitled to a hearing before a judge. At the immunity hearing, a judge must decide based on the “preponderance of the evidence” whether to grant immunity. That’s a far lower burden than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the threshold prosecutors must meet at trial.

            Mr. Likko says there aren’t statistics. And the problem is he’s right because SYG cases don’t get recorded reliably. “A comprehensive analysis of “stand your ground” decisions is all but impossible. When police and prosecutors decide not to press charges, they don’t always keep records showing how they reached their decisions. And no one keeps track of how many “stand your ground” motions have been filed or their outcomes.”

            So what to do? We have to rely on looking at case after case, as we can get our hands on them. We have to look at individual case studies because they’re all we get. Would that it were not so, but those who created SYG knew what they were doing and didn’t want the system set up to be accountable – which is another point against SYG.

          • MA,

            That doesn’t say whether the “reasonable doubt” threshold is actually a product of SYG. The SYG phase of the trial actually has a higher threshold – for the defendant – than the self-defense. In the SYG phase of the trial, the defendant has to demonstrate a preponderance of evidence. In the self-defense phase of the trial, the defendant merely has to establish reasonable doubt.

        • As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve only ever had one criminal case, so maybe I’m wrong about this, but in cases where the defendant is asserting an affirmative defense such as self-defense, isn’t the burden of proof on him to show that he qualifies for that defense by either a preponderance of evidence or clear and convincing evidence. The prosecution still needs to show that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, but to the extent they’ve succeed, the burden is then on the defendant to establish the affirmative defense (ie, that the crime was excused for some reason or another). The rationale for this burden being on the defendant for affirmative defenses is, of course, that they are usually going to be in sole possession of the evidence needed to prove that they qualify for it.

          IIRC, this was one of the major problems with the SYG law: it says that a defendant who qualifies for SYG hasn’t committed a crime at all, not merely that their commission of that crime is excused. IOW, SYG goes beyond traditional notions of self-defense being an affirmative defense and, in effect, places the burden on the investigators to prove a negative, and to effectively do so before even initiating the prosecution – the defendant technically isn’t supposed to even be arrested or charged unless and until the police have determined the defendant is ineligible for SYG, regardless of whether the defendant raises the defense.

          • Mark, see my above comment. Is SYG really the thing that changes the evidenciary threshold? According to some of TL’s commenters, it’s not that uncommon. However, you’re a lawyer and if you (or Burt Likko) authoritatively tell me different, I will believe you.

          • SYG goes beyond traditional notions of self-defense being an affirmative defense and, in effect, places the burden on the investigators to prove a negative, and to effectively do so before even initiating the prosecution

            That’s my (layman’s) understanding too. All someone in that situation has to do is make up a plausible story about it being self-defense (using “someone” because I’m not necessarily calling Zimmerman a liar), and because the victim isn’t around to contradict him, he can’t even be arrested.

            Sorry, Burt. Giant fishing bug.

          • Weill, it’s quite posible that the available evidence will lead to an acquittal. That situation proceeds from SYG as the excuse for the crap initial investigation, which is why SYG keeps coming up.

          • Mike, I get that SYG hindered the investigation (or at least may have). I just want a clearer conversation about what we can and cannot lay at the doorstep of that law as far as conviction/acquittal goes.

            Also, none of this should be considered a defense of SYG. On the contrary, I’m wondering if there is a problem or something to be debated even if they get rid of SYG. I’m worried that SYG might become a catch-all for all that’s wrong here, when it might go beyond that (or, the other way, something that is worth defending gets tossed aside because it’s associated with SYG).

          • Will – Do you have a link to some of those comments? I’d like to get an idea of what they’re precisely saying, especially since they may well be correct.

          • Mark, IANAL but I was empaneled on a self-defense case. If this burden of proof on the defense was in fact present, it took place prior to the trial; in the proceedings themselves, we were simply told that defendant did not context the shooting but made a self-defense claim; prosecution presented evidence/witnesses, then defense presented their version of events and evidence, and attempted to discredit the accounts of the prosecution’s witnesses; the defendant was acquitted.

          • Glyph, what were the judge’s instructions about where the burden of proof was? I’ve only been a juror on one criminal case, which was a DUI, and the usual “reasonable doubt” standard applied (and was met: guilty.)

          • Mike – as I understood it, burden of proof still rests with prosecution, to beyond a reasonable doubt standard – that is, prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that defendant was *not* acting in self-defense.

            I should clarify that I was dismissed as an alternate prior to deliberations, so if I have misunderstood I apologize. I would likely have voted to acquit (barring something coming up in deliberations that maybe I had missed or something); not because the defendant seemed like a good guy, but because the defense had succeeded in casting reasonable doubt on the state’s case and version of events.

            Also, without naming my state, it is safe to say we are known for fairly expansive self-defense laws; in many states, I think it works more like Mark says.

          • Mark, it’s discussed briefly here with one person writing an expanded definition that I can’t fully decipher and another stating that 20 states have laws similar to Florida’s in this regard (with no further explanation).

            I’m trying to find more info. Here’s something that jumped out at me: Surprisingly few states actually have a duty of retreat. Florida’s is, if not the norm, not very unusual it would appear (if CNN is right). that’s a different question than what we’re talking about, but I found it interesting all the same.

          • Thanks, Will – that jogs my memory quite well, actually. My memory was wrong that SYG alters the burden of proof (or persuasion) – the commenters at TL are absolutely right about that. What it does is create a de facto shift in the burden of production, though technically I suppose it isn’t necessarily a de jure shifting of that burden. By that I mean that affirmative defenses require the defendant to produce some evidence that they are eligible for the defense; a defendant can’t just say “self-defense” and get an acquittal, he’s got to produce at least some sort of evidence that he’s eligible for the defense. The retreat doctrine, from what I’ve been able to gather, basically adds a second element on which the defendant must produce evidence to get the defense, and obviously SYG gets rid of that second element, but that’s not a terribly radical change.

            But by making a Defendant immune from even arrest unless the prosecution has probable cause to believe that SYG is inapplicable, the effect is to place even the burden of production on the prosecution, at least prior to trial. Once a defendant says the words “self-defense”, SYG’s effect is to force the prosecutor to produce evidence providing her with probable cause that there is no self defense. That is definitely a big change.

          • Mark Thompson, my understanding of it is that it creates an additional hurdle before charges can even be filed or a grand jury empaneled, and that it further hinders an investigation by giving a suspect who claims SYG status immunity from arrest prior to the immunity hearing.

            That’s a massive shift in the process. Can’t be arrested, police can’t collect evidence in the due order they normally might, and all you have to do is convince one judge that a “preponderance of evidence” indicates you maybe-kinda-might-have-had a self-defense motive in order to get full immunity from charges even being filed against you.

            This lets things happen such as a drug dealer committing multiple murders and using SYG to claim full immunity each time.

            I mentioned above that Mr. Likko was correct that we lacked statistics. I was slightly incorrect as I’ve found one right here that seems to be problematic:

            In Florida, prosecutors and police associations opposed Stand Your Ground, to no effect. Since the law was passed, the number of “justifiable homicides” has tripled. Last year, according to the Tampa Bay Times, “twice a week, on average, someone’s killing was considered warranted.” This week, the state attorney in Tallahassee, Willie Meggs, told the Times, “The consequences of the law have been devastating around the state. It’s almost insane what we are having to deal with.” Gang members, drug dealers, and road-rage killers are, according to Meggs, all successfully invoking Stand Your Ground. “The person who is alive always says, ‘I was in fear that he was going to hurt me.’ … And the other person would say, ‘I wasn’t going to hurt anyone.’ But he is dead. That is the problem they are wrestling with in Sanford.”

            A threefold rise in the number of “justifiable homicide” cases ought to tell you something in the law is not working correctly. Whether it’s the perverse incentive to kill the witness and lie about the case, or the fact that police can’t even properly investigate or arrest the shooter prior to the “immunity hearing”, SYG appears to have become a shield for killers.

      • I hope you aren’t really suggesting that Zimm killed Martin just to create reasonable doubt?

        • No, I doubt he was thinking that far ahead. But see the above story for someone who was.

      • Kind of a stupid thing to say. Pretty sure you were not on the debate team in school. So your saying its not a defense for murder because there was a murder? Great logic

        • The indenting suggests that you’re responding to me, but I have no idea what you’re trying to say.

  3. Merritt’s writing on the subject has brought me around to the conclusion that he’s likely to warrant an acquittal, and that the prosecutor has done a less than wonderful job on the case. As you say, that doesn’t make what happened morally defensible, and even legally it’s a close enough issue that the shoddy initial investigation (which is what animated most of the outrage) remains inexcusable.

    • I’m curious, what would make the whole thing morally defensible? People keep saying that Zimm didnt have to shoot Martin, no he could have let himself be beaten up or I guess Martin could have chosen not to attack him. How bad does it have to be before you can use deadly force to protect yourself?

      • Or Zimmerman could have kept his dumb ass in the truck and not freaked a kid out by getting out and following him in the dark.

        • Sure but as others have said, zimm broke no laws by getting out of the car and following martin. If you are MA you will bleat something about zimm stalking martin with a gun though that isn’t correct. It is a sad situation all around.

          • Scott its not against the law to get out the car and follow Trayvon.. You cant use SYG law when you chase after someone with a gun and put yourself in a situation then when the other person gets the better of the fight you shoot them.. Now who really was lookin for trouble Was it Trayvon who jusy left 711 buying candy and a drink and walking back to his dads place , or GZ riding around with a loaded 9mm crusing along side TM to keep in sight of him then when TM runs GZ jumps out of his Car and purses him?? Commen sense lets use it people!

      • Was it against the law for Martin to defend himself against an armed stalker?

