Someone I love and trust predicted that the jury would acquit. I guess I should have thought more about that. I just wanted to believe a little more — in common, color blind — sense. But we are far from the end, here for Mr. Zimmerman’s path before the law.
So… I’ve read several opinion pieces (including this one particularly blowharded version) which suggest that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law was no factor in this case. That is simply incorrect. In 2005, the Florida version of Stand Your Ground removed the duty of any citizen to retreat — if a retreat could safely be acheived — before using deadly force, in a situation like even George Zimmerman’s proffered version of his encounter with Trayvon Martin. [And what of Trayvon’s right to stand his ground? I’ll not cover that in detail, but Trayvon had a right to be where he was — when he saw Mr. Zimmerman — and did not have to leave, or flee, when he and Zimmerman started their physical confrontation. Of course, this will only come up in the civil lawsuits — soon to be filed, for money damages.]
Thus, in Florida, as of 2005, Mr. Zimmerman was effectively immunized (and here is where, in my opinion, Florida, Arizona and Texas law is wrong-headed) if he used deadly force in a situation where he reasonably believed his life was in danger. Now, if one subscribes to the theory that — as a 225 p0und MMA trained fighter — Mr. Zimmerman was capable, and did in fact, pull Trayvon Martin (weighing a scant 155) over, onto the ground, and thus place Martin on top of him, during the struggle — Mr. Zimmerman created the perfect scenario, for killing Trayvon with impunity (at least under Florida state law — but federal law is another matter — more on that a few paragraphs below — or another post, as I need to run to the airport, shortly).
That is, Mr. Zimmerman, on his back, on the ground, with Trayvon above him — then claimed he had absolutely no safe avenue of escape, even if he were inclined to do so. Moreover, he then is absolutely allowed (in Florida, Arizona and Texas) to draw his gun, fire it — and claim both the shield of self defense, and the sword — of stand your ground.
Yes — it is my opinion — based on the fact that Mr. Zimmerman studied these laws (extensively) prior to his encounter with Trayvon, that Mr. Zimmerman had set out with the express purpose of harming Trayvon, that night. He saw him; then he started hunting him (in my opinion). Trayvon had every right to be where he was — and no one can dispute that. Mr. Zimmerman was told to stay in his car by police, and ignored that order — to go “hunt” Trayvon. He is not a law enforcement officer, and thus — in most other states — would be held absolutely liable for his use of deadly force, thereafter.
So — stand your ground shaped the outcome in this case, even though Mr. Zimmerman decided not to seek a preliminary immunity hearing based on it. It created a presumption in Mr. Zimmerman’s favor, that wouldn’t obtain in other states. It forced the state to affirmatively prove that the case was not a self-defense case — even in manslaughter, and even where Mr. Zimmerman did not ask for a preliminary hearing, on the issue.
When we get to the civil suits (for wrongful death, and monetary damages), and to any subsequent federal prosecution for hate crime aggravated assault with lethal force/murder — the fact that he ignored a lawful police order will become pretty important. More on that later — but it is a near certainty now that Mr. Zimmerman will be largely unemployable — and penniless for the rest of his natural days.