George Zimmerman Charged With Second Degree Murder In Trayvon Martin Shooting

It's time to let the criminal justice system do its job.

In what some might consider a surprising move, the special prosecutor in charge of the Trayvon Martin investigation has charged George Zimmerman with Second Degree Murder in the death of Trayvon Martin:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Florida special prosecutor announced a second-degree murder charge on Wednesday against George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Angela B. Corey, the prosecutor, said Mr. Zimmerman, 28, a crime watch volunteer, was in the custody of law enforcement officers in Florida. He is accused of fatally shooting Mr. Martin, an unarmed teenager, in a case that has captivated the country and brought to the fore issues of race, violence and precisely what constitutes self-defense.

“We did not come to this decision lightly,” Ms. Corey said. She added, “Let me emphasize that we do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition.”

“We will continue to seek the truth about this case,” she said.

Ms. Corey opened the news conference by saying that she had spoken to Trayvon Martin’s parents shortly after she took on the case and the investigation was driven by “the search for justice for Trayvon.”

“It was less than three weeks ago that we told those sweet parents that we would get answers,” she said.

Critical to the case is the question of whether or not the shooting fell under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which gives wide leeway to people who claim self-defense, and which does not require people to retreat before using deadly force.

Earlier this week, Ms. Corey announced that she had decided not to convene a grand jury to investigate the shooting and would herself make the ultimate decision as to whether to charge Mr. Zimmerman.

Mr. Zimmerman has been in hiding for the past several weeks after having received death threats. He has not spoken publicly since the shooting . Mark O’Mara, a criminal defense lawyer from Orlando, announced that he is now representing Mr. Zimmerman.

On Tuesday, Mr. Zimmerman’s previous lawyers, Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig, announced that they were withdrawing from his legal team. They said they were worried about Mr. Zimmerman’s state of mind, that he had been in contact with Ms. Corey without consulting them, and that they had not been in communication with him and did not know where he was.

A statement on a Web site set up by Mr. Zimmerman to raise money called the shooting a “life-altering event.”

I call it surprising only because most legal experts who have written and talked about this case in the past several weeks were of the opinion that this was, at the most a Voluntary Manslaughter case based on the facts that we have available, and that was a conclusion that I tended to concur with. There doesn’t appear to be any evidence of premeditation in the case, and the “Depraved Heart” definition of 2nd Degree Murder didn’t necessarily seem to apply here either given the apparent witness statements that seemed to indicate that there was a gun discharge while Martin and Zimmerman were fighting. However, as I’ve said more than once in the posts that I have written about this case, we don’t necessarily know all the evidence in this case.

In fact, there are at least four categories of evidence here. There is the evidence that has been released in the public, much of which may not be complete or accurate. There is the evidence that the prosecution uncovered in the investigation that led them to bring these charges. There is the evidence that the defense may have, most specifically Zimmerman’s personal version of what happened on that fateful February night. And then, most importantly, there is the evidence that is admissible in Court which will be presented to a jury. In the end, it’s only that last category of evidence that matters and anyone who thinks that they know how this case is going to turn out is pretty much lying. It may turn out that Zimmerman is guilty of “depraved heart” murder, it may turn out that his self-defense claim will mean that he walks free. At this point, all of those questions are in the hands of the prosecutors and Zimmerman’s attorney (he has apparently hired a new one after yesterday’s absurd press conference).

I say we let them handle it.

In the end, however, I think we’ve reached the right position. Zimmerman has been charged, something that should have happened long ago had not the Seminole County State’s Attorney declined to charge him in the first place. While I have serious problems with the manner in which the media is, as it always does in high profile criminal cases, effectively trying the case based on limited facts and evidence that likely would not be admissible in a court of law, I do agree that the uproar that occurred in the wake of the failure to charge Zimmerman at all was justified. I guess that at this point I just wish everyone would let the system do its job, but I know I’m being hopelessly naive about that.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mikey says:

    Count me as one who’s surprised at the 2nd degree murder charge. I’ve felt since the case first gained publicity that Zimmerman bears responsibility for Martin’s death, but that the circumstances (as we know them, which, as you correctly note, is probably an incomplete picture) pointed to a manslaughter charge rather than murder.

    I am sure it will be a while before this all plays out.

  2. anjin-san says:

    I expected a manslaughter charge. Perhaps they want to have a hammer to use with a manslaughter plea being the end game. My guess is the authorities in FL would like this to go away as quickly as possible.

  3. @anjin-san:

    Lesser included offenses can always be added at a later date and apparently this State’s Attroney has a reputation for always opening with the maximum possible charge.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    The problem with your repeated calls of “letting the system do its job” and “innocent until proven guilty” is that a rational observer can decide Zimmerman’s acts were heinous given simply what he admitted to and what was recorded on the 911 calls. Of course he deserves a fair trial to see if those acts were criminal. But it doesn’t require us to cover our eyes and withhold moral judgement.

  5. Mikey says:

    @anjin-san:

    Perhaps they want to have a hammer to use with a manslaughter plea being the end game.

    That occurred to me as well. Mollify the public with a high charge, get a manslaughter plea, Zimmerman goes to jail for a while (but not for life), this moves off the front page.

  6. KariQ says:

    I’m glad. Let the system do its job, certainly, though given the peculiarities of Florida’s laws I would be surprised by a conviction. Given what we do know, it would have been inexplicable not to charge him with something, even given the wide latitude of the stand your ground law. I have to count this as good news.

  7. Tsar Nicholas says:

    @Mikey: Yep.