        Look, consider this scenario as a hypothetical version of events:

        Zimmerman gets out of his truck, confronts Martin.
        Martin, fearful of the man who has tailed him and is now in his face (and perhaps seeing the gun) and thinking he’s about to be assaulted, defends himself with his fists.
        Zimmerman, being now assaulted by Martin, pulls his gun and shoots him.

        Both actors were clearly working within the boundaries of Florida’s self-defense laws. Both were either under assault or had reasonable fear of assault — “reasonable fear” being actually a higher threshold than Florida requires for SYG.

        We now have a case where two people self-defended against each other, with apparently no one legally at fault. If Martin had been armed and killed Zimmerman, his self-defense claim would be at least as strong as Zimmerman’s claim!

        So is it “good law” wherein two people can escalate to deadly violence with no legal culpability?

        As I’ve said before — I suppose the real lesson here is Martin should have killed Zimmerman from the get-go, which would have left him alive and with a solid case for being deemed innocent. (Other than being black, which I understand skews conviction rates like crazy).

        Florida’s law apparently rewarded lethal violence over non-lethal violence in this case.

        • Zimmerman wasn’t feloniously stalking Martin. It hasn’t been demonstrated that he was actually breaking any law prior to the altercation. Merritt makes the case that Zimmerman’s actions – unlike Martin’s – did not legally provoke a use of force. The “Martin was standing his ground” argument – as best as I can tell – only fits if it can be demonstrated that Zimmerman made an affirmative threat, struck first, or was in the commission of a felony.

          • Simple assault can be distinguished without the intent of injury upon another person. The violation of one’s personal space or touching in a way the victim deemed inappropriate can be simple assault. In common law states an assault is not committed by merely, for example, swearing at another; without threat of battery, there can be no assault.
            [quoting from wiki].

          • Look, consider this scenario as a hypothetical version of events:

            There was a reason I prefaced my remarks with that statement. I wanted to discuss the law and the consequences of it, not mentally jerk-off to events only two people witnessed, one of whom is dead.

          • Kim. Good luck telling a cop you punched someone because they got into your personal space.

          • Fair enough. I was responding to the first sentence, which I took to be a reference to the less hypothetical. As for your hypothetical… within your hypothetical, it depends on whether the violation of personal space actually constitutes assault. If it does, then Zimmerman (by my understanding) can no longer hide behind SYG. If it doesn’t, than SYG doesn’t apply to Martin.

            This is, of course, complicated by the fact that whichever one standing gets first word on what happened. You do have a point with that. But that’s the case with a lot of crimes. Strategically, it’s a mixed bag. On the one hand, if you kill the person then you may be less likely to go to jail. On the other hand, if you kill the person you are going to jail for a much longer period of time. Given the randomness of the situation, I’m not sure that’s worth the risk. If there no witnesses, the assault then becomes he-said/he-said. I’m not really sure how easy or hard a conviction is in that case, but it’s pretty far from a slam dunk. If there are witnesses, then it matters a great deal how things actually transpired rather than the culprit’s strategic thinking.

          • james,
            Being female and relatively small, I bet I could get away with it.
            SomethingPositive has detailed some (potentially not fictional) people
            getting away with worse.

          • the fact that an occasional comment or two of mine resembles Randy’s comics is not an accident. (he’s a friend of a friend, and my friend tells many stories.)

          • The violation of one’s personal space or touching in a way the victim deemed inappropriate can be simple assault.

            There’s no evidence that Zimmerman did that, either. Again, claims that Zimmerman did anything at all that was illegal or would legally be considered provocation to violence are entirely speculative.

        • Was it against the law for Martin to defend himself against an armed stalker?

          I’ve seen the word ‘stalker’ used to a lot for Zimmerman’s actions. I wondered about this because stalking is a criminal activity. Having been stalked, I personally believe it’s a form of terrorism. Yesterday, I googled FL stalking laws and Federal stalking laws. All are clear; stalking is a ‘repeated’ activity. It’s not following someone once.

          Now I wonder if there’s a case to be made that stalking could be construed to include following a group of individuals? Not a single person, as I was stalked, but anyone who fits a profile, ‘young, male, black,’ for instance?

          Perhaps; it does seem like Zimmerman was stalking Martin to me. But legally, that does not seem to be the case, so care is called for between the social use of the term and the legal use of the term. Legally, stalking would add to the weight of Zimmerman’s actions leading up to the murder; but unless the ‘repeated’ includes the pattern of profiling, there’s no stalking involved.

  4. So, then what’s going to happen if and when Zimmerman is found not guilty? Kick it up to a federal court?

    (I presume also Zimmerman will be found at fault in a civil trial and basically give up any money he’s going to make for the rest of his life)

    • I have a hard time seeing this kicked up to federal court – for starters, there’s no jurisdictional hook since he wasn’t acting under color of law and wasn’t engaged in anything resembling interstate commerce.

      Whether he is found liable in a civil trial will be a much different question, though, especially given the lower evidentiary standards. I suspect a lot will hinge there on whether SYG, while an absolute bar to a murder conviction, can also be used in a wrongful death action (ordinary self-defense could be, obviously, but ).

      • Mark, I know you are the lawyer, but remember this?

        If they want to make a federal case, they will:

        “The government also had to cite an “interstate nexus” to justify federal prosecution. You might think that would be a challenge, since all of these crimes occurred within a single state. But hey, look, Dettelbach says: The “Wahl battery-operated hair clippers” used in the assaults “were purchased at Walmart and had travelled in and affected interstate commerce in that they were manufactured in Dover, Delaware.” The defendants also used “a pair of 8” horse mane shears which were manufactured in the State of New York and sent via private, interstate postal carrier to [a retailer] in Ohio for resale.” They took pictures of their victims with “a Fuji disposable camera from Walmart” that “travelled in and affected interstate commerce in that it was manufactured in Greenwood, South Carolina.” They used “an instrumentality of interstate commerce” (i.e., a highway) to reach victims in Trumbull County, Ohio. (They never actually left the state, but they could have.) The indictment also mentions a letter (carried by the U.S. Postal Service!) that was used to lure one of the victims. An embarrassment of interstate nexuses, in more ways than one.”

        The Amish case had no racial angle, and the victims didn’t “look like anybody’s son” in mainstream America – and they weren’t even killed.

        If there is enough public outcry, or a federal prosecutor wants to make their name, nothing would shock me.

        Where was Zimmerman’s car or gun manufactured again?

        • This seemed silly with the Amish beard-clipping case and it seems silly now.

          But, if you could non-laughably say that Zimmerman had a co-conspirator (the neighborhood watch program itself, for instance? Alleging that such things are somehow biased against African-Americans because people suspect African-Americans of criminal activity when people other races doing similar things are not so suspected?), you might be able to construct a civil action under 42 U.S.C. 1983(3). That plane might not fly very far on the evidence, but I could see it surviving a preliminary motion to dismiss.

          • FWIW, that’s section 1985, not section 1983, an important distinction since 1983 requires the defendant to be a state actor, whereas 1985 does not, but is otherwise narrower than 1983 insofar as it includes a specific intent requirement (ie, that the act be “for the purpose” of depriving African Americans of their Constitutional Rights). I don’t think this would survive a motion to dismiss under either 1983 or 1985, though I’ve got a lot less experience with 1985 actions (read: none) than I do with 1983 actions (read: some).

      • I have a hard time seeing this kicked up to federal court – for starters, there’s no jurisdictional hook since he wasn’t acting under color of law and wasn’t engaged in anything resembling interstate commerce.

        Do you really think that there’s any limit to the degree to which the Feds will stretch “commerce between the states” when it suits their purposes?

        I suspect a lot will hinge there on whether SYG, while an absolute bar to a murder conviction, can also be used in a wrongful death action (ordinary self-defense could be, obviously, but ).

        Why exactly do you think that this wouldn’t qualify as ordinary self-defense? Either way:

        A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force….

    • The reason why crump and the martin family want this to go to trial is because that is the only way they can make any money. If the case is thrown out before then they can’t sue anyone. This is not a SYG case. This is a self defense case. Zimmerman is saying he could not retreat and he did not attack. Trayvon had no marks on him and was seen over zimmerman punching him. SYG is not the same thing. The media keeps reporting on SYG but it has nothing to do with this case.

      • Yeah, the only reason the Martin family wants to see their son’s killer punished is money.

        Not that you’re a racist,

    • If this case is tossed out before trial there can’t be a civil case against zimmerman. They won’t get any money. Which is the reason jackson and crump keep saying all they want is a trial and let the jury decide. This same group of lawyers were involved in a major lawsuit in the south that brought in hundreds of millions of dollars. Just would like to see one news report that would tie together what really happend at the start of this whole thing.

      • If this case is tossed out before trial there can’t be a civil case against zimmerman.

        That’s not true at all. If the criminal case is tossed out before trial, the civil lawyers would just have to work a little harder if they chose to pursue the action. A lawyer who seriously hopes to bring home a case worth big money will not shrink from doing the work necessary to get it.

        • Not against zimmerman. Maybe against the property owner. If it would have happend on zimmermans propert than yes.

          • Not against zimmerman. Maybe against the property owner. Zimmerman was not owner of the property. I know of cases of people breaking into homes and being shot and sueing for medicle bills. The fact the trayvon was underage his parents may get money but not from zimmerman. The big question is going to be who is zimmerman going to sue if this case gets thrown out? Was zimmerman civil rights violated by the state of florida?

          • And where did you take your law degree, james? Mine came from Loyola of Los Angeles. Granted, that was eighteen years ago so I may not be experienced enough to really understand what I’m talking about just yet.

          • Burt, I hate to tell you this, but your law degree is ancient history old chum. You learned that stuff 18 years ago. I read what I read on the Internet *yesterday*. So there.

