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Zimmerman Juror Says He ‘Got Away With Murder’

zimmerman-juror-b29-maddy

UPDATE: The post below was based on an extremely misleading reporting by ABC News of its own on air interview. See “Juror B29 Did Not Say Zimmerman ‘Got Away with Murder.’

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Juror B29 says George Zimmerman “got away with murder” but concedes he wasn’t guilty or murder.

ABC News (“George Zimmerman Juror Says He ‘Got Away With Murder’“):

The only minority on the all-female jury that voted to acquit George Zimmerman said today that Zimmerman “got away with murder” for killing Trayvon Martin and feels she owes an apology Martin’s parents.

“You can’t put the man in jail even though in our hearts we felt he was guilty,” said the woman who was identified only as Juror B29 during the trial. “But we had to grab our hearts and put it aside and look at the evidence.”

She said the jury was following Florida law and the evidence, she said, did not prove murder.

[...]

“George Zimmerman got away with murder, but you can’t get away from God. And at the end of the day, he’s going to have a lot of questions and answers he has to deal with,” Maddy said. “[But] the law couldn’t prove it.”

When the jury of six women—five of them mothers—began deliberations, Maddy said she favored convicting Zimmerman of second degree murder, which could have put him in prison for the rest of his life. The jury was also allowed to consider manslaughter, a lesser charge.

“I was the juror that was going to give them the hung jury. I fought to the end,” she said.

However, on the second day of deliberations, after spending nine hours discussing the evidence, Maddy said she realized there wasn’t enough proof to convict Zimmerman of murder or manslaughter under Florida law.

Zimmerman concedes he shot and killed Martin in Sanford on Feb. 26, 2012, but maintains he fired in self-defense.

“That’s where I felt confused, where if a person kills someone, then you get charged for it,” Maddy said. “But as the law was read to me, if you have no proof that he killed him intentionally, you can’t say he’s guilty.”

That’s right: putting someone in jail for murder requires proving that they committed murder, which is the intentional killing of another. So, Maddy simultaneously thinks Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin even though she admits that there wasn’t any proof of, well, murder.

 

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Ben says:

    She obviously isn’t using “murder” in the legal sense, she seems to be using it as shorthand to mean any sort of homicide. My takeaway from what she’s saying is that they all had a feeling Zimmerman was guilty of a crime, but the state just didn’t have the evidence to prove it. There’s nothing particularly wrong with saying that, especially since they did, in the end, follow the law and acquit him.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Wait a minute, I gotta get my popcorn.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  3. wr says:

    I don’t understand the contempt for this women JJ feels priveleged to demonstrate in his last paragraph. She did exactly what we want our jury members to do — even though she personally felt the verdict was wrong, she followed the law and the judge’s directions. What she’s saying now is that the law as written and the cases as presented allowed Zimmerman to get away with murder, and she was obligated by law to help that happen.

    What would you have had her do? Ignore the law and follow her personal preferences? Last time I heard, that was called “jury nullification” and we were all opposed to it. Or maybe she should have kept her mouth shut and just swallowed what she felt was an injustice she was required by her sworn duty to be part of?

    Really, what is your problem with this woman? Her thinking sure seems a lot more sophisticated than anything I’ve read on the subject here.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1

  4. John H says:

    Does this qualify as cognitive dissonance, or is there more cognition required?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  5. Gavrilo says:

    “That’s where I felt confused, where if a person kills someone, then you get charged for it,” Maddy said. “But as the law was read to me, if you have no proof that he killed him intentionally, you can’t say he’s guilty.”

    Did this juror not pay attention to the trial? There was no question that Zimmerman intentionally killed Martin. He didn’t claim it was an accident. He didn’t claim that it wasn’t him. He claimed that during a violent fight, in which he was in fear of his life, he pulled his gun and intentionally shot Martin. The issue whether the killing of Martin was justifiable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  6. James Joyner says:

    @wr: Doug, Steven, and I have written extensively about the case and, while we may have some minor differences, we all agree that Zimmerman is neither guilty of murder nor admirable. But I don’t know how you can sit in on the trial, listen to the judge’s instructions, and come away with the idea that Zimmerman “got away with murder” while acknowledging that he didn’t actually commit murder.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 9

  7. PJ says:

    @Gavrilo:

    The issue whether the killing of Martin was justifiable.