  8. Ron Beasley says:

    A part of me almost feels sorry for Zimmerman. He was a not to bright paranoid man with illusions of grandeur. Bottom line is he should have never had a gun. Martin is dead and nothing is worse than that but Zimmerman’s life is over even if he is found innocent. After three weeks of actual investigation Ms Corey must think she has a pretty good case.
    @anjin-san: Yes, give the jurors a lesser charge option – she may be playing chess here.

  9. hoob says:

    @MarkedMan:

    What did he say on the 911 calls that a reasonable person would find `heinous`? Also what did he admit to that would do the same?

  10. Ron Beasley says:

    And Doug – I really appreciate your observations. I don’t agree with you on much but I would be more than happy to have you as my attorney.

  11. Ben Wolf says:

    @hoob: “These assholes always get away” and “F**king coons” qualify as heinous. Sorry if you don’t see it that way.

  12. Ben Wolf says:

    @Ron Beasley: You don’t have to agree with Doug, but you know he’ll fight for what he believes in.

  13. PD Shaw says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I think you mean the prosecutor will terrify the suspect into confessing to a lesser charge that he might normally have beaten, and the liberals will applaud that this is American justice as its played out every day and Zimmerman should be grateful to be an object lesson.

  14. anjin-san says:

    @ hoob

    How do you characterize Zimmermann as anything other than a vigilante? Any patina of legitimacy he might have had from Neighborhood Watch vanished when he so blatantly disregarded their procedures. The word “Watch” in Neighborhood Watch means something.

    He took it upon himself to conduct armed patrols. He came to a baseless conclusion that Martin was “on drugs” & “up to something”. He followed him against direction from the 911 operator. He instigated an entirely needless confrontation with Martin without legal standing or proper training.

    And now Martin is dead. An utterly senseless and unnecessary tragedy.

    911 Transcript:

    http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/326700-full-transcript-zimmerman.html

  15. hoob says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    I’m pretty sure the alleged `f’ing coons` remark is about as murky as most things in this case right now and is certainly not something that you could say should be held against him at this time. (I would still be amazed if a late 20s guy used the word `coons` as some sort of derogatory comment, but who knows…).

    And saying `these assholes always get away` while imagining for a moment that Zimmerman believed he was referencing people who break into other people’s properties and steal things… I don’t think that’s very much to go on. Many people call people who steal things `assholes`, and it seems probable that Zimmerman believed he was referencing people who steal things.

  16. Ben Wolf says:

    @hoob: “F**king coons” isn’t alleged. It’s very clear in the 911 audio. It happened. It’s an awful thing to say. Stop excusing it.

  17. DRS says:

    Zimmerman had a record of phoning 911 to report potholes in local roads, and once reported a 7 to 9 year old who looked “suspicious”. I think it’s fair to say that he was not one of Florida’s mental giants.

    I’m surprised at the 2nd degree charge but have to assume that Corey knows something that will make it a plausible charge. Going to be an interesting trial.

  18. Davebo says:

    PD, what does “liberal” or for that matter “conservative” have to do with this?

    Will conservatives applaud if he’s acquitted?

    Is this what it comes down to. Folks clapping for a dead kid?

  19. hoob says:

    @anjin-san:

    Thanks for the run down of the facts. So, what did he say in the 911 call or afterwards that reasonable people would feel was `heinous`? –which is the only question I asked, and it was based on another comment to that effect.

  20. Ben Wolf says:

    @hoob: Calling a kid eating candy a “coon” is heinous.

  21. @Ron Beasley:

    Does Mataconis actually have any criminal law experience? I had the impression he was more of a commercial law type.

  22. In my view, the only reason why any reasonable person would be surprised at the charge of second-degree murder is that most people’s expectations for even a minimal level of justice in this were so low. If this case had not (with ample reason) become a focus for civil rights activism, and if there hadn’t been that public pressure and sense of outrage, George Zimmerman would remain free and uncharged to this day.

    And also, Doug, I’m not sure why you explain your surprise at the charge of second-degree murder by saying that there is no evidence of premeditation. I’m certainly not an attorney, as you are, but my layperson’s understanding of premeditation is that it defines first-degree murder charges — and the prosecutor had ruled out first-degree murder for precisely the reason that there is no evidence of premeditation. Second-degree murder does not require premeditation, does it?

  23. hoob says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Really? Can anyone else speak to the `f’ing coons` alleged remark being verified as actually what he says? I’m pretty sure most people were actually starting to think better of that… If he did say it, absolutely that’s a smoking gun; however, it would be astonishing if he (28 y/o) said that in a derogatory way to a 911 operator. It would be amazing that he knew that word to be a racial epithet and it would be amazing that he would say it to a 911 operator.

    I’m certainly not excusing it if he really said it.

  24. anjin-san says:

    that reasonable people would feel was `heinous`

    I think his actions certainly qualify as “heinous”. His words mark him more as an idiot than anything else, at least according to the transcript. I have not heard audio of the call.

    What’s the old saying? Oh yea – “actions speak louder than words.”

  25. anjin-san says:

    @ hoob

    The question still stands:

    How do you characterize Zimmermann as anything other than a vigilante?

  26. Janis Gore says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: Ms. Kattenburg, Jeralyn Merritt is a defense lawyer and has the applicable Florida statute up:

    http://www.talkleft.com/story/2012/4/11/181536/291

  27. Ben Wolf says:

    @hoob: Listen to the audio. The dispatcher asks which entrance Martin is headed toward. Zimmerman replies, “The back entrance. F**king coons.” He said it. It’s easily heard. End of story.