  5. Once again every single post saying zimmerman is guilty is not backed up by the facts of this case. What law did zimmerman break by getting out of his car and seeing where trayvon went? Is it illegal to walk up to someone in your neighborhood and ask what they are doing? This neighborhood was and is known for young black men breaking into homes. Trayvon was a young black man walking in between homes in the rain. Zimmerman was on the phone with the police and you suspect he was stalking trayvon. Let’s do a media story about trayvons backround. His father the gangbanger was not mr. Cosby. Why is the media so afraid of telling the real story. Crump and sharpton kept saying the police department were not doing their jobs and at the same time refused to tell them the codes to cell phone or this girl dee dee for weeks. The same time most of you guys say zimmerman can’t be trusted I say crump and the martin family have also told a bunch of lies. This girl dee dee was 18 at the time, she never went to the hospital and they were not dating. The one thing that the state needed to charge zimmerman is starting to look like a big scam. Dee dee the the key to the whole case. She told crump that zimmerman asked trayvon what he was doing there and then pushed him first. If this turns out to be a lie then people need to be charged and the martin family should return the millions of dollars they got from this case.

      • Yes. Was posting in regards to the others that keep getting their facts wrong or not understanding the law. Getting out of someones car is not a crime. Can care less about zimmerman just don’t like the media’s flat out lying and the justice system charging someone without any proof. Don’t know how crump got through law school when he thinks that in our justice system its okay to charge someone and let the jury figure it out. That’s not how it works.

        • Getting out of the truck led to the chain of events which makes him very responsible since trayvon did not attack Zim at his vehicle. Following someone with a loaded gun is called stalking and there are laws on the books for that. I urge you to follow someone with your loaded gun now watch how fast charges will be brought on you

          • Truman – you can walk freely but the path he took led to his a actions to kill trayvon. All aspect of murder is taken in consideration and exiting the truck and to be heard huffing and puffing ( running) on NEN call cannot be overlooked or dismissed

          • Derrick, my issue is that you used the word “stalking”, which has a specific legal meaning that Zimmerman’s actions do not meet. If you want to argue that Zimmerman’s actions prior to the altercation were in fact illegal, you need to give me a term that has a specific legal meaning (one that I can look up) and you need to explain to me why Zimmerman hasn’t been charged with it.

            Merritt examines this (the legality of Zimmerman’s actions) as well as other issues you touch upon (Zimmerman’s inconsistent statements) in her voluminous posts. She is, at the moment, more convincing than you are. At least within the legal thresholds we’re looking.

          • Derrick. You keep saying that zimmerman stalked trayvon because he had a gun. He had a permit for the gun and the comment about is it ok to defend yourself against a stalker also does not make sense. I don’t think you understand the law. To defend yourself means that first you need to be attacked. Trayvon had zero marks on him and the only proof that you have is a statement from dee dee that says zimmerman pushed trayvon first. The one thing the state needed to charge him. You don’t think is weird that crump found this girl weeks later and got her statement then lied and said she was a minor and would not let her speak to the police. This seems fair and normal for a murder case?? Its crazy

    • James – Zimmerman’s inconsistent statements is the best evidence to date

      • Derrick. Ok, what lies are you talking about? Hope your not going to say the money thing. If you are then you should have no problems with the defense looking into trayvons past. You do know trayvons father was a member of the crips gang. He even had a gang tattoo on his neck until the media picked up the story and he got a tattoo of praying hands to cover it up. How about trayvons twitter account? Talking about getting a bj and calling girls disgusting names. Funny the same people that are responsible for this thug life lifestyle that is killing so many young people were the same ones to come out in support of the martin family. A 17 year old covered in tattoos and acting like a thug causes people to think your a thug.

  6. Does anyone else think the state has been complete jerks in this case. Maybe they are trying to look like they are doing every single thing possible to make zimmerman guilty because they fear riots. Love how they only released documents that made zimmerman look like a rascist and possible involved in incest. Then they try to get a gag order on the defense before they release anything that might make zimmerman look innocent. Not one news story on the documents just released that said that black neighbors have said zimmerman was a great guy and that this whole thing is bs because there were black kids breaking into homes that very week and that the voice on tape yelling for help is for sure zimmerman. Instead they report that a longtime resident said the police were known to be rascist. Mind you the same guy said that was a long time ago and thing have been a lot better in recent years. That of course was left out. Anything to sell a story

  7. This case is truly amazing. The state charged him for not breaking any particular law. They are saying its a combination of everything that makes him guilty. Its like getting a ticket for going the speed limit. If anyone could explain what law zimmerman broke. Please don’t say he should not have left his car or that he stalked trayvon. Profiling is not against the law if your a private citizen. Thanks

      • Killing someone in a reckless manner is a crime? Don’t even know how to respond to that. If you have a permit to carry a gun its not stalking to walk up to someone. I am not an expert if you could tell me what florida statute that is I will apoligize and hope zimmerman goes to jail. All I’m saying is nobody can point to what law zimmerman broke yet he was charged. The only thing the state has is the statement from dee dee that is coming apart everyday. The state told crump what they needed to charge zimmerman and three weeks later crump gives a press conference saying he connected the dots and by the way nobody can talk to dee because she is a minor. All lies

        • It’s plain common sense that one cannot kill based on prejustice alone
          If you standby Zimmerman’s actions then imagine someone open fire on you based assumptions without due process of law as we are entitle to.

          • As soon as trayvon attacked zimmerman it was not prejustice anymore. If zimmerman ran up to trayvon and shot him in cold blood then yes he should be found guilty. All I’m saying is there is no proof that happend. Is that what you think? Zimmerman saw a black kid and decided to chase him and shoot him? You do know the week before there was a robbery involving young black men? Zimmerman saw a young black man walking between the homes in the rain and called the cops and then trayvon took off running and zimmerman followed him and then lost him. What’s so horrible about that? Is that wrong or against the law? I had an old guy on my block growing up and he would always be watching us and asking what we were up to. It never crossed my mind to attack him. Just yelled stupid stuff at him.

          • To say that trayvon attacked Zimmerman must be examined closely. There are several versions in Zimmerman based on statements to police that he was jumped and another version stating after questioning tray that he was abruptly punched in the nose. Keep in mind trayvon did not follow Zimmerman to instigate a fight and we all know from the NEN call the sequence of events that lead Zimmerman in tray’s vicinity .

  8. Good article, mind you most of the commentors seem to be the most backward, ill-informed, morons I’ve encountered, with the possible exception of the racist morons over on the Huffington Posts threads. (Especially you “LC”.)

    I took notice of this case back in March when Jessy was still trying to claim that Zimmerman hunted Martin down, put him on his knees and shot him in the back of the head. At that time I took a look at the evidence that was released, the statments from witnesses, the photo’s, and I must have listened to that dispatch recording about a dozen times… I have yet to see ANYTHING that in any way suggests that this did not occur pretty much exactly as Mr Zimmerman discribes.

    The FBI and FDLE both did independant investigations into both Zimmerman and the Sanford Police’s investigation of the incident and what did these bring us? The conclusion from the FDLE is that the Sanford Police did a proper and thurough investigation, and the FBI could not come up with any evidence that Zimmerman is in any way a racist. Most neighbors discribed him as being very kind, pleasent, helpful, etc… this included his black neighbors.

    The only evidence that seems to be in question is the real identity of the person yelling for help, which has all but been proven as must as it possibly can. Zimmerman maintains that it was him, the eye witnesses believed it was him, his neighbors believed it was him (one of them so sure he stated it with 110% certainty…lol)… and before Crump got a hold of him (and presumably fixed his memory so it would go alone with Crumps idea of the events that would give him the biggest payday), Mr Martin insisted that the person yelling for help was NOT HIS SON! Really though, when’s the last time you saw somone on top of another beating them and screaming for help? It makes absolutly zero sence that Martin would be screaming, and perfect sense that Zimmerman, being on the recieving end of the beating to be the one crying for help. Now if the screaming came after the shot, then sure, I could buy that it was Martin.

    The other is the now infamous Dee-Dee, who appears to have only spoken to Mr Crump, and at no point came forward. Now if this was a witness for Zimmerman, the media would have gone completely off their rockers, foaming at the mouth to cut her story to pieces. There is even debate as to her age, Crump maintains that she is a child, and that’s why she needs to be protected from the media, but other sources claim she is 18 (an adult). Either way, her evidence is hearsay at best, and offers little to the prosecution OR the defense.

    I will find it hard to believe the Judge will have any other choice but to end this at the SYG hearing. The Police seem to agree these is no evidence to contradict him, the FDLE back up the Police investigation, the FBI, and both “Eye” witnesses.

    I just hope that after the dust settles, and all of the evidence is in, these people can be big enough to admit that they were all duped by Crump’s professioanl media smear campaign that you people seem to take as gospel with no proof what-so-ever offered to back up ANY of the claims! I have no doubt that Zimmerman will win his suit against NBC.

    Martin supporters all seem to spout off the same garbage as their evidence, and all of this comes directly from Crump’s media campaign…

    Zimmerman Stalked Martin – Simply un-true in any sense of the word, and does not even come close to “stalking” at the law define it…. so that is out.

    Zimmerman profiled Martin because he was Black – FBI and Police investigations say otherwise… so that is out.

    Zimmerman assaulted Martin – let’s have one piece of documented proof that this occured… Eye witness report contradict this….

    Zimmerman ignored Police Dispatch – Up to interpretation, but if one listens to the dispatch recording, it appears to tell a different story… it sounds more like Zimmerman indeed FOLLOWED these directions, which might have been the fatal mistake that cost Martin his life… all this seems to have done is gave Martin a chance to get out of sight, which gave him the ability to hide then attack. Before you jump on my speculation here, keep in mind that Martin was less than a minute away (on foot) from his destination, but Zimmerman stayed on the phone with dispatch for more than 2 minutes afterward, giving the so called terrified child enough time to complete his journey several times over… so Martin entered into this confrontation on HIS own accord, not because he was cornered, or Zimmerman was persuing him.

