George Zimmerman Charged With Second Degree Murder

Update: Is this Florida's modified version of the perp walk? There was a throng of media outside the jail awaiting George Zimmerman's arrival. When the garage doors opened, two black cars pulled in, one of which had George Zimmerman inside. Orlando TV aired his arrival live, pointing their cameras through the window to get the shot of him exiting the vehicle and being taken inside.

At a press conference today, Florida state's attorney Angela Corey, the chief prosecutor assigned to the investigation into the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, announced George Zimmerman has been charged with second degree murder. You can read the charges here. [More...]

COUNT 1: IN THE COUNTY OF SEMINOLE, STATE OF FLORIDA, on February 26,2012, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, did unlawfully and by an act imminently dangerous to another, and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, kill TRAYVON MARTIN, a human being under the age of eighteen, by shooting the said victim, and during the commission of the aforementioned Second Degree Murder, the said GEORGE ZIMMERMAN did carry, display, use, threaten to use or attempt to use a firearm and did actually possess and discharge a firearm and as a result of the discharge, death or great bodily harm was inflicted upon any person, contrary to the provisions of Sections 782.04(2), 775.087(1) and 775.087(2), Florida Statutes.

If you missed the press conference, Ms. Corey's statement is here.

Mr. Zimmerman turned himself in. No bond has been set yet. He will see a judge within 24 hours.

According to to the 18th judicial district's website (which includes Seminole county where he is charged) bail is not immediately set for second degree murder which carries a possible penalty of up to life. The defendant has to request bond and a hearing is held. Second degree murder is ordinarily a "class 1 felony" but the gun enhancement in Zimmerman's charge increases it to a "life felony."

According to Florida's statute s.782.04(2), Second Degree Murder is:

s. 782.04 Murder

(2) The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, is murder in the second degree and constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

According to 775.087:
775.087 Possession or use of weapon; aggravated battery; felony reclassification; minimum sentence.—

(1) Unless otherwise provided by law, whenever a person is charged with a felony, except a felony in which the use of a weapon or firearm is an essential element, and during the commission of such felony the defendant carries, displays, uses, threatens to use, or attempts to use any weapon or firearm, or during the commission of such felony the defendant commits an aggravated battery, the felony for which the person is charged shall be reclassified as follows:

(a) In the case of a felony of the first degree, to a life felony.....

(2)(a)1. Any person who is convicted of a felony or an attempt to commit a felony, regardless of whether the use of a weapon is an element of the felony, and the conviction was for:

a. Murder;....

...and during the commission of the offense, such person actually possessed a “firearm” or “destructive device” as those terms are defined in s. 790.001, shall be sentenced to a minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years

Update: Zimmerman's new attorney is Mark O'Mara. He is an Orlando attorney and TV commentator for WKMG-TV in Orlando. He says he has tried "Stand Your Ground" cases in the past.

"Quite honestly, I have not been involved in the case very long. I probably know as much as the media does, if not less," he said. "My hope is that the judge will grant a bond and that it is a bond the family can make."

According to O'Mara's website, he has an associate who was admitted to practice in 2011. I wonder how Zimmerman will afford the expert witnesses, forensic testing and private investigators needed to defend this case?

Among O'Mara's former clients: a radio show host named Shannon Burke, "who got drunk, flew into a rage and shot his wife and her dog." He pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and opening fire in a building, and was sentenced to six months in Seminole County Jail and three years of probation. Via Lexis, from the Orlando Sentinel, 8/11/2011, "Radio host's attorney cancels hearing to end probation early ":

Burke became enraged April 30, 2009, because his dog had escaped from the yard of his Altamonte Springs home. After an argument with his wife, Catherine, he got a handgun and shot her dog, which was in the couple's bedroom.

The same bullet hit his wife, grazing the side of her head. She has recovered. She initially got a domestic-violence injunction and filed for divorce, but the couple reconciled and she changed her version of what happened that night, calling it an accident. After he finished his jail term, he left his wife.

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    The gist of second degree murder (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Peter G on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:28:56 PM EST
    in Florida, as in most states, is an unlawful killing that results from the defendant's commission of a highly dangerous act, or an act that exhibits a depraved indifference to the value of human life, albeit without the specific intent to kill.  Fla. Stat. 782.04(2).

    Along with J (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:36:58 PM EST
    hearing from Peter G on this will be most illuminating.

    Miss Chris Kelly now a lot too.


    Wow, I miss TChris, too (5.00 / 2) (#77)
    by Peter G on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 08:13:51 PM EST
    Hadn't thought of him in a while.  Thanks for that, Armando.  He's no longer practicing; I hope he's doing ok.  And for the kind words toward me.

    What's the legal meaning of depraved indifference? (none / 0) (#22)
    by Addison on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:37:10 PM EST
    It's 18th Century legalese for (5.00 / 4) (#54)
    by Peter G on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:53:23 PM EST
    the state of mind that (supposedly) distinguishes this sort of killing (that is, where the defendant did not intend for the victim to die) from a horrible accident (not criminal) or "gross negligence" (involuntary manslaughter), which is a crime but a less serious one.  The phrase has (IMHO) no actual, objective meaning at all.  It serves as a legal figleaf to allow (a) juries to sort out the bad from the worse, and do justice according to the conscience of the community; or (b) plea bargaining in murder cases.

    Is this universal? (none / 0) (#51)
    by Addison on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:52:21 PM EST
    To constitute depraved indifference, the defendant's conduct must be: "so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime. Depraved indifference focuses on the risk created by the defendant's conduct, not the injuries actually resulting."

    With malice (none / 0) (#52)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:53:00 PM EST
    Do you think that the state charged 2nd degree, and will hope to get a lesser included charge of manslaughter so thst it may be more palatable for a jury.  Sort of a "split the baby" kinda thing...?

    Assuming, of course, it gets that far - barring a plea or the judge buying the Stand Your Ground defense at the pre-trial hearing and dismissing the charges?


    I think this is the right charge. (none / 0) (#64)
    by Mitch Guthman on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 06:31:51 PM EST
    2nd degree really seems to fit the facts of the case so I don't think it was chosen as an "incentive" for Zimmerman to take a plea. As far as the jury goes, it's too soon to speculate but also the jury might not even get a manslaughter instruction in any event.

    Given the amount of hype on this incident (5.00 / 2) (#65)
    by MyLeftMind on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 06:36:13 PM EST
    it might be better for the nation to go through a court case so witnesses can actually testify.

