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The Courts Crime

George Zimmerman Acquitted In Death of Trayvon Martin 1737

Posted by timothy
from the you-can-now-stop-submitting-the-news dept.
theodp writes "Following nearly three weeks of testimony, a jury of six women in the George Zimmerman trial has found the former neighborhood watch volunteer not guilty of second-degree murder. He was also found not guilty of the lesser offense of manslaughter, which the jury also weighed."
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George Zimmerman Acquitted In Death of Trayvon Martin

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  • I'm amazed... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MasseKid (1294554) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @11:00PM (#44273231)
    I'm amazed the Media didn't manage to convict him, despite how hard they tried.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 13, 2013 @11:11PM (#44273313)

      I hope they will give him his job back as CEO of Men's Wearhouse now.

    • Re:I'm amazed... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @11:18PM (#44273381)

      I'm amazed the Media didn't manage to convict him, despite how hard they tried.

      Everyone likes to talk about how they'd vote, or what they'd do. The media simply caters to that with show trials and "investigations", showing us distorted and idealized versions of this. It's the same reason why in the middle of a crisis, or when in the presence of a celebrity you'll find plenty of people whipping out their phones, and nobody actually doing anything useful. We feel important when we're around important people... or important events. We try to assure ourselves of our own relevance in whatever situation is placed in front of us. The terrorist attacks on 9/11 didn't directly affect more than a tiny, tiny fraction of the population, but everybody got emotionally involved in it, because it was spectacular, epic, and we wanted to insert ourselves into the story, the conversation, the dialogue. Show trials like this are based on this same emotional need, and the media is only too happy to indulge in it -- it sells more papers, more advertisement, etc.

      But the overwhelming majority of it is total shit, and frankly harmful to our way of life. Whether Zimmerman is guilty or not, he'll never have another job. He'll always be "that guy that got away with murder", irrespective of the actual, judiciary merit of that position. There have been many people, for example, accused of rape, and were later proved not just not guilty, but totally and irrefutably innocent of the charges. Their lives were still over all the same.

      The founding fathers knew this -- that's why they advocated jury trials in the first place. It was an attempt to remove this mob mentality from the judicial process, and as a balance against populism swaying the government and giving in to the transient emotional outbursts of the crowd, the mob, the public. I don't think, if they were alive today in the age of the internet and instant communication, they would still advocate that these trials be open to the public... I believe they would have wanted a person who, if found not guilty, could go back to the life they had and the community would treat them no differently. Conversely, the country was still a "big" place, in terms of social circles -- someone convicted and having served their time, could move somewhere else, start a new life, and leave their mistake(s) behind them. Neither option is possible nowadays...

      Today, our justice system may still beat back the mob mentality and the public's need for vengance, and the corruption of the media, but once a person leaves the system -- guilty or innocent, their lives are irrevocably changed. And rarely is it for the better.

      • Re:I'm amazed... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ebno-10db (1459097) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @11:43PM (#44273615)

        The founding fathers knew this -- that's why they advocated jury trials in the first place

        That and the fact that it had been part of the common law for centuries.

        I don't think, if they were alive today in the age of the internet and instant communication, they would still advocate that these trials be open to the public

        On the contrary. The reason for requiring that criminal trials be public is to help ensure that they're not totally corrupt.

        • Re:I'm amazed... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Torodung (31985) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @12:59AM (#44274267) Journal

          Two words explain this attitude historically: "Secret Tribunal." (You can insert the word "military" if you'd prefer three words).

          What would have them spinning at 5000 rpm in their graves is Guantanamo Bay, not this trial and public reaction. A public trial by jury is exactly what they designed, and the country was so small and insular at that point that reputations could be ruined far more thoroughly than in today's overpopulated, urban, and largely faceless culture. They absolutely expected mob mentality to be a result, which was why so many of them were members of secret societies. Privacy to speak one's mind may never have occurred to them as a possibility without that. The possibility of a public trial ruining someone's reputation was probably expected, in my considered opinion.

          I don't have any primary sources to back that up though.

      • Re:I'm amazed... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Totenglocke (1291680) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @12:24AM (#44273973)

        He'll always be "that guy that got away with murder"

        TIL that Slashdotters equate self defense with murder. In a pro-gun state, he'll have no problem getting a job because the citizens of those states respect people who defend themselves against violent people.

        • Re:I'm amazed... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by bladesinger (2420944) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @12:46PM (#44277811)

          He'll always be "that guy that got away with murder"

          TIL that Slashdotters equate self defense with murder. In a pro-gun state, he'll have no problem getting a job because the citizens of those states respect people who defend themselves against violent people.