    So what’s left? Exactly what the evidence seems to show… Martin waited for Zimmerman to hang up with the Police Dispatch, proceeded to jump and assault him, and ended up paying for it with his life. I honestly can’t see how anyone could argue with it, based on the evidence.

    I’m not trying to say that blacks are not treated any different than whites, but that is irrelavent in this case. If you have a problem with the way Sanford PD supposadly treats the black community, do you really think crucifying an innocent man that has nothing to do with your percieved notions of racial bias in any way helps? You want more white people to stand up and fight with you for your equality?? You have a funny way of showing it, because here is a man, viewed as white, who has a history of just that…. Standing up for injustice against his black neighbors, and this is the treatment he gets for it??

    • The funny thing is they could not have picked a worse person to use to race bait. Zimmerman was known to help out his neighbors and even spoke out against an assault on a black homeless man by the son of a police officer. All they heard was gated community, white neighborhood watch, skittles, and the father was a judge. Too bad the gated community is in the ghetto, the neighborhood watch guy is latino, the skittles was because of munchies, and the father was a judge years ago in virginia with zero connections in florida. Could not have picked a worse target

    • Zimmerman contradicted himself on many occasion. He needs money and lack of support speaks volume how the nation feels about him as a whole.

      Ask yourself do you want a million Zimmermans killing everyone based on assumptions weather true or not?

      • @ Derrick

        Huh?? I don’t quite understand your comment. Please give me an example of where Zimmerman contradicted himself.

        As for the second part, please claify? If a million Zimmerman’s find themselves having to defend themselves from vicious attacks… I have no problem with all one million of them surviving the attacks, even if all one million attackers have to lose their lives… Nor do I have a problem with a million Martin’s defending themselves in the same senario.

        If you don’t like Zimmerman, that’s fine… no one says you have to, and opinions are like arseholes, everyone has one, and most of them stink. (And I have no issue with other not agreeing with my opinion, but don’t think just because someone else thinks different I am about to change mine… I initiall bought the BS and thought “How dare he?”, but things just didn’t add up, so I looked deeper, and I formed my own opinion, not based on the media’s interpretation of the evidence, but on the available evidence itself. Give me a reason to change my opinion and I may do so, but so far I have seen nothing.)

        Even the BS about “Hiding the money” is sketchy here… the too was “tastefully edited” to make the Zimmerman’s look even worse, not to mention that this money was in no way a secret… have a look at the news articles from the two weeks prior to the initial bond hearing… it was front page news for weeks before!

        • You can dimiss all of Zimmerman’s contradictory statements and choose not to fully comprehend the facts that do not support Zimmmerman. It’s not about me not liking Zimmerman, it’s about right and wrong . The whole point you are missing is that he should’ve left trayvon alone. Any such crime in that neighborhood the police should be patrolling the area if was that bad.

          • Derrick. See that’s just your opinion. Its not backed up by florida law. You can’t charge him with murder because he got out of his car in a public area. That’s not how the legal system works. If trayvon did not attack zimmerman then he would be alive. That seems to make more sense. Do you really think zimmerman would have shot him no matter what trayvon did?

          • You must keep in mind on the NEN call Zim says, there is a real suspicious guy ..he’s up to no good or somthing…looks like he on drugs”

            According to your particular to Florida law – nothing Zimmerman said he was breaking the law despite the rash of break ins. In any and all reports or statements he had a reason to follow this kid and no crime to report on tray’s behalf to justify his need to keep watch on him. He immediately placed tray as a suspect without any such judicial confirmation. That right there is prejudice and profiling which is unlawful.

  9. I’d like ot apoligise to a few of you for my opening remark… you’re posts hadn’t appeared before I had started my response. Good to see some people can think for themselves.

  10. Why do people keep saying trayvon was standing his ground? That means that he could have retreated bu decided to stay and defend himself. Defend against what? If people believe the statement from dee dee that she heard zimmerman push trayvon and travon was scared then that would be self defense not stand your ground. Find it weird trayvon was from miami, listened to rap music, his twitter name was nolimit**** and he was scared in a gated community on a sunday night at 7 pm. Pretty much everyone was home. People love to think zimmerman was chasing him through the woods in the middle of the night. Zimmerman looked real scary in his red fleece jacket. Trayvon the son of a gangbanger, promoter of after school fights, was not scared of anything that night.

    • What, was he on drugs?
      You see a man get out of a car, with a gun, and start approaching you?
      Tell me you aren’t scared.

      I get scared of poachers in the woods, and they are NOT aimin’ to shoot ME!

      • There is no proof that zim had his gun unholstered and was brandishing it when he got out of the car.

        • Not the point, sir. If I see a man wearing a weapon, I get scared. Now, maybe that’s not exactly the most rational thing… but you try fearing losing your job cause someone called the police on you…

          • @kim. Why would you lose your job? Your saying it makes sense that trayvon saw the gun took off running and then decided to confront zimmerman. Don’t forget trayvon took off running before zimmerman got out of his car. Not sure how trayvon would have seen the gun. Then zimmerman got out and followed. Trayvon then came back and that’s when the fight happend. Would u attack someone with a gun. Probably not. Chances are trayvon might have been scared of zimmerman while he was in his car. Trayvon then saw him after he got out and figured he could take him. That’s not the same thing. As being a scared kid being stalked and your fighting for your life..

          • Kim:

            “If I see a man wearing a weapon, I get scared. ”

            So seeing a policeman or a security guard scares you? Just so you know, FL is a concealed carry state, meaning that the weapon has to be concealed from view. This is opposed to open carry states where you can carry openly.

          • Don’t forget trayvon took off running before zimmerman got out of his car. Not sure how trayvon would have seen the gun. Then zimmerman got out and followed. Trayvon then came back and that’s when the fight happend

            Heh, apparently james missed the argument by the other Zimmerman defenders that we don’t actually know how it all went down.

          • Heh, apparently james missed the argument by the other Zimmerman defenders that we don’t actually know how it all went down.

            Zimmerman’s conversation with the police dispatcher gives us a reasonably good picture of what happened up until a few minutes before the shooting. Unless Zimmerman was planning to kill Martin the whole time, there’s no reason to doubt his claim at the time that Martin had run off out of sight.

          • Scott,
            I’ve been on buses with people carrying AK-47’s. Yes, it is scary.
            It is considerably less scary to see the policeman or the security guard.
            (note: it is odd to see security guards with weapons, so yes, it is a bit more alarming).

      • @kim. Scared of what? Trayvon Martin does not come off to me as a scared little boy like the media tried to make him out to be. The picture of him wearing the hollister t-shirt or sking was from years ago. We still don’t have a picture of what he looked like. Just lies from crump and the rest of the martin family.

        • I know of plenty of black millionaires that can’t go half the places I dare to tread.
          To be black is to know that folks got an opinion of you. Folks like you, i might add.

          When you’re not in your ‘hood, not know to folks, and you see someone show up with a gun? you know you got trouble on your hands, or if you’re smart, you at least act like you might.

          Not sayin trayvon was smart, mind.

        • A friend of mine knows this from firsthand experience, scott, it’s nothing new to me.

          But that poacher, at least, just wanted deer. If he shot me, it would be by accident.

  11. @kim. I don’t thing trayvon saw the gun until they got into it. Pretty sure everyone knows not to attack someone with a gun. Its not like zimmerman had him in a corner. We both think the same thing but you think zimmerman should be charged with murder. If it was not for the recent crime in the neighborhood all committed by young black guys I would agree. Black people in the neighborhood have made statements that this whole thing is BS. They say for sure its zimmerman yelling for help and he was a nice guy. Of course the media won’t report that. So you think it was wrong for zimmerman to have called the police to report someone walking around at night in the rain in between homes after a bunch people got robbed the week before?

    • How does the fact that there had been crimes committed by young black guys in the neighborhood change anything?

  12. @milo. Well according to the black people in the neighborhood who knew zimmerman and said he was a really nice guy. They made statements saying this whole thing is BS because there were multiple crimes all commited by black kids. What was zimmerman suppose to do? He saw a black kid walking in between the buildings at night in the rain and then he took off running when he saw zimmerman watching him. What would you think if you were him? He was trying to help his neighbors. Not commit murder

    • So, I’m a black kid living in a neighborhood where lots of crimes have allegedly been committed by black kids. Suddenly one night a guy gets out of his truck and starts following me. Am I a bit freaked out? You bet your ass I am.

      • James:

        “Am I a bit freaked out? You bet your ass I am.”

        So what do you do then? Do you continue on your way or do you confront that person and why?

        • Scott, we do not know who confronted whom first. In all the threads we’ve had about this issue here, it’s been the staunchest defenders of Zimmerman insisting on that, and it’s been a good point. It’s still a good point and I’m going to insist that y’all stick to that now, and don’t start pretending we do know that just because it’s become more convenient to your position.

          • James, you are correct that we don’t know who confronted whom. A lot of the discussion – as I remember it – was based on speculation that “Even if Zimmerman’s account is accurate, he’s still guilty (or in the wrong). If it’s a question of whether Zimmerman is lying, then it’s unresolvable because, as you say, we don’t know. On the whole “Trayvon ran away” thing I *think* that is uncontested by either side. It’s the part that came next that is subject to debate. We don’t know that Trayvon ran, but we should probably assume he did since it is one of the few things that is agreed upon by both sides. (Modified for clarity)

          • Fine, assume that you are TM and Zimm has confronted you. Why not tell us what you think the young lad should have done?

