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home : opinions : opinions May 22, 2015

7/16/2013 6:03:00 AM
Editorial: Legal system worked as always

The effects of Saturday's verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial have rippled across the country. Aside from Monday-morning quarterbacking and being fodder for office discussions, its impact and discussions will be varied.

Homicide trials are not simple. In this case, the prosecution did not prove its case. We can say that because the jury said so. One of the two people who know the truth is dead, and the other one stood accused of murder.

All the while, we surmise that Zimmerman could have done what a police dispatcher told him to do. He did not. We would not have heard about him and Trayvon Martin would have been able to go home that fateful Sunday.

However, again, it is not that easy.

A Florida jury decided that Zimmerman is not guilty of murder or manslaughter in the death of Martin. Pending review by the U.S. Justice Department, Zimmerman could face a civil rights trial.

Calls across the country have sounded again: "The judicial system is broken."

Looking at the disparity of sentences as well as the concept of paid, expert witnesses, we cannot say that the system has ever been perfect. Even the use of DNA evidence continues to confound - and even sets some convicts free.

The Zimmerman trial also calls into question how neighborhood watch programs should or should not work moving forward. A volunteer for such a program in his neighborhood, Zimmerman had on his side Florida's permissive "stand your ground" gun law.

Yet, despite the verdict, these issues will not go away. Will block watch volunteers change their focus? Could authorities have investigated better or differently? Did anyone rush to judgment?

Thankfully, the case was aired in open court before a jury of Zimmerman's peers. Guilt in this case was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

And, as the system is set up, that's how it works.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, July 20, 2013
Article comment by: Zimmerman Failed to Protect

Showing clean up face, notice the red marks and straighten nose, http://www.craigboyce.com/w/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/george-zimmerman-injuries-0004.jpeg

Showing Zimmerman's gun, notice the pointed projections on the slide, back of the gun, http://www.wtsp.com/images/640/360/2/assetpool/photogallery/255685/DSCN0250.jpg

Bloody smashed nose before clean up and straightned. http://i1.wp.com/www.thebrennerbrief.com/wp-content/uploads/zimmerman-injury.jpg?resize=360%2C203

What I have presented in these photos shows the likely cause of Zimmerman's injury to the face as caused by the impact of the slide moving back absorbing with the recoil of the gun. The fang points on the back of the gun slide hit Zimmerman and left the marks, and smashed his nose.

Nothing else is being said about legal issues or values, right or wrong. Only a more likely cause of the injury.

I once was sent into a garage to find the welder. I could find all evidence of welding, sticks, slag, gloves and heavy cables, but no welder. After a number of tries, the owner walked in and put his hand on it. I was expecting a box. I had never seen a navy yard cylindrical welder. So it became invisible. It appeared like magic one it was pointed out. It's the power of our cognitive biases over our perceptions. (Are you going to believe your lying eyes? Well, no because the brain is filtering what we perceive, unlike touch which is direct, like hot-cold.)

The police expected the nose injury having been caused by a fist, and that what they found.

Have another look at the evidence.

Posted: Saturday, July 20, 2013
Article comment by: Letís SeeÖ

@Think Much
@Ignorance is not bliss, Itís just ignorance
@Tom Bowden
I donít think that race has anything to do with this case. It wouldn't have mattered if Trayvon Martin was green and came from mars, we still have a dead, unarmed 17 year old who was killed by an armed adult. If Martin had any type of weapon, even a one inch pen knife, I would agree with your reasoning, but he didn't. Walking through a neighborhood at night or even punching someone in the nose isn't a capitol offence, yet Zimmerman deprived him of his life for just that. Zimmerman decided to be judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one. If Zimmerman gets off without any sanctions, it sends a message to every other overzealous rent-a-cop that it is ok to shoot anyone you want (armed or unarmed) as long as you have a good story and a few superficial wounds. Letís hope that at least the civil suit against Zimmerman is successful.

Posted: Saturday, July 20, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Bowden


Unless I missed it, you deftly avoided what I consider to be maybe THE key question: "Where is there one spec of evidence they (cops) are either lairs, or utter fools that were outwitted by George Zimmerman, the master criminal?"