    Incorrect, unless you believe that the accused is guilty until proven innocent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  8. Gavrilo says:

    @PJ:

    Huh? The defense conceded that Zimmerman killed Martin. That wasn’t an issue in this trial.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  9. Neil Hudelson says:

    People use the word “murder” to mean “any non-accidental killing.” So while her semantics are confusing, I understand what she is trying to say. It’s legal vs. colloquial terms.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

  10. pylon says:

    But I don’t know how you can sit in on the trial, listen to the judge’s instructions, and come away with the idea that Zimmerman “got away with murder” while acknowledging that he didn’t actually commit murder.

    That’s not what she said. She said she thought he did commit murder (which is fine – it’s a raw belief). She also essentially said the state didn’t prove its case to the criminal law standard.

    Basically she’s saying if it was the civil “balance of probabilities”, Zimmerman loses.

    I recall the judge in one of my first shoplifting cases when I was a mere student at law saying pretty much the same thing. He said he might think in his own mind that the accused meant to have the item without paying, but that a reasonable doubt existed as to mens rea.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  11. Franklin says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Seconded.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  12. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    But I don’t know how you can sit in on the trial, listen to the judge’s instructions, and come away with the idea that Zimmerman “got away with murder” while acknowledging that he didn’t actually commit murder.

    You can’t possibly not know that, unless you’re being deliberately stupid. She obviously feels that Zimmerman committed murder in the sense that we all as human beings know and use the term, but that in in the technical sense under Florida law as currently written, she didn’t feel she could convict him beyond a reasonable doubt in compliance with such law.

    Here’s an example: according to the state of California, O.J. Simpson is not a murderer. Do you not also understand how I can nevertheless call Simpson a murderer?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

  13. Rafer Janders says:

    So, Maddy simultaneously thinks Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin even though she admits that there wasn’t any proof of, well, murder.

    Blatantly false, James, and extremely slopping thinking and writing on your part. She didn’t say there wasn’t “any” proof, just that there was not sufficient proof beyond a reasonable doubt under the Florida statutes as she interpreted them.

    If she felt she needed, say, 99% certainty to convict and she only had 95% certainty and so voted to acquit, that doesn’t mean there was not any proof, just not proof to the standard she felt she needed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  14. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    But I don’t know how you can sit in on the trial, listen to the judge’s instructions, and come away with the idea that Zimmerman “got away with murder” while acknowledging that he didn’t actually commit murder.

    So rather than having jurors proceed as per the judge’s instructions and the relevant state statutes, you instead feel they should convict or not based on their own personal feelings?

    So James simultaneously thinks we should have laws and that you should ignore those laws every time you don’t feel like it. Wow.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  15. al-Ameda says:

    It seems to me that this juror is out-to-lunch. If the rest of the jurors were anything like her it’s no wonder Zimmerman was acquitted and a finding for manslaughter was apparently not under serious consideration.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  16. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    Keep grasping, folks, the straws you’re looking for are out there. Along with a whole bunch of low-information voters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 11

  17. al-Ameda says:

    @11B40:

    Keep grasping, folks, the straws you’re looking for are out there. Along with a whole bunch of low-information voters.

    Thanks, but we already know where those low-information voters are – they are the 47% of people who voted for Mitt Romney.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  18. Gustopher says:

    @al-Ameda: only 46% of that 47% was low information. The 1% knew exactly what they wanted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  19. Gustopher says:

    “That’s where I felt confused, where if a person kills someone, then you get charged for it,” Maddy said. “But as the law was read to me, if you have no proof that he killed him intentionally, you can’t say he’s guilty.”

    Manslaughter doesn’t require intent, I believe.

    But I thank this woman for her service — this is exactly what jurors are supposed to be doing. She did’t vote based on whether she thought Zimmerman was guilty, but instead on whether she thought the state proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Why Mr. Joyner cannot see this — and applaud it — I do not know. You usually don’t see this type of tortured logic from someone who doesn’t stand to gain from torturing logic. What worldview does it confirm that the juror comes within hair-splitting distance of Mr. Joyner’s own opinion (not legally guilty, but not good), but he feels mockery and disgust for her anyway?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  20. Mikey says:

    Seems to me what she’s saying is pretty much how we should WANT a juror to think. “I have a feeling ‘in my heart,’ but I’m going to put that aside and deliberate according to the evidence, the law, and the judge’s instructions.”