          • @ james hanley. What we do know is why zimmerman was charged. We know what the state thinks happend. In order to arrest someone for murder there needs to be some kind of evidence. The entire case rests on the statement from this girl dee dee that seems to get weaker by the day. This is a very strange case. Crump was the one that took a statement from this girl and then had a press conference that anyone with a 5 year old could see he was lying. Ladies and gentleman I have connected the dots. Everything he said was a lie. She is 18, they were not dating, she did go to the hospital weeks later but it had nothing to do with the case, and she was not heart broken. You don’t see how people might think that’s a little weird?

        • Fine, assume that you are TM and Zimm has confronted you. Why not tell us what you think the young lad should have done?

          I’d have told him to go f*ck himself with a variety of sharp pointy instruments, to get lost and leave me alone. Then if he continued to stand there I’d have called 911. If Zimmerman put a hand on me I’d knock it off and tell him again to get lost.

          What I would not do is take off because that would mean turning my back on him and would also result in leading him to the residence where I was staying because then this guy would know where that is, and only myself and my kid brother are there in the house.

          Not being an adolescent American male, I’d probably do a lot of other big chesty things like threatening him with my near-superhero physical prowess and keep up a steady stream of obscene invective so this jerk knows how macho I am.

          If he turned and went to his truck, I’d assume he was going for a weapon and I would jump him to make sure he didn’t get there. (My assumptions are that Zimmerman didn’t reveal his weapon and that Martin didn’t know Zimmerman was already armed.)

          I don’t find Martin’s actions inexplicable at all. As for why he was taking so long to get back home in the rain – simple. There’s not a teenager on the planet who’d be intimidated by the rain and I believe the whole point in going out that night was for privacy so he could call his girlfriend – or the friend who was a girl, take your pick. Why not call from home? Because you want privacy and your kid brother is at home listening with all ears. A guy needs his privacy sometimes.

          His father’s past history has nothing to do with anything (assuming james isn’t making the whole thing up – his feverish excitement in repeating the same phrases over and over again doesn’t reassure me on that front).

          • Not being an adolescent American male…

            Sorry – make that Being an adolescent American male…

          • You don’t think that trayvons father being a gang member has anything to do with what happend that night? It shows what kind of childhood he had and also judging by his tweets and school record I don’t think he was some scared little kid being hunted down.

          • Trayvon’s father was not a gang member. You’re lying. Seek help.

      • @ james hanley. Just a few things. Allegedly might be the wrong word to use. Its a fact that young black guys were breaking into homes. I’m sure you would be a little freaked out and would probably take off running. Which is what happend that night. Then after zimmerman got out of his truck he did not seem that scary anymore and now your pissed off.

        • It’s alleged that they were black. And again, suddenly now the defenders of Zimmerman are saying they know exactly how it all happened, when all along they’ve been telling critics of Zimmerman that none of us really know how it happened. They were right–it was true then and it’s true now.

          This isn’t the typical blog, james. That kind of thing gets called here.

          • James:

            By the same token, many of TM’s defenders have been spinning tales of the poor lad being stalked by a gun totting racist out to kill blacks.

          • @ hanley. Do you know what the word alleged means? Young black people were seen breaking into a house and then a few days later the police stopped another young black man and found a stolen computer from another house that was robbed. I’m not making this up. Look at the FBI statements from people in the neighborhood. A black lady even said this whole thing was BS from the start. She said zimmerman was a nice guy and that there were young black guys breaking into homes. Also pretty sure the 911 calls prove that zimmerman got out of the car after zimmerman took off running. Are you saying that zimmerman showed trayvon the gun and then he took off running?

          • @james hanley. I love it man. You say the young black guys caught with a stolen computer might have robbed the home but zimmerman has to be guilty. Hahahahahaha

    • james, I am on record from the beginning as saying that race was not a likely motivator to this case; I find it odd that as someone appearing here to defend Zimmerman you are doing so by making the claim that it absolutely was a racial thing.

      You say/ask:

      “They made statements saying this whole thing is BS because there were multiple crimes all commited by black kids. What was zimmerman suppose to do? He saw a black kid walking in between the buildings at night in the rain and then he took off running when he saw zimmerman watching him”

      What he was supposed to do, I believe, was wait for a police officer as the 911 dispatcher instructed him to do, and as he was trained to do. There is a reason neighborhood watch people are not supposed to go chasing “suspects” on their own while armed, especially ones that have in no way been seen committing a crime or near a crime scene.

      Again, I do not believe that the shooting was racially motivated, but I suspect saying thing like “but the kid was black, and those black people were committing comes!” will do little to convince those who suspect racism otherwise.

      Seriously, if you were a troll trying to convince people that people who are defending Zimmerman are racist, I don’t know that you could do a better job of it then you are right now.

      • @todd. Well I guess you would sit in your car instead of trying to see where trayvon ran off to. I hope I never live in your neighborhood . I’m not the one making this about race. Pretty sure when civil rights people get involved its about race. Just think this is a crazy case and another eexample of the media and these so called civil rights leaders making some money off a tragic event. People refuse to see the actual reason why this happend. The same people so quick to speak out about this case are actually the ones causing thousands of murders a year. This rapper thug life is going to get these kids a lifetime of trouble. Everyone is talking about SYG and gun laws but nobody wants to talk about rap music and this ganster life that trayvon was so clearly trying to live. His own father was a gang member. Its sad. Its going to be a lost generation .

        • ” Well I guess you would sit in your car instead of trying to see where trayvon ran off to.”

          Yes, I would. You know why? He committed no crime, and in fact no crime had been committed.

          “I hope I never live in your neighborhood .”

          If you ‘re the type of person who sees a teenager walking down the street and feels you need to chase them with a gun to confront them, then so am I.

          • @ todd. Plenty off kids walk down my street everyday of all colors. If I saw someone acting funny walking around in the rain yes I would ask him what he was up to. I would hope other neighbors would as well. More so if there have been a lot of robberies. The problem is you keep saying he chased him with a gun. Your twisting a little bit. He ran before zimmerman got out of the car that would make the average person think a crime was commited and they are trying to get away. Don’t think your being honest. Do you really think trayvon was scared of zimmerman after he got out of his car? Wearing blue jeans and a red fleece. Trayvon was from miami, had a bunch of tattoos and went by the name nolimit***** on twitter. Think he was scare of zimmerman in a gated neighborhood in sanford florida at 7pm on a sunday. Once he saw zimmerman get out of the car he knew he could take him. I’m sure his gang banging father taught him a few moves. Trayvon probably would not have been shot if zimmerman did not have a gun. He would have been arrested for assault.

          • “Wearing blue jeans and a red fleece… Trayvon was from miami, had a bunch of tattoos and went by the name nolimit***** on twitter… I’m sure his gang banging father taught him a few moves.”

            Well, good to see that it’s not a race thing with you, then.

          • @ todd kelly. Why is saying the truth being rascist. His father tracy martin was a member of the crips. He even had a neck tattoo that crump had covered with praying hands after the case got bigger. See the problem is all you think of is the picture of trayvon when he was 8 and then think of skittles. Get real man. Don’t you know when your getting played. Would you want trayvon dating your daughter. He tweeted about getting blowjobs and calling girls sluts and other disgusting names. Face it man. You and a million other people ate whatever shit crump and sharpton served. Don’t worry the media won’t cover any of it. Now that he sued nbc for millions other news outlets will stop the lies as well. Even global grind published an article without twisting it today. Do you really think zimmerman was not charged because he was half white? Come on man..

          • I’m sorry, remind me again of the crime Martin committed? You know, thaw one he deserved to be killed for? I keep forgetting.

          • Tod, you’ve been making good points, but that comment was problematic. It suggests that Zimmerman left the car with the intent of killing Martin. That the thing that Zimmerman felt leaving the car for was also what Zimmerman believes killing him was justified by.

          • @ retard. He attacked someone and then tried to get the victims gun. No doubt he would have been charged with assault if zimmerman did not already shoot him. Don’t worry more will come out about trayvons past. I’m sure the media won’t report it though.

          • Will – Did it sound that way? It certainly was not what I had meant to say. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe that Zimmerman committed a crime. But part of the reason that he didn’t commit a crime is because of the stand your ground law, which I would argue enables a mindset in a particular kind of person to put themselves in situations that lead to unnecessary violence that they have no reason to put themselves in.

            In this case, a man without police training took it upon himself to police his neighborhood… and so far, so good. I’ve done that myself, and I bet you have too. He was part of a neighborhood watch program, and if I recall correctly from last spring had undergone a training session with police about what he absolutely was and was not supposed to do in situations where he believed a crime was taking place – which he chose to ignore on the day he shot a 17 year old kid.

            When he spotted Martin, it bears noting that not only had Martin not committed a crime of any kind, but there had been no crime reported that he may have been a suspect for. Martin called 911 and was instructed not to pursue or confront the “suspect,” but instead he chose to disregard that order – again, despite the fact that he had no reasonable reason to believe that a crime had been committed.

            I understand from james and others (Scott and TVD come to mind) from back when this happened that it turned out he had a tatoo, and that he had a picture on his facebook page with fake gold teeth, and that he once got caught at school with pot, and that he was tall for his age. I do not see how any of that is particularly relevant.

            So no, I don’t belive that Zimmerman is guilty of leaving his car with the intention of killing Martin – just like I do not think there’s evidence to say he wanted to “shoot a black man.” Stand your ground laws are a terrible example of politically popular L&O issues to campaign on, but that don’t actually address a need – and which help foster situations like this. In addition, it was what the police initially used as an excuse for not investigating the shooting of a boy who had committed no crime.

            That people want to defend Zimmerman from a moral rather than legal standing, I get – even if I don’t agree. That people like Scott, TVD and this jagoff want to go that extra step to insinuate that that kid deserved to be wiped off the face of the planet is fucking revolting.

