Can the State Prove Zimmerman's Ill-Will, Hatred, Spite and Evil Intent:?

I'm still trying to figure out why the state's attorney in Florida would charge George Zimmerman with second degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, and approve the filing of such an empty affidavit for an arrest warrant, that with all its other faults, fails to even refer to, let alone establish, the elements of the charged crime.

Where is their evidence that Zimmerman's act of shooting Trayvon demonstrated a depraved mind and was an act "done from ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent," indicative of an indifference to human life, as required for a second degree murder conviction? What is their theory?

Here's my theory: Every Affidavit Tells a Story. When examining an affidavit, the choice of words, the sequence of events and the facts omitted are all key to something. The story may not be the truth, but it represents the state's version of what it believes to be the truth. Affidavits are intended to tell the story in such a way that the reader will conclude it is both accurate and makes sense. They can also be a road map showing how the state intends to prove its case.

After reading the affidavit for George Zimmerman's arrest at least 10 times, each time more perplexed than I was here by the lack of probable cause for a second degree murder charge and its other shortcomings, I decided to focus instead on the state's story. (If this isn't it, then I'm out of guesses and there is just no excuse for the heavy-handed charging.) [More...]

In a nutshell, here's the state's story: Zimmerman improperly profiled Trayvon as a criminal, reporting him to police as a suspicious person for no objective reason. Zimmerman referred to criminals who commit home invasions, and to Trayvon (by erroneously assuming Trayvon might be about to commit a home invasion) as "as*holes" and "f*cking punks." Zimmerman's use of those words in reference to criminals and Trayvon is evidence of his ill-will and hatred, and of his depraved mind, in the act of shooting and killing Trayvon during the course of a later struggle.

Notice that race does not factor into the state's story at all. Here's how you can tell. Read the affidavit, looking not for probable cause or legal sufficiency, but for the state's story. Ignore, for the moment,

  • the false statements about what the dispatcher told Zimmerman,
  • the failure to mention any evidence from the police reports, videos and witness statements casting doubt on Zimmerman's guilt or supporting his version of events, including conflicting witness statements, Zimmerman's spontaneous assertion at the scene he had cried out for help, images of his injuries, and his lawful possession of the firearm,
  • the failure to state who initiated the physical struggle,
  • the reliance solely on Trayvon's mother to conclude it was Trayvon who cried out for help
  • the emphasis on the hearsay statements in the account of Trayvon's phone friend, who was not there and witnessed nothing, and on her subjective impression of what must have happened based on the hearsay.

None of that is important to the state's story. The key to the story is what's left: the use of the word "profiling," with no reference in the affidavit to anyone's race, the disavowal of Zimmerman's use of a racial slur by asserting that he used the phrase "f*cking punks" and most importantly, the allegation that Zimmerman was talking about Trayvon when he used the words "as*sholes" and "f*cking punks."

The state is not going to allege Zimmerman targeted Trayvon because of race. It believes it will be sufficient to show Zimmerman targeted (i.e. profiled) Trayvon as a criminal. The state believes there is no need to show Zimmerman had a racial bias, if it can show he disliked and had a bias against criminals and he thought Trayvon was a criminal.

Here's the story, as told by the affidavit (underlining and bolding by me.)

Zimmerman, who also lived in the gated community, and was driving his vehicle observed Martin and assumed Martin was a criminal. Zimmerman felt Martin did not belong in the gated community and called the police. Zimmerman spoke to the dispatcher and asked for an officer to respond because Zimmerman perceived that Martin was acting suspicious.

....During the recorded call Zimmerman made reference to people he felt had committed and gotten away with break-ins in his neighborhood. Later while talking about Martin, Zimmerman stated "these a*sholes, they always get away" and also said "these f*cking punks".

....Martin attempted to run home but was followed by Zimmerman who didn't want the person he falsely assumed was going to commit a crime to get away before the police arrived.

I don't think this story will carry the day for the State. It doesn't prove Zimmerman was an aggressor in the physical fight. It doesn't disprove that Trayvon attacked Zimmerman first, breaking his nose and causing cuts to his head. It doesn't prove that this was anything but an unexpected encounter that got out of hand.

There is abundant case law in Florida that an impulsive overreaction to an attack or injury is insufficient to prove ill will, hatred, spite, or evil intent. Even extremely reckless behavior, by itself, is insufficient from which to infer any malice.

And, while exceptions exist, second-degree murder usually applies when the defendant and victim knew each other prior to the killing, allowing time for enmity to develop. As many Florida decisions have held, "Hatred, spite, evil intent, or ill will usually require more than an instant to develop."

The exceptions I have read in Florida case law, including as recently as decisions last month, finding enmity and ill- will when the defendant and victim were strangers, involve situations such as a defendant who claimed to be on a suicide mission and decided to make headlines by driving into a crowd of strangers, intending to kill them as well as himself. Or where the defendant drove his car down a sidewalk at a high rate of speed killing a child, and then drove down a second sidewalk striking and killing another child.

Given that Trayvon and Zimmerman were strangers, if the state's argument for finding enmity and ill-will is that Zimmerman's hatred of criminals extended to Trayvon because he assumed Trayvon was a criminal, I don't think it will prevail. It seems to be just a story, intended to cover the gap in the intent requirement between murder 2 and manslaughter, in a way that that avoids the topic of race. Since it neither proves Zimmerman was the aggressor nor disproves he acted in self-defense or had a reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm, the state's story may be insufficient to establish either offense.

No wonder Angela Corey wanted to bypass the grand jury. She only had 1/2 a ham sandwich and forgot the mustard.

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    I have my doubts, too. (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 05:22:15 AM EST
    I'd offer that George Zimmerman clearly instigated the fatal confrontation when he stepped out of his vehicle to pursue an unarmed Trayvon Martin with a gun, made two statements about a$$holes getting away and effin punks, and apparently ignored the dispatcher's directive to cease pursuit of Martin and wait for the police.

    That Zimmerman may or may not have been the "aggressor" in any subsequent and alleged fistfight seems almost irrelevant to me, since he and not Martin was the one who obviously set the tragic events into motion, and he was the one who was armed with a 9mm pistol. Given what happened, Martin clearly had every right to both fear this stranger pursuing him and to defend himself, even if it turned out to be in vain.

    But at best, I think that while Zimmerman's behavior that night demonstrates substantive recklessness and very poor judgment on his part, it does not necessarily follow that he acted willfully and with malice, i.e., he fully intended to kill Martin when he alighted from his truck.

    I was therefore probably just as surprised as you that Angela Corey declined to indict for manslaughter and went for murder two, instead.

    But then, I tried to justify her actions in my own mind by figuring that okay, Corey's an experienced prosecutor who doesn't exactly strike me as the personally reckless professional type, so I'm going to assume that she knows what she's doing and that she's obviously privy to something we're not.

    But I must also freely admit that my trust in her abilities may yet prove to be grievously misplaced, if this blows up in her face as you indicate it might.

    So, who knows at this point? This is Florida, after all, which seems to be a very strange place from a legal standpoint, with secretaries of state who refuse to count all the votes, judges who are oblivious to apparent conflicts of interest, police who selectively release tidbits of information to serve their own purposes, etc.

    When all is eventually said and done here in this case, many of us may wind up shaking our heads and feeling like J.J. Gittes' assoociates Duffy and Walsh at the sad and disheartening conclusion to Roman Polanski's Chinatown, when Lt. Lou Escobar tells them to do their boss a big favor and take him home:

    "Forget it, Jake -- it's Chinatown."


    intent not required (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by expy on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 05:47:28 AM EST
    it does not necessarily follow that he acted willfully and with malice, i.e., he fully intended to kill Martin when he alighted from his truck.

    That's an element of 1st degree murder -- 2nd degree murder does not require a pre-existing intent or plan to kill.


    Thank you (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by CoralGables on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 10:05:04 AM EST
    for the link in an old thread for FS 782.07(3) on the significance of Martin's age, and the potential for an aggravated manslaughter conviction which is also a 1st degree felony.

    Why are you so sure Zimmerman didn't follow... (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by redwolf on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 08:23:32 AM EST
    directions?  If you listen to the 911 call he was already out of the car and following by the time the operator asked him not to follow. He may have stopped following right then. After that he lost sight of Trayvon and the operator asked him where he was so they could direct the police.  All of the walking after that may have been nothing more looking for an address for the cops to find him at and Zimmerman just waiting for the police.



    Why then do you think that, (5.00 / 0) (#8)
    by Anne on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 09:17:53 AM EST
    after first telling the dispatcher to have the cops meet him by the clubhouse - "they'll see my truck" - does Zimmerman change his mind and ask the dispatcher to call him when they get there so he can tell them where he is?

    After you think about that for a minute, find a map that shows the layout of the community, marked where the clubhouse is, and where the shooting took place.


    Read the wagist link I posted. (none / 0) (#10)
    by redwolf on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 09:48:14 AM EST

    Listening to the tape Zimmerman stopped moving within 20 seconds of being asked not to follow. Zimmerman is then fairly stationary for the next minute and 20 seconds talking to the 911 operator.  

    How could Zimmerman be following Trayvon if he lost sight of him at least a minute and 20 seconds before the confrontation?


    How do you know what Zimmerman did? (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Mitch Guthman on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 10:25:29 AM EST
    Up until now we've all been taking what Zimmerman said pretty much at face value and then trying to see how it adds up.  There have been almost no leaks about the physical evidence so we really don't know whether that evidence confirms Zimmerman's story or shows him to have stalked Martin and then killed him not in self-defense but for some other (perhaps irrational) reason.  We just don't know.

    So here is my question for you:  The leaks from Zimmerman's camp notwithstanding, do you have any factual basis for estimating when Zimmerman was in motion, when/where/whether he ever lost sight of Martin?  