    I think it’s obvious, or should be, that the evidence introduced into this case wasn’t the full picture. There were pieces missing, because Martin is dead and therefore unable to relate his version. It may well be that his side supported a murder or manslaughter conviction. We’ll never know, and the jury couldn’t make up stuff he might have said. So this juror had to put aside what her feelings told her Martin might have said, and just deliberate based on what was presented in the courtroom.

    I don’t think that’s contradictory at all. I think it’s admirable and it must have been difficult for her to do.

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  21. al-Ameda says:

    @Gustopher:

    @al-Ameda: only 46% of that 47% was low information. The 1% knew exactly what they wanted.

    Thanks, I stand corrected.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. wr says:

    @James Joyner: Because there is a legal definition of murder and a moral definition of murder. Is it the legal training that makes this so hard to understand?

    Look, many of our congresspeople take vast sums from corporations or wealthy individuals and end up doing what their donors want. Technically there is no literal quid pro quo, so legally they are not guilty of taking bribes. And yet they are taking money and doing the bidding of the people who give it to them, so it’s not too big a leap to say that morally they are guilty of taking bribes.

    Murder is a legal term, but it long predates the law — at least if we choose to believe the Bible which so many of your party claims is the source of our democracy. Cain murdered Abel — and the fact that there was no statute forbidding this did not make it any less wrong. Or any less murder.

    And again, this juror did the right thing. She saw a moral wrong and yet did not give in to her instinct, but instead voted by what the law sets down.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  23. CB says:

    @Mikey:

    This x100.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  24. Just Me says:

    I still think the prosecution’s mistake was in over charging.

    As for murder-I think one can argue that there is a certain moral culpability even if there is no a trial criminal one (much like some pro life people will call a oration murder-but mean in the moral sense rather than the legal sense).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  25. stonetools says:

    @Mikey:

    I think it’s obvious, or should be, that the evidence introduced into this case wasn’t the full picture. There were pieces missing, because Martin is dead and therefore unable to relate his version

    Bingo. Any jury verdict is going to be only a partial truth. This is not enough for the Zimmerman defenders, though. (I don’t count James Joyner as one).THey want the jury verdict to be a vindication of everything Zimmerman did that night-the racial profiling, the armed pursuit of TRayvon Martin( which they minimize ton “following”), etc.
    They don’t want the Trayvon Martin killing to be an example of vigilantism gone wrong, because vigilantism-armed civilians patrolling and enforcing the law-is what they want to encourage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  26. george says:

    @wr:

    She did exactly what we want our jury members to do — even though she personally felt the verdict was wrong, she followed the law and the judge’s directions.

    Exactly. Sometimes what we’re sure is true turns out to be false (anyone who works in science or engineering – and I suspect every other field – is all too familiar with this). Which is why being sure on a gut feel level isn’t enough, there has to be enough evidence to be sure beyond reasonable doubt. She did the right thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  27. john425 says:

    “She said the jury was following Florida law and the evidence, she said, did not prove murder.”

    So…no evidence and no law loophole to convict him with just for the hell of it? Jeez! These people serve on juries AND they vote. Be afraid for your liberty. Be very afraid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  28. Mikey says:

    @john425: Did you even catch a glimpse of the point as it sailed clear over your head?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  29. Pylon says:

    @Gustopher: Manslaughter doesn’t require intent to kill, but it does require an intent to do an unlawful act (eg assault) whishc results in the death.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. Rob in CT says:

    This is basically the point Steven Taylor made with his post. The difference between moral and legal culpability. She makes the point in artfully. These jurors (meaning this one and the other one that has been interviewed) don’t come off all that well, but I’m inclined to cut them some slack.

    Oddly enough, I chatted about the case with my daughter’s pediatrician this morning. He’s African American, and brought it up. He was very logical/unemotional about it, and was firm in his belief that the jury got it right, because the prosecution went for Murder2. We agreed that something like involuntary manslaughter, had the case been set up that way, maybe could have been appropriate. Maybe. It all boils down to nobody seeing the start of the fight, besides of course the Fist of Goodness, who has every incentive to cast it in the best light for himself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. Jenos Idanian says:

    Actually, the discussions above are based on a selectively edited version of the interview. The full interview conveys quite a few different impressions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  32. FLC180 says:

    Juror B29 should have gone for a hung jury; that way, the prosecutors could have recharged the case and appropriately charge Zimmerman with involuntary manslaughter (charging Zimmerman with second-degree murder was a bad move on the prosecutors’ part).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0