    Agreed -- and for more of us (5.00 / 0) (#67)
    by Towanda on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 06:48:17 PM EST
    also to see the results of the Stand Your Ground laws, to the extent that Florida's may be applied in this case.  And if it is not applied to any extent or any great extent, that also could be instructive -- as in another case that I cannot discuss here but that did not exercise the "castle doctrine" law to the extent feared.  It turns out that good ol' self-defense laws were sufficient in that case, which just emphasized how much of this extremism by Republican legislatures is nonsense.

    With all due respect (5.00 / 2) (#69)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 06:59:39 PM EST
    We din't really know most of the facts in this case.

    I think it's overcharged (none / 0) (#91)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 10:05:52 PM EST
    and I wouldn't be surprised if they wanted the biggest bang for their buck of news or did it to increase the likelihood of a plea to a lesser charge. It's either that or Zimmerman's entire account was false and Trayvon never hit him at all. If he just over-reacted to the punch, the correct charge would be manslaughter, according to multiple Florida cases, the latest being this one.

    The case (and some others before it) also say second degree murder is usually reserved for cases where there is pre-existing enmity between the parties:

    "Although exceptions exist, the crime of second-degree murder is normally committed by a person who knows the victim and has had time to develop a level of enmity toward the victim."  Moreover, "[h]atred, spite, evil intent, or ill will usually require more than an instant to develop."

    The Standard Jury Instruction on second degree murder, Fla. Std. Jury Instr. (Crim.) 7.4, states an act is "imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind" if it is one that:

    1. A person of ordinary judgment would know is reasonably certain to kill or do serious bodily injury to another, and

    2. is done from ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent, and

    3. is of such a nature that the act itself indicates an indifference to human life. (my emphasis)

    They have to prove all 3 for second degree murder, not just #1 and #3. I don't see how they prove #2.


    Voice (5.00 / 1) (#97)
    by markw on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 11:47:26 PM EST
    If they can prove that it was Martin's voice, I.e. that he was essentially begging for his life before being shot and killed, that could be evidence of number 2.

    At first... (5.00 / 1) (#110)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 08:51:58 AM EST
    I thought it was over-charging, perhaps over-compensating for the lack of action of the Sanford police and the previous prosecutor, or as you said to pressure a plea to manslaughter or other lesser charge.

    Now I'm thinking if the prosecution does in fact have evidence that Zimmerman's account was false and he was the aggressor from beginning to end, they may well can prove that ill will or hatred requirement.  

    "These a$$holes always get away" sure as hell ain't good will or love.


    If the prosecutor concluded Zimmerman (none / 0) (#118)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:28:14 AM EST
    pursued Martin.from.beginning to end, prosecutor had discretion to charge murder in the first degree.

    Intent (none / 0) (#137)
    by vicndabx on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 10:24:25 AM EST
    much harder to prove

    782.04 Murder.--

    (1)(a) The unlawful killing of a human being:
    1. When perpetrated from a premeditated design to effect the death of the person killed or any human being....is murder in the first degree and constitutes a capital felony, punishable as provided in s. 775.082.


    Of course. But this is about (none / 0) (#148)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 12:24:33 PM EST
    the pleading stage of the case. Plus the time span of the necessary element of intent may be quite short

    But from what I understand, only ... (none / 0) (#149)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 12:24:46 PM EST
    ... a grand jury can bring an indictment for first degree murder in Florida; a prosecutor cannot do so by information only. Once Angela Corey announced that she was not going to the grand jury, but rather would make the call herself, that charge was off the table.

    I wouldn't have guessed FL would (none / 0) (#151)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 12:38:33 PM EST
    imposewould impose such a restriction.

    I agree (2.00 / 1) (#115)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:20:17 AM EST

    If Zimmerman's account is false and he was the aggressor then murder two seems completely appropriate.  

    If not, then Zimmerman's crime was likely being half white rather than half black as the case would have been closed after the initial police investigation and the Reverend Al would not have whipped up the public with the aid of the likes of NBC.



    Right, because ... (5.00 / 2) (#116)
    by Yman on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:26:05 AM EST
    If not, then Zimmerman's crime was likely being half white rather than half black as the case would have been closed after the initial police investigation and the Reverend Al would not have whipped up the public with the aid of the likes of NBC.

    ... being a "white guy" is a crime in the United States.  We have it so hard (cue tear slowly rolling down the cheek while violins play softly in the background).

    Pfffftttt ...


    Well about (none / 0) (#142)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 11:50:16 AM EST

    16 black males on average get killed in this country every day mostly by other blacks, but with nary a peep from Reverend Al or Obama.  Other than race, there seems no reason for this case to have gotten such attention.



    I've heard the Rev and the Pres... (5.00 / 2) (#144)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 11:54:44 AM EST
    denounce gun violence...regardless, does it even need to be said?  I thought it assumed all decent people are against it.

    Do you know a case of black on black crime where the perpetrator admitted shooting somebody under similar circumstances and the authorities refused to charge the perpetrator?  We can ask Rev Al what he thinks about it.


    "Other than that" - heh (5.00 / 1) (#146)
    by Yman on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 12:10:33 PM EST
    How many of those black-on-black killings involve an unarmed, black teen who is killed walking home, while the police/prosecutor decline to press charges against the known killer?

    But "other than that" ... we white guys are tired of being persecuted in the US, ... Christians and heterosexuals, too.


    You are horribly misinformed (5.00 / 0) (#154)
    by vicndabx on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 01:51:37 PM EST
    if you believe these leaders have never spoken out against black on black crime.  Further, why is that even the focus/lesson to be learned?

    Crime in general is one thing (none / 0) (#160)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:10:17 PM EST

    Commenting on a specific case is quite another.

    Sort of like how ... (5.00 / 0) (#162)
    by Yman on Fri Apr 13, 2012 at 09:13:08 AM EST
    ... black-on-black crimes in general are one thing, while this specific case is quite another?

    Good point.

    Why don't you point out a single, analogous case of a black-on-black killing, where the killer follows the unarmed victim with a gun, shoots him, and then (at the time they spoke out about it) wasn't even charged.

    Oh, wait ....  that's right ...

    ... because you can't.


    Forgetting the legal/illegal... (5.00 / 5) (#122)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:34:57 AM EST
    for a moment, Zimmerman failed miserably as a human being in the moral sense, the common decency sense.  Even if acquitted, he has blood on his hands that could have so easily been avoided if he just minded his own business.

    I would hope, at the very least, most of us could agree on that point.  I find this framing of Zimmerman as any kind of victim most unsavory.


    A 17 year old is dead (5.00 / 5) (#124)
    by CST on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:37:53 AM EST
    and you think the only reason his shooter was arrested is that he's half-white?

