Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Preponderance of Evidence

More evidence has been released in the Trayvon Martin case, where Hispanic George Zimmerman, in February of this year shot black teenager Trayvon Martin after a confrontation in which Zimmerman claims he shot Martin in self-defense.

Zimmerman, part of a neighborhood watch group monitoring the community after a series of crimes, followed Martin after the hooded teen exhibited what he claimed was suspicious behavior.  Martin’s father’s fiancée lived in the gated community, where the teenager was a guest.  Zimmerman called police, but fearing the teen might commit a crime before they arrived, he followed him.

The behavior of someone who is lost could possibly be misconstrued as someone behaving suspiciously.  If Martin was new to the area, he may have forgotten which way to go.  Zimmerman may have been justified in following him, given the neighborhood’s recent history of crime.  Martin could well have become nervous seeing Zimmerman observing him, an anxiety only adding to a perception of suspiciousness.

And so the incident escalated, with the two men winding up in a common backyard of the condominium units.  Who initiated the confrontation is unknown.  What is known, now, is that Zimmerman suffered substantial minor injuries, including a broken nose, bruises, cuts on the back of his head, and, according to his doctor, a back injury.  They were not on the grass, as everyone assumed, but on concrete pavement.  Ultimately, Martin was shot through the heart at close range, with estimates between one and eighteen inches.  Definitely close quarters.

According to Fox News, Martin's autopsy indicated that medical examiners found THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, when they tested Martin's blood and urine. The amount described in the autopsy report is such a low level that it would have played no role in Martin's behavior, said Larry Kobilinsky, a professor of forensic science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

“This kind of level can be seen days after somebody smokes,” Kobilinsky said. “If it comes up in the case, I would be surprised. It wouldn't benefit the defense, it wouldn't benefit the prosecution, and if the defense tried to bring it up, the judge would keep it out.”

Martin's parents contend that Zimmerman was the aggressor and an investigator who called for his arrest maintains that the fight could have been avoided if Zimmerman had stayed in his truck and waited for the police.  He said Zimmerman, after leaving his vehicle, could have identified himself to Martin as a concerned citizen and talked to him instead of confronting him.  No one knows whether that isn’t exactly what he did and that Martin initiated the violence.  The physical evidence indicates just that.  Other than the fatal gunshot wound and a torn skin at the knuckles – allegedly self-inflicted by hitting Zimmerman – Martin had no other injuries.

Zimmerman’s former co-workers have come forward to paint a racist picture of Zimmerman, whose mother is a Peruvian and whose father is white father.  One is a Middle Eastern man, and the other an unidentified woman who said Zimmerman made her feel uncomfortable.

Following Martin was both foolish and courageous.  Foolish became Martin might have been armed.  Foolish because he couldn’t judge well enough what Martin’s business in the gated community was.  Foolish because it’s never wise to approach strangers, especially under such circumstances.  You never know what the outcome  is going to be.  In this case, it was a tragedy.

Yet it took a certain rash courage to follow someone who’s behaving suspiciously on a dark and rainy night.  He was under no legal obligation to heed a 9/11 operator’s warning (though ultimately it would have been better if he had).  Though he was mistaken about Martin, he cared enough about his community not to just look the other way when he had the belief that a crime might transpire.  He probably did not follow Martin with the intention of committing a crime but preventing one.

The fact that Martin had traces of marijuana in his blood has no real bearing on the case, although it also means that he was no choir boy.  The fact that he was 17 has more bearing on the ensuing altercation; 17 year old boys (of any color or stripe) tend to be hot-headed.  The 27 year-old Zimmerman is accused of being immature.  Martin, being 17, had more excuse for being immature but his age also makes it more likely that he struck the first blow, instead of keeping his head and explaining that he was visiting his father in such-and-such a unit.

Martin’s father has since admitted, contrary to his wife’s assertions, that the voice crying out on the 9/11 tape is not his son’s.  Voice analysts have also said that the quality of the tape, at the very least, hinders any judgment of whether Zimmerman said f’g “coon”, “goon”, “punks” or “cold.”  It sure sounded like “cold.”

More is on trial than just a 27 year-old “white” Hispanic.  Florida’s stand-your-ground rule is at risk.  If it is struck down, victims will not be allowed to defend themselves but must run away from the threat (if they can).  Being pinned down, it’s hard to see how Zimmerman could have run away.  But the prosecutors do contend that he should have stayed away from Martin, no matter whether he was innocent or about to commit a crime.

The Florida State prosecutor should also be taken to task for her handling of this case, and the Media for not reporting all the facts of the four month old case.  Social justice is just racial profiling in reverse.

Community watchers are more in need of their guns than ever.  But they should also carry cameras that can let them do their jobs at a safe distance until the police arrive to do their jobs.  You’d be surprised just how terrified criminals – and people in general - are of cameras.  That’s the sorry state into which our union, our free nation has fallen.


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