  28. hoob says:

    @anjin-san:

    Really anjin, I don’t want to get into debating your weighted questions. I hate debating about this case anyway because I’m pretty torn on it and nobody really knows what’s going on. So don’t corner me into answering silly questions like how I would characterize someone I know extremely little about. You go right ahead, but I’ll refrain.

    What draws me to comment, by and large, is the certainty of some people.

  29. hoob says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Sorry you’re so sure of yourself. Lots of other people have heard other things, most notably `goons` – which by all accounts makes much more sense. Is there anything else from the 911 calls and what he’s said after the fact that make him `heinous` or is that it?

  30. Tsar Nicholas says:

    @anjin-san: Dude, Charles Bronson in “Death Wish” was a vigilante. Let’s not jump the shark.

    Zimmerman appears to be a low-intellect, slightly to moderately unbalanced rube, with some delusions of grandeur, but one who lives and hangs in a bad hood and has seen bad people doing bad things. The way I see it is as follows: Zimmerman correctly was charged with a crime; the M2 charge is overstated, however, and perhaps might be a tactical move by the prosecutor to elicit a manslaughter plea bargain with real jail time; but Zimmerman won’t plead out; ergo, we’ll have a trial.

    At any such trial it’ll largely depend upon the demographics of the jury. The jury might nullify. They might convict of M2. They might split the baby and go for a lesser included offense, i.e., manslaughter. That’s what criminal trials are all about. Mataconis is correct. The best approach is to let the system run its course.

  31. Ben Wolf says:

    Sorry you’re so sure of yourself. Lots of other people have heard other things, most notably `goons` – which by all accounts makes much more sense.

    This is the thinking of an authoritarian. Rather than take my advice which, for the third time is LISTEN FOR YOURSELF, you defer to what “other people” say, waiting for them to tell you what you want to hear. No offense to these mysterious “other people” whose expertise you keep falling back on, but if they can’t distinguish the velar plosives it’s because they don’t want to. What Zimmerman said was very clear. It was heinous. And it demonstrates racial prejudice and resentment were in his mind at the time.

  32. anjin-san says:

    What draws me to comment, by and large, is the certainty of some people.

    Well you seem pretty certain he did not say “coons”, so apparently you are entitled to your certainties but others are not. And you seem determined to undermine the characterization of Zimmermann as “heinous”, so it seems that you are working with something of an agenda yourself. You are certainly putting forth your own speculation as fact, witness “which by all accounts makes much more sense”.

    If you want to be perceived as being dispassionate in this matter, you need to actually, you know, be dispassionate.

  33. Ms. Kattenburg, Jeralyn Merritt is a defense lawyer and has the applicable Florida statute up:

    Uh huh. And that statute clearly states that part of the definition of second-degree murder is that there is no premeditation. So I’m still not sure why the lack of evidence of premeditation would contribute to Doug’s surprise at the second-degree murder charge.

  34. Rick Almeida says:

    @hoob:

    Lots of other people have heard other things, most notably `goons` – which by all accounts makes much more sense.

    Why does “goons” make more sense?

  35. @Ben Wolf:

    He said it. It’s easily heard. End of story.

    While the “f***ing c***s” interpretation makes the most sense in context, it’s not quite as clear cut as you make it. The problem is, we all only heard this audio after hearing of what it was Zimmerman is supposed to have said. And when you’re working with poor quality audio, that can lead to a huge problem, as this clip from as 2005 talk at the Smithsonian demonstrates:

    http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/BigBa/start/1581/stop/1870

  36. Ms. Kattenburg, Jeralyn Merritt is a defense lawyer and has the applicable Florida statute up:

    Uh huh. And that statute clearly states that part of the definition of second-degree murder is that there is no premeditation. So I’m still not sure why the lack of evidence of premeditation would contribute to Doug’s surprise at the second-degree murder charge.

  37. hoob says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    I did listen to it just now and could barely hear the remark. I looked at the transcript to make sure I was listening to the right part of the recording because I missed it the first time. I listened to it again to hear it and I can without a doubt tell you that I don’t know what he said. Certainly sounds like an `oon` sound, but nope, can’t tell.

    You are pretty good. Personally, I would never think a little blip of a word that someone is saying through a recorded phone call while the person is outside and breathing heavily would give me the certainty needed to brand the person `heinous`. But I guess you can.

    Anyway, I bet it’ll get clearer in the coming months.

  38. Ben Wolf says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: I didn’t think they’d go better than manslaughter either. I haven’t seen evidence that Zimmerman was “depraved,” just stupid and criminally negligent. Maybe the prosecution has evidence we don’t know about. I find it hard to believe she’d charge him with murder without being confident she could sustain it at trial.

  39. Janis Gore says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: @Kathy Kattenburg: I wasn’t being contentious. It’s worth putting it up in the course of this conversation.

    I’m sorry if you thought it so. The question before us is, did Zimmerman have a “depraved disregard for human life”?

    I haven’t heard that he has killed before, so it might be arguable in that context. Calling an African-American a “coon” or a “n****r” doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to shoot him yourself, or even that you want him dead.

  40. hoob says:

    @anjin-san:

    Well you seem pretty certain he did not say “coons”, so apparently you are entitled to your certainties but others are not.

    I think maybe you want to argue with me and you’re reaching now (like taking an aside comment I made about why **”by and large”** I’m drawn to comment when people seem so certain… and making it into an entire argument about how I must be hypocritical because I had a viewpoint on something and doesn’t that mean that I’m actually *certain* of it… such a hypocrite).
    Haha nope… nite nite anjin.