          • Tod, perhaps I misread your comment. It seemed like you were talking about what had Zimmerman leaving his truck and then you were talking about the crime that warranted Martin’s death.

            The crime Martin allegedly committed was assault. But there is a difference between saying that Martin was a troubled individual (and therefore was more likely than less to commit have committed an unprovoked assault) and saying that he deserved to die. Would you like me to elaborate as to why I see a difference? Or are you trying to make the case that the assault was warranted because Zimmerman got out of the car? (Not trying to lead or trap you, just want to make sure I understand where you’re coming from.)

            Though I haven’t actually seen James say that Martin deserved to die, I haven’t read him all that thoroughly. Scott is Scott. My recollection of TVD’s arguments were of the “troubled individual” variety and not “deserved to die” variety.

          • there is no record to date that shows Trayvon was problematic and no proof that he assaulted Zimmerman. Zimmerman put a bullet in the teen’s chest versus a fist.

          • Tod

            According to the evidence, both witnesses and physical, suggest that Tm was on top of zimm and was assualting him. If you do that to someone and get shot I don’t have any sympathy. Why should I?

          • Will – I’m probably going to post about this later today on the FP, but for now I’ll simply ask why a confrontation, initiated by Zimmerman, allows Zummerman to legally kill Martin but assumes Martin potentially assaulting Zimmerman a “crime.”

          • Tod,

            Because Martin allegedly was the first to use force. If he was, then the committed assault. (That doesn’t mean that he deserved to die, in case there is any confusion over that. Only that, by that narrative, he did contribute to his own death.)

        • james, you say “I’m not the one making this about race” then go on to use a bunch racially coded language to explain how it was really Trayvon Martin’s fault he got shot because he likes rap music. After earlier saying “If it was not for the recent crime in the neighborhood all committed by young black guys I would agree [it was murder].” Clearly, at some level this is about race (note: I’m not saying you or Zimmerman are racist).

          I can understand how people could defend Zimmerman on the grounds that this was a misunderstanding that escalated into a tragic situation, but to imply that it is essentially Trayvon Martin’s fault he got shot for what amounts to being young, black, and outside in the rain is ridiculous.

  13. I was very upset with the Florida authorities at the outset of this case, but if Zimmerman is found to be Not Guilty, I wouldn’t necessarily think that’s the wrong outcome.

    Remember that what incensed people most about this affair is that there appeared to be plenty of reason to book and prosecute Zimmerman, but the police let him go. That could itself be evidence of backwards racial attitudes even if Zimmerman is actually not guilty of any legal or moral wrongdoing.

  14. “Remember that what incensed people most about this affair is that there appeared to be plenty of reason to book and prosecute Zimmerman, but the police let him go. That could itself be evidence of backwards racial attitudes even if Zimmerman is actually not guilty of any legal or moral wrongdoing.”

    The problem is, that the arrest of Zimmerman itself might be against the law. According to SYG the Florida Authorities had to have Probable cause that Zimmerman was not acting in self-defense in order to arrest him. Why do you think famous defense attorneys like Dershowitz were going batsh** over the states charging documents? They were saying they didn’t see any evidence -which is required by law to be placed on that document – to justify manslaughter, let alone 2nd degree murder. Indeed, I doubt the state would have been able to bring a case at all if it wasn’t for DeeDee’s alleged testimony, and the story Crump fed the press about her seems to be falling apart more and more every day. I mean, consider this:
    A. Despite repeated defense requests, DeeDee’s address has still not been released to them.
    B. It’s known DeeDee – or the person who signed the affidavit as DeeDee in August, if I recall correctly – is 18. Crump for months, repeatedly insisted she was a minor, was 16, that her identity needed protected, that she was Trayvon’s girlfriend and a whole bunch of other stuff that we know are lies.

    Anyway, on to the Sanford Police Department:
    1. Whatever racial issues it had in the past, Bill Lee had been brought in to fix the department of those issues. He had a good reputation. Thanks to this case, within 9 months, he was gone, because he – like pretty much every officer who investigated the case of any race – didn’t think the evidence contradicted Zimmerman’s story.
    2. Neither FDLE nor any FBI sniffing has ever produced any indication that the Sanford Police department acted racist in this case. NOR – and this in important – have they found any extra evidence that would tend to imply Zimmerman’s guilt or poke holes in his story.

    People can draw from this what they will. Corey has a reputation as a corrupt political prosecutor (and its a shame on our system she hasn’t lost her job and been penalized for that already), and she replaced the Wolfinger (who has a good rep) on behest of the Governor.

    I personally believe this whole case for the state is about nothing but trying to prevent riots, and George Zimmerman’s rights be dammed. In my opinion Crump & Co (please remember they represent the family, not the State) are only in it for the money.

    • Its really sad for you to think its ok to kill someone and believe him on face value and not be tried in court and everything will be fine and dandy.

      • Derrick:
        Here’s the point.
        Trayvon’s families only legitimate demand was that the FBI or some outside agency look into the investigation. Not that George Zimmerman be arrested, not that there would be a trial, not any of that.
        Once the investigation was deemed kosher, their interest was done.

        • How uppity of them to disagree.

          Of course, had I been Martin’s mother, I might have thought that the police department should do their damned jobs and actually investigate my son’s killing, especially since they found the guy with the gun in his hand right there. I might have been just a little ticked with a sidewalk decision of “Oh, well it’s self-defense and he’d get off anyway so what the hell” and think that kind of thing would be up to a jury. I might be aware that I’m an American citizen with rights, including the right to an impartial justice system and that there is a process to follow and the cops didn’t follow it.

          The interest of a parent for justice for their dead child is never “done”. What kind of a person would ever think so?

          • @drs. You really think the police did not charge zimmerman for over a month because he was half white? Can you explain what you think the police should have done? The word justice is a funny one. Can’t have justice for trayvon and not for zimmerman. This was never about who shot martin. It was clear from the start zimmerman did. Think its funny your idea of justice is actually to ignore the justice system and charge someone with a crime knowing he is not guilty. We don’t charge people in this country and let the jury figure it out. Not sure what law school crump went to but that’s not how it works.

          • I believe they waited a month to charge Martin because they were idiots. I also think you’re a crank with a racial obsession.

        • Clarence

          Sorry you are wrong . Tm’s supporters insisted the zimm be arrested immediately. Nevermind that police often wait a while to arrest somone while the investigation is still open.

          • Well, there wasn’t a lot to investigate. Dead guy on the ground; guy with gun standing there beside him admitting he shot him. Seems kind of obvious.

  15. Here’s something to consider no matter what side of this you fall on:
    If Zimmerman wins at the SYG hearing he will be immune from any civil law suits by the family. One of the reasons that SYG was enacted was , indeed, to limit the use of civil suits. Also the Homeowners Association and the City of Sanford would (from what I’ve read) also gain that immunity. There would be nobody for Crump & Co to go after.

  16. I’m going to suggest people consider two things:
    1. The distance from where Trayvon was staying to the 711 was 3/4 of a mile. While I forget the 711’s address, it was the nearest one and can be looked up Google Maps simply by putting Trayvons address in.
    Note how long it was taking Trayvon to walk 3/4 of a mile.
    Now whether he was avoiding the rain (sheltering under something) , chatting on his phone (or both) or something more nefarious, it’s pretty obvious he wasn’t going “straight home” as the original narrative would have one believe.

  17. Meh…count me not convinced by Merritt’s case, especially this part:

    “All that matters legally is whether Trayvon Martin’s physical attack on him caused him to reasonably believe he was in danger of serious bodily injury or death.”

    I really do think that the prosecution is going to have an easier time proving that Zimmerman killed Martin while being negligent than Zimmerman is going to have proving that he found himself in a kill-or-be-killed situation through no fault of his own.

    The only evidence we have that Zimmerman was attacked is A) his word and B) his broken nose. After his wife’s perjury charge, it’s no surprise his defense seems to be concentrating on the broken nose angle.

    • Herb, the defense need only produce reasonable doubt that his life might have been in danger. That he got his arse kicked goes a long way towards that. That there was a witness who saw him on bottom and saw him trying to get away goes towards that.

      The prosecution, meanwhile, has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman started the physical altercation.

      • Yes the NEN call, Stepping out of the truck and was found with a dead teen he shot in back alley. I would say that proves Zimmermam is the aggressor.

        • Not legally, as best as I can tell (Merritt delves into this in both of the linked posts above). Following someone does not make you an aggressor. Having shot someone demonstrates that you shot someone, but not that you started the physical altercation.

          • following someone that leads to the death of that person is unlawful.

          • Derrick, show me the law that says following becomes unlawful when some dies. What is this law called? What is the statute number?

          • Here, Derrick, I’ll give you a head start to meet Will’s challenge.

            But I don’t think it’s in there. I think as close as you’ll get is F.S. 782.07(1): “The killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification according to the provisions of chapter 776 and in cases in which such killing shall not be excusable homicide or murder, according to the provisions of this chapter, is manslaughter, a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.”

            But that doesn’t seem at all like what we’re talking about here. “Following” sure doesn’t sound like “culpable negligence.” Zimmerman owed Martin no duty to avoid “following” him; until the point that violence broke out during their encounter, it does not seem that either of them had committed any crime.

            “Following” in other contexts might mean “stalking” but “stalking” is defined by F.S. 784.048)(2-3), which requires that the following must be done ” willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly.” We have no evidence that Zimmerman had ever followed Martin before this incident.

          • Culpable negligence – dispatcher said we dont need you to do that yet he proceeded in martins vicinity rather than avoiding any such contact. Disregarding that request makes him negligent of his own safety leading to his actions to kill trayvon unjustly.

      • Which they should be able to do….circumstantially.