    Listen to the 911 call I linked to. (none / 0) (#20)
    by redwolf on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 11:32:18 AM EST
    From the wagist article:
    0:15 - The best address I can give you is the clubhouse. [A]
    0:45 - He's just staring at the houses. Now he's staring at me.
    1:00 - He's coming towards me.
    1:20 - He's coming to check me out.
    2:08 - Shit, he's running.
    2:14 - Sound of truck door being closed. [C]
    2:20 - He's heading towards the back entrance. [referring to E]
    2:25 - Are you following him? Yep.
    2:45 - He ran... Zimmerman stops and completes the 911 call. [E]
    4:05 - Call ends.

    You can conclude that Zimmerman stopped moving or stopped moving quickly at 2:45 because the wind noises and his breathing changes.

    Zimmerman then talked to the 911 for a minute and 20 seconds without any indication of movement after he lost sight of Martin.  This is more than enough time for Martin to have walked home even if Zimmerman followed him the entire way.


    You can also conclude ... (5.00 / 0) (#23)
    by Yman on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 11:43:26 AM EST
    You can conclude that Zimmerman stopped moving or stopped moving quickly at 2:45 because the wind noises and his breathing changes.

    ... that he slowed down, or moved from an exposed, windy area to a place that was more sheltered from the wind (i.e. between buildings).

    Zimmerman then talked to the 911 for a minute and 20 seconds without any indication of movement after he lost sight of Martin.  This is more than enough time for Martin to have walked home even if Zimmerman followed him the entire way.

    So what?  What's the significance of that conclusion, even if true?  Martin was under no obligation to walk home.  Given that he apparently chose to run away from Zimmerman, he might well have been hiding from the stranger who was following him.


    Answer the question: why did George (5.00 / 0) (#36)
    by Anne on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 01:31:13 PM EST
    change his mind about where the cops should meet him?  Why change his mind from the cops meeting him at the clubhouse to George telling the dispatcher to have the cops call him so he can tell them where he is - does he not expect to be at his truck as he first instructed the dispatcher?  And if not, why not?

    Also, please look at the map, here, which clearly shows where the truck is in relation to where the shooting took place, and where Trayvon was staying in relation to both.

    I've listened to the tape, and I have yet to hear a logical explanation for why George doesn't stick with meeting the cops at the clubhouse location where his truck is.


    the reason may be (none / 0) (#119)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:01:16 PM EST
    because he spent over a minute trying to explain to the dispatcher where his truck was and the dispatcher couldn't get it. And it wasn't by the mailboxes. It was on the cutthrough. He thought he'd have a better chance of explaining the location directly to the police once they arrived.

    The map you linked to doesn't show Zimmerman's truck. The city of Sanford has cautioned against relying on media re-enactments. No photograph has been released showing the truck in a certain place or confirming where Zimmerman was when he got out of the car or ended the 911 call.

    There is no reason to think "okay" means anything other than its ordinary meaning -- agreement with what was just stated. That's the plain meaning of the word. Any other interpretation is rank speculation, trying to fit your own narrative.

    In addition, whether he followed Trayvon or not, the legal issue is how does that mean he provoked the use of force against him?

    If I'm following you down the street and you don't know why, when I finally catch up with you, you aren't allowed to respond by punching me. My following you is not an action that warrants a violent response from you. Following is not provoking.

    Following, profiling and pursuing someone does not provoke them punching you in the nose or banging your head into concrete, if that's what happened.

    Under Florida law, to be an aggressor, one must contemporaneously provoke the use of force to preclude self-defense. See for example, Johnson v. State, 65 So. 3d 1147, 1149-1150 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 3d Dist. 2011)

       Specifically, section 776.041 "[s]ubsection (2) precludes the initial aggressor from asserting self-defense where he or she is the individual who provoked the use of force"

        .... we note that the initial provocation would necessarily had to have been contemporaneous to the actions of the victim, as described in subsection 2(a), which the defendant claims self-defense.

    Arguing over your own individual interpretations of the 911 call is not the topic or helpful to the discussion at hand.  


    better chances - reenactment (none / 0) (#147)
    by LeaNder on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 01:34:25 PM EST
    He thought he'd have a better chance of explaining the location directly to the police once they arrived.

    Ok, good argument, Jeralyn. But why does he tell he looked for an address for the arriving police officers and THEN returned to his truck? Why did he not look for an address were his car actually was? If he intended to meet them there?

    The city of Sanford has cautioned against relying on media re-enactments.

    Does that mean, all of his statements and his reenactment are ultimately hearsay and he can adapt or modify his story without any problems at the SYG hearing or trial?

    Since it's easy to misinterpret someone? And he must not necessarily have remembered correctly that he was at RVC and now had an address, when he asked to be called back? But at that point he asked to be called back only since "Sean" was so slow in understanding him? Since he thought the officers would better understand him.

    Remember on 2/2/2012, he called back to change the address to Taaffe's location. I know it's purely speculative, but wouldn't that make more sense?


    I don't understand the basis of your question. (none / 0) (#14)
    by Addison on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 10:33:22 AM EST
    First of all, Zimmerman stopped within 20 seconds? That's still 20 seconds (count it off, it's a long time). And even then how do you know he's stationary?

    Second, the call ends before the scuffle begins. So assuming that he stops moving at the end of the 9-1-1 call, this still does not mean he didn't start moving again after the call was concluded.


    How could Zimmerman be following Trayvon if he lost sight of him at least a minute and 20 seconds before the confrontation?

    What do you mean, "how"? Zimmerman could have had a direction of travel for Martin and moved in that direction. He could have been "searching" instead of "following" and still come across Martin. There are multiple possible explanations.


    You can clearly hear a difference in over the (none / 0) (#18)
    by redwolf on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 11:19:19 AM EST
    phone when Zimmerman is moving.  That ends around 20 seconds after the operator asks him not to follow.

    Searching is not following. The objection raised is the operator asked him not to follow which he apparently obeyed.


    Searching is just unsuccessful following... (5.00 / 3) (#22)
    by Addison on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 11:42:23 AM EST
    ...the intent is still to follow.

    That's not remotely apparent (none / 0) (#24)
    by Yman on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 11:48:27 AM EST
    Searching is not following. The objection raised is the operator asked him not to follow which he apparently obeyed.

    We have no idea if he was moving or not.  The wind noise and his voice could have changed simply because he slowed down or moved between buildings where there was less wind.  Based on the version his father told, he was still moving because he went in search of a street sign to give the police a location:

    Even though a dispatcher told George Zimmerman not to follow Martin, his father said his son continued his pursuit to locate an address to give to police.

    "He lost sight of the individual, he continued to walk down the same sidewalk to the next street, so he could get an address for the police," he said.


    The point of all this is we don't have any (none / 0) (#30)
    by redwolf on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 12:41:35 PM EST
    evidence that Zimmerman continued to follow Martin after being told to stop.  Everywhere here seems to assume that he continued but I've yet to see an iota of real proof that he did.  For all we know he was hanging out waiting for the cops to show up when they encountered each other.

    My point was that ... (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by Yman on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 07:17:03 PM EST
    ... the change in wind noise and Zimmerman's voice are not "real evidence" that he obeyed the 911 dispatcher's request not to follow Martin.

    redwolf is correct (none / 0) (#33)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 01:21:33 PM EST
    And partly it matters because the affidavit says he disregarded the "instruction" not to follow Trayvon when his verbal response to the dispatchers' suggestion "Okay, we don't need you to do that" was "Okay." That indicates he followed the suggestion. And he wasn't "instructed" not to do anything.

    Also, the dipatcher never "told Zimmerman to wait" for the officer.

    Zimmerman: How long until you get an officer over here?

    Dispatcher: Yeah we've got someone on the way, just let me know if this guy does anything else.

    ....Dispatcher: Alright George we do have them on the way, do you want to meet with the officer when they get out there?

    Zimmerman: Yeah.

    Dispatcher: Where you going to meet with them at?

    ....Dispatcher: Okay do you want to just meet with them right near the mailboxes then?

    Zimmerman: Yeah that's fine.

    ....Dispatcher: Alright George, I'll let them know to meet you around there okay?

    Zimmerman: Actually could you have them call me and I'll tell them where I'm at?

    Dispatcher: Okay, yeah that's no problem

    Dispatcher: Okay no problem, I'll let them know to call you when you're in the area.

    Two things. (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by Addison on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 01:32:36 PM EST
    First: if I were asked to judge whether or not the statement "we don't need you to do that" from an authority figure was an instruction, I would say that it was. Easily so. There's no reason for the dispatcher to say that unless it's to indicate disapproval of the action. I feel it would take an extraordinary and nearly unbelievable lack of social cue awareness to not see that as an instruction. So, if it were in a contract I'd see the value of this incredibly literal reading. A jury isn't necessarily going to be bound by that level of literalism.

    Second: Zimmerman is given the option to meet the police car at a specific point (near the mailboxes). He first agrees to this. However, he immediately changes his mind, and instead wants the police to call him to get updated location information. If he was simply returning to his vehicle or remaining stationary, why would that be? The reason you have someone call you for updated location information is that you're not sure where you'll be. A possible reason Zimmerman might not be sure where he'd be in 5 minutes is because he was going to search for Martin and didn't know where he'd end up.


    How does saying "okay" indicate (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Anne on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 01:44:34 PM EST
    compliance with the suggestion?  

    Maybe "okay" is just an acknowledgment that he heard the dispatcher; nothing more, nothing less.

    Maybe "okay" was a form of "that's okay, I don't mind," given that George changes his mind about where he's going to meet the cops.  If he was just going to go home, or continue on with his errands, or stay there with his truck, he could have said so, not left it so open-ended.