It could have happened differently just because it could have happened differently, may be technically true, but doesn't seem like a real serious argument. Blunt Truth said it below (or something very similar) and I've come to believe it is 90-95% true: Many Black leaders (particularly those that make their living shouting about racism) wanted Zimmerman found guilty solely because he is not Black. White liberals wanted Zimmerman found guilty solely because he used a gun for self defense. That is the ultimate crime in their book. It flies in the face of their political dogma on the subject, and undermines their constant efforts to circumvent the 2nd Amendment. The last thing in the world they want to see are very public cases of regular folks using firearms for self defense. His ACTUAL guilt or innocence (of the specific crimes of murder or manslaughter, not bad judgment) seems to have been very unimportant to both these groups. Criminal trials are not supposed to be motivated by racial bias and/or political bias. This one was.

Posted: Saturday, July 20, 2013
Article comment by: On reason the race problem is getting worse in this country

Barack Obama sees himself as Trayvon Martin's President, but not George Zimmerman's.

Posted: Saturday, July 20, 2013
Article comment by: Zimmerman Failed

@And it proceeds

You did not look at the photos. The cleaned up Zimmerman showing his injury. Notice the defense kept the focus on the back of his head.

I don't think it takes special eyes, if you were not looking in the first place. I rejected that model/brand for precisely the angle cut at the back of slide (stupid really). No BS, go check the photo for the fang marks. I caught it the first time.

The fact that he was a visitor, changes nothing of Zimmerman's failed block watch protection program, and only reveals a bias. Bias, as in not knowledgeable to the individual in influencing perception and decision making. It's pretty obvious to persons aware of the bias.

I catch myself every while. The racism was put in me as a child and it's still going around. Don't assume too much of what I know, "about a whole lot of everything, everything that's ever been, that's the deal were dealing in" (FZ).

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Article comment by: Jesse .

The law is there for a reason.
The person whom breaks the law loses.
The person whom abides the law wins.
Get over it all.

Focusing another point, Mr, obama has divided this country in such a way that is parallel to pre civil rights act of 1964.

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Von Deck

@Tom Bowden: A fair amount of what George was saying was corroberated by forensic evidence and witnesses. That seemed to be mostly related to who was on top of whom while the shot was fired, the angle of the shot, etc. I think that there's general consensus that Trayvon ended up on top. As for what happened before the struggle, these experts can only guess. He had a pretty simple story, and they tried to throw a barrage of questions at George to see if he would slip up. It's pretty easy to just repeat over and over again that Trayvon turned the tables around, followed him and "slipped out of the bushes". You can compare phone records and try to map out a timeline that ends where the struggle happened, but there's still nothing that really favors Rachel or George. About the "prejudices" thing, it can be pretty difficult to not filter this stuff through are preconceived ideas about who all these players are. Most of us don't really know these people, but it's easy to fill in the blanks sometimes. Our backgrounds and past experiences often play a role in that type of process.

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Bowden

Tom Von Deck: I respect the fact you are usually thoughtful and respectful, even when we don't agree on a subject. I hope I will do the same while disagreeing. In this case, you list 3, I could list 10 scenarios and then say, hey, it could have been any on the 10. That seems a meaningless exercise, considering we were both about as far away from Sanford, FL as you can get in the USA on the night in question. I, instead, will again point out the Police Detectives that investigated the incident that night, and over the next days/weeks believed Zimmerman told the truth. That's not picking one of the 3 based on my "prejudices" as you suggest I (and others) have done (which, as an aside seems to be pretty close to saying anyone that believes Zimmerman is a racist. I trust that's not what you are saying). For me, trusting the cops is accepting the analysis and conclusions of the professionals who were there, and who investigate shootings for a living. Where is there one spec of evidence they (cops) are either lairs, or utter fools that were outwitted by George Zimmerman, the master criminal? If it is 2 or 3 on your list, Zimmerman was able to fool them completely, as well as somehow hide any and all evidence 2 or 3 is what happened. All in the minutes before the cops arrived because he had already called them. Really, that's what you think?