        Paint Zimmerman as an unreliable witness. Depends on what will be allowed at trial, but there’s a lot to recommend not taking him on his word.

        Focus on the motive. Zimmerman’s behavior prior to the shooting was leading to a confrontation. Martin’s was leading to some Skittles at home. But it was Martin who leaped out of the shadows? Without a reliable story from Zimmerman, that’s…um…doubtful.

        Who brought the gun to the fist fight? Zimmerman was prepared for a physical confrontation. Martin was not. And it was Zimmerman who’s life might be in danger?

        The phone call. The operator says “we don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman does it anyway.

        I can see a jury going for it. Maybe not the jury that will be seated…

        • I just don’t see it. The defense can easily claim that Zimmerman’s motive was simply to follow Martin and point him out to the police when they arrive. That if Zimmerman were really just wanting to play vigilante, you would have seen altercations before now. But before now, he’s been a watchman.

          Bringing a gun doesn’t make you an instigator. Following someone does not make you an instigator. Use of force makes you an instigator, and I don’t see how the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman used force first (or necessarily used it at all). Right now the prosecution has DeeDee, and it’s questionable that she’s any more reliable than Zimmerman and she wasn’t there.

          • The defense can claim that, but “easily?” Seems like you have to do an awful lot of squinting to say that Zimmerman didn’t instigate the confrontation. Bringing a gun may not by itself make him the instigator. Following may not by itself make him the instigator. Calling the police and ignoring their advice may not by itself make him the instigator.

            But all these actions taken together –along with the implausible (and frankly self-serving) Zimmerman account of Trayvon Martin leaping out of the shadows for no good reason– sure form the picture of a guy who instigated a situation that led to a kid’s death.

            I fully expect the defense to muddy the waters all they can to get an acquittal. It may even work. But should it?

          • Very unlikely that he will get an acquittal based on his own contradictory statements alone and the evidence against him. Also the the key factor on the 911 call the operator asked ” are you following him” he said, “yes” that makes the aggressor in this case leading to the killing of trayvon

  18. Well, Herb.
    We know what Zimmerman was wearing, so we’ve also got eyewitness testimony that places Trayvon on top of him.

    But since you can’t be bothered with details like that, I think we see how much your opinion is worth.

    • Hmmm…not sure you can say I can’t “be bothered about the details.” I just do not think the details necessarily indicate what you think they do.

      Zimmerman’s broken nose indicates he got his butt kicked. It provides no evidence, however, that he was the victim of an unprovoked Trayvon Martin assault. The broken nose cuts both ways. It could have been sustained while Martin was assaulting Zimmerman…or vice versa.

      For the record, I don’t know which way this one goes, but I do think motive plays a part here. We already know Zimmerman’s motive for killing Martin. Why would Martin be interested in beating up Zimmerman though? Surely there must be a reason.

      • @ herb. Martin had zero marks on his body. How could zimmerman have assaulted him first? Its funny you also state that you know why zimmerman killed martin. What reason is that? Also, you did have a good question. Why did martin assault zimmerman? I think its because trayvon was raised by a crip gang member, he lived this wanna be thug life, and he has zero respect for anything. Once more info comes out on trayvons history I’m pretty sure you will anyone with an open mind would think trayvon was no angel. If something comes out about zimmerman maybe I will change my mind but after 6 months and investigating him back to middle school, he seems pretty clean

        • Well, I wouldn’t say Martin had “zero” marks on his body. There was one that was quite significantly, indeed fatally, injurious.

          • @glyph. I know he was hunted down and shot through the heart holding a bag of skittles and a can of iced tea. After that jesus himself came down and carried trayvon up into heaven. He is seated at the right hand of the father. In trayvons name. Amen

          • james, you are not doing yourself any favors with this sort of thing, man. Here’s the thing – whether Martin, or Martin’s father, had been a good guy in the past, or would be a good guy in the future, has no real bearing on what happened that night. And the one thing that (most) everyone agrees on, I think, is that what happened that night is at least somewhat unclear. This is partially because one of the only two guys that knew for sure is dead.

            If you’ll permit me, I’d like to take the conversation in a slightly different direction. I have long felt, about this case in particular, that there is a legitimate meta-argument about media and psychology that has been happening – but the meta-argument keeps getting mixed up in the argument, and wires are getting crossed, and that is inflaming a complex case even further.

            There has been a lot of study done on the psychological phenomenon of “priming”. See here:


            “Priming works best when the two stimuli are in the same modality. For example visual priming works best with visual cues and verbal priming works best with verbal cues. But priming also occurs between modalities,[3] or between semantically related words such as “doctor” and “nurse”.”

            I would like to talk about how the pictures that we all saw when this case first came up, and the ones that have been provided later, may be impacting our relative value judgements and truth values we assign to each.

            Here’s a situation: two guys got into a fight in a dark alleyway one night. One ends up dead. The other has a story about how it happened. No one else saw what happened.

            This is a picture of one of the guys:


            This a picture of the other:


            Without knowing who did what, and why: Which guy’s account are most people likely to trust more? Note, that this trust has no bearing, at all, on the truth of either’s account.

            But I’d like people to think about what seeing these pictures at the outset of the case might have done to the ensuing dialogue, as we attempt to sift through to the truth.

          • @ glyph. Of course the type of person trayvon was at the time of the shooting should matter. Come on man. Are u saying if it comes out trayvon was known to attack people and get in trouble in school that has nothing to do with that night? Pretty clear to most people trayvon was a young thug. Why can’t you admit that? You really think trayvon was scared of zimmerman that night? He might have been scared while zimmerman was in his car but onve he got out and saw him trayvon knew he could take him. Have you read any of his tweets? Talking about getting head and calling girls sluts and whores. Come on man. Its such BS and you know it. He flat out jumped zimmerman and tried to take his gun. That’s it. You just have too much invested in this to admit the truth.

          • Well, I tried.

            james, you don’t know anything about me, and I know nothing about you.

            But I can definitely say that one of us has “too much invested in this”.

          • @glyph. @drs. You guys keep saying I am the one making this about race and then say at the same time race had something to do with it. What both of you don’t seem to understand is I think it was zimmermans race that made this a national case and you think it was trayvons. There are thousands of murders every single year in this country yet we focused on this one. Why? Could it be because we were lied to from the start? Why is there a foundation set up in trayvons name? What are the civil rights issues involved? This was not some gated country club in florida with a white neighborhood watch captain that saw a black kid chased after him and shot him. While on the phone calling him a coon. Then his judge of a father did not get him off because he was friends with the rascist police department. Do you get where I’m coming from? I hate the fact the media and crump lied to us for months and nobody had the balls to tell what really happend.

          • You guys keep saying I am the one making this about race and then say at the same time race had something to do with it.

            Buzzzzzzztttt! Oh, wrong answer, james! But thanks for playing. Actually I never said anything about the case being about race. You’re so obsessed you’re actually inventing things now. Don’t tell lies about me.

        • “Its funny you also state that you know why zimmerman killed martin. What reason is that?”

          It’s not funny. It’s accepted by all parties that Zimmerman was following Martin because he thought he was “up to no good” and killed him because he was getting his butt kicked. That’s Zimmerman’s motive.

          As for this….”I think its because trayvon was raised by a crip gang member, he lived this wanna be thug life, and he has zero respect for anything. ”

          I’m sure that’s what you think…..but that’s not a motive. Even a wannabe thug raised by crips will need a motive to assault someone.

          Based on what we know about Zimmerman, I think it’s entirely plausible that Zimmerman, not a very bright man apparently, attempted some kind of “citizen’s arrest,” and found himself at the receiving end of a beating.

          To me, that’s not self defense. And if I were a true believer in the wisdom of SYG laws (I’m not) I would say that this is NOT a clean example of someone standing their ground.

          And Zimmerman? C’mon, man…the guy’s a clown. That doesn’t mean he’s guilty of murder, but he ignores good advice (“we don’t need you to do that”) and listens to bad advice. Suing NBC over the edited tape? Trying to hide money from the court during your murder trial? Doing off-the-record interviews with Fox News?

          Surely you can pick a better martyr.

          • @ herb. You keep saying zimmerman is a dumb guy can’t wait and see trayvons school records. You are a rare breed if you think everyone needs a motive to attack someone. Zimmerman must have done something to warrant such a beating. Then you say trayvons father being a gang member has nothing to do with the type of person trayvon was. Wonder what kind of punishment his gang banging father woulld give trayvon for being kicked out of school? Your logic is flawed.

  19. It’s a pity that Zimmerman defenders like Clarence and james (you really ought to replace that shift-key, it comes in handy sometimes) feel the need to denigrate Trayvon Martin so much to make their case. In fact, one can’t help feeling that denigrating Trayvon Martin is the ENTIRE case for them. It certainly doesn’t make them sound more credible when they argue for Zimmerman.

    • Yeah. They’re not doing Zimmerman any favors.

      It’s rather obviously about race for THEM, which kinda taints Zimmerman with it even if he were a saint on race issues.

      There are times and places where, indeed, your principles might place you in the company of racists or other scum (the ACLU’s standard defense of all unpopular speech, as an easy example) but there comes a point when you shoul look around and wonder “Why are my most vehement supporters all racist? Maybe I should rethink my stance…”

      • Word. As I have tried to point out in my comment above and elsewhere, this would be a hell of a complicated case even if all players involved were of the same race. And I think there are a lot of interesting threads/concepts to talk about that are “upstream”, or tangential (or orthogonal), to the race issues (not that the race issues are irrelevant or shouldn’t be discussed or don’t intersect at points with these other issues).

        But you can’t even touch these other issues without people quickly jumping back to the race parts (that’s why I used two pictures of not just someone of the same race – he’s the same *guy* – in my comment).