    If it gets that far, and if Zimmerman testifies, he's going to be asked about why he left it so open-ended where he would meet the officers; maybe by them he'll have an answer that makes sense.


    I don't think the "Okay" ... (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by Yman on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 04:44:54 PM EST
    ... means he complied with the 911 dispatcher.  The "okay" could simply mean he was acknowledging that he heard the request, or that he understood they didn't need him to follow him.  My daughter gives me the same kind of "okay" when I tell her to clean her room or get ready for bed.  Sometimes it means she's complying, many times it doesn't.

    My main point, however, was that there were several possible reasons (besides compliance) that the wind noise and Zimmerman's voice changed.


    And if that fact is not established (none / 0) (#91)
    by jbindc on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 06:37:59 AM EST
    (Did he stop or didn't he), the benefit and assumption goes to Zimmerman's story.

    Says who? (none / 0) (#92)
    by Yman on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 08:14:30 AM EST
    I don't think Zimmerman's ever made a statement about whether he followed the 911 dispatcher's request, but even if he did, what do you mean?

    If he says he stopped (none / 0) (#96)
    by jbindc on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 08:56:24 AM EST
    Following Martin on the dispatcher's "orders" and there is no evidence to contradict that (despite what many people around here keep stating as fact), then that has to be looked at in the light mist favorable to Zimmerman - i.e. the assumption will be that he stopped.

    I thought you meant there was ... (none / 0) (#98)
    by Yman on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 09:47:31 AM EST
    ... some type of rebuttable presumption created under FL/SYG laws that meant that Zimmerman's statement would be presumed to be true - similar to a summary judgment motion by an opposing party.

    Those are two very big "ifs", considering Zimmerman hasn't even claimed he followed the 911 dispatcher's request.  Moreover, I don't know who is claiming that it is a fact that Zimmerman didn't stop, but there certainly is evidence to support the conclusion he didn't.  Established as a fact?  No.  But evidence ... yes.


    I would argue (none / 0) (#99)
    by jbindc on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:02:17 AM EST
    What evidence is there that he didn't stop?  

    All we have at this point is pure speculation amd conjecture.


    Makes me wonder if they have (5.00 / 0) (#102)
    by Anne on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:31:48 AM EST
    the GPS coordinates for his phone during the entire time period; that should be able to pinpoint and track his movements before, during and after the call, no?

    If he had it enabled (none / 0) (#103)
    by jbindc on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:40:12 AM EST
    And if he walked a couple of driveways down, say, to see a street sign, that wouldn't necessarily prove he was "disobeying" the dispatcher.

    "Prove" - No (5.00 / 0) (#106)
    by Yman on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 11:49:04 AM EST
    "Evidence" - yes.

    If the GPD data shows he wasn't moving toward his truck after he acknowledged the dispatcher's request, a jury would be free to infer that he was following Martin.  Personally, I would be skeptical of any claim that he was "looking for a street sign" when he was in his own development (one which he patrolled) which has only 3 streets.


    It also (none / 0) (#107)
    by jbindc on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 11:53:03 AM EST
    could be inferred that he was not following Martin, but looking around to see if he could still see him or to see if anyone else was out and about or looking out their window.

    Of course a jury can infer what it wants from evidence, but the fact that many are assuming that his "OK' did not mean he stopped is weak tea.


    That's my point (none / 0) (#110)
    by Yman on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 12:19:56 PM EST
    A jury could infer many things, and the claim (which Zimmerman hasn't even made) that he stopped following Martin when the dispatcher requested him to do so is not something that must be interpreted in Zimmerman's favor, or presumed to be true.  Zimmerman's own words on the 911 call indicate that he was still looking for Martin over a minute after he said "okay" in response to the dispatcher.

    I would argue that the fact that Zimmerman was: 1) worried that Martin would "get away", 2) still looking for him over a minute after the request not to follow him, and 3) requested the officers call him to get his location when they arrived rather than meet him at his truck or an address - mean that the argument that Zimmerman's "OK" meant he stopped is weak tea.


    There's several things ... (5.00 / 1) (#109)
    by Yman on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 12:11:28 PM EST
    ... that a jury could reasonably interpret which suggest he might have continued to follow Martin.

    1)  Zimmerman clearly believed that Martin was doing something wrong and was worried he would "get away".

    "This guy looks like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around looking about." - 00:25

    Something's wrong with him. Yep, he's coming to check me out.  He's got something in his hands. I don't know what his deal is.
    - 1:20

    "These assholes. They always get away." - 1:39

    1)  The dispatcher told him "OK.
    We don't need you to do that." at 2:26.  After he was told that, Zimmerman stated:

    "He ran." - 2:34

    "It's a home. It's XXX - oh, crap, I don't want to give it out - I don't know where this kid is [inaudible]" - 3:40

    "Could you have them call me and I'll tell them where I'm at?" [3:49]

    From the 911 call itself, we know that over a minute later Zimmerman was still looking for Martin.  Rather than give the police a location (address/his truck description), he also asked that they call him so he could tell them where he was at, suggesting he wasn't sure where they would be when they got there.

    Is it "proof" that Zimmerman was continuing to follow Martin?  No.  But it is evidence, and a jury or court is not obligated to presume that Zimmerman's explanation is true.


    Actually (none / 0) (#111)
    by jbindc on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 12:22:04 PM EST
    Zimmernan told the dispatcher that Martin was running before the dispatcher tells him to stop (around 1:38, I think). Zimmerman gives more information all this time in a fairly calm way.

    So yes, a jury COULD infer whatever they want,  but a first year law student, let alone experienced criminal defense attorney will probably show that it's just as possible that Zimmerman stopped following Martin when told to. And if evidence is just as likely to be for the defendant as for the prosecution, the jury MUST side with the defense.


    BTW - He says it TWICE (5.00 / 0) (#113)
    by Yman on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 12:35:27 PM EST
    "He's running" - 2:08


    "We don't need you to do that" - 2:26


    "He ran" - 2:34

    Sounds like he was very concerned that Martin would "get away".


    I'm wondering about the girlfriend's phone call (none / 0) (#114)
    by Angel on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 12:47:44 PM EST
    and the time it ended and how that fits into (1) the timeline of the phone call of Zimmerman with the 911 dispatcher; (2) how it fits into the timeline of the other phone calls to 911 by the witnesses; (3) how much time elapsed between the ending of the girlfriend's phone call with Trayvon before the shot was heard on the 911 tape?  Knowing these pieces of information should give additional insight into what happened.    

    I know there were two times (none / 0) (#116)
    by jbindc on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 01:35:32 PM EST
    I was pointing out to you there was a first time, because it puts it more in context .

    And concern still doesn't get you to "following after he was told not to."

    We just don't know, but it's fun to speculate, especially if it fits a certain narrative


    His concern that Martin ... (none / 0) (#117)
    by Yman on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 01:44:20 PM EST
    ... would "get away" does not, per se, get you to "following after he was told not to", but when you combine it with the fact that he was still looking for Martin over a minute after the request - as well as his other statements - it certainly could.

    We just don't know, but it's fun to speculate, especially if it fits a certain narrative

    You mean the "certain narrative" of those who speculate that Zimmerman will claim he stopped following Martin when the 911 dispatcher made the request, or that he was "looking for a street sign"?


    Ahhh, so you're simply assuming ... (none / 0) (#112)
    by Yman on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 12:31:32 PM EST
    ... that Zimmerman's attorney will be able to show that it's equally likely that Zimmerman stopped following Martin than the alternative.

    1.  That's one hee-YOOOGE assumption.
    2.  Someone should tell Zimmerman.  He'd probably save some serious money by having a 1L handle this argument for him.

    It's a huger assumption (none / 0) (#115)
    by jbindc on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 01:31:57 PM EST
    To say that you know he continued to pursue Martin after he was told not to.  Notice I didn't say he may have walked around trying to keep an eye on where Martin was, especially if he thought Martin was connected to the break-ins.  

    But it's a giant leap to say you know Zimmerman was pursuing him.


    Good thing ... (none / 0) (#118)
    by Yman on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 01:45:49 PM EST
    It's a huger assumption to say that you know he continued to pursue Martin after he was told not to.

    ... no one's saying that.

    You better (none / 0) (#120)
    by jbindc on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:03:18 PM EST
    Go back and read some of the comnents on all these threads then.

    Or around the media in general.


    Not so literally (none / 0) (#128)
    by Yman on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 03:17:03 PM EST
    I meant that I wasn't making that assumption, although I haven't seen anyone here claiming that they know he continued to pursue Martin after he was told not to do so.

    Not sure about "the media in general".


    that's a bit of a standard (none / 0) (#150)
    by LeaNder on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 03:08:58 PM EST
    Are you suggesting: If only there wasn't evil media, no one would care?

    The first part is true: Many, including you wouldn't know about it.

    The second is pretty wrong:
    Media would have no chance to raise interest, if the story in itself did not offer interesting human content.

    People tend to be interested in people and their stories, but not necessarily in all people and all stories. But you may be right, they may have used tricks, like the photo. Problem is the other side used tricks too. For instance staging GZ as the successful hunter of criminals and preventer of crime in the community. Nothing seems to be true of that part of the equally wide spread story. It does not need to be evil intend either people occasionally err.

    My interest wasn't caused by American media, or any other national media for that matter. I got interested in the case, when I read about it from the pro-Zimmerman side on a blog about US foreign policy and the military. Not immediately either, only once I witnessed a strong strain of prejudice* in the accompanying discussion.

    * I avoid a different word here, maybe you realize which?


    dangerous? (none / 0) (#149)
    by LeaNder on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 02:48:37 PM EST
    Notice I didn't say he may have walked around trying to keep an eye on where Martin was, especially if he thought Martin was connected to the break-ins.