  41. Modulo Myself says:

    I’m also confused to as to why a 2nd degree charge is considered surprising. Regardless of whether or not he used a racial slur, his 911 call seems to be filled with enough explicit utterances of hostilities to establish a basic state of mind. It doesn’t seem an incredible leap at all to propose that he left his vehicle with a ‘depraved heart’.

  42. An Interested Party says:

    Zimmerman appears to be a low-intellect, slightly to moderately unbalanced rube, with some delusions of grandeur, but one who lives and hangs in a bad hood and has seen bad people doing bad things.

    As if any of that excuses his actions? Some people are urging others not to jump to conclusions while jumping to conclusions themselves…

  43. hoob says:

    @Rick Almeida:

    Why does “goons” make more sense?

    Well to me I think goons is a word that is used much more commonly first off. Second of all goons isn’t something really too derogatory, so I can see him being comfortable saying it knowing that a 911 dispatcher was on the other line. `Goon` is like `Thug`… It can be used negatively or not so negatively. A hockey movie was just released called `Goon` – with Seann WIlliam Scott.

    Basically if you don’t know what was said, but you’re pretty sure it had an `oon` sound in it… If I had to pick which one was more likely… it would be goon – hands down no contest. So I think the you probably need to prove it was a racial epithet instead of having to prove it wasn’t.

  44. G.A. says:

    And it demonstrates racial prejudice and resentment were in his mind at the time.

    So saith the hate/thought police….

    One question for the racist fighting libs such as you Harry:When are you guys going to purge all of the other racists involved in this case or surrounding it that happen to be Democrats out of the Democrat party?

  45. @Modulo Myself:

    I’m also confused to as to why a 2nd degree charge is considered surprising.

    Because second degree murder requires the state to prove more elements than manslaught. To prove manslaughter they have to show that Trayvon Martin is dead, that Zimmerman’s actions were the cause of that death, and that Zimmerman’s actions were not justified. To prove murder, they have to prove all that AND that Zimmerman had a specific intent to kill Martin. In a case that already comes down to whose story the jury believes, each additional element is another chance for a juror to decide they’re doubtful enough to acquit.

    When the case is already hazy, prosecutors often tacitically to go with the simplest charge to avoid bring additional issues into the trial.

  46. Ben Wolf says:

    @hoob:

    Second of all goons isn’t something really too derogatory, so I can see him being comfortable saying it knowing that a 911 dispatcher was on the other line.

    Listen to the audio. Zimmerman suddenly drops the projection of his voice when he says, “Fucking coons”. He didn’t want the dispatcher to hear it.

  47. Ben Wolf says:

    @hoob:

    Second of all goons isn’t something really too derogatory, so I can see him being comfortable saying it knowing that a 911 dispatcher was on the other line.

    Listen to the audio. Zimmerman suddenly drops the projection of his voice when he says, “F**king coons”. He didn’t want the dispatcher to hear it.

  48. Tsar Nicholas says:

    @An Interested Party: Not at all. Read my comment again. It was in response to a comment declaring Zimmerman to be a “vigilante.” Bernard Goetz was a vigilante. Joseph Druce was a vigilante. It’s as clear as crystal, however, that Zimmerman is not a vigilante. That’s not a case of jumping to a conclusion. That’s merely not jumping the shark tank. That’s where I was going with that comment.

  49. Hmmm, I just realized something. The prosecutor has one big ace in the hole in this trial. Zimmerman’s defense rests on the claim that Martin attacked him, forcing Zimmerman to defend himself. The problem for the defense is that no one other than Zimmerman saw how the fight started, which means the only way to make that case is for Zimmerman to get on the stand and tesitify to that effect.

    Which means Zimmerman CAN’T exercise his fifth ammendment right to not be cross examined by the prosecutor without giving up the self defense claim.

  50. anjin-san says:

    I think maybe you want to argue with me

    Not particularly. I just think your arguments are crap. You sound like you are shilling for Zimmermann but don’t want to own it.

  51. Ben Wolf says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I would think that if Zimmerman asserted his Fifth Amendment right, his life would be finished whether he was convicted or not. Everyone would believe him guilty.

  52. anjin-san says:

    It’s as clear as crystal, however, that Zimmerman is not a vigilante.

    Really?

    >a self-appointed doer of justice

    >the danger of these self-appointed vigilantes is that they sometimes go after innocent people

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vigilante

    Are you a professor of semantics today? You have been an oil company executive and an attorney recently, we know you wear many hats.

  53. hoob says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Listen to the audio. Zimmerman suddenly drops the projection of his voice when he says, “F**king coons”. He didn’t want the dispatcher to hear it.

    You need to realize what you are saying. You are saying that you know what Zimmerman was thinking and acting on based solely upon listening to the 911 call. You are completely disregarding that your alleged `drop in tone` could have been any number of different things that you aren’t accounting for now (recording blip, phone distance from mouth, angle, playback, your own human errors). You are just a 3rd party, getting 3rd party information.

    You have to understand that there is so much you can’t account for that you can’t possibly infer what you are inferring from that audio. If you don’t understand that, then I suppose, well… that’s that..

  54. Ben Wolf says:

    @anjin-san: He’s also an expert on international finance, don’t forget that.

  55. Dave Schuler says:

    Based on what we’ve read so far and given the assumption of other evidence we haven’t heard about, this sounds like the right call. Now we’ll see whether Mr. Zimmerman’s self-defense argument holds up.

