Saturday, April 21, 2012

Zimmerman testifies against himself

To the extent I can I'm avoiding the mainstream media reporting and commentary on the shooting of Trayvon Martin. The analysis I've seen is largely nonsensical, and the media seems primarily interested in creating drama where none exists.  The case will not be fraught with difficult legal issues, it will be an open-and-shut case for the prosecutor.  Why?

Yesterday (20 April) George Zimmerman testified in his bail hearing, and his words effectively convict him.  Here are his opening words after identifying himself: "I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. And I did not know if he was armed or not."

Consider these two crucial points:

1. "...I did not know if he was armed or not." Under Florida's "stand your ground" law, one is justified in using deadly force only if she/he "reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony." Zimmerman has now stated, under oath, that he didn't know whether Trayvon Martin was armed or not. In effect, he's denied he had reasonable belief that death or great bodily harm was imminent.

2. "I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son." In this instance, apologizing and expressing regret is equivalent to saying he agrees he was in the wrong.

The prosecutor will have no trouble at all getting a conviction, and the only way this will not happen is if Zimmerman pleads guilty before this goes to trial.  The best Zimmerman can do for himself at this point would be to plea bargain and attempt to get a relatively light sentence.  But he has no defense.

Zimmerman is clearly guilty, and I hope he receives, and serves, the maximum possible sentence.  But a guilty plea seems very likely at this point.

Addendum 22/04/2012: I should add that "reasonable belief" requires one have facts and make reasonable inferences from them.  There were no facts that would lead Zimmerman to believe Trayvon Martin was threatening a forcible felony.  And when Zimmerman approached Martin, it was Zimmerman who was initiating the hostile confrontation and Martin who may have had the reasonable belief.  We don't know if there really was a fight, but if there was and Zimmerman had been killed, Martin would have a strong defense under the Florida law.

It's outrageous that progressives and leftists simultaneously criticize the law as if it tied prosecutors' hands, and simultaneously demand Zimmerman be prosecuted.  If their interpretation of the law were correct, Zimmerman couldn't be prosecuted.  They should be demanding investigation of the local prosecutor who refused to file charges in such an easy and obvious case.  But there's no political mileage in that -- and one mustn't waste any opportunity to demonize one's political opponents, no matter how self-contradictory and dishonest the charges.

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