    Well that's exactly what he did when he reported the suspect with the bomber hat and the pajama pants on 2/2/12. He followed him to Taaffe's house and called back to police to report the changed position. What made 2/26/12 completely different? That he claims he did not follow? He only walked in the same direction?

    I didn't have the impression by the way that Yman assumed anything. He only looked at the evidence and deducted what it supported and what it didn't.

    Why do you think "Sean" the man answering the NEN call tried to stop George with seemingly irrelevant questions? Since it was his impression GZ was calm as a grave?


    Redwolf (none / 0) (#144)
    by LeaNder on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 12:37:21 PM EST
    How could Zimmerman be following Trayvon if he lost sight of him at least a minute and 20 seconds before the confrontation?

    I agree it seems unlikely, however "the confrontation" did not happen one minute and 20 seconds after the call. I wonder what you base this assumption on?

    My own calculation is, it no doubt must be precise, that two minutes and 30 seconds pass between the end of the call and the start of the fist witness call. This is based on the records mainly from the 7th discovery.

    What is the basis for your number?


    must not be precise (none / 0) (#145)
    by LeaNder on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 12:39:25 PM EST
    it no doubt must be precise

    It must not be precise, I meant. But if you use data from the phone calls marked with passing time, in connection with the documents, you get pretty much the same figure.


    I understand (none / 0) (#146)
    by LeaNder on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 12:41:40 PM EST
    I realized by now that you rely on Serino's timeline prepared by Singleton. I am afraid that one is not correct.

    I might be mistaken, (none / 0) (#45)
    by lentinel on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 03:01:56 PM EST
    but I don't believe that the dispatcher issued Zimmerman a "directive to cease pursuit of Martin and wait for the police."

    I believe that the dispatcher said that they "didn't need" Zimmerman to follow Martin.

    It's not quite the same thing, imo.


    lentinel, you are correct (none / 0) (#46)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 03:04:01 PM EST
    "directive" to cease (none / 0) (#151)
    by LeaNder on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 03:14:34 PM EST
    Ok, lentinel, I would love to see Sean on the stand too.

    If he did not however politely, maybe he knows he has no authority, keep bothering GZ with all the questions about himself after he said that?

    I am honestly wondering, why you think he did.


    I'll just wryly note (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 08:29:25 AM EST
    this is all speculation.

    I want that though.

    yes it's speculation (5.00 / 3) (#34)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 01:26:32 PM EST
    but charges have been filed now and the case is in defense mode. Big difference from before when he hadn't been accused of doing anything wrong.

    Just making a joke (none / 0) (#41)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 01:58:19 PM EST
    I know, but I thought (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 02:13:52 PM EST
    since it is a switch of policy on my part, I should acknowledge why.

    You may be looking in the wrong places. (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Mitch Guthman on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 09:46:53 AM EST
    I think we need to wait for a clearer picture of the physical evidence.  It may be that the story Zimmerman told to the police was false and inconsistent with the physical evidence.  It may be that the state's attorney feels she can prove from the physical evidence that Zimmerman simply stalked Martin and deliberately killed him, perhaps from a distance.

    We don't really know whether there was a physical struggle between the two men.  We only have Zimmerman's word for that.  Neither do we know where the two men were standing when the fatal bullet was fired.  Again, we only have Zimmerman's word that he fired during an intense physical struggle in which he became afraid for his life.  We do not know anything about Martin's wounds or the trace evidence on any of the clothing worn by Zimmerman or Martin and whether that evidence confirms or refutes Zimmerman's story.

    I think maybe we've all been focusing too much on the quirks of Florida law and the racial aspects of the case.  They may think that they can get to 2nd degree murder through the physical evidence.  

    It is easy to over-analyze this kind of question (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Peter G on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 11:23:29 AM EST
    To repeat a comment I made a few days ago, which garnered no response, I am reminded of a candid commentary by US Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo (who was then a judge of the New York Court of Appeals) over 80 years ago. In a 1929 Address to the New York Medical Society, reprinted in Cardozo's classic "Law and Literature" (1931) (at page 100), he discussed the verbal categories which purport to distinguish 1st from 2d Degree Murder, and murder from manslaughter.  He referred to it all as a "mystifying cloud of words," designed to defer fine moral blameworthiness decisions to a jury (a "dispensing power," Cardozo called it), under rules that prevent any judge from saying the jury was wrong.  Cardozo was actually criticizing this tradition for lack of intellectual honesty, and suggesting that jurors just be told directly to decide how serious the crime was. Not sure how that would work, and in any event is not the system we have.

    If I did not comment then (none / 0) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 12:15:45 PM EST
    It's because I did not see it.

    Always loved Cardozo and he was central to the teaching at my law school.

    But I think his words transcend just the subjects mentioned.


    One Note on "F%$#ing Punks" (5.00 / 0) (#100)
    by msaroff on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:14:57 AM EST
    I have a friend who owns/works for a ringtone/mobile app company.

    As a part of his duties, he had to review ringtones for approval, to detect the naughty bits, so as to avoid problems with the phone companies.

    He is certain that the phrase was "f$#@ing coons".

    If the prosecution wants to argue that the statement was this, I can see how you could go for murder 2.  The specific malice is then his alleged bigotry.

    That being said, I don't think that anyone expects a conviction on murder 2.  It's SOP for prosecutors to overcharge in order to encourage a plea deal.

    BTW, the real crime here is the fact that the police, it appears at the direction of the county DA, discharged him with little or no finding of fact.

    Considering Sanford's history of racial bias and corruption in their law enforcement, I think that this is where criminal investigations are most needed.

    On an unrelated note, how do people feel about the likelihood of Zimmerman testifying on his own behalf?

    I think you are making a mistake (none / 0) (#3)
    by expy on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 06:10:28 AM EST
    if you to assume that the state has no evidence beyond what is contained in the probable cause affidavit.

    They conducted an investigation, interviewing witnesses, consulting with experts, doing forensics, etc. The defense will get that information in the course of discovery, but the rest of us will probably learn the details only when (and if) the case goes to trial.  

    It may very well be that the decision to charge 2nd degree murder vs. manslaughter was reached because the investigation made it clear that Zimmerman's statements to the police were demonstrably false.  One sure way to bump a manslaughter charge to murder is to lie about what happened -- that will tick off the prosecution, and is likely to tick off a jury as well. "Self-defense" claims are often defeated by forensics, such as angle of entry of the bullet wound.

    I'd note that the case of  Dorsey v. Florida & the cases it cites, where 2nd degree murder was rejected, all seem to be cases where it is clear that the homicide victims initiated the confrontation. If you can find a case where the shooter was also the person who initiated the contact leading up to the killing -- but 2nd degree murder charges were still rejected -- please share the citation.

    The prosecution's theory at this point seems to be that Zimmerman stalked Martin, probably with the intent of making sure that the "asshole" or "punk" couldn't "get away" this time around.  He did that fully aware that he was going after a teenager. I have a feeling that there are plenty of parents of teens who would consider an adult pursuing a teenager with a loaded gun to be evidence of a "depraved mind" evidencing an indifference toward human life.

    I do think that Zimmerman's current lawyer is  smart to keep his head down & keep a low profile until he has discovery & knows what the prosecution now has.

    I'd add that (none / 0) (#4)
    by expy on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 06:57:32 AM EST
    the current lawyer's reticence is a lot smarter than Zimmerman's former so-called lawyers, who reported to CNN last week that Zimmerman told them he said "punks" - see: http://www.eurweb.com/2012/04/lawyers-zimmerman-said-punks-not-coons-before-killing-trayvon/

    I'm thinking that the prosecution may well have chosen to go with "punk" simply because it looks like they have an admission on that-- and that word demonstrates animus toward the teenager in the hoodie as much as anything else.  


    General enmity. (none / 0) (#13)
    by Addison on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 10:27:58 AM EST
    I agree that this is the keystone of the state's case for 2nd degree murder.

    I myself am somewhat persuaded by the argument that the enmity, ill-will, and spite focused at a certain generalized group (young criminals, "punks") can be emphasized legally when a person targets a specific alleged member of that group. I think Zimmerman's tone and words on the 9-1-1 call clearly show that there was a longstanding "enmity and ill-will" in the air that night (they "always" get away), and this enmity and ill-will was undoubtedly directed at Trayvon Martin that evening.

    Whether or not that will pass legal muster, or whether a Floridian jury will be similarly persuaded, barring a plea we'll see.

    The other issue is one that I've long felt will be a dividing line between the prosecution and defense, and that's whether there was (legally speaking) one incident or two that night -- i.e. whether Zimmerman's initial pursuit is separable and discrete from the later scuffle, or whether Zimmerman's pursuit is considered part of the same singular incident as the later scuffle. The former is better for Zimmerman than the latter, given what is publicly known.

    In the air tonight? (none / 0) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 11:18:23 AM EST
    Please, no Phil Collins.

    Good catch... (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by Addison on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 11:40:48 AM EST
    To further expand on my comments, I think that if you take the evidence at Face Value and listen to the arguments of Both Sides, there's no escaping the reality that Zimmerman is going to have to Testify. But Seriously...I think that Against All Odds these two individuals who'd previously led such Separate Lives are going to change the way we look at self-defense in this country in a way that there's no Going Back from.

    Not sure why you state Zimmerman is going (none / 0) (#47)
    by oculus on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 03:05:34 PM EST
    to "have" to testify.  Many a criminal defendant never takes the stand and is benefits from defense argument and jury instructions re prosecution having burden of proof to beyond a reasonable doubt standard.  

    I guess. (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Addison on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 05:00:10 PM EST
    But if Zimmerman doesn't want to spend One More Night in jail I think he's going to have to show his True Colors on the stand to give his side of the story, given his affirmative defense. And I think he will do so, since after a few months worth of the stress of jail and the trial, he'll just being thinking, "Take Me Home".