          We need to understand the difference between self-defense and self-offense. When you stalk a person incidentally travelling down the street- man, women, or child- and that person ultimately ends up dead by your hands, you have committed murder as manslaughter. You are the instigator. Your choices, not happenstance, led to the death of someone. All the details- I called the police first, "He/she looked suspicious!", emotions, race- are just extra and will be used by the defense and the prosecution to either escalate the charge or keep it at manslaughter.

          Zimmerman, the moment he followed an incidental passer-by with ANY intent, was at risk of manslaughter should Martin die. It doesn't matter of Trayvon Martin broke every bone in Zimmerman's body before he was shot- Zimmerman was the instigator; this is not self-defense.

          This case has set a disgusting precedent, at least in Florida, where we can leave the safety of our homes in pursuit of *suspicious* figures, and ultimately kill them, and that may be known as quote self-defense quote... if the victim puts up a fight.

      • Re:I'm amazed... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by quantaman (517394) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @12:47AM (#44274187)

        Whether Zimmerman is guilty or not, he'll never have another job. He'll always be "that guy that got away with murder", irrespective of the actual, judiciary merit of that position. There have been many people, for example, accused of rape, and were later proved not just not guilty, but totally and irrefutably innocent of the charges. Their lives were still over all the same.

        He might need a name change and a relocation but if he wants to he can regain his anonymity in a few months.

        The founding fathers knew this -- that's why they advocated jury trials in the first place. It was an attempt to remove this mob mentality from the judicial process, and as a balance against populism swaying the government and giving in to the transient emotional outbursts of the crowd, the mob, the public. I don't think, if they were alive today in the age of the internet and instant communication, they would still advocate that these trials be open to the public...

        I'd say this case was a perfect example of why we need open trials.

        In the initial case I frankly do think there was a racial bias. Whether or not innocent was the proper finding I think it's hard to justify the casualness of the initial police response. Media oversight was a good thing here.

        As for the trial, a trial open to the public actually protects the accused from being convicted by the media!

        The media were talking about Zimmerman long before the trial so closing the trial won't stop him from being convicted by the media. But the only way to stop the media conviction from turning into a courtroom conviction via corruption is to keep the trial open to the media.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @11:48PM (#44273681)

      Remember that they looked for people who hadn't followed the leadup to this a ton. Not everyone gives a fuck what is in the media. Also it turns out in most cases jurors do a reasonable job of following what the judge tells them. The judge tells them what evidence they can consider, and what is required for a charge, and they usually listen to that, at least reasonably well.

      The system is far from perfect, but they really do try and get people who have little to no knowledge about a case beforehand, and they try to instruct those people as to what is and is not to be considered.

      Also the prosecution screwed up their case at several points, and that makes a big difference as well.

      Remember that while the rest of the world (that was interested) was following the media accounts, the jurors were following only what happened in the courtroom.

    • by Shivetya (243324) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @11:50PM (#44273699) Homepage Journal

      or officials want. Juries tend to see through the attempts to impose social justice over legal justice. This trial became a farce when the prosecution was allowed to change their charge on the fly, worse they almost got totally into silly land on trying to change up the charges.

      Now comes the fun part, will the Feds get involved directly and attempt a hate crime charge?

      Zimmerman was an over reactive wanna be cop that created a situation that got out of his control. Frankly if Tray had survived I would have expected him to use the same defense. Still witnesses and crime scene evidence were not in favor of the prosecution and the local sheriff was right in not trying to field a case that could not be one.

      We the people won, both Zimmerman and Martin lost. We won because the law was upheld. Martin paid the ultimate price and Zimmerman will pay the rest of his.

      The tragedy beyond this one death is the number of people who died and their cases will never be given the same attention.

  • by mtrachtenberg (67780) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @11:01PM (#44273233) Homepage

    People coming from different backgrounds bring different perspectives to the Trayvon Martin shooting. Everyone feels they are right, and everyone feels strongly. Is it possible for commenters to keep that in mind? I see an early post opportunity, so I figure I'll offer the proposal.

  • by I'm New Around Here (1154723) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @11:02PM (#44273249)

    I'm not surprised that the final verdict is not guilty on any count, since the state didn't show proof of guilt.

    I am surprised the jury members didn't cave in to the threats of violence and find him guilty of the manslaughter that was thrown in at the end.

    Good for them for doing their jobs.

  • Does anyone know (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @11:03PM (#44273255) Journal
    Does anyone know if the result was related to the "Stand Your Ground" law? I'm having trouble finding a good answer.
    • Re:Does anyone know (Score:5, Informative)

      by Neppy (673459) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @11:04PM (#44273265)
      Stand your ground was not used as a defense in this case so no relation at all.
    • Does anyone know if the result was related to the "Stand Your Ground" law? I'm having trouble finding a good answer.

