…for the prosecutor in Florida to charge George Zimmerman with Second Degree Murder.
Corey also had a message for those who have been rushing to judgment on the case.
“You cannot know what it’s like to launch this type of investigation and come to this conclusion,” State Attorney Angela Corey said during the press conference.
“We don’t prosecute by public pressure or petition. We prosecute cases on the relevant facts of each case and on the laws of the state of Florida.”
The worst thing about how the left has treated this case – as a stage prop for Obama’s re-election campaign – is that it causes doubts in the justice system, among both those who are inclined to support it or not.
Naturally, the Obama administration and the media who push his narrative had every reason to portray the local prosecutors and police as racist peckerwoods who didn’t care that a black kid was dead. And the claque that has been benefitting from that perception for decades now – Al Sharpton and the various race-war pimps – benefit handsomely from that perception.,
Which is, of course, not to say that the local cops and prosecutors did do a good job – in fact, we don’t know. But prosecutor Corey is right – these ambiguous shooting cases frequently do take a long time to work out. A great example – of both the time it takes to work out an ambiguous shooting and of a justice system horribly skewed by official tush-covering – is the Treptow case, from five years ago in Coon Rapids.
So there is much we don’t know about this case.
But one thing that any rational person – and by “rational person” I mean “one who rationally assesses the facts as they know them = does know is that this case is no indictment of “Stand Your Ground”.
Let’s compare and contrast the genesis (so far) of this case, and war-game out its resolution under Florida law (with its Stand Your Ground provisions) and Minnesota law (which still has a vague, ambiguous “duty to retreat”).
Assumptions: We’ll assume that the episode went like this: Martin was walking (we won’t ascribe motives to him yet). Zimmerman, being a diligent (maybe over-diligent) neighborhood watch guy, followed Martin in his car, then got out and confronted Martin. The encounter went south – accounts vary – and either Zimmerman ended up attacking Martin, or Martin attacked Zimmerman (you can believe whichever you want, because only the jury’s perception really matters at this point). At some point, and with whatever motive, Zimmerman shoots Martin, who dies. The police arrive. Zimmerman claims self-defense.
Under Current Minnesota Law, if the case were being tried under Minnesota law, the prosecution would have to prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman, while not planning to kill Martin, did in fact intentionally kill Martin without justification. Zimmerman and his attorneys, claiming self-defense, would have to prove to the jury that…:
- Zimmerman reasonably feared death or great bodily harm – they’d have to convince the jury that Zimmerman’s fear of Martin beating him to death was reasonable. Of course, people get beaten to death, strangled, clubbed to death with bottles all the time – there’ve been three “one-punch kills” in Minnesota so far in 2012. I’m no lawyer, but I’m going to say this will likely mean having to prove that Martin really attacked him, injured him, and didn’t appear likely to stop at the time. Is that enough to convince a jury? We’ll see.
- He was a reluctant participant – No, the fact that he followed Martin, and disregarded the 911 operator’s instructions, don’t count. Zimmerman had a right to be on the street, whether he was following Martin or not. And 911 operators don’t give legal orders. It might not look good for Zimmerman – but in fact he needs to prove that he didn’t willingly dive into the actual physical scuffle that led to the shooting.
- The force he used was reasonable – in other words, he’d need to prove that the force he used was only enough to end the lethal threat. If there’s evidence Zimmerman shot Martin while he was lying on the ground, then the case is over.
- He made a reasonable effort to disengage – If he convinces the jury that he was jumped and tackled before he had a chance to try to run away, or that he did in fact try to back away while under attack, then that’s what he’d have to do. The prosecutor, of course, can try to convince the jury that Zimmerman should have tried to escape until he slipped into a coma with brain damage; an anti-gun judge could instruct the jury to keep to the strictest possible definition of “duty to retreat”. Zimmerman, or any self-defense shooter under Minnesota law, could have been impeccable on the other three points, and still go to jail based purely on the discretion of the prosecutor, the prejudice of the judge, and the whim of the jury. That’s why Minnesota needs a Stand Your Ground law. But that’s a matter for the next legislature.
If Zimmerman failed to convince the jury that he’d met all four of those criteria, then his self-defense claim fails.
Under Current Florida Law – But the case is being tried in Florida. Florida has a “Stand your Ground” law. That means that the prosecutor must prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- Zimmerman met all the elements of Second Degree Murder under Florida law – that he did in fact intentionally kill Martin without justification.
- Zimmerman did not reasonably fear death or great bodily harm – they’d have to convince the jury that Zimmerman’s fear of Martin beating him to death was unreasonable. Of course, the defense will show the jury that people get beaten to death, strangled, clubbed to death with bottles all the time – I’m going to guess if there’ve been three “one-punch kills” in Minnesota so far in 2012 that there’ve been more than that in Gainesville alone. The prosecutor, I’ll guess, will have to debunk the notion that Martin attacked Zimmerman, or build a case that Zimmerman really did attack Martin. We’ll see.
- Zimmerman was not a reluctant participant – The fact that Zimmerman followed Martin, and disregarded the 911 operator’s instructions, may have been a bad idea – I know that after taking carry permit training twice, it’s the last thing I’d do. But the defense will point out that Zimmerman had a right to be on the street, and convince the jury that he didn’t willingly dive into the actual physical scuffle that led to the shooting.
- The force he used was not reasonable – in other words, the prosecutor will need to prove that the force Zimmerman used was beyond what was needed to end the threat. If there’s evidence Zimmerman shot Martin while he was lying on the ground, then the case is over. Othewise? Not so much.
He made a reasonable effort to disengage– Does not apply in “Stand your Ground” states. Not so that people can “shoot first”, but because this is a provision that is abused by prosecutors; can anyone else see the absurdity of saying “yes, your life was being legitimately threatened – but you should have tried harder to run away before defending yourself?”
If the prosecution proves all the elements of second-degree murder, and disproves any of the three pillars of his self-defense claim, the jury will likely find ZImmerman guilty. If the jury accepts all three of the pillars of Zimmerman’s claim (or reasonable doubts exist about them), then they will (assuming a rational jury) find him innocent.
The only difference is on whom the burden of proving the legitimacy of the self-defense claim rests. That is all.
Sharpton and the race-war pimps will keep trying to fan this into a racial incident – because it benefits them to do so. White liberals will try – and fail – to turn this into an indictment of “Stand your Ground” laws.
And before too long, the Obama administration will need to find itself another stage prop; the mainstream media, his Praetorian Guard, will dutifully move on, and the case, provided you trust the local justice system, will reach the resolution it would have reached without all the national attention.