    Ha (5.00 / 1) (#69)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 07:06:50 PM EST
    You really ran with that ball.

    Very clever. Sussudio! (sp)


    How will he raise self defense (none / 0) (#54)
    by expy on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 05:24:05 PM EST
    without testifying? There do not seem to be any witnesses who saw or heard enough to clearly establish self-defense, so I don't see how (based on what we now know) a case could be presented without the defendant's testimony.

    Also, O'Mara has already indicated that he intends to bring a Stand  Your Ground motion for dismissal/immunity - but the defense bears the burden of proof (by preponderance of evidence) on such a motion. So again, its hard to see how they can sustain that burden without the defendant testifying - unless their agenda was to use that hearing primarily as a discovery vehicle to flesh out the prosecution's case.  

    We know there will be testimony that it was Martin's voice calling for help on the 911 tape. Zimmerman had a gun and Martin was clearly unarmed, so its hard to draw an inference of "self defense" from the circumstantial evidence, even with witnesses to a scuffle or physical altercation.


    I read somewhere, probably courtesy of (none / 0) (#55)
    by oculus on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 05:25:52 PM EST
    Jeralyn, that, if O'Mara files a SYG motion and Zimmerman testifies, that testimony cannot be used during the trial.  

    Citation? (none / 0) (#65)
    by expy on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 06:44:31 PM EST
    I know that you don't have it ("read somewhere") - but I'm hoping Jeralyn can post a citation.  My sense is that the SYG motion procedure is pretty much an ad hoc judicial creation -- so I'm not sure whether or not there is established law on the admissibility of such evidence.  I could see it being excluded from the prosecution's case in chief, but not necessarily for impeachment purposes in the event that the defendant testifies.

    I've now heard at least 3 or 4 factually disparate accounts of what happened, all sourced directly or indirectly to Zimmerman -- so it seems possible that Zimmerman has been embellishing and giving different versions of what happened to the police, his former lawyers, his father, his brother.  On the other hand, the ex-lawyers, father, &  brother could be the ones who were simply running off at the mouth and getting things wrong.    

    But if I were coming in as a defense attorney right now, I would be worried about my client's consistency and veracity.


    Here is what I was thinking of: (none / 0) (#71)
    by oculus on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 07:17:27 PM EST

    At the jury trial, his ruling cannot be used to prevent Wyche from obtaining a jury instruction of either immunity under Stand Your Ground or traditional self-defense.

    that doesn't impact use of testimony (none / 0) (#79)
    by expy on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 10:11:26 PM EST
    That's just saying that an adverse ruling by the judge at the SYG hearing does not preclude the issue being re-asserted at trial. But it has nothing to do with use of testimony.

    So I'm thinking now that there is no protection, and a defense counsel would face the risk that his client's testimony at the SYG hearing might be used against him at trial.   Obviously, if the defendant testifies at the SYG hearing, it provides an opportunity to the prosecution for cross-examination.

    I can see where it might be a very tough call for a defense attorney if they are not on very strong footing with a SYG defense. The contested facts in this case might make it very difficult to prevail with SYG.  


    Actually, I can read. (none / 0) (#82)
    by oculus on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 12:34:05 AM EST
    it was in the ruling (none / 0) (#83)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 12:58:07 AM EST
    by Judge Hirsch in the Wyche case. Here are selected quotes and here is the opinion.

    If, at a pretrial hearing, a defendant meets his burden and establishes his claim of immunity by a preponderance of the evidence, any charge as to which the immunity applies would of course be dismissed. If, however, the court finds that the defendant has not met his burden, the court's ruling has no preclusive effect, whether pursuant to the "law of the case" doctrine, the issue preclusion
    doctrine (i.e., collateral estoppel), or any other doctrine. Such a defendant would still
    be free at trial to plead his claim of immunity to the jury.
    At trial the burden of proof is
    exclusively on the prosecution to establish the guilt of the defendant beyond and to the exclusion
    of a reasonable doubt.

    To earn an acquittal, the defendant need do no more than show reasonable doubt - a quantum of evidence considerably less than a preponderance. And any attempt to bar a defendant from asserting a lawful defense based on the trial court's ruling that the defendant had
    not sufficientlv established that defense at a pretrial hearing would no doubt run afoul of the
    defendant's constitutional entitlement to a fair jury trial, see U.S. Const. amend VI; Art. I
    Sec16, Fla. Const.

    Expy, Zimmerman hasn't spoken at all. He hasn't given different versions. Either you are listening to the Martin's lawyers (who are hardly unbiased) or you are going by what his family and friend said, neither of which is the same as Zimmerman saying it or a media report about a leaked police report (which did not publish the report, only its version of it).

    That you have heard somewhere Zimmerman gave numerous versions when no officail version of his account has been released or publicly available,  is unfair.


    You've missed the point (none / 0) (#86)
    by expy on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 01:48:39 AM EST
    The question was whether or not statements taken from Zimmerman's testimony at an SYG hearing could be used against him in a later trial, assuming he loses the SYG hearing. There is ALWAYS a risk when a defendant testifies that he will say something that hurts his case -- and the SYG hearing gives the prosecution an opportunity to cross-examine at length, and then to have the transcript of the original testimony available at trial, where (if he testifies) he can be cross-examined on any inconsistencies.

    There pretty much always are inconsistencies between earlier and later testimony, for any witness. Even very truthful witnesses tend to remember things differently down the line.  So any previous transcript of a testifying witness is usually good fodder for cross-examination.

    The inconsistent versions of the story come from Zimmerman's father and brother, who were yammering all over the cable news programs with graphic details as to what they say really happened. They weren't present to witness what happened, so they either (a) made up stories, or (b) are repeating something that Zimmerman told them. Zimmerman can be asked about prior inconsistent statements on cross-examination, so the prosecutor can ask: "did you tell your brother XXX" as to each of those statements. If Zimmerman denied making those statements, brother & father can also be subpoenaed as witnesses and asked what Zimmerman told them.

    Maybe it is de minimus and doesn't matter, but it is an issue that any minimally competent defense attorney would be looking at right now.  

    A defense attorney can't be blind to the weaknesses in the defense case -- a good attorney needs to anticipate everything the prosecution is likely to do.

    I'm just saying that while winning a SYG motion is a wonderful thing for the defense, it can put the defense in a disadvantageous position if they lose. Any halfway decent prosecutor is going to be absolutely delighted at the opportunity to cross-examine the defendant at a pre-trial hearing.


    maybe that's your point (none / 0) (#121)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:06:17 PM EST
    but your point has nothing to do with the context in which I used the quote, which was to point out that the law is that Zimmerman can lose the SYG hearing and it doesn't prevent him from raising the same argument before a jury, which will not be told a judge previously found his argument unavailing.  

    But I was responding to Oculus (none / 0) (#124)
    by expy on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:21:11 PM EST
    who wrote, @ #55
    I read somewhere, probably courtesy of  
    Jeralyn, that, if O'Mara files a SYG motion and Zimmerman testifies, that testimony cannot be used during the trial.

    Does the fact that he conducts armed patrols (none / 0) (#89)
    by ruffian on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 06:22:21 AM EST
    to catch 'criminals' in his neighborhood count as enmity, by the legal definition? It sure counts in my layman definition.

    He wasn't on patrol that night (none / 0) (#90)
    by jbindc on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 06:36:06 AM EST
    You may not agree with the law, but it appears he was duly licensed to carry a weapon.

    Not saying he was disobeying the law (none / 0) (#93)
    by ruffian on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 08:32:52 AM EST
    by carrying the gun. But is the state allowed to present that as evidence of enmity? For example, if they have a witness that says he talked about carrying a gun because of all the 'a*les' and f*king punks' coming into the neighborhood?

    I imagine the state is looking for people who were at whatever passed as 'neighborhood watch meetings'.


    Maybe (none / 0) (#94)
    by jbindc on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 08:52:50 AM EST
    But he was supposedly just going to the store.  Maybe he always kept his gun in his truck, so that would negate the "willfullness" aspect.

    thanks, that makes sense (none / 0) (#97)
    by ruffian on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 09:04:22 AM EST
    This is a significant question for me (none / 0) (#101)
    by Towanda on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:27:56 AM EST
    -- whether he always had the gun in his glove compartment (is that okay under the law) or whether he took it with him when, so others state that he has stated, he was simply "on errands."  

    We have a guy like the latter in my newly concealed-carry state, and he gives me the willies, as recently when "on errands," he pulled out his gun in a grocery store being robbed.

    But he shot not only the robber but six more times, shooting all over the place.  Fortunately, he did not kill anyone.  

    And the store was posted for no guns, as allowed by law, but he said that he didn't see the sign -- difficult to believe, as he has a long history of defiance of previous gun laws and is a major proponent of even open-carry -- and was not charged.  Not at all.    


    if he has a concealed weapons permit (none / 0) (#122)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:11:37 PM EST
    he can carry the gun with him in his car or on his person. The restrictions are here, and none fit. Here's a q and a about it from the Florida agency that grants the permits.

    I don't think anyone is questioning (5.00 / 1) (#127)
    by Anne on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:40:44 PM EST
    his right to carry a concealed weapon, only questioning the wisdom of Zimmerman's decision to proceed on an armed basis once his focus changed from "out running errands" to those somewhat consistent with that of a watch volunteer on patrol.  

    I say "somewhat" consistent because I have yet to hear of any registered, law enforcement-affiliated neighborhood/citizens' watch program that does not strongly discourage its members from carrying a weapon while on official watch patrol or acting in that capacity.

    Problematic, in my mind, is that there has been no information about the rules/procedures/protocols being followed by the Twin Lakes group, whether it was the practice of watch volunteers to be out alone, as opposed to with other members, and  we have only Zimmerman's word that he wasn't patrolling, just out running errands when he happened to see this suspicious person.