    Even if it does come out to be self-defense, that's a perfectly reasonable thing to come out in a trial.  You don't just walk away from a dead body and a smoking gun.  Especially since Martin was unarmed, it's not like this was ever a slam-dunk self-defense case, even if that is the eventual result.


    Show your work. (5.00 / 5) (#127)
    by Addison on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:53:50 AM EST
    Zimmerman's crime was likely being half white rather than half black as the case would have been closed after the initial police investigation and the Reverend Al would not have whipped up the public with the aid of the likes of NBC.

    Even though this may appear on the surface to be an inflammatory remark designed merely to annoy, it should be pretty easy for you to defend, given that Florida has had this law in place for a while.

    So, AAA, how many "half black" or "black" individuals have been let off the hook (in your words, their cases were "closed after the initial police investigation") for homicide because of the "Stand Your Ground" law? Is it out of proportion with the total number of homicides in which "Stand Your Ground" has been invoked?

    I know that Willie M Thomas III (a black 21-year old of Sanford, FL) is in jail for ten years on a 1st degree murder conviction for what his father said was self-defense, so maybe that'd be a good place to start our examination of how far police investigations go for various persons.

    Now, the idea that the system is biased toward letting "half black" and "black" individuals avoid a trial after killing people is a bit novel. But hey, maybe you're right on this one, as counter-intuitive as it is! Let's all find out, together.


    You know, I am so over your ... (5.00 / 1) (#150)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 12:29:21 PM EST
    ... "white people as victims" meme when it comes to racial issues. The grievously misplaced sense of self-pity is doubly pathetic, and quite frankly, makes me embarrassed to be a white man.

    Well then... (5.00 / 0) (#153)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 12:53:23 PM EST
    I hope you didn't watch Hannity last night.

    The perverse side of my personality got the better of me during commercials of the Knicks game, so I flipped over to Zimmerman's confidant on Fox...it was a regular George Zimmerman pity party over there. Pretty sick stuff.  Probably warranted an X rating, or at least NC-17.

    If I had a nickel for every time Hannity said "bounty" and/or "Black Panthers" I'd have half a sawbuck easy.  


    The distinction between 1st & 2d degree murder (none / 0) (#92)
    by Peter G on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 10:16:40 PM EST
    is exactly what Justice Benjamin Cardozo (who was then a judge of the New York Court of Appeals) was discussing in his famous 1929 Address to the New York Medical Society, reprinted in his classic "Law and Literature" (1931) where he referred to it as a "mystifying cloud of words," designed to give fine moral blameworthiness decisions (a "dispensing power," Cardozo called it) to a jury.

    I'm sitting here at HNL airport ... (5.00 / 4) (#85)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 09:48:18 PM EST
    ... waiting to get on a plane. Glad to see I didn't miss anything (snark).

    The case is now (finally) in the courts, which is where it belongs and what most (I assume to be) rational people wanted in the first place (or so we all said). I'm now perfectly content to let due process take its course in deciding the issue there. I want to see justice done here, not a lynch mob.

    As we all supposedly know by heart -- yet for some obscure reason, it somehow can never be repeated often enough -- the accused enjoys the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise, and he must be accorded his day in court and a fair opportunity to tell his side of the story.

    Therefore, I have no further comment on this matter right now, and I will look forward to Jeralyn's analysis of the charges and her own take on the greater issue of the controversial "Stand Your Ground" laws we've seen adopted around the country.

    Have a nice evening, everyone. Aloha.

    Donald, have a (none / 0) (#88)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 09:52:33 PM EST
    safe flight. I'll have some analysis up later or tomorrow.

    Out of curiousity (none / 0) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:16:49 PM EST
    I looked up the sentence for such a charge and it's a minimum of 16 3/4 years to a max of life in prison.

    Anyway, I guess we'll see soon enough what the evidence is showing.

    Jeralyn says above that the minimum is ten years (none / 0) (#78)
    by Peter G on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 08:27:50 PM EST
    and provided a link.  You didn't.  Hard to credit what you say, on that basis.  FWIW, in Pennsylvania, the maximum term provided for the same offense is 30 years (not life) and even that is a relatively recent increase from a 20 year max.

    I believe (none / 0) (#84)
    by CoralGables on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 09:47:38 PM EST
    but won't swear to it that Jeralyn has quoted the minimum for a 2nd degree felony, rather than 2nd degree murder which is a first degree felony.

    Florida criminal penalties (none / 0) (#87)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 09:50:38 PM EST
    Having spent 30 minutes (none / 0) (#94)
    by CoralGables on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 10:28:33 PM EST
    earlier tonight reading that chapter and its links is why I have doubts about the ten year sentence listed but can't verify a set minimum (although CNN reported it as 20 years)

    I have seen (none / 0) (#95)
    by CoralGables on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 10:45:39 PM EST
    the 16 3/4 year minimum on several sites, but nearly all news outlets are reporting the mandatory minimum as 25 years (NYTimes, AP, Miami Herald)

    Could be that (none / 0) (#96)
    by Peter G on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 11:11:02 PM EST
    16-3/4 is time-to-serve (after anticipated reduction for good behavior, called in Florida "gain time," I think I recall) on a 25 yr "minimum."

    Okay I searched far too much (none / 0) (#143)
    by CoralGables on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 11:53:11 AM EST
    for what turned out to be an easy find.

    the 25 year minimum is due to Florida's 10-20-Life Law.

        Mandates a minimum 10 year prison term for certain felonies, or attempted felonies in which the offender possesses a firearm or destructive device

        Mandates a minimum 20 year prison term when the firearm is discharged

        Mandates a minimum 25 years to LIFE if someone is injured or killed

        Mandates a minimum 3 year prison term for possession of a firearm by a felon

        Mandates that the minimum prison term is to be served consecutively to any other term of imprisonment imposed

    Sentence 2nd Degree (none / 0) (#107)
    by befuddledvoter on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 07:56:23 AM EST
    Mandatory Sentences Under the 10-20-Life Law
    The legislation (Chapter 99-12) enacted to implement the Governor's proposal provided mandatory sentences for felons convicted of crimes in which they used a gun. The following provisions [Section 775.087 (2)-(4), Florida Statutes] became effective for crimes committed on or after July 1, 1999.

    For pulling a gun during a crime, a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years is imposed. For certain felony crimes or attempted felonies, the 10 year mandatory sentence is authorized if the criminal possessed a gun (or destructive device). For firing the gun during a crime the mandatory minimum sentence is 20 years. For injuring or killing a victim by firing the gun during a crime, a mandatory minimum sentence from 25 years to life in prison is authorized.

