Monday, July 15, 2013

Not Guilty

It seems that those two little words are only the beginning of the conversation.

It's a conversation our country needs to have. There are a lot of people saying that the jury has spoken and we should move on; however, I seem to recall many of these same people just being unable to get over the Casey Anthony verdict for a long time. Whether you agree or disagree with either verdict, there does seem to be a bit of hypocrisy here.

Why do we want to move on from this case so fact, but still dwell on Casey Anthony? I think that's a question people need to ask themselves. Some people seem to be obsessing over how the media, or the prosecution, or whatever didn't portray Martin "as the thug he was".

My question is, why does it matter? Youth of many races make many bad decisions involving crime, drugs, and fighting. But they don't get the death penalty for that.

Without getting into the verdict, what do we know 100% for sure about that night? That George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin. I think that's pretty much all we know for sure.

I ask you this: if you had a troubled teen who got killed (rightly or wrongly), would you feel better about it because he had problems? Would you say "well my kid smoked pot, so I'm okay with it"? Would you say "well he got in a lot of fights, so I expected him to get shot eventually"?

Again, I repeat that this particular post neither supports nor disagrees with the verdict. I'm just trying to understand why people are so obsessed with trying to say that "he's a thug so it's okay". I've heard bad things about both Zimmerman's and Martin's pasts on the same news networks, so I don't know that they've made some sort of attempt to show bias. However, I think it's a general thing to be respectful to the dead where possible. I'm sure if Martin killed Zimmerman that night, the media would dig less into his past than Martin's.

As much as some people wish to deny it, race is still very much a big deal in our country. Not everything is about race, but so much about this case certainly is. We as a country need to figure out how we can do better. This is one of many senseless killings in this country, and we need to look for ways to do stop them. It took a long series of events to lead up to the confrontation that ended with Trayvon Martin's life being taken; was every step in that process necessary? Maybe this is the question we should be considering most of all.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Obviousness is in the Eye of the Beholder

"It's obvious Zimmerman acted in self-defense."

"It's obvious Zimmerman hunted down and murdered Trayvon Martin."

There are many people who believe that each of the above statements is true (not both at the same time, of course).

I've been following the trial relatively closely, and one thing seems obvious to me: nothing is obvious here.

There were a very small number of eye-witnesses to the event. Even then, they were a good distance away, it was dark, and none can say for sure who was screaming for help.

The girl that was on the phone with Trayvon in the minutes leading up to the incident told the court what happened, but she may or may not be telling the truth, given that she has an obvious prior relationship with the deceased.

Did Zimmerman follow Martin after being told not to? Did Martin double-back and attack Zimmerman? There isn't clear evidence either way. It seems that people's bias has really got them to see things that aren't there, to make the unclear obvious.

In a normal trial, this would be good for the defense. It is generally the job of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crime. But Zimmerman is going with a self-defense claim. Self-defense is an affirmative defense. This means some of the burden of proof swings to their side. They must put forth convincing evidence to show that Zimmerman did not begin the confrontation that ended Trayvon Martin's life. And I'm just not sure that evidence is there. I don't think there's a witness (other than Zimmerman himself, who wouldn't be 100% reliable for obvious reasons) that can definitively say that Trayvon attacked Zimmerman while Zimmerman was walking away from Trayvon.

So what happened? Only one living person knows, and he may or may not tell us, depending on whether or not in incriminates him.

What else isn't obvious? What the jury will do. As murky as this case is, and as many variables as there are, the jury doesn't have an easy task ahead of them. I don't think they'll come back with a murder conviction. What I think will happen, and personally agree with, would be a manslaughter conviction. I don't know everything that happened that tragic night, but I think I can say that Zimmerman's actions led to the death of Martin.

Then again, as is the theme of this case, I'm not 100% sure of this. Anything from murder to acquittal is possible, and no one will know what will happen until it happens, regardless of what "experts" or random watches seem to "know".