    He may have had the right to carry, but that doesn't mean it was smart to do so in this particular situation.


    that it would seem that he was not acting as part of an organized watch volunteer on patrol, but rather as an individual concerned citizen.

    However, in 20-20 hindsight, the wisdom of him carrying the gun while followed Martin is certainly a valid question to ask.


    Exactly. (none / 0) (#138)
    by Towanda on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 11:23:24 PM EST
    After all, I did state that concealed-carry is the law.  That would seem to clearly suggest that I well know that carrying the gun was, well, legal.

    But a lot of things are legal to do that are unwise to do, even dangerous to do, as I would think that lawyers would know more than any of us.


    I'm not a lawyer (none / 0) (#16)
    by Lil on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 11:00:40 AM EST
    but a faithful reader. Nor have I done any research, and what i know is just from the MSM and cursory reading. When I first heard about the charge I was surprised that it was 2nd degree and not manslaughter. I always thought that Zimmerman didn't go out to kill someone that day, but because of his, what I call, hothead ways, he got himself into a situation that obviously got out of control. When I heard the charge, I wondered if there's a chance he could be judged "not guilty" but could the jury or judge decide he was guilty of manslaughter or something else. My question is: Is it all or nothing or could Zimmerman still face some consequence for his alleged action?

    manslaughter is a lesser included (5.00 / 2) (#44)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 02:52:06 PM EST
    offense of second degree murder. Depending what the evidence shows at trial, if the case gets that far, the jury could be given the option of lesser offenses.

    But justifiable homicide and excusable homicide are excluded from the crimes of second-degree murder and manslaughter. So if it finds self-defense, it would be a defense to both.

    The potential lesser included offenses for second degree murder (depraved mind) are (see page 122, this is current as of March 28, 2012):

    Manslaughter -- 782.07
    Third degree (felony) murder -- 782.04(4)
    Vehicular homicide -- 782.071

    (Nonhomicide lessers)

    Attempt 777.04(1)
    Culpable negligence 784.05(2)
    Culpable negligence 784.05(1)
    Felony battery 784.041
    Aggravated battery 784.045
    Aggravated assault 784.021
    Battery 784.03
    Assault 784.011

    thank you (none / 0) (#75)
    by Lil on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 07:51:19 PM EST
    and the Judge decides whether to give the jury the option?

    yes and all the (none / 0) (#123)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:12:21 PM EST
    defendant has to show to get it is "some evidence" which can be his own testimony.

    she needn't have the mustard or the swiss (none / 0) (#25)
    by cpinva on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 11:50:47 AM EST

    She only had 1/2 a ham sandwich and forgot the mustard.

    two slices of rye and a thin slice of ham will suffice.

    there are some things we do know, per the police report, and the police videotape:

    1. per the police report, mr. martin was found lying on his stomach, his hands underneath him. odd position for his body to be in, if he'd been on top of mr. zimmerman, pounding his head into the concrete sidewalk when he was shot. seems more likely that he would have either fallen backwards, landing on his back, or fallen sideways, still most likely ending up on his back.

    2. the police videotape of mr. zimmerman at the police station, taken roughly 40 minutes after the events in question, doesn't appear to show any readily identifiable injuries to mr.zimmerman's nose or the back of his head. further, there doesn't appear to be any blood on the front of his shirt or jacket, what one would expect, had he shot mr. martin in the chest, while mr. martin was straddling him and pounding his head into the concrete. one would expect mr. zimmerman's blood as well, from the broken nose he claimed to have sustaine at mr. martin's hands.

    presumably, the lab technicians will analyze the clothes mr. zimmerman was wearing that night, which state's atty. corey stated were taken as evidence. as well, the pictures taken, of mr. martin's body, as it was originally found, will be analyzed as well, to see if they match with the story told by mr. zimmerman.

    i suspect those two items are part of the reason state's atty. corey is less than impressed with mr. zimmerman's version of events, it doesn't seem to square with the physical evidence so far. again, this is all before the lab tech's finish their work. as well, the gentleman from the funeral home, who prepared mr. martin's remains for burial, has stated that he saw no signs, on mr. martin's hands, of damage consistent with the struggle described by mr. zimmerman.

    if mr. o'mara requests an "arthur" hearing, i assume more evidence will be presented, by the state, as proof that immunity under SYG shouldn't attach.

    sory, wrong hearing, (none / 0) (#26)
    by cpinva on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 11:57:07 AM EST
    i meant the SYG hearing, not a bond hearing.

    some of your facts are (none / 0) (#40)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 01:55:54 PM EST
    disputed, such as no visible injuries and the police report does reference both his injuries and that he said he was the one who cried out for help. I've posted the photos showing the injuries and what appears to be blood on the front of his jacket.

    Please state your opinion of disputed facts as your opinion.


    Because police never lie (none / 0) (#59)
    by expy on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 05:38:50 PM EST
    in their reports when describing physical injuries. (snark intended)

    the police report does reference both his injuries

    I can't count the number of cases I had where the police charged a client with "resisting arrest" and "assault on a police officer" and managed to describe minor scratches as if they were life-threatening injuries.  Of course, in every one of those cases, the arrested person had the crap beaten out of him... with no mention at all of those injuries.

    If you assume unbiased police officers, then you can take that report at face value. Given the fact situation, I think that assumption is unwarranted.  

    There apparently were EMT's at the scene who examined Zimmerman -- their treatment records will be much more significant than the police characterization.  If Zimmerman had visible physical injuries, the police would have / should have taken photos as well.  


    yes, let's wait and see (none / 0) (#67)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 06:52:27 PM EST
    what the medic reports Zimmerman said, his account of the treatment he provided in the back of the patrol car, photos taken that night and Zimmerman's medical records before claiming he had no injuries.

    Your anecdotal case provides no grounds for assuming the police report in this case is a lie.  We all know police sometimes lie. That argument, absent some evidence the police involved here have a history of false charging and false reporting, does not advance anything.


    I didn't say he had no injuries, (none / 0) (#80)
    by expy on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 10:30:30 PM EST
    I said there was no evidence of significant injuries that has been produced so far.  

    I'm not skeptical of Zimmerman's self-defense claim because of lack of medical records; I'm skeptical because the account is inherently improbable, given the time line of the 911 calls and Martin's call to his girlfriend. Of all the things Martin might do under the circumstances... attacking Zimmerman seems the least likely.

    That's important, because potential jurors who come to the same conclusion are less likely to find reasonable doubt via the Zimmerman narrative. And that goes back to another reason the prosecutor would want to go with 2nd degree murder: it gives the prosecutor the opportunity to construct a narrative that makes the idea of Martin-as-aggressor even less plausible.  


    if you want to argue for guilt (none / 0) (#125)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:24:11 PM EST
    you will be limited in your comments here. See our comment rules on chattering and blog-clogging. I've been very tolerant of your comments because you are a lawyer, but you are advocating for guilt, not impartially discussing the law or the facts. So please stop. Only one juror has to have a reasonable doubt for Zimmerman not to be convicted, if it gets to a jury. The state will have to prove to all of them that Zimmerman committed murder or a lesser included offense and that he did not act in self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

    We haven't yet heard an account from him personally, so to say his account is "inherently improbable" as if it's a fact is unacceptable. The phone friend's account, which was initially the product of an interview by Martin's lawyers, not a contemporaneous interview by police, is hardly determinative.


    Questions (none / 0) (#28)
    by ding7777 on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 12:18:53 PM EST
    Did  Trayvon Martin's father's girlfriend live in the gated community? If not, why was Trayvon there?

    Yes, she lived there. (none / 0) (#29)
    by Addison on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 12:23:08 PM EST
    yes, but his father did not (none / 0) (#35)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 01:28:59 PM EST
    His father visited on weekends from Miami, calling it a long distance relationship. Trayvon didn't live there, he was a houseguest, spending his suspension period there.

    Seems to me the length of time from (none / 0) (#31)
    by oculus on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 12:43:04 PM EST
    when Mr. Zimmerman first saw Mr. Martin to the moment Zimmerman pulled the trigger is probably relevant to this discussion.

    from the timed versions of the (none / 0) (#38)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 01:38:11 PM EST
    calls (you can listen with time stamps here) (the times of Zimmerman's call match the dispatcher's call log:

    7:09:34 Zimmerman starts police call (see dispatcher log)

    7:13:40 Zimmerman ends police call

    7:16:11 First 911 Call Received

    7:16:56 Gunshot heard during First and Second 911 calls

    Struggle first reported 2 minutes and 31 seconds after Zimmerman ends police call (7:16:11)

    Gunshot occurs 3 minutes and 16 seconds after Zimmerman ends police call (7:16:56)


    More than the "twinkling" (none / 0) (#48)
    by oculus on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 03:08:41 PM EST
    of an eye, etc.  

    The information provided by the (none / 0) (#32)
    by KeysDan on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 12:59:06 PM EST
    affadavit for an arrest warrant is scant but particularly so at its heart: Zimmerman confronted Martin and a struggle ensued; calls for help were made (citing the mother's identification as Trayvon), Zimmerman shot Martin in the chest, and Zimmerman admitted he shot Martin. The affadavit does conclude by underscoring that it was not a complete recitation of facts, only for a determination of probable cause.  

    However, given the background information up to this point, as scant as it is, much more information is provided.  The affadavit states that "he (Martin} was "profiled" by Zimmerman and this was based on race-neutral derogations of a class (plural not singular usage of the pejoratives ), enough so that Zimmerman called the non-emergency number to report his conclusion, not just suspicion, that Zimmerman disliked criminals and Martin was a criminal.   Martin was "scared" by a man following him.  Martin was "temporarily living" in the gated community (so he belonged there). While Angela Corey may not have felt it was necessary to provide more information about the struggle, a hint of physical evidence seems necessary in view of the charge.  