    For many years, it has been a felony crime in Florida for felons to possess guns. Recognizing that felons who possess guns, despite this violation of law, may intend to commit other serious crimes using guns, the 10-20-Life legislation provided for a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 years for such known felons who possess a gun. This provision alone has affected many felons sentenced to prison in Florida.

    The legislation also increased to 15 years the minimum prison term when the offender possesses a semiautomatic firearm and its high-capacity detachable box magazine or a machine gun. However, so few of these convictions and sentences have occurred that this report does not examine them separately.

    Felon possessing a gun 3 Years
    Pulling a gun to commit a crime 10 Years
    Pulling the trigger during a crime 20 Years
    Injuring or killing a victim by firing a gun during a crime. 25 years to life.


    Repeat comment (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:17:17 PM EST
    Corey handling herself pretty well, really well actually, in the press conference.

    sounds like a (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:29:00 PM EST
    typical, opinionated prosecutor.

    I think she's overly confident and  overly theatrical.


    I like it (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:31:20 PM EST
    That's what a defense attorney is supposed to say and think right?

    But seriously, if I may, did you feel she was prejudging beyond the actual act of, you know making the charge.

    Maybe I missed the part where she did this,but I saw no demonizing of Zimmerman in the presentation I saw.

    I've seen so much worse, ESPECIALLY in Florida, that I found it quite restrained.


    Let me add (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:32:42 PM EST
    I really don't like Al Sharpton holding a press conference now.

    Yeah, I know it is with the Trayvon Martin family, but I never liked the whole victim's rights thing.

    It's now in the justice system. Enough with the freaking press conferences.


    Agree (5.00 / 6) (#32)
    by AngryBlackGuy on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:41:59 PM EST
    Now that charges have been filed, Sharpton and others should fade away.

    The goal was a trial.  Mission accomplished.


    Mark the day and time (5.00 / 3) (#38)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:45:20 PM EST
    ABG and I agreeing with each other.

    Wed. April 11, 5:41 p.m. (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by shoephone on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:48:52 PM EST
    Though I think a lot of us agree on that point.

    really (none / 0) (#103)
    by TeresaInPa on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 04:57:29 AM EST
    I thought the goal was finding the truth and dispensing justice. What if that had meant no trial?

    BTD, me either (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:46:20 PM EST
    Especially when he failed to show last week for the Sanford rally he promised to attend. He's in it for the limelight. I'm surprised the Martin Family lawyers didn't speak first, then the parents, then Zimmerman.

    I changed the channel.


    Me too (none / 0) (#43)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:47:47 PM EST
    Al Sharpton (none / 0) (#17)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:35:11 PM EST
    Hurts more than he helps, IMO.

    At this point? (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:35:56 PM EST
    I agree.


    Sure there was a time for activism. But now there is a time for justice.


    Mostly agree (5.00 / 3) (#25)
    by ks on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:39:08 PM EST
    But, we are talking about same day (actually hour) events and this is a major moment in the incident.  Now if he is still holding them a couple of weeks from now....

    Fair enough (none / 0) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:40:43 PM EST
    But why from him? I dunno. I'd rather he not.

    I didn't hear the presser, (none / 0) (#20)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:36:29 PM EST
    there was rumor earlier today that she had "more info." Did she expand on that, or was it just a rumor?

    I think the "more info" was the charge (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Addison on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:40:52 PM EST
    ...or at least that was my interpretation. It was more information about the process, not the facts of the case.

    Ah, thanks, that makes sense. (none / 0) (#30)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:41:32 PM EST
    No info offered (none / 0) (#23)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:37:50 PM EST
    if you mean evidence.

    Sharpton's too polarizing. I wish the Martin (none / 0) (#47)
    by Angel on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:49:03 PM EST
    family understood that.  

    Are u watching the rest of this? (none / 0) (#50)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:51:32 PM EST
    This is now beyond terrible.

    Turned it off after Mr. Martin spoke. I could not (none / 0) (#57)
    by Angel on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 06:01:55 PM EST
    stomach the Sharpton gang.

    I meant opinionated (5.00 / 3) (#29)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:41:01 PM EST
    as to the superiority of law enforcement. Like Dick Wolfe -- they do G-d's work.

    I wasn't referring to her comments about Zimmerman. She said nothing unfair.


    With that, I agree (none / 0) (#63)
    by Towanda on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 06:25:39 PM EST
    as if G-d actually did create prosecutors to do His work, then why did he also create (even more) defense lawyers to do His work?  Then, all of it would be His work, and so, why say so?

    <why is it so difficult for some of these people to recognize the hard work of humans for millennia to make at least some progress from dungeons, stocks, and tossing witches in ponds to see if they float?  if we do not credit humans with making progress, then the message is that we will only make more progress when G-d gets around to it, again, in another millennium or so>


    Isn't God busy with sports? (5.00 / 2) (#99)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 12:31:00 AM EST
    What are prosecutors supposed to sound like? (none / 0) (#15)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:31:57 PM EST
    Meek? Monotone?

    Come on JB (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:35:16 PM EST
    Wouldn't you expect J to have that reaction?

    Heck, I'd be disappointed if she did not have that reaction.

    I've been hard on her for how she handled the discussion here, but, at the bottom, it is what she is about and really, what this blog is about.

    This is a criminal defense blog first and foremost.

    It was not fair of me to insist it change its character because of policy concerns that I was particularly interested in.

    How we discuss the case here will be tricky of course, especially for me and others.

    But you know what? We'll be better off hearing it from the view Jeralyn will provide.


    Of course (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:38:30 PM EST
    Which is why I asked the question - what is a prosecutor supposed to sound like when she is announcing felony charges against a suspect in a highly polarizing case?

    not quite so bouncy (5.00 / 4) (#33)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:42:18 PM EST
    and triumphant.

    Ah (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:43:41 PM EST
    Yes she did seem to be enjoying the moment.

    But that made her seem politicians to me and in Florida all prosecutors are future politicians really.

    She;s be running for some office in the future for sure.


    Her jewelry was dorky... (5.00 / 0) (#80)
    by fishcamp on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 08:33:17 PM EST
    Well, she probably doesn't (none / 0) (#93)
    by observed on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 10:17:44 PM EST
    make enough money to buy quality jewelry.

    Thanks (none / 0) (#36)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:44:25 PM EST
    so, (none / 0) (#75)
    by cpinva on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 08:05:41 PM EST
    not quite so bouncy and triumphant



    Ah (none / 0) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:39:15 PM EST
    That's a good question.

