To the Editor:
Politics and ideologies aside, the recent verdict in the George Zimmerman trial is indefensible on several levels. Where have we descended as a society, and as a culture, when a man with a gun and an “attitude” can ignore the specific directives of local police not to leave his vehicle, then stalk an unarmed teenager, become involved in an unnecessary (and ill-advised) physical confrontation, end up shooting and killing the victim at point blank range, and subsequently be acquitted by a jury?
I’ve read many of the statements about the jurors making the “right decision” based on the evidence presented, and thereby following the “letter of the law.” It seems clear that the prosecution dropped the ball with the charge of second degree murder instead of manslaughter.
According to one Associated Press (AP) story: “To find Mr. Zimmerman guilty of second-degree murder, jurors must agree that he shot Mr Martin out of ill will, hatred, spite or an evil intent, a “depraved mind.” That charge carries up to a life sentence.”
There were also the following comments for clarification (of Florida law). “Manslaughter is a lower bar, one that could prove more appealing to a jury and more worrisome to the defense. Prosecutors must show only that Mr. Zimmerman killed without lawful justification. If a weapon is used, it could draw a maximum of 30 years in prison.”
While those descriptions seem both clear and reasonable, this next item from the story is not clear – nor, in my opinion, reasonable.
“A jury found him not guilty of second-degree murder late Saturday night and declined to convict him on a lesser charge of manslaughter.”
Why did the jury “decline” to charge him with manslaughter?
According to the summary: “Part of the answer is found in the 27-page jury instructions on two matters: justifiable use of deadly force and reasonable doubt. Jurors were told Zimmerman was allowed to use deadly force when he shot Martin not only if he actually faced death or bodily harm, but also if he merely thought he did.”
It appears the way this case unfolded, and the verdict which resulted, there were several important ingredients missing– notable among them... context!
Fight/Schmight! Zimmerman doesn’t leave the car, there is no incident, no death, no trial, no debate. Period.
I would encourage anyone interested in recognizing truth, and cutting to the chase – so to speak – to ignore the nonsensical Right vs Left posturing, and confront the relevant, but often overlooked issue of Right vs Wrong (read White vs Black). Check out a copy of the film, A Time to Kill, - adapted from the John Grisham novel– even if you only watch the final 10 minutes beginning with the defense lawyer’s summation.
We may have a President who is black, and even an Attorney General who is black, but this society has not come to grips with the question of race and inequality in America. In too many people’s minds, it’s still the late ‘50s/early ‘60s.
173 Boggs Hill Road, Newtown July 17, 2013