        And you get reluctant to even try, even on a site that prizes nuance as much as I think the League does, since even talking about these other threads can lead to potentially appearing to align with positions or people that may be unsavory, or have agendas.

  20. What’s disturbing about these new–and likely temporary–commenters is not that they believe Zimmerman’s actions can be justified. That’s certainly a reasonable argument. What’s disturbing is that they seem quite cavalier about the Martin’s death.

    That, and the very typical approach of calling others idiots and retards.

    They’re not worth trying to have a discussion with. These are not people whose minds can be changed, or even opened.

    • They’re probably googling everyday for new sites that talk about the Zimmerman case so they can “enlighten” readers about what really happened. We’re just not grateful enough, I guess.

    • @ james hanley. Thanks for that great point. Crump and the media have twisted this thing so much that if you think zimmerman is innocent then you must be rascist or happy trayvon was shot. I can care less about zimmerman. What you don’t seem to understand is this has nothing to do with either of them. It has to do with crump and the media twisting this story from day one trying to turn this into race when they know that’s not true. Its about the state of florida charging someone with murder when they have said they have zero proof zimmerman lied about anything. This is about crump getting a statement from this girl dee dee weeks later holding a press conference saying he connected the dots and its time to charge zimmerman. Its about the lies that crump has told and the fact that this girl who was 18 at the time was interviewed at martins home. Its about crump refusing to allow the police access to trayvons cell phone or witness and at the same time saying the police were not doing their job. You don’t have a problem with this kind of justice in america. If not you need to look up the meaning of the word.

  21. Last post for a while on the way to work. Just want to make it clear that this is about race. Its not that trayvon was black its about zimmerman being white. Why else would this be in the news. Crump and sharpton did everything they could to bypass the judicial system and get zimmerman charged. What happend to the million hoodie march? Please for the sake of sanity. Admit this story was twisted to serve an agenda from the start.

    • “Admit this story was twisted to serve an agenda from the start.”

      Oh yeah….I’ll admit it. That agenda was “Stop killing unarmed kids because you’re an idiot and a wimp.”

      • @ herb. Zimmerman must have been an idiot and a wimp. I’m guessing you mean he was an idiot for ever messing with trayvon and he is a wimp because he was beat up. Damn man. What is wrong with you?

  22. Hmm.
    I thought Zimmerman says he was yelling for help and had to shoot Trayvon because he was getting his head pounded into concrete and possibly being suffocated.

    But even though he had never, in all his time watching the neighborhood, attempted to make a citizen’s arrest let alone shot someone he reported before, instead it’s “well known” he was out for blood that night.
    At least according to some commenters here.
    Of course calling the cops is CLEARLY a sign of a vigilante mindset.

    One really can’t make this stuff up.

  23. Let’s face it Zimmerman is going down and his lawyer is pulling straws to save him.
    The suit against NBC is frivolous on its value. Zimmerman was in hiding long before the news broke out. The fact that he admitted to killing trayvon with a very sketchy story and was not arrest is what made national news.

    When you think of Zimmerman’s supporters, Racist comes to mind do their lack of regard for any human life who are not close to their skin pigment.

    • Let’s face it Zimmerman is going down

      I’ve been a persistent critic of Zimmerman’s actions, but as a matter of how the law seems to function, I wouldn’t wager that you’re right.

      • The law is not on Zimmerman’s side based on his statements he made to police both video and written documents and factual evidence that refutes his claim of self defense.

        • @derrick. Your right this case is about race. Its about zimmerman being white. Why else has this story been in the media for most of a year. Please just admit that this story was twisted from the start by crump and the media. You think there would be a million hoodie march today if we knew what we know now. Come on man.

          • James, it’s a racial issue because it’s a racial issue. Race played a role in Zimmerman believing that Martin might have been a criminal (“neighborhood criminals are black, Martin is black, ergo…”). It’s a racial issue because Martin’s actual “menacing” appearance deals with racial stereotypes that aren’t fair to people that fit within them but aren’t criminals.

            I’m not saying that Zimmerman is (especially) racist or someone who is out to get black people. I don’t think either are true (particularly the latter), but this has racial components going all the way up and down the street.

          • @ will truman. Pretty sure you need to learn a little more about the case. You make half truths to get to a conclusion. Just so I’m clear. If I live in an area where young black men have been breaking into homes and I see a young black man walking around in the rain and call the police I must be a rascist? Lol. Your a joke man. I think zimmerman was right to call the police. I also think he was right about trayvon. We had an old guy on my block who use to always watch us kids growing up. It never crossed my mind when he would come up to us and ask what we were doing to swing on him. Are you fucking crazy. Trayvon was a wanna be thug who swung on the wrong guy. You really think that is completley impossible? Trayvons father was in the crips.

          • And because if Martin were white, this would be a tragedy about a troubled youth. Because he’s black, he got what he was asking for.

          • James, you apparently did not read my comment. Or read too much into my “especially” qualifier. I’m not saying that Zimmerman is racist except to the extent that we all are. I am saying that this is an incident crawling with race.

          • james – seek help. You need to talk to someone professional about your obsessions.

          • Zimmerman is the one who is twisting the stories in every which way to favor him and to blame Crump and the media is a cop out. They did not conjure this story up for selfish gain and you must remember that it is Zim’s actions who gave them a reason to speak as they called it.

          • james: those would be the photographs that you can provide no links to? the detroit claims ditto? the “unsolved murders” ditto? Those voices in your head are not your friends. Doctors can help. Try them.

        • @derrick. You keep saying that zimmerman said something that makes him guilty. Please tell us what that was and please don’t say that because he lied about the money he must have lied about everything. Do you think so many people would be saying the same exact thing if it is so clear he is guilty? How are you going to find 12 people to agree?

          • the question is how can he not be guilty when all the evidence are against him even his own statements.

          • @drs. So all the pictures of the crip tat on his neck are fake? The pictures that were posted online with tracy martin sporting the gang colors are also fake? How would I know that Tracy lived in detroit? Once a crip always a crip. There are even some murders that were not solved but he was a suspect. That’s why tracy martin had to get out of detroit and make the move to miami.

  24. This entire comment thread revolves around people deciding which way they think is more likely, and then cherrypicking facts to make it so. Kinda revolting.

    I don’t feel very minded to take a side.

    • Hence my initial response, which was to underline the burden of proof. The standard you describe,

      …which way they think is more likely…

      is called “preponderance of the evidence” and it is not the standard that applies. “Reasonable doubt of guilt” is what we’re looking for.

      This is a standard that explicitly and intentionally favors Zimmerman because he is the one who stands accused of committing a crime. My erstwhile sparring partner Mike Schilling and I and a few others exchanged some thoughts about that upthread — by now, very far upthread — and the OP and its underlying link delve intelligently into the articulation of exactly such a reasonable doubt. But no one seems to want to talk about that.

      The number of irrelevancies raised in comments upthread is legion. It’s very unfortunate that those who would defend Mr. Zimmerman would choose to do so by attacking the character or background of Mr. Martin.

      • It will be interesting to see how Martin’s character does come up during the trial. If Merritt is right, then the defense can really just focus on standards of proof and be okay. Otherwise, it might be necessary to buttress Zimmerman’s account with a characterization of Martin that the latter jumping the former while he’s on his way to the truck is credible. On the other hand, if the prosecution brings it up – Martin was a sweet kid who was not a threat to anyone – then they might have to go into those weeds.

    • I was hoping to focus primarily on Questions of Law rather than Questions of Fact. The unknowns make it really hard to figure out what exactly happened. Dress up the facts either way, and you can come to two very different conclusions.

    • kim. thats what we are trying to do is look at the facts. it seems the people that think trayvon was a little saint can’t imagine how the son of a crip gang member could have attacked zimmerman and the other side is saying the state does not have any proof zimmerman broke the law.

      • I would like to see some documentation for this accusation. Thus far I have found exactly one source for it, and it is premised entirely on speculation.

  25. I hope to god crump has to get on the witness stand. Can’t wait to see him stutter and try and dig himself out of this. Does anyone know if during the self defense hearing are people called to make statements or do the lawyers just argue?

    • Given the fear that this trail will cause a media circus and (potential) rioting, I’m guessing there will be no cameras in the courtroom. Nothing other then press-pool reports of stuttering and trying, and those charming court-room drawings we get from SC hearings.

      • Ugh. Had I read all comments on this thread posted by james without capital, I would not have responded.

        Please forgive me. I’ve gotten rather used to the thoughtful tone typically in evidence here. I should take it for granted.

  26. I found this article by a Florida criminal defense attorney via the Google. Given that he’s a local attorney, and that it’s purely expository, I’d guess it’s accurate. It says this:

    Before the trial proper will come a hearing on whether the conditions for Stand Your Ground apply. The burden there is preponderance of the evidence, not reasonably doubt. Should Zimmerman prevail, he has immunity from both criminal and civil prosecution. If not, the criminal proceedings can go forward, with self-defense still an allowed plea, and the prosecution will need to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt; a civil suit will also be possible. The outcome of the hearing is (I presume) irrelevant to any federal charges.

    • It should make you appreciate just how elite our blog usually is. What you’ve read here is what it’s mostly like, in most other places on the Web.

      If you want to really test your faith in the possibility of intelligent exchanges on the Intertubes, read a YouTube comment thread.

      • Youtube comments go farther than that; they test my faith in any sort of understandable order to the universe at all. They may violate causality itself.

    • I approve and endorse this action by my blogpartner. I note that for those of you who aren’t yet done getting your M’s and Z’s worked out, Tod has a fine and thoughtful post on the front page. New patrons of the LoOGiverse, again, welcome. Please read Tod’s post and think about it for a few moments before commenting. That’s part of how we roll around here. And Tod’s post does not address the same subject as Will’s post here.

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