    As BTD Mentioned Above... (none / 0) (#129)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:57:10 AM EST
    ...and I would add that this is her professions arch enemy.
    typical, opinionated prosecutor.

    That to me says it all, there is nothing the prosecutor could have done, sans passing on filing charges, that would have been regarded as 'doing the right thing' from a defense attorney's POV.

    Although I disagree with the assessment, there is something noble in it, and for some reason I really dig that.  At no moment in time will the defense attorney break character, certainly not to praise the professions sworn adversaries.


    Actually (5.00 / 2) (#159)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 05:17:53 PM EST
    In my experience, defense attorneys and prosecutors get slong just fine - they have to.  Many times, defense attorneys are former prosecutors.  In the court I worked at, the defense attorneys put on a huge bash at Christmas time for the court staff and prosecutors (and even judges stopped by sometimes). There was a band that played every year called "Hung Jury" made up of a couple of defense attorneys and at least one prosecutor (in fact, the lead guitarist, one of the better defense attorneys, actually runs the Homicide Division in the prosecutor's office).

    They get along much better than you think.


    And God forbid I wake up tomorrow (none / 0) (#121)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:34:06 AM EST
    and good defense attorneys got sucked up in the rapture :)  The Magistrate here could have done any number of things to me over my cat killing dog but I got myself a good defense attorney, and when Magistrates play king he appeals to a real court of law :)  And they all know it, and they hate him for it.  He keeps them honest if it is possible, and he keeps them in line if they can find the line :)

    Losers? (none / 0) (#101)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 12:48:57 AM EST
    actually she sounds quite defensive (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:19:32 PM EST
    How so? (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by Addison on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:22:58 PM EST
    She's clearly laying out what she can, not venturing into potentially unethical speculation, and positioning her office as reluctantly charging Zimmerman (which, I guess, sounds bad but is preferable to zealously seeking charges). The tone is very politically-savvy (I mean this in a good way) and what I'd want to see in a dispassionate but objective government prosecutor.

    makes sense (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:27:07 PM EST
    i take it back.  she also closed very well...

    Good show (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:28:36 PM EST
    Of course I'm gratified you have come to see it our way but more than that, I like the open mind.

    Emblematic of a thoughtful person.


    thank you (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:29:49 PM EST
    for your kind words

    Well said (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:24:43 PM EST
    I don't get that at all (none / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:21:09 PM EST
    I've been impressed with what I've (none / 0) (#5)
    by Anne on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:22:03 PM EST
    seen so far.  Based on what I'm hearing, I don't think Stand Your Ground, if that is raised as an affirmative defense, is going to be the slam dunk for Zimmerman that a lot of people think it will.

    "Self-defense" in Fla is an immunity (none / 0) (#72)
    by Mitch Guthman on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 07:03:11 PM EST
    Which means that the trial judge is supposed to determine something---not sure what exactly gets determined or who has the BOP and not sure when exactly--about whether the defendant is "immune" from prosecution under `stand your ground."  I have no idea how a non-class based immunity would work in a homicide case. Then, if the case goes forward, I think the defendant can still raise self-defense as an "affirmative defense".  

    There also seems to be ambiguity about something related to "self-defense" that I think may become a big deal if this case is tried to a jury, namely, what happens if the jury finds that Zimmerman's killing of Martin was the product of his honest but unreasonable belief that his use of deadly force was necessary to defend himself.  

    If I understand the materials posted here, it was clear that before 2005 Florida didn't recognize any type of imperfect-self-defense.  I'm wondering whether "stand your ground" changes that (I think maybe it does) and whether you get either the California outcome (voluntary manslaughter) or maybe in Florida today imperfect self-defense gets you an acquittal.   Is anyone familiar with any recent cases or law review articles on this point?  Or am I completely lost in space here?

    I also think much will depend on whether the judges look at this case as being just too much of a heater case for them to kick it on "stand your ground" or as an opportunity to clean up some of the amazing weirdness that's crept into Florida's homicide laws both from the statutory changes and the case law interpreting "stand your ground."


    Here's the answer (5.00 / 6) (#83)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 08:53:24 PM EST
    Case law is filled with it.

    Self defense is an affirmative defense .
    Stand your ground  provides immunity, it is a bar to prosecution.

    The defendant files a motion to dismiss claiming stand your ground immunizes him from prosecution.

    A hearing is held before trial.  The burden is on the defendant to prove by a preponderance of evidence that stand your ground/immunity applies.

    The judge weighs the facts. If the judge agrees the defendant has shown stand your ground applies by a preponderance of evidence, the charges are dismissed. He can't be prosecuted.

    If the judge finds the defendant hasn't met the burden, (including if the disputed evidence is so equal on both sides the judge can't decide one way or the other) the case goes to trial to be decided by the jury. At trial the defendant can still argue both self-defense and stand your ground immunity  -- he only has to establish some evidence of his theory, which can be just his own testimony, that he acted in self-defense.

    The prosecution must prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Which means if the defendant raises self-defense or stand your ground at trial and gets the instruction, the state , which much prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, must disprove it. If the jury has a doubt, he must be acquitted.

    I was going to write this up in a new post with links to the case law, but I saw this comment and wanted to address it before too much speculation starts. I will be doing that soon.


    Jeralyn, Based on hearing the (none / 0) (#136)
    by KeysDan on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 10:19:09 AM EST
    motion, the judge decides Stand Your Ground does not apply, can the judge (out of an abundance of caution) request the appellate court to review that decision before trial?  Or, can  the defendant do so?    I think this has been done by a trial judge in Florida and might be a wise judicial course.

    Great question, from a technical standpoint (none / 0) (#139)
    by Peter G on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 11:05:21 AM EST
    Whether interlocutory appeals (that is, an appeal before the case is over) are allowed in criminal cases is totally jurisdiction-specific, and varies widely.  I strongly suspect that Florida allows the State to appeal if the judge rules in favor of the defendant and against the prosecutor on a pretrial SYG motion.  It would not surprise me, but I don't know, whether Florida law allows the defendant to appeal immediately if a pretrial motion to dismiss on SYG "immunity" grounds is denied, that is, when the trial judge defers the matter to trial as a question of self-defense for the jury to decide.  Of course, if the matter is deferred, and the defendant then wins at trial, he won't appeal (and the prosecutor can't, per Supreme Court interpretation of the double jeopardy clause).  If the case goes to trial and the defendant loses, I don't know if he could then still appeal the denial of his pretrial SYG motion, arguing that the case should have been dismissed without a trial, or would be limited to challenging the jury's assessment of the evidence.  All these are interesting Florida-specific technical questions.