  56. PD Shaw says:

    @Ben Wolf: Why don’t you start interjecting “beyond a reasonable doubt” into your analysis of what a jury would or would not believe?

    @Modulo Myself: Manslaugher or negligent homicide would be a textbook charge of a self-defense claim that failed in some element. Assuming we have a general idea of the evidence, I personally think overcharging by the prosecutor to scare the accused into a plea is unethical. Did years ago, still do today.

    @Stormy Dragon: Compelling Z to testify is very likely on the table if he claims self-defense, but this may be a situation in which he can claim a right against self-incrimination because independent federal charges are being sought against him.

  57. G.A. says:

    “vigilante.”

    The Black Panthers, Spike lee?Perhaps even racist? Hmmm…

  58. Ben Wolf says:

    You are completely disregarding that your alleged `drop in tone` could have been any number of different things that you aren’t accounting for now (recording blip, phone distance from mouth, angle, playback, your own human errors). You are just a 3rd party, getting 3rd party information.

    And here we go again with the servile “I only hear what others tell me” defense.

    For one thing, when you quote someone use their exact words, not your interpretation of them. You’ll get fined major points for that sort of thing in grad school. Secondly, the audio is what is referred to as original source material. Not understanding this will also get you a reduced grade. Thirdly, or rather fourthly, LISTEN TO THE TAPE YOURSELF. It’s rather obvious you haven’t, otherwise you’d be saying “I didn’t hear it” rather than playing the “alleged” card over and again.

  59. Ben Wolf says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Why don’t you start interjecting “beyond a reasonable doubt” into your analysis of what a jury would or would not believe?

    Why don’t you read the entire comment, including the “whether he was convicted or not” part?

  60. Tsar Nicholas says:

    @anjin-san: Dude, you’re jumping the shark. Vigilantes are people who execute other people in cold blood to avenge prior wrongs. Again, Bernard Goetz was a vigilante. Sorry to be presumptuous, forgive me, but I’ll go ahead and assume that was before your time. Goetz had been mugged on several occasions. Was standing on a subway train. A group of young black kids also were on that train. Goetz shot all of them, including shooting a number of them in their backs, after they were incapacitated. That’s a vigilante. Druce was a prisoner in a Mass. state pen. A child molester priest was sentenced to serve in that same pen. Druce planned the priest’s murder, waited for his opportunity, broke into the priest’s cell, and then beat and strangled the priest to death. That’s a vigilante. Zimmerman is not a vigilante. It’s not a question of semantics. It’s not that I care about Zimmerman. I don’t. I could not care less about the man. It’s a question of separating the sentient from the non-sentient. It’s also a question of killing time at work, excuse the pun. Why does anyone comment on a blog? To kill time, Chief.

  61. hoob says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    And here we go again with the servile “I only hear what others tell me” defense.

    For one thing, when you quote someone use their exact words, not your interpretation of them. You’ll get fined major points for that sort of thing in grad school. Secondly, the audio is what is referred to as original source material. Not understanding this will also get you a reduced grade. Thirdly, or rather fourthly, LISTEN TO THE TAPE YOURSELF. It’s rather obvious you haven’t, otherwise you’d be saying “I didn’t hear it” rather than playing the “alleged” card over and again.

    You’re wrong. You infer poorly. I don’t go to school. I did listen to the tape, as I’ve already stated. Why I said `alleged` was because it was you who alleged there was a drop in tone. Your arguments seem pretty much exhausted and are getting ridiculous, so nite nite Ben.

  62. anjin-san says:

    @ Tsar

    Are you good at anything beyond boring people? Time for you to run along and catch a movie.

    But first, let’s try it again:

    >any person who takes the law into his or her own hands

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/vigilante

    Bernard Goetz was a vigilante

    Not according to these definitions:

    vigilante

    — n
    1. one of an organized group of citizens who take upon themselves the protection of their district, properties, etc
    2. ( US ) Also called: vigilance man a member of a vigilance committee

    Goetz was a lone wolf. I’ll assume English is your second language and that is why you made a fundamental mistake like this.

    Recommended reading:

    http://www.amazon.com/Language-Thought-Action-Fifth-Edition/dp/0156482401

  63. @Tsar Nicholas:

    Again, Bernard Goetz was a vigilante.

    Um, Bernard Goetz was almost exactly the same situation as Zimmerman. If anything, Goetz has a better self defense case, since there were other eye witnesses that Goetz didn’t actually pursue the people he ended up shooting.

  64. anjin-san says:

    so nite nite Ben

    You usually have to employ a time machine and visit an AOL chat room circa 1997 to hear a line like that…

  65. The question is, can Zimmerman get his Constitutionally guaranteed “impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.”

  66. An Interested Party says:

    Dude, you’re jumping the shark. Vigilantes are people who execute other people in cold blood to avenge prior wrongs.

    We don’t know if this was or wasn’t Zimmerman’s motivation…once again, you are speculating, so there really is no need to chide anyone else for doing the same thing…

  67. Just remember: every conspiracy theory, every idiotic proclamation, and every threat to riot if Zimmerman is acquitted weakens the state’s case. The defence will argue that Zimmerman cannot possibly receive a fair trial, and they’ll be right.

  68. anjin-san says:

    @ Christopher Bowen

    Have not heard any conspiracy theories or threats to riot here. There have been arguments good, bad, and in between – people are going to discuss this, just as they will discuss any high profile case. What exactly are you talking about?

  69. @anjin-san:

    Have not heard any conspiracy theories or threats to riot here.

    Well duh, rioting on a blog would just be silly. What would you do? Overturn the thumb buttons and set them on fire?