      His defense played both sides of "stand your ground". They claimed he was attacked and entitled to use it, even though he claimed he was not familiar with it (even though he took courses that covered it). They also tried to claim that it was somehow valid in a case where the person with the gun is pursuing the other person.

      Somehow, in Florida, this all makes sense. I'm glad I don't live there and now I have at least one more reason not to visit there any time soon.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851)

        The disturbing thing is that in a more civilized part of the country, beating somebody that's on the ground would entitle the person on the ground to self defense, not the person that instigated the fight and is now standing over the victim. Which is what witnesses testified to and is the only way that GZ could have used the weapon that he would have been lieing on if pinned.

        I'll add this to my list of reasons why I'm not going to be going to the FL ever again. I'm not sure how anybody can think that menaci

        • by meta-monkey (321000) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @11:54PM (#44273735) Journal

          GZ: "Hi, neighborhood watch. Do you live around here?"
          TM: "I'm going to attack you now."
          GZ: "Holy shit, my face is getting pummeled and my head is being slammed into the concrete. I should defend myself before I die."

          Just saying, that is a possible way that questioning a high school student could turn into legitimate self defense.

        • Re:Does anyone know (Score:5, Informative)

          by stenvar (2789879) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @02:02AM (#44274625)

          Your premise is wrong. Forensics showed that Zimmerman was on the ground and Martin was bending over him when Martin was shot.

          Who instigated the confrontation isn't relevant to the question of self-defense. You can start a fight and still claim self-defense when the other person turns the conflict into a lethal conflict.

          Furthermore, Martin might well have been able to claim self-defense as well if he had shot Zimmerman; claims of self-defense aren't mutually exclusive.

      • Re:Does anyone know (Score:4, Informative)

        by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday July 14, 2013 @12:23AM (#44273967) Homepage Journal

        His defense played both sides of "stand your ground". They claimed he was attacked and entitled to use it, even though he claimed he was not familiar with it (even though he took courses that covered it). They also tried to claim that it was somehow valid in a case where the person with the gun is pursuing the other person.

        No, the defense never brought up stand your ground at all. Per the defense theory of the events, Zimmerman was pinned on the ground and getting his head slammed into concrete. In that situation there is no possibility of retreat, so whether or not a person has a legal duty to retreat isn't relevant. If Florida was a duty-to-retreat state rather than a stand-your-ground state, the outcome would have been the same.

        Ultimately, this case was all about whether or not it was plausible that Zimmerman was pinned and getting his head pounded. If yes, then his decision to shoot was justifiable self-defense. If no, then it was an illegal homicide and the jury would have had to decide what kind based on whether or not the state was able to prove a depraved mindset beyond a reasonable doubt.

        Well, there is one other way it could have gone: The prosecution could have tried to prove that Zimmerman had intentionally provoked Martin into pounding his head into the pavement, in order to obtain legal justification for shooting him. In most states you can't claim self-defense if you provoked the situation with the intent of being able to claim self-defense, but that's hardly ever used because it's really, really hard to prove.

    • Doesn't matter (Score:5, Interesting)

      by frovingslosh (582462) on Sunday July 14, 2013 @02:22AM (#44274719)

      The "Stand your ground law" isn't really a factor when someone jumps you, pounds your head against the cement, is on top of you and reaches for a gun, even your gun. And if you're ever in that situation and waste time considering if it does, then you will likely not survive. This was clear cut self-defense, as the evidence showed.

      Other evidence showed it was racially motivated. The guy's own girlfriend testified that he called Zimmerman a "cracker" before the attack. And the judge excluded evidence of his interest in violence and attacking people, but anyone paying attention outside the jury caught that.

      The cops didn't even want to arrest Zimmerman, they investigated and knew enough about what happened to understand he shouldn't be charged with a crime. He was only charged after a lot of blacks fired up the black community to send a message to other black youths that it is alright to attack and try to kill a "cracker", and if he defends himself we can get him arrested.

      Gotta go now and research just what that information was that the D.A. illegally hid from the defense. That alone pretty much should tell you this wasn't a attempt to get justice, it was an attempt to convict an innocent man who was attacked.