    Thank your Peter G., (none / 0) (#141)
    by KeysDan on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 11:47:22 AM EST
    This was my first comment on TL referencing this case, having been out of the country at the time and have not felt knowledgeable enough to even ask a question.   However, I have been trying to catch-up on the basics as they are known and this technical point came to mind.  

    The Florida case I was thinking of involved the death of a young man by another young man in the wee hours of the morning during a street fight outside a bar, during an annual festival.  A knife was used on the victim in the fight; the defendant was charged with second-degree murder. The defendant claimed immunity owing to SYG, but the trial judge ruled that it did not apply and the case was to go to trial.  The defendant petitioned Florida's 3rd District Court of Appeals prior to the trial but was denied by a three-membered panel; a subsequent request of the defendant for an en banc review apparently did not change the result.   (the trial proceeded, and resulted in a hung jury).  


    Denied by the court of appeals because (none / 0) (#147)
    by Peter G on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 12:14:25 PM EST
    there was no right to bring the appeal? Or because they decided that the trial judge had not erred?

    Peter, i am not sure. (none / 0) (#152)
    by KeysDan on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 12:44:25 PM EST
    All I could find is that the DCA allowed Judge David Audlin's order to stand, finding that he did not abuse his discretion in ruling the way he did.  That opinion is from the defense attorney's comments at the time,  but I do not have the actual opinion of DCA.

    If what you say is correct, (none / 0) (#155)
    by Peter G on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 02:54:27 PM EST
    then a decision on the motion to dismiss adverse to the defendant is immediately appealable by him -- as I imagine a dismissal would be appealable by the State.  This creates the potential for significant delay in resolving the case ... or a new opportunity for negotiation of an agreed resolution.

    Yes, (none / 0) (#156)
    by KeysDan on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 03:16:20 PM EST
    In the case referenced, the  judge ruled in June 20ll that the defendant , Nicolas Ferro, was not immune from prosecution in the stabbing death of Marques Butler.  The DCA panel denied the defendant's petition based on SYG on Nov 3, 20ll.  (the crime occurred in October 2009).   The judge was David Audlin, Monroe County, Florida.

    $15,000 bail for 2nd degree murder? (none / 0) (#31)
    by shoephone on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:41:47 PM EST
    That seems awfully low for that charge. But what I know about how bail limits are set could fit on the head of a pin.

    Hopefully, bail is set in Florida (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Peter G on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:48:09 PM EST
    on an individualized basis, looking at the defendant's particular risk of flight primarily, if not exclusively, and not from some pre-set "schedule" attached to the "seriousness of the offense."

    misstated and corrected (none / 0) (#34)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:43:32 PM EST
    $15,000  was for conspiracy to commit second degree murder. I was reading two documents at once and watching TV, sorry.

    OK, thanks. (none / 0) (#42)
    by shoephone on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:46:45 PM EST
    Your block quote is copied verbatim (none / 0) (#39)
    by Peter G on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:45:58 PM EST
    from a particular lawyer's website.  It is not authoritative.

    thanks Peter (none / 0) (#46)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:48:55 PM EST
    I deleted it. It was overly long for a comment, it wasn't sourced and not authoritative.

    (from a particular lawyer's website) that's what a block quote is. It was the first hit when I googled "second degree murder florida."

    It was meant as informational and a seed for conversation.

    We all know that there's the law as written, and then there's how that law is applied after being filtered through the interpretations of human beings.

    The block quote is a certain lawyer's interpretation, I'm sure there are multitudes of other interpretations out there.

    I can only assume that your personal interpretation is not the same as the lawyer I quoted.


    I'm not a webmaster here, but (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by Peter G on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 07:39:19 PM EST
    when you quote someone's opinion, I would think it would be better, if not essential, to provide a link to the source, so others can have a better idea of how much weight to give it.  When I give my own opinion, it is just that, and regular TL readers already have a basis to form an idea what they think my opinion is worth.

    yes, I didn't read it either (none / 0) (#79)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 08:27:51 PM EST
    it should have been sourced and linked if its a blockquote -- not just quoted, you could quote anything. How were we to know where it came from to judge its reliability?

    I re-found the source of my deleted block quote: Arnold Law Firm, LLC.

    No idea who the guy is, except that he seemed to provide some info about FL 2nd degree murder and he was one of the first google hits I got.

    This quote was posted, you realize, before J and you posted anything, really, FL law-related. The entire thread consisted mostly of personal opinions that were completely unrelated to the actual law.

    iow, I googled for actual factual input to the discussion, and was basically the first one to do so, as there was little none before I posted.

    Anyway, ftr, exactly what in Arnold's analysis of FL 2nd degree murder laws do you find problematical?

    This is not a challenge, it's a search for information in hopes that it will lead to an informed opinion.

    It's what I do.


    Zing! (none / 0) (#41)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:46:39 PM EST

    Now it is unseemly (none / 0) (#48)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:50:06 PM EST
    A triubute to Al Sharpton?


    Boooo! Terrible buy Al Sharpton


    Where's the hook to get them off the stage.

    Enough Enough Enough!

    This press conference (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:50:53 PM EST
    is now officially terrible.

    This is beyond awful.


    Hey Sharpton and coorts (none / 0) (#53)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:53:03 PM EST
    Trayvon Martin is still dead.

    Enough with the triumphant horsecrap.

    This is a travesty.


    cohorts (none / 0) (#55)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 05:54:53 PM EST
    Hahaha... (none / 0) (#58)
    by ks on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 06:02:36 PM EST
    Tell us how you really feel!  Relax, any media event Rev. Al's invloved in is going to be especially long-winded.  It'll be over soon and the nitty gritty work will begin.  

    We'll see (none / 0) (#61)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 06:09:29 PM EST
    Don't watch MSNBC now, then... (none / 0) (#59)
    by Addison on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 06:02:45 PM EST
    ...he's getting made up for an interview with Trayvon's parents right now, I think. What more is there to say?

    This does not help imo (none / 0) (#60)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 06:09:14 PM EST
    Nope. (none / 0) (#62)
    by Addison on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 06:10:38 PM EST
    Doesn't help. Not the family. Not justice. Not the case. Not MSNBC. Not the underlying issues. Not, even though I bet he disagrees, Sharpton.

    Luckily, most people don't watch cable news, least of all MSNBC. That's the silver lining, I guess.


    Do we know who is representing (none / 0) (#66)
    by ruffian on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 06:42:42 PM EST
    Zimmerman now?