  70. anjin-san says:

    Well duh, rioting on a blog would just be silly.

    I think a blog riot might be kind of cool.

  71. Ron Beasley says:

    I have to agree with Nick for once. MrZ was not a Vigilante, just an unstable person who should not have had a gun. He violated all of the neighborhood watch guidelines. A superhero wanabe – a cop wanabe. The system that allowed Zimmerman to have a gun is just as guilty as Zimmerman himself.

  72. KariQ says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    To prove murder, they have to prove all that AND that Zimmerman had a specific intent to kill Martin.

    If the link provided by Janis Gore is correct, and I understand it correctly, the prosecutor does not have to prove intent to kill. According to the link, second degree murder is:

    The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual

    I read this as meaning that he didn’t have to intend Martin’s death, just that he engaged in a “dangerous act” without regard to human life, regardless of whether he meant to kill someone or not. Am I wrong about this?

  73. Herb says:

    @Christopher Bowen:

    “The defence will argue that Zimmerman cannot possibly receive a fair trial, and they’ll be right. “

    No doubt they’ll argue that, but not so sure they’d be right. If anything, a change of venue, careful jury selection, and maybe sequestering them would be reasonable steps the court could take to ensure Zimmerman receives a fair trial, despite all the hootenanny.

    After all, it wouldn’t be a very fair trial if things happening outside the courtroom were allowed to influence it, would it?

  74. Lit3Bolt says:

    The thing that cracks me up the most about Doug Mataconis and every single other mealy mouthed excuse maker for George Zimmerman is that they’re piously shrieking for everyone to withhold ALL judgement and let the justice system do its job…for a man who specifically did NOT stand by, withhold all judgement, and let the justice system do its job.

    Your hypocrisy is disgusting.

  75. @KariQ:

    Proving a depraved mind isn’t going to be easy either. We know there was some sort of fight going on at the time the shot was fired. Even is he has some responsibility in starting the fight and thus cannot claim self defense, it’s hard to argues that constitutes “depraved” in the legal sense.

  76. @Stormy Dragon:

    By comparison:

    (3) A person who causes the death of any person under the age of 18 by culpable negligence under s. 827.03(3) commits aggravated manslaughter of a child, a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

    From the same statutes would be far easier to prove, and is also a first class felony so would likely lead to nearly as much jail time. Arguing Zimmerman was negligent would be far easier than arguing he was depraved.

  77. Peterh says:

    Correctomundo KariQ…..
    Case study in point: driving a car drunk and killing someone exacts the same potential charge…..murder 2….no intent, but again, engaging in a dangerous act without regard to human life….precedent is on the prosecutor’s side…..Zimmer left his vehicle armed with a weapon with the intent to detain (illegally) a citizen doin’ no more than walking home from a store…..what happens after that, can be correctly construed as engaging in a dangerous act without regard to human life cuz you enter into the unpredictability of how one reacts to being detained…..illegally….you bring a deadly weapon into play…..a person dies…..Zimmer is toast….or should be, based on the facts currently known….

  78. Pylon says:

    People are getting caught up in the word depraved. It doesn’t have the same definition as in comman parlance. It’s specifically defined in the statute. In any event, if you shoot someone, and it’s not in self defense, you are aware death is a likely possibility, and it is probable that that is the intended result. Can he convince a jury that despite shooting intentionally that he wasn’t intending to kill, or that he was acting in self defense? Perhaps. But it’s not an overcharge if there’s a reasonable possibility of getting a conviction.

  79. Mark Logan says:

    George has a plausible argument for walking around that corner, other than with intent to detain Martin -to keep him in sight.

    Problem is, obtaining line of sight for the walkway didn’t require proceeding around the corner and up that walkway for a distance, on the pic, that roughly scales at 80 feet, where the fight took place.

    I’m having a hard time picturing the DA asking for less than they did, just on that.

  80. DRS says:

    Zimmerman was Gladys Kravitz with a gun, peaking around the neighborhood looking for “suspicious” activities and for people who he didn’t know that he could cast as bad guys in the perpetual movie in his mind. I’m sure that whatever he felt that night – and whatever the hell he thought he was doing – a part of him was quivering with excitement that “sh*t was going down!” and he was going to be part of it, joining with the cops, saving the day.

    I don’t think he was smart enough to spell vigilante, let alone be one. And I’m quite curious about how he’s been making a living over the past few years. If he was interacting with people on a regular basis you’d think he’d have some connection with reality.

  81. Ebenezer Arvigenius says:

    for a man who specifically did NOT stand by, withhold all judgement, and let the justice system do its job.

    There is nothing hypocritical about wanting proper procedures even for those who act wrong. That is what the whole point of criminal procedural law. Civilization doesn’t get suspended because a single person acts uncivilized. That is distinctly pre-modern thinking.

  82. grumpy realist says:

    @KariQ: Shooting a gun at someone is pretty dangerous to them.

    Am trying to remember the fine distinctions between manslaughter and murder in the second degree. I think the argument will circle around whether Zimmerman already had the intent to commit mayhem of some sort when he exited the car. The fact that he was carrying the gun with him is going to count against him. (Forget the cite, but I seem to remember a case involving a wife-killing after an argument where the distinction between murder in the second degree vs. manslaughter depended on whether the husband had carried the gun into the room at the time of the argument or whether he had snatched it up from within the room where it had been lying.)

    Just because we have the Second Amendment doesn’t mean you have the right to shoot people simply because you’re nervous. I wish the gun nuts would realize that.