  • Due Process (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nebrfan (1009459) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @11:09PM (#44273307)
    It's better to let a guilty man go free then to put an innocent man behind bars.
    • Re:Due Process (Score:4, Insightful)

      by seebs (15766) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @11:14PM (#44273341) Homepage

      Pretty much. I don't particularly think Zimmerman's innocent, but I do think there is a pretty good case that there's reasonable doubt as to whether he's guilty. I mean, come on. Does anyone seriously think O. J. Simpson didn't kill those people? Nah. But the prosecution failed to prove their case, so he was "not guilty".

      • Re:Due Process (Score:4, Insightful)

        by I'm New Around Here (1154723) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @11:26PM (#44273455)

        Pretty much. I don't particularly think Zimmerman's innocent, but I do think there is a pretty good case that there's reasonable doubt as to whether he's guilty. I mean, come on. Does anyone seriously think O. J. Simpson didn't kill those people? Nah. But the prosecution failed to prove their case, so he was "not guilty".

        That's a big part of my reasoning on these cases. It's not just that there isn't enough evidence to convict. The prosecution actually so botched their own case, they couldn't win. In the OJ case, the police and investigators assisted in that acquittal quite a bit through their own stupidity and cluelessness. This time, the police did their job, and the prosecution helped the evidence prove the case for the defense.

      • Re:Due Process (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tftp (111690) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @11:47PM (#44273665) Homepage

        IMO, GZ was only guilty of pushing his luck. While laws permit a non-LEO person to patrol territory and talk to people, this is not all that wise - GZ presented lots of evidence to that; it may be that his ordeal is not over yet, unless he leaves for Peru on the first airplane.

        A LEO in the same position wouldn't need to explain why he was there, following potential burglars - it's his job. A LEO would be in real time radio contact with his partners and managers. A LEO would not need to shoot because he'd never allow a suspect to come behind him and so close. If it came down to blows, a LEO would be strong enough to defeat TM without killing him; an LEO carries a baton, and Taser, and handcuffs, and pepper spray in addition to the firearm. On top of that, any aggression of TM against the LEO would be illegal, short of some major violation of TM's civil rights.

        This means that GZ should have left the policing to the police officers. They are better prepared, and their hands are less tied, and if they do kill a perp then they, barring an obvious crime, won't be facing the DA. This is the only thing, IMO, that GZ did wrong. Perhaps that gun under his belt made GZ feel protected, invulnerable. Such feelings are known to occur. An unarmed man will seek to avoid confrontation; an armed one may just barge in and have it all - just as this case illustrates.

        This means that if you carry a firearm, your duty to avoid conflicts only gets stronger because it can easily escalate into a homicide. If you are wise and logical, like Spock, you may do good if you carry; but at every point make sure that your actions are not only legal, but also safe. For example, do not leave your car to go where you don't really belong (after strangers who, in your own opinion, are on drugs and up to no good.) However if a criminal tries to carjack you, or to break into your home, a gun will help because in these situations you have no other options - neither short term, nor long term.

        Some lament that bad boyz need to be shot and killed by vigilantes, as it was common a few centuries ago. But the fact of life is that the laws do not permit that. The laws explicitly say that you shall fear criminals, and you shall avoid them. In some way it is wise because you do not know who is and who isn't a criminal. Only when someone breaks into your home you could be reasonably safe; but still check - it could be SWAT, after having house numbers mixed up again. The cost of shooting a person is very high; one might say that after shooting someone you might just as well shoot yourself, all things considered. GZ was this far ->.<- from getting an effective death sentence.

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @11:19PM (#44273387) Homepage

    I think it boils down to presumption of innocence. There was not enough concrete evidence of exactly what happened to find him guilty. I suspect he committed manslaughter, and that Trayvon escalated the situation, and that under our legal system Zimmerman should not be found guilty. Given the uncertainty, it is an accurate reflection of our preference to let a guilty man go free than to convict an innocent man.

  • Political agendas (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East (318230) on Saturday July 13, 2013 @11:31PM (#44273507) Homepage Journal

    I'll tell you what bothered me most about this trial. There's a reason that Zimmerman went free immediately, and no charges were pressed. The evidence backed his story. It was obvious to all those investigating and the DA, etc, that it was a case of self defense. It wasn't because of a bunch of racist law enforcement officers or prosecutors that tried to sweep it under the rug or somehow distort the facts that Zimmerman wasn't charged. The media and politicians decided to make it into something else. Pictures of a smiling 12 year old Martin were shown continuously by the media. Obama said it "could have been my son" that was killed. Special prosecutors were brought in to try and make something happen. When these prosecutors rested their case, then tried to get anything to stick (homicide, even "child abuse") the underlying desperation and total lack of a case was made even more apparent.

    It ticks me off that Martin was exploited by news organizations and politicians to make some sort of cause to rally behind or push agendas.

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