    From the affadavit, Zimmerman may get the following claims: He is not a  vigilante; he called police for help reporting his suspicions and characterizations.  As a long time community resident and volunteer "watchman" he would be aware of  most residents, and Martin was not known to him as Martin was a temporary resident.  The use of "profiling" by the prosecutor is likely to have race embedded in it, although Zimmerman can claim that his was a stereotyping of  those entering the gated community, unknown to him and up to no good.  Martin was scared of a man following him and that emotion may have a bearing in a struggle that ended so tragically.    Zimmerman's case, in my view, depends on the physical evidence related to those last seconds and how it corresponds with his testimony.

    Seems like it (none / 0) (#43)
    by Lora on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 02:35:06 PM EST
    "It seems to be just a story, intended to cover the gap in the intent requirement between murder 2 and manslaughter, in a way that that avoids the topic of race."

    Do parents or g.f. of parent generally (none / 0) (#52)
    by oculus on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 05:05:45 PM EST
    deliver such a warning now?  

    that comment was deleted (none / 0) (#56)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 05:26:08 PM EST
    for spreading false rumors. Zimmerman lived in the neighborhood. He was part of his watch group and if you listen to his prior 911 calls the city has made available you can hear him say so. As for whether he "patrolled" the neighborhood, I have no idea but he wasn't "patrolling" the night he shot Trayvon Martin, he was on his way to the store. Here's a photo of his watch id card from a segment on NBC news.

    The speculating based on reports is hard enough to manage, there's no need to spread unsourced rumors.


    A sourced rumor? (none / 0) (#62)
    by CoralGables on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 06:12:25 PM EST
    "he wasn't "patrolling" the night he shot Trayvon Martin, he was on his way to the store."

    Although it likely doesn't matter one way or the other, there is nothing at all to confirm this. The current reporting is that this was stated by Zimmerman's father the next day who wasn't present to know one way or the other.


    that one is not a rumor (none / 0) (#64)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 06:36:49 PM EST
    City of Sanford:

    Mr. Zimmerman was not acting outside the legal boundaries of Florida Statute by carrying his weapon when this incident occurred. He was in fact on a personal errand in his vehicle when he observed Mr. Martin in the community and called the
    Sanford Police Department.

    So, all that's required to stamp (5.00 / 0) (#77)
    by Anne on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 08:52:34 PM EST
    "truth" on anything is telling it to the police; that's a standard that may come back to bite Mr. Zimmerman squarely in the butt.

    Good to correct the source (none / 0) (#76)
    by Towanda on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 08:39:00 PM EST
    on that.  But, as a legal point:  Isn't that hearsay?  And can it be used?  

    That is, that's not Zimmerman's testimony; it's apparently what Zimmerman told police.  So although a police report certainly is not a rumor, it's also still not direct evidence/testimony, is it?  So if the defense lawyer asked that of whomever wrote the report, it could be challenged as hearsay, and it would have to be stated by Zimmerman himself?  (From whom we have not heard a word as yet, so anything that we have read other than what police directly witnessed, after the fact/shooting, is hearsay?)


    Statements attributed to Zimmerman in (none / 0) (#78)
    by oculus on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 09:18:09 PM EST
    In the reports may come in if admissions against his interest. Statements of witnesses. May be admissible to impeach that witness.  

    Related...does anyone know at what (none / 0) (#95)
    by ruffian on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 08:53:26 AM EST
    point Zimmerman was Mirandized?

    Unless (none / 0) (#105)
    by CoralGables on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 11:41:37 AM EST
    Zimmerman was at the City Managers house and stood up saying, I've got to run an errand to Target, an after the fact statement by the City Manager of Sanford defending his police department on what Zimmerman was doing would never see the light of day in court.

    Question? (none / 0) (#61)
    by Richjo on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 06:02:27 PM EST
    For Jeralyn or anyone else who might be able to answer.

    If it is Trayvon Martin yelling for help on the 911 call (I am not saying it is, but if it was), would the killing be a case of second degree murder?

    The post asks can the state prove... (none / 0) (#63)
    by magster on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 06:20:17 PM EST
    "Ill-Will, Hatred, Spite and Evil Intent" ?

    If you are on a jury and you are satisfied by the evidence the state presents at trial that that is Martin's voice and not Zimmerman's, what say you?

    Proving that the voice is Martin's and not Zimmerman's is the thing. I thought that voice analysis stuff floated around in the news a week or so ago was junk science.


    Voice analysis (none / 0) (#73)
    by expy on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 07:23:12 PM EST
    What was going on in the media was junk, not necessarily because the science is weak but because they didn't have the right data going in.  I don't think any conclusions could be reached unless there are exemplars of Martin's voice -- but I do think that it is possible that an expert could use voice analysis to compare the 911 tape to recordings of both Martin & Zimmerman. Martin's voice is likely to be preserved on voice mails & family videos.

    Whether it is admissible or not is hard to say, but it probably depends on the quality of available data as much as the state of the art of the science. Presumably the forensic experts at trial will have a lot more to work with.  


    How about the opposite question? (none / 0) (#131)
    by HighlyAdequate on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 07:39:59 PM EST
    What if it was Zimmerman who was screaming for help? How relevant might any of the questions people seem to be obsessing over -- e.g., who pursued whom, and at what points, and whether Zimmerman "profiled" Martin as a criminal -- be to the question as to whether Zimmerman killed Martin in self defense? Certainly whoever was screaming for help seemed to be in mortal terror. If it was Z., under what circumstances would it NOT be regarded as self defense?

    My own impression is that this entire case will hang on who was screaming for help. Insofar as there's good evidence that it was Z., or even if there is reasonable doubt as to whether it was Martin and not Z., then Z should be acquitted.

    I personally find it very hard to envision a realistic scenario under which it was Martin who was screaming. If Zimmerman already had complete physical control of Martin, why would he then go ahead and shoot Martin? I mean, I just don't believe many people are that pure in their evil, and I certainly see nothing in what's been revealed about Z to imagine that he's that kind of deranged sociopath. (And he's going to do so even knowing that others may be witnessing the act -- even if in fact no one actually saw the full incident -- and knowing that police he himself called might themselves have just come onto the scene?)


    "Insofar as there's good evidence (none / 0) (#132)
    by Angel on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 07:48:16 PM EST
    that it was Z."

    What evidence?


    Eyewitnesses (none / 0) (#133)
    by HighlyAdequate on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 08:04:55 PM EST
    Supposedly, there was at least one (possibly two) eyewitness who clearly stated that it was Z who was on bottom screaming.

    If that holds up, that would be good evidence. But, again, only reasonable doubt would seem required.

    And, again, this all makes me wonder if the "profiling" is even relevant -- unless there's evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that it was Martin who was screaming. In which case, the only real question would seem to be whether Z committed second degree murder or manslaughter. If, in fact, Z was the one on top, and the one callously listening to Martin's screams for help, and then choosing to kill Martin wantonly (i.e., despite the fact that he already fully controlled the situation), then I think there's a plausible case to put him in the same boat as the person who deliberately killed not one, but two, children by running them over.


    You are way behind. (none / 0) (#134)
    by Angel on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 08:21:19 PM EST
    There is evidence and there is opinion.  Trayvon Martin's mother said it way Trayvon screaming.  That's her opinion.  Some experts have come out and said it was Trayvon, and that it was unlikely it was Zimmerman.  That's their opinion.  Zimmerman's father and brother have said it was him screaming.  That's their opinion.  The point is, we don't know who it was that did the screaming.  The forensic experts will get to give their testimony in court.  And, there is more than the one witness you are referencing about Zimmerman being on bottom during the scuffle.  There is a female witness who said she saw Zimmerman on top of Martin.  So...go back and read through all of the posts on this topic and get back to us.  

    You're not making sense here... (none / 0) (#135)
    by HighlyAdequate on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 09:39:08 PM EST
    Look, if an eyewitness said (as he was both reported to have said, and as he clearly said in an actual TV interview) that it was Martin who was on top, and Z on the bottom, then that's good evidence that Z was on bottom. Perhaps it was contradicted by evidence from other eyewitnesses, so it may not have been conclusive. But it certainly would be good evidence; at absolutely bare minimum, it gives rise to very reasonable doubt that it was Martin who was on the bottom.

    And you are putting FAR too much weight on what you expect to hear from audio experts. The few genuinely credible experts who have commented on the case emphasize the great difficulty in coming up with anything resembling a conclusive case one way or another as to who was screaming, because screams over poor audio are exactly the sorts of cases in which truly positive IDs are nigh impossible to come by. I would be quite surprised if all credible experts were to conclude with any real degree of certainty that it was either Martin, on the one hand, or Z on the other.

    I would expect that we will be reduced to the reports of eyewitnesses. If at least one credible eyewitness says it's Z., then you've got all the reasonable doubt you need for Z's acquittal


    please remember (none / 0) (#66)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 06:47:14 PM EST
    to put urls in html format don't just copy them here because long urls skew the site. I can't edit comments, only delete them. Click on the link button at the top of your comment box. Or get a bitly or tinyurl for the link. I just had to delete a comment.

    Also, please try and keep your comments on topic, which is the state's theory, the affidavit, including the reference to profiling, and the charging decision of murder 2 vs manslaughter and self-defense and stand my ground.

    It is not what you speculate may have happened  based upon media reports you are reading or whether you think relatives of one side or the other or police are lying.