  83. Brummagem Joe says:

    There doesn’t appear to be any evidence of premeditation in the case,

    Wasn’t this the reason why the charge was second degree murder. I’m not a lawyer but I thought the presence of premeditation was the major determinant of whether the charge was second or first degree murder.

  84. Habbit says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Hey genius, I’m black, and I don’t even think he said “coons.” You are only hearing exactly what you want to hear.

  85. JKB says:

    Uh, oh, I just saw Zimmerman’s booking photo. The media are really going to be trying to bury that photo. That damages their meme even more than the photo of George in a suit.

  86. @Peterh:

    Zimmer left his vehicle armed with a weapon with the intent to detain (illegally) a citizen doin’ no more than walking home from a store

    See, this is why I think the murder two charge is a bad idea. That Zimmerman intended to illegally detain Martin is certainly plausible, but unless the prosecutors have some important evidence they haven’t made public yet, it’s going to be very hard to conclusively prove it. If the charge depends on a conclusion like this, the prosecution is creating a huge oppurtunity for the jury to decide there’s enough reasonable doubt to acquit Zimmerman.

  87. Rob in CT says:

    Of course we have to “let the system work.” It’s the best we’ve got. Of course, the system only really got working after a public outcry.

    I think, based on everything I’ve read about this, that Zimmerman effed up big time. I rather doubt he’ll go down for murder2.

    And with that, I’m done with this.

  88. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Ebenezer Arvigenius:

    Nice dodge. Of course, had we all stood by and let the justice system do its job initially, there would be no special prosecuter, no DOJ investigation, no media attention, and ultimately no arrest. It took a Charles Blow story in the NYT to get this story to national media attention. Once national media attention was focused, people started asking questions and doing real investigations.

    But please, go ahead, appeal to the authority of a civilization that for centuries denied the value of human beings based on the color of their skin. Zimmerman of course should receive every benefit of the doubt and every benefit of the justice system that he specifically denied the teenager he killed. But I’m free to note the irony and the hypocrisy, because certain people here see the miscarriage of justice as Zimmerman having to face the law, rather than the dead teenager in the ground that his actions created.

  89. PD Shaw says:

    Jeralyn at TalkLeft has provided an excellent summary of the applicable procedures and burden of proofs in her comment section.

  90. KariQ says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Proving a depraved mind isn’t going to be easy either. We know there was some sort of fight going on at the time the shot was fired. Even is he has some responsibility in starting the fight and thus cannot claim self defense, it’s hard to argues that constitutes “depraved” in the legal sense.

    Oh, I completely agree. I think a manslaughter conviction would be much easier to get than murder 2, though it’s possible the prosecutor knows something we don’t. I was just verifying my understanding of the law, that “intent to kill” wasn’t required.

    Thanks to all who replied, much appreciated.

  91. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Ben Wolf: The official charges against Zimmerman quotes him as saying “punks,” not “coons.”

    But yeah, you’re probably right. “Coons” is the go-to racial epithet for 20-something Latinos looking to slam blacks. I’m surprised he didn’t go all out and say “macaca.”

  92. Jenos Idanian says:

    I have to admit I’ve lost a lot of interest in this case. When it was some porky white supremacist who’d stalked and gunned down a child, it was a far more exciting case. Now that it’s a Latino Democrat community activist (who apparently took on the police over the beating of a black homeless man a few years ago) against a gangsta wannabe high school football player, and the two guys weighed within 20 pounds of each other (with the high schooler skinnier, but four inches taller than the hispanic), I find myself saying “this was a blue-on-blue case. I got no dog in this fight.”

    (For the sarcasm-impaired: the above is not an accurate representation of my actual feelings, but a denunciation of how the narrative on this case was created at the outset, and how it’s fallen apart since then — and how little the collapse of the original myth has slowed down those who were pushing it.)

  93. An Interested Party says:

    …against a gangsta wannabe high school football player…

    You’ve obviously lost interest in reality as well as this case…

    (For the sarcasm-impaired: the above is not an accurate representation of my actual feelings, but a denunciation of how the narrative on this case was created at the outset, and how it’s fallen apart since then — and how little the collapse of the original myth has slowed down those who were pushing it.)

    Your denunciation doesn’t mean much, considering at one time you were pushing your own narrative of this case…a narrative that has since been proven to be completely false…

  94. Jenos Idanian says:

    @An Interested Party: So, young Mr. Martin didn’t have a gold grille and Tweet under the name “NO_LIMIT_NIGGA?” Last I checked, it was still accurate.

    Yeah, I got some details wrong. But it was hardly “completely false.” And I haven’t put forward any narratives, just possibilities. Possibilities that get rejected because they didn’t agree with the narrative. The narrative that’s fallen apart almost completely, but is still held up as sacrosanct.

    Sorry, your spin has failed. Move on, for Christ’s sake.

  95. An Interested Party says:

    Last I checked, it was still accurate.

    Based on? In what possible way was this Trayvon Martin a “gangsta wannabe”?

    But it was hardly “completely false.”

    Seeing as you linked to someone who was trashing a totally different person rather than the Trayvon Martin involved in this case, yes, it was completely false…

    Sorry, your spin has failed. Move on, for Christ’s sake.

    Sorry sweetie, but the only spinner here is you…

  96. Jenos Idanian says:

    @An Interested Party: Here’s The Daily Caller article, darling… sorry I don’t have a more ‘credible” source, like NBC News, but they seem to be blissfully ignorant of this one.