    I agree with others here....glad to see the legal process taking over and hope the press conferences from the Sharpton group stop now. I hope we only have to deal with legal issues and evidence from now on.

    Mark O'Mara (none / 0) (#68)
    by CoralGables on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 06:56:02 PM EST
    Mark O'Mara of Orlando (5.00 / 1) (#74)
    by Peter G on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 07:45:28 PM EST
    is a member of the National Ass'n of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which is the first question I would ask about any defense lawyer in a serious case.  A yes answer is a positive factor.  From his website he looks fully qualified to handle the case appropriately, and I wish him and his client well in facing this challenge.

    Peter, I don't think (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 08:37:02 PM EST
    being a member of NACDL means one is a good lawyer. Any lawyer can join. There are 25,000 members. While NACDL is a great organization and I'll agree most good defense lawyers are members of NACDL, the reverse isn't also true -- that all members of NACDL are good lawyers. (And I say that as a life member, former Treas, Secretary and Board member of the group.)

    I can't disagree with that, J (none / 0) (#82)
    by Peter G on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 08:51:20 PM EST
    Just saying, and only said, as a fellow Life Member, that it's a "positive factor." Tends to show that the lawyer wants to network with good colleagues, have access to high quality continuing professional education, and (hopefully) cares about professional ethics. Naturally, it is not and cannot be a conclusive recommendation.  (And sadly, the national membership is currently closer to 11,000 than to 25,000.  Did you cite the latter number to include all the members of NACDL's various state affiliates?)

    yes, I did (none / 0) (#89)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 09:55:01 PM EST
    I'm so used to their press releases that mention the 25,000 number I forgot that includes non-lawyer members like private investigators, law students, state affiliates, etc. The number should be 11,000. Thanks for the correction. ( I can't edit comments, only delete them, so I can't change it now.)

    And (none / 0) (#70)
    by CoralGables on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 07:01:14 PM EST
    He may or may not be a great defense attorney, but on the surface it appears he was hired the same way that Hal Uhrig was hired, by seeing him on a TV station as a legal analyst. O'Mara was commenting on the Zimmerman case on Orlando TV just last night.

    Does Florida subsidize press conferences? (none / 0) (#71)
    by Addison on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 07:02:10 PM EST

    i shall be curious to see if (none / 0) (#76)
    by cpinva on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 08:12:08 PM EST
    state's atty. corey raises the issue of mr. martin's right to "Stand Your Ground", as against mr. zimmerman's. this should be an interesting test of that law, since it includes two parties who both were in a position to utilize it, except one party acted, and so far there is little public evidence that the other did, aside from the first party's claim.

    i think ALEC has brought all those states a situation worse than the wild west.

    It's a legal defense (5.00 / 3) (#86)
    by jbindc on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 09:48:40 PM EST
    How and why would the prosecutor even attempt to raise it on behalf of Martin?

    Martin is not on trial and therefore cannot raise SYG.


    But Martin was unarmed. (none / 0) (#90)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 10:02:11 PM EST
    What was he going to do -- throw some Skittles at his alleged assailant?

    While I'm not an attorney, I nevertheless still fail to see how "Stand Your Ground" would apply to the deceased, since it constitutes an affirmative legal defense, and Martin quite obviously never successfully exercised his right under that law. But I should let Jeralyn clarify its applicability for us.

    Okay, gotta go -- they've just called our flight for boarding. Aloha.


    Trial of the... (none / 0) (#98)
    by markw on Wed Apr 11, 2012 at 11:53:32 PM EST
    It looks like, as far as public and media attention, if this isn't pleaded out, it could end up being the biggest trial since OJ's murder trial.

    Anybody disagree?

    CNN said Florida allows cameras inside the (none / 0) (#106)
    by Angel on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 07:40:26 AM EST
    courtroom, so according to them this trial could be televised.  I remember watching the OJ trial.  This one could be interesting to watch.

    What is the significance of Martin's (none / 0) (#100)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 12:47:54 AM EST
    age to the charges filed?

    I'd assume if Zimmerman can't afford experts he'll end up w/court-appointed counsel.

    One way to handle this case would be for prosecutor to file charges and make the document filed avail. to the public and medla. No need for a press conference.

    I have wondered this also (none / 0) (#140)
    by CoralGables on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 11:37:58 AM EST
    His age is prominent in the capias



    Relevance of Martin's age (none / 0) (#163)
    by expy on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 05:14:59 AM EST
    Under Florida law, manslaughter is a necessarily included lesser offense of second degree murder -- so at trial a jury will be instructed on manslaughter. Florida law also specifies increased penalties where the victim of manslaughter is under the age of 18.  (See s.782.07)

    In short, pleading the age in the Information ensures that a jury will be instructed on the enhancement for manslaughter.


    As all this goes down (none / 0) (#108)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 08:27:11 AM EST
    I read in our local paper yesterday that Alabama passed an identical Stand your Ground law right after Florida did.  The legislator that introduced it said he was so impressed with Florida's legislation that he had his staff contact Florida and asked for a copy of the legislation and introduced it in that form.

    For anyone who's interested, and (none / 0) (#109)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 08:44:45 AM EST
    perhaps Jeralyn can weigh in with her reaction to or assessment of it, here's a link to a post by David Kopel, at Volokh Conspiracy on the particulars of Florida's SYB law and how it may, or may not, pertain to the Zimmerman case.

    Also, via bmaz at Marcy's site, here is part of a Reuters article that discusses that it might not be as easy as people think to invoke SYG:

    Interviews with nearly a dozen veteran defense lawyers who have experience litigating Stand Your Ground cases suggest winning immunity could be quite difficult.

    "Judges do not readily grant these (immunity) motions because they know they can pass it on to the jury," said Carey Haughwout, the public defender for Palm Beach County.


    The first hurdle will be a special evidentiary hearing in front of a judge, where Zimmerman will have the opportunity to argue that he deserves immunity. But to convince the judge, Zimmerman will have to present a "preponderance of evidence" that he acted in self defense, which under the law means he has to show he had "reasonable belief" that such force was necessary. That is a high bar, and difficult to prove, criminal defense attorneys said.

    In cases where the facts are in dispute -- and even if they don't seem to be -- the judge is likely to deny the Stand Your Ground immunity motion, said Ralph Behr, a Florida criminal defense attorney who has filed eight motions for immunity, all of which have been denied. More typically, a judge will choose to have the case go to trial, where the defendant must take his or her chance with a jury, just like other criminal defendants, he said.

    Food for thought, in any event; I guess we'll see soon enough what the Zimmerman defense will be, and if SYG is raised, whether he's successful.

