Why George Zimmerman Will Be Acquitted
The politically-motivated trial of George Zimmerman has begun in Florida, and Zimmerman’s attorneys got off on the wrong foot, telling a knock-knock joke right out of the chute to begin opening statements – an absolute no-no, not to mention a stupid move, in a trial of this nature.
Prosecutor John Guy played a much different tune and came out swinging as he quoted Zimmerman’s profanity-laced phone call to the dispatcher which illustrated Zimmerman’s disgust that the “punks…always get away.” To say that the prosecutor has been effective would be a gross understatement. He has been brutal, precise and simply on target.
Despite the vastly different approaches of the attorneys on both sides, no amount of wordsmithing can change the fact that Zimmerman will be acquitted. The law is simply on his side.
Zimmerman is accused of murdering Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida in February 2012. Of course, one of the controversies revolves around the stand your ground law. We can debate whether or not the stand your ground law is a good idea or not, but the fact is that the law was in effect at the time of the shooting. Therefore, it is the law that will apply. In other words, this is a trial, not a legislative session.
The six-woman jury in this case will be instructed that if they find Zimmerman did not initiate the physical confrontation, he had no duty to retreat from a confrontation. However, even if Zimmerman did “initiate” the encounter, the law still requires him to walk.
Under Florida law, a person can use force to counter the use of unlawful force. In this case, there are two prevailing theories that the jury will be presented with. In either case, Martin is the perpetrator simply because he, and not Zimmerman, escalated the encounter to one of deadly force. And this is precisely what this case will come down to.
The first theory, which is Zimmerman’s story, will be that he encountered Martin, walked back to his truck, and Martin followed and attacked him with physical force. Zimmerman responded and the fight went to the ground. This is when Martin took a dominant position and sent Zimmerman’s head crashing into the concrete. Because of the introduction of deadly force by Martin, Zimmerman was justified in utilizing deadly force. Is it that simple? If robots sat on juries and simply applied the law without emotion, the answer would be an unequivocal “Yes.”
The other theory, likely more in line with the prosecution, is that Zimmerman started the fight with Martin. However, by all accounts, the initial interaction with Martin was one of “hands-on” grappling which went to the ground. Again, it was Martin who elevated the amount of encounter to one of deadly force, and Zimmerman justifiably responded.
The odd twist in the law is that even if Zimmerman started the confrontation, a person is only justified in responding to the threat with the same amount of force. It is for precisely this reason that Martin is far from being a victim. He is the individual in this encounter who far exceeded the level of force with which the law is willing to protect him.
The unavoidable fact is that lethal force was only deployed after Martin began slamming Zimmerman’s head on the ground. Politics aside, Zimmerman should walk. Courtroom aside, this is just tragic.
The charges in this case were motivated by racist claims coming from the likes of Al Sharpton. Emergency 911 tapes were ignored and even doctored by those who wanted to sell a great story. And Zimmerman’s injuries were covered up to give the story longevity. May lady justice arrive in that Florida courtroom with a vengeance.
Shane Krauser is a partner with Davis Miles McGuire Gardner, the director of the American Academy for Constitutional Education, and the chief instructor at K-Force Vanguard. He is also a former prosecutor. Follow him on twitter: @ShaneKrauser