    To keep the medical report out of the record (none / 0) (#68)
    by diogenes on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 07:06:17 PM EST
    If Zimmerman takes a plea tomorrow to a reduced charge because he is spooked by the murder charge, then things like the EMT records, hospital records, and eyewitness statements won't enter the public record or be elaborated on in public testimony.  
    It is easy to say that the Florida cops didn't immediately arrest Zimmerman because of racism.  However, maybe he wasn't arrested immediately because the evidence and eyewitness statements at the site of the crime did not merit an immediate arrest as opposed to a slower investigation.  If that is true, however, there will be a lot of angry people including those who will say that Zimmerman is being railroaded for political reasons.  It's much easier on the DA to have him plead to a lesser charge as opposed to half of the country thinking that he did it and half thinking that he didn't.  

    what reason do you have for (5.00 / 1) (#74)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 07:47:06 PM EST
    thinking he might plead guilty to something tomorrow? Since his lawyer hasn't seen the evidence against him yet, I doubt he'd agree to plead him guilty to more than abandoning a parked vehicle or parking on the wrong side of the road at this point.

    "tomorrow" is sarcasm (none / 0) (#136)
    by diogenes on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:03:58 PM EST
    Let's just say that if Zimmerman pleads guilty to a lesser charge BEFORE discovery or before trial, a lot of evidence and testimony will never be heard.  

    Yeah. Why didn't the OJ prosecution (none / 0) (#72)
    by oculus on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 07:19:54 PM EST
    think of this?  (snk.)

    has it been reported (none / 0) (#81)
    by ZtoA on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 12:32:54 AM EST
    what injuries the body of young Mr. Martin sustained - other than the kill shot? Were there lacerations or bruises on the body? Is it known what the distance or angle of the bullet shot that killed him were? Sorry if I missed it....

    not known (none / 0) (#87)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 01:55:18 AM EST
    The only comment has been by funeral director who said he had no marks of a struggle. It's hardly an official report. He also didn't get the body for a few days, it stayed 39 hours at the medical examiner's office and then the funeral home waited another day to pick it up.

    According to the medical examiner. It picked up the body at the scene just after 10 p.m. Feb. 26 and notified a Fort Lauderdale funeral home 39 hours later that the body was ready. The funeral home, Roy Mizell and Kurtz, did not pick up the body for an additional 24 hours, the medical examiner reported.

    Volusia County spokesman David Byron said it would be impossible to find out the average length of time the medical examiner there keeps bodies, but said it can vary by several days, depending on circumstances -- for example, if there's a dispute among family members about what to do.

    The autopsy was done by the M.E. in Volusia County.


    are you suggesting the dead guys hand's healed? (none / 0) (#88)
    by expy on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 01:59:14 AM EST
    He also didn't get the body for four days,

    I don't think the funeral director will be testifying at trial in any case, nor do I think that the absence of lacerations on the hands means that Martin wasn't in a struggle .. but I figure that if there were abrasions on the hands the night the kid was killed, they would still be there 4 days later.  


    I don't recall a funeral director ever (none / 0) (#85)
    by oculus on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 01:22:15 AM EST
    commenting publicly in a pending criminal matter.  

    Another Question (none / 0) (#104)
    by Richjo on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:49:22 AM EST
    Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that a trial was intended to be a search for the truth. Defendants are innocent until proven guilty through a trial. Bringing someone to trial simply means that there is enough evidence to suggest that there should be an inquiry by an impartial body to investigate if a crime was committed by a particular individual. The fact that there may be evidence to suggest that a defendant may not be guilty does not mean that probable cause does not exist. The more I think about it, I find it hard to believe that someone could shoot and kill an unarmed person who had committed no crime and there not be probable cause to charge them.  At least in the absence of any testimony to collaborate their version of events, and in the clear presence of evidence which would seem to contradict it.
    I don't disagree that rampant speculation online and in the media is not helpful to the cause of justice here, but to deny that there ought to be a trial where a rigorous adversarial process can help seek out the truth seems just as wrong. That seems to be what is implied by the claim that there is no probable cause here, and the more I think about it, the more disturbing that thought becomes.

    In theory, yes (none / 0) (#108)
    by jbindc on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 11:58:54 AM EST
    However, many times, the ulitmate "truth" is not really known based on the Rules of Evidence and what can and cannot be presented at trial. But yes, a trial, in this case especially, seems to be the best course of action - if he can get a fair trial at this point because it's been such a circus and so many other issues have been litigated in the media, even though they probably have nothing to do with this case, that this is a tough job for the lawyers.

    The more I think about it, I find it hard to believe that someone could shoot and kill an unarmed person who had committed no crime and there not be probable cause to charge them.

    This happens all the time - someone breaks into a house (although unarmed), and the homeowner shoots and kills the intruder.  Many times no charges are brought, nor or any trials staged.

    At least in the absence of any testimony to collaborate their version of events, and in the clear presence of evidence which would seem to contradict it.

    You mean at the time of arrest, right?  Because at trial, the defense has to prove nothing.  They could sit there and play cards - they don't have to speak or provide any evidence, and if the prosecutor does not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant is found not guilty. (Which again, also does not mean the defendant is "innocent" or didn't commit the crime).


    Trials are not a search for the truth (none / 0) (#126)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:26:54 PM EST
    they are nothing more than a testing of the evidence to determine if the state has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

    How is that not a search for truth? (none / 0) (#130)
    by Richjo on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 03:46:45 PM EST
    Isn't the theory that given the fact that the questions being considered in a trial are not empirically verifiable; only by forcing the state to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt can we facilitate a system where truth is arrived at in the overwhelming majority of cases. It may be true that this standard can in particular cases lead to a verdict that is technically untrue; but the willingness to accept such verdicts as legitimate is not based on the idea that the criminal has a right to evade punishment for what they have done, but rather on the premise that any other standard would facilitate a system plagued by false convictions such that it could in no way claim to be effectively serving the pursuit of truth. A trial is a search for a certain kind of truth, the kind that should be pursued to ensure against the worse and most unacceptable types of untruth and injustice- that being the conviction of the innocent. We force the state to meet this extremely high burden because we are committed to the pursuit of truth to the greatest extent possible; and in a human (and thus imperfect) system some untrue verdicts are inevitable. The point is to minimize their occurrence, and avoid the most harmful and unjust kind.
    Having said that- I still am not sure that there has been a response to my original point/question. Let's say we accept that a trial is a search for the truth of whether the state can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed a crime. I am simply suggesting that whenever someone shoots an unarmed person who was not involved in the commission of any crime, it seems absurd to me to suggest that we ought not at least SEARCH for the truth about whether or not the state can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they did in fact commit a crime. A trial would be such a search, and in many ways it is the only legitimate one. This is because due to its adversarial nature it ensures that this decision will not be unilaterally made by parties who may be biased or have a vested interest in the outcome. As such I find the criticism of the prosecutor's actions in this case to be way off base. While one might suggest that her decision to charge may have been influenced by some external factors (media, political pressure, etc.); it is impossible to say that the same was not true of the decision not to charge Zimmerman in the first place. The difference is that the decision to charge will lead to a trial where the choice made the prosecutor will be tested against a very high burden of proof; whereas the decision not to charge (unless overturned) is final, absolute and not subject to any sort of accountability to control for possible bias. As so many are fond of pointing out, no one knows for a fact what happened that night. I think it would only be improper for second degree murder to be charged if the prosecutor did not believe that Zimmerman could be guilty of that. To not believe he could be guilty of that charge would require knowledge of the events of that night that no one but Zimmerman himself is privy to. He could have killed in self-defense, he also could have killed with ill-will, spite, and evil-intent. (Depending on who was screaming on that tape I strongly suspect it is one of these or the other.) By charging him with second degree murder he will either be convicted or acquitted on the grounds of self-defense. The charge seems completely appropriate because one of those is in all likelihood the correct outcome. Are we guaranteed the system will choose the right one of the two? No. But as long as the process of making that choice is fair, the fact that we may not get the right outcome in this one particular case is not grounds to claim the proceedings are illegitmate.  

    Here's how (none / 0) (#137)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:45:15 PM EST
    As former Chief Judge Richard Matsch wrote in an opinion granting separate trials for Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols:

    Trials, like all human events, are unpredictable. All of the participants interact in a public process, which, in essence, is an historical inquiry into past events to determine whether the prosecution has proved the defendants guilty of the crimes charged within the rules of evidence and the applicable law.

    The criminal justice system was not designed to solve all of society's ills. The Bill of Rights was designed to provide protection to the accused when the Government exercises its awesome power and charges that individual with a crime. For more, see one of my earlier posts, The Meaning of a Not Guilty Verdict.


    What is disturbing are (none / 0) (#139)
    by Rojas on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 07:44:36 AM EST
    Those who have a bias against the defendant in this case are content with an affidavit that does not meet the minimum objective standard.
    Probable cause first, trial second.

    That would be disturbing (none / 0) (#140)
    by Yman on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 08:00:59 AM EST
    OTOH, maybe some people just disagree with your opinion that the affidavit doesn't meet the probable cause standard.

    Perhaps they do (none / 0) (#141)
    by Rojas on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 08:41:42 AM EST
    But I've yet to see it articulated with any reasoning limited to that which is contained in the charging document.

    The judge disagrees (none / 0) (#142)
    by Yman on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 09:09:46 AM EST
    Don't know what you've seen, but "probable cause" is a very low standard to meet, there aren't many elements to second-degree murder, and it doesn't take much to lay out a primae facie case for second-degree murder.

    OTOH - if it's so obvious that the affidavit fails to meet the probable cause standard, should be an easy appeal ...


    Maybe Corey could be disbarred... (none / 0) (#143)
    by Gandydancer on Thu Apr 19, 2012 at 11:12:59 PM EST
    ...(and she probably should be, along with the magistate who approved it) but I'm not sure that any faults in the Affadavit of probable cause are grounds for appeal.

    Comments are closed (none / 0) (#152)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 03:21:03 PM EST
    Our threads close comments after three weeks.