    Defense Witness #1 (none / 0) (#111)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 08:54:02 AM EST
    Trayvon's mom.

    Said she thinks shooting was "an accident".

    "I believe it was an accident. I believe it just got out of control and he couldn't turn the clock back," Fulton said, revealing her opinion about what happened the night her 17-year-old son was shot to death. "I would ask him, did he know that that was a minor, that that was a teenager and that he did not have a weapon."

    Fulton said even if Zimmerman is found not guilty, the arrest achieves the goal of their campaign to raise awareness and bring him to justice.

    "We just want him to be held accountable for what he done," Fulton said. "We are happy that he was arrested so that he can give his side of the story."

    (Hope the link works - it'a mobile site).

    She wasn't there. (5.00 / 1) (#112)
    by indy in sc on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:10:45 AM EST
    Her opinion of what happened is no more relevant than mine.

    I am glad to see that she and Trayvon's father are setting the right example that I hope everyone else can now follow--now that there's been an arrest, let's let the process work.  Zimmerman has a side to the story that can now be formally heard.

    May justice prevail.


    I think it will help tremendously (none / 0) (#117)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:26:20 AM EST
    If Zimmerman is actualky acquitted or found immune from prosecution.  These words could tamp down passions from those who would cause trouble.

    I think if he's acquitted there will be a lot of (5.00 / 1) (#119)
    by Angel on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:30:03 AM EST
    problems, more than if he were convicted of something.  

    Yes (none / 0) (#126)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:44:35 AM EST
    Like civil unrest.

    Two classic bogeymen in one! (4.00 / 3) (#128)
    by ks on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:56:44 AM EST
    "Troublemakers" AND "civil unrest".  Let's see, in reality, there has been none of either though I guess peaceful protests count as "trouble making" in some folks minds.

    The X's and O's of this play... (5.00 / 2) (#131)
    by Addison on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 10:04:48 AM EST
    Well, the strategy here is to create the general impression of "civil unrest" and then put the New Black Panther Party as the cherry on top, as if it's indicative of most people publicly voicing their opinion.

    Generalize all the peaceful protests to make them abstract and pliable, and then relate highly-specific accounts of the handful of non-peaceful incidents to make those the vivid impressions laid over the peaceful actions you've made into vaguely sinister abstractions.


    Seriously... (5.00 / 3) (#134)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 10:13:36 AM EST
    the only person who actually caused civil unrest just got arrested...we have enough problems without inventing hypothetical ones not supported by the evidence.

    The Rodney King riots were 20 years ago this month people, and totally different circumstances.  Jeez Louise.


    Thank you (none / 0) (#138)
    by vicndabx on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 10:36:50 AM EST
    for expressing my thoughts exactly.

    Speaking of bogeymen (none / 0) (#158)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 04:49:17 PM EST
    Because yes, of course. I was talking about peaceful protests. (Rolls eyes).

    I mean -who would ever think that there would be disruptions after an unpopular jury verdict?

    The general purposeful obtuseness around here is getting heavy.....


    Well, according to what I've read Sanford is (none / 0) (#130)
    by Angel on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 10:03:10 AM EST
    already a ticking time bomb, so I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't some type of violence should Zimmerman be acquitted.  

    What an impressive human being.... (5.00 / 8) (#113)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:12:57 AM EST
    Most parents would not be so compassionate and respectful of the accused and their rights.  Amazing.

    I wouldn't read too much into her use of the word "accident" though...she is not a lawyer and not the most comfortable public speaker, and under tremendous duress and grief. I would bet she simply meant she does not believe Zimmerman is a premeditated murderer.


    My feeling Too (5.00 / 3) (#123)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:36:38 AM EST
    Obviously, it was an accident like maybe a drunk driver fatality is an accident.  She and her husband were relived because of the arrest, so using the quote to indicate she thinks he should walk is a stretch.

    Yeah well... (5.00 / 1) (#133)
    by ks on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 10:09:35 AM EST
    Since we are in snarkville, she would probably be a better defense witness than Zimmerman's father who has been pretty consistently terrible in his interviews.

    Parsing. (5.00 / 2) (#135)
    by Addison on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 10:15:14 AM EST
    Well, she clearly means an "accident" as in that it wasn't pre-meditated; the fatal escalation of the incident was more like a snowball rolling downhill than anything else. Not an "accident" as in he was cleaning his gun and then -- whoops!

    I Saw the Interview Before Work (none / 0) (#120)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:30:35 AM EST
    Her opinion is no more admissible then if she thought GZ set out to kill a black kid that day.

    I keep wondering if her identification of her son's voice on 911 call will be admissible, if so her point would only make the validation of the voice stronger.  Her lawyer who so far has had no qualms about stepping in when he thought the parents were getting off track, didn't flinch.

    And it came out of nowhere.


    I was being facetious (2.00 / 0) (#125)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:43:32 AM EST
    Of course her opinion isn't admissible as a fact. And her identification of her son's voice would only be counted against Zimmerman's mother identifying the screams as his - in other words, it would be worthless testimony (if it even got in).

    I don't think that what Trayvon's (none / 0) (#132)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 10:05:33 AM EST
    mom thinks is going to be dispositive.

    Ever hear of (5.00 / 1) (#157)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 04:45:21 PM EST
    A victim's impact statement at sentencing?

    Apparently no one else here has either.


    Of course I've heard of a (5.00 / 0) (#161)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 09:35:06 PM EST
    victim's impact statement, but you didn't bring up what Trayvon's mother said in that context, but as a defense witness - the #1 defense witness, at that.  And then went on to say, after others opined that her comment was meaningless in the context of the trial, that you were being facetious, and that:

    Of course her opinion isn't admissible as a fact.

    Quit trying to have it all ways, or find a way to do it without being so blindingly obvious.


    Cannot envision any scenario except (none / 0) (#165)
    by oculus on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 03:13:37 PM EST
    womeone blurting it out at trial in which Mr. Martin's mother's opinion as to whether the death of her son was an accident or not would come before the jury.  Hearsay, not an admission against a party.  How does it come in?

    the court's rules on (none / 0) (#164)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 03:02:54 PM EST
    victim impact statements and rights of victims are in it's criminal operations manual at page 8 and 9.

    Will the autopsy results be released... (none / 0) (#145)
    by mike in dc on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 11:55:50 AM EST
    ...publicly, before the trial date?  Any thoughts?  Corey has to have reviewed them before making the decision to press charges.  From a hard evidence standpoint, that will tell us a lot(if not everything) about the credibility of Zimmerman's self-defense claims.