By now most people know—unless they’re comatose—that late last evening, a jury in Florida found George Zimmerman NOT guilty after deliberating for over 15-hours. And while all of the legal, media, and social “experts” are insisting ad nauseum that the case was NOT about race, a virtual landslide of tweets, texts, emails, and a plethora of BLOG postings are telling a far different story.
I’m not going to belabor the matter here; read about it for yourselves if you so desire. But the fact is that multitudes of people on BOTH sides seem to have developed their own set of “FACTS.”
CNN—and Anderson Cooper, in particular—will continue to analyze this case for weeks to follow. Their “team” of legal experts, led by Jeffrey Toobin and the usual array of defense attorneys and FORMER prosecutors, will banter back and forth for hours on end.
But as usual, they’ll tell their viewers nothing that competent high school students couldn’t have foretold in under two minutes while taking less than a couple of sentences to do it: that the whole matter will devolve into a team-choosing exercise between defense attorneys and former prosecutors.
People are free to believe whatever they wish, and this includes developing personal scenarios running a gamut from reasonably arguable to flat out race-based crap. But as those opinions apply to the verdict in this case—even the reasonably arguable ones—they are just OPINIONS, not FACTS.
The only FACTS that count relative to this verdict are the ones arrived at by the 6-member jury panel. They sat through EVERY second of the trial. They listened to EVERY word of testimony presented by BOTH sides.
After about 16-hours of deliberations, the jury arrived at its version of the FACTS—again, the ONLY version that counts. They concluded that the State of Florida had FAILED to prove its case for either, 2nd degree murder or manslaughter.
People may argue ad infinitum that had George Zimmerman followed the 911 call center’s instruction to cease the pursuit, Trayvon Martin would still be alive and George Zimmerman would not have been on trial.
But neither can they ignore the fact that George Zimmerman broke NO laws by ignoring the instruction. Nor can people ignore the fact that there was not a shred of evidence to conclude that Zimmerman’s decision was anything more than a judgment call based on a hunch.
Conversely, Trayvon Martin had every right to be where he was; he lived there and was on his way home—a couple of hundred feet away from the accounts I’ve read.
He was NOT armed, nor did he have anything on his person that was illegal, unless you suspect that he was going to use the ice tea container as a weapon and that the bag of skittles was laced with drugs.
So the matter boiled down to an escalation of confrontational rhetoric and precisely which of the two instigated it. And making matters still worse, there was not a shred of DIRECT evidence in support of either side’s contentions.
All that this jury had to go on relative to this aspect was a mountain of conflicting testimony and emotionally-driven speculation as to whose voice was heard crying for “help,” who threw the first punch, and how Zimmerman managed to draw his weapon from beneath his prone body while Martin was allegedly punching his face into the pavement.
This amounts to the classic definition of “reasonable doubt.” Had there been any DIRECT evidence that Zimmerman had instigated a physical clash, Trayvon Martin would have been standing HIS ground—it works BOTH ways, you know—and Zimmerman would now be waiting to find out the length of his extended stay in one of Florida’s finer maximum security prisons.
When I was a mere lad of pre-teen exuberance, my father had a unique way of dealing with “reasonable doubt” whenever it came to figuring out who “started” the damn fights among the siblings. He’d ignore all the “he-said-she-said” circumstances and punish ALL of us.
He could get away with it because he was MY father—aka GOD. His opinion amounted to a final dictatorial RULING, but our judicial system does not work the same way.
And as fervently as some would like to believe that George Zimmerman SHOULD have been convicted—and based on actual courtroom testimony that I’ve heard, I think the jury got it right—they had better rejoice in the fact that our system works the way that it does.
Otherwise we may quite possibly hear some future judge addressing a defendant along the lines of, “I realize the jury has just found you not guilty, but I’m giving you to ten years just to be safe.”