  97. DRS says:

    If Jenos has his way, taste in music will determine whether it was okay to kill someone or not. Hey, what if it turns out that Zimmerman liked hiphop too? Does that mean you’ll turn against him too?

  98. Jenos Idanian says:

    @DRS: Of course not. That would be ridiculous.

    Now, if Zimmerman turns out to be a fan of country or polka music, then I’ll be first in line to throw him to the wolves…

  99. An Interested Party says:

    @Jenos Idanian: You really are quite pathetic…the Daily Caller appears to have made the same mistake that was in the previous link you tried to use to smear Trayvon Martin…in both cases, it appears that this is an entirely different person…

  100. matt says:

    @An Interested Party: Oh lovely the rantings of storm front is being fully embraced by “conservatives”…

  101. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Ben Wolf: I listened to the CNN-enhanced audio, as posted on Ace Of Spades. There is a definite “X” sound at the end, and the vowel is closer to a “u” than an “o.” There is no “c” sound at the beginning, but a “p.” I agree with you on the “n” as the end.

    To my ears, it’s “fucking punks.” ‘Cuz, let’s face it, “coons” is a pretty obsolete racial epithet, and there are far more common ones today. “Coons” is down in obscurity with “jigaboos” and “spooks.” I’d expect a hell of a lot more use of “the n-word” (I don’t mind using it in this kind of context, but no sense tempting the Moderation Bots) than “coons.”

  102. Jenos Idanian says:

    CURSE the moderation bot! Lemme try again…

    @Ben Wolf: I listened to the CNN-enhanced audio, as posted on Ace Of Spades. There is a definite “X” sound at the end, and the vowel is closer to a “u” than an “o.” There is no “c” sound at the beginning, but a “p.” I agree with you on the “n” as the end.

    To my ears, it’s “f’ing punks.” ‘Cuz, let’s face it, “coons” is a pretty obsolete racial epithet, and there are far more common ones today. “Coons” is down in obscurity with “jigaboos” and “spooks.” I’d expect a hell of a lot more use of “the n-word” (I don’t mind using it in this kind of context, but no sense tempting the Moderation Bots) than “coons.”

  103. matt says:

    @Jenos Idanian: fcking punks or fcking coons it doesn’t matter he obviously had ill will in his heart..

  104. Jenos Idanian says:

    @matt: Well, in one sense it definitely matters. If it’s “coons,” then it can be argued to be a “hate crime” and the feds can claim jurisdiction. If it’s “punks,” then it’s strictly a state matter.

    And since when is “having ill will” in one’s heart a crime? He was angry, no one denies that. He wasn’t out to save Martin’s soul or offer him shelter from the rain, he suspected the kid was up to no good in Zimmerman’s neighborhood, and he felt defensive.

    Further, people get angry all the time. That doesn’t make them automatically commit crimes. I get angry on the road with left-lane squatters, people who change lanes without using directionals, and idiots with Obama bumper stickers. I’ve never committed a single crime against any of them, despite the “ill will” in my heart. My fantasies of a roof-mounted rocket launcher are just that — fantasies.

    And yeah, I’ve confronted people when I’m angry, who’ve done things to anger me. Oddly enough, not one of those confrontations ever ended with me killing anyone.

    It’d be one thing if Zimmerman had a history of racist behavior and criminal acts. But he didn’t. There are reports that he worked on mobilizing the black community after a cop’s son beat a homeless black man. And we know he had no serious criminal record because he had a concealed-carry permit — ANY kind of legal problems will keep you from getting one of those.

    Are you really saying Zimmerman should be convicted because you think he’s a bad person?

  105. matt says:

    I never liked the concept of “hate crimes”. Seriously if you’re killing someone that’s pretty damned hateful in itself regardless of what color your target is they end up just as dead.

    Are you really saying Zimmerman should be convicted because you think he’s a bad person?

    No I think he should be charged with manslaughter because he sought out a confrontation that even the 911 operator said to avoid. To me he lost all rights to stand your ground when he got out of his truck to track Martin down. I think murder 2 is a bit ridiculous though and I hope it gets reduced..

  106. matt says:

    I don’t think Zimmerman is your typical racist. It seems to me he’s more of the type that goes through life based on stereotypes. It’s too bad that he believes the stereotype that all young men in a hoodie are always up to no good..

  107. Jenos Idanian says:

    @matt: Actually, Bob Owens has looked very carefully at the 911 transcripts, and puts forth a reasonable case that Zimmerman had stopped following Martin shortly before their confrontation. He’s a little out of breath as he chases Martin, then the operator says “you don’t need to do that,” so he says OK and then spends about a minute and a half giving the operator his precise position.

    If he was still running, he’d be gasping and wouldn’t have a consistent position to give to the operator. So the implication is he stopped his chasing when the operator implied he shouldn’t continue doing so.

    So, if Zimmerman is standing still after chasing a fleeing Martin and they still have a confrontation, that pretty much means that Martin came back to confront Zimmerman.

  108. matt says:

    @Jenos Idanian: I really don’t care what you say. You’ve already posted false information that originated from STormfront so there’s really nothing for you or I to talk about.

  109. Jenos Idanian says:

    @matt: Boy, if you’re that miffed at me for making that at-least-one-step-removed error, then you must be really ripped at NBC for their intentional libelous edit of the 911 call to make Zimmerman into a racist.

  110. Eric Florack says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Quite so.
    Clearly we’ve been lied to.
    Now, who would benefit from that lie, we wonders? Yes, we wonders.

  111. matt says:

    @Jenos Idanian: I see no poster using NBC as a username, It’s getting quite tiresome to respond to your delusions..