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Von Deck

Scenario 1: George follows Trayvon while calling 911 and and dispatch says "we don't need you to (follow)." George listens to the dispatcher, goes back to the truck and gets jumped by Trayvon who was waiting for George in the Bushes.

Scenario 2: Trayvon gets followed by George and then loses him after sprinting a ways. George keeps up with him, confronts him physically somehow after saying "what are you doing round here" and Trayvon says "get off....get off".

Scenario 3: Trayvon gets followed by George and then loses him. Trayvon sees George again and hides in the Bushes, then confronts him and it turns into a fight.

Too many experts here think they have the right story based on their own character prejudices and who seems more credible as a witness. We'll never know which of these three events happened. That is one reason for the acquittal. Is it too painful not to jump to conclusions and just say "I don't know?"

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Article comment by: J B

Have you seen the statue of justice with it's scales to weigh evidence and noticed that it has a blindfold on? Justice is blind. It doesn't see what color people are or their political affiliation.

Al Sharpton says the verdict is wrong because Trayvon was black and Zimmerman was white.

Have you seen photos of Trayvon other than a closeup of his head when he was about 12? There's a photo of him in a store that shows he's big. He was in a football program. I've also heard that he didn't live in that area but 200 miles away. He was visiting his father's girlfriend because he was suspended from school because of a burglary where he had 7 pieces of jewelry and a screwdriver in his backpack. This information was not offered because the school police chief didn't report the crime so he could keep his crime statistics low.

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Bowden

Let's see: You obviously do not understand what is required for a conviction of manslaughter (you also seem to be bringing a fair amount of pre-conceived bias to the issue). You seem to think it is some sort of automatic fall back position if murder cannot be proved. It's not. It's a different crime, with a distinct set of criteria/elements used for determining guilt. You still have to be able to prove that guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt. The Prosecutors did not (even after withholding evidence). That is the common assessment among most legal experts, even among some very liberal ones like Alan Dershowitz and others. But you know better? And where did you earn that law degree, if I might ask? I may be old fashioned, but I'm a little shocked by people saying "no one knows what happened but he should be convicted anyway". "Just because" is apparently the criteria you are using. It seems you have zero respect for the concept of "innocent UNTIL proven guilty". Why, because he's a White-Hispanic perhaps (or just the White?, or just the Hispanic?). When people make such irrational statements, I wonder about motives.
I could be wrong, but I get the feeling yours are not very positive.

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Article comment by: Think Much

Let's see: "Someone ended up dead, therefore it's manslaughter" is nonsense. If no one knows if there was a crime committed, there is reasonable doubt, by definition. You don't get to just make assumptions. And seriously, why don't you learn some of the facts that were discussed endlessly during the trial:
1. He (Zimmerman) was outside the car when he was talking to the 911 operator. He did not get out of the car after the call.
2. He had a license to carry a CCW. He had every right to do so.
3. Following a stranger is not a crime and utterly appropriate for Neighborhood Watch.
4. Why do you think Neighborhood Watch programs were developed, and exist, with the full support of Police Departments everywhere?
5.The 911 operator did not instruct him to do anything, he said "we do not need you to do that" when Zimmerman told him he was following, to be able to answer the 911 operators previous question which was : "Where is he (Martin) now?"
5. Zimmerman called 911, he was the only one that wanted to cops there, do you think it was to arrest him for the crime he intended to commit when he called them?
Really man (or woman) think about it, you clearly haven't yet.

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Article comment by: Ignorance is not bliss, It's just ignorance

Let's see: Tell yourself any fantasy you wish to support your political or racial bias but here is the simple truth:
The police detectives that investigated the incident in real time (they were actually there, not 3000 miles away) said every bit of physical evidence supported Zimmerman's story and that repeated interviews with Zimmerman by pros over many days designed to trip him up never did so. The lead investigator UNDER OATH swore, after investigating, talking to witnesses, reviewing all the physical evidence and the endless interviews with Zimmerman "I BELIEVED HIM" Now, we can ignore his opinion, and accept yours instead, because here from Prescott after a few hours of watching Sharpton on TV you know better, or we can demonstrate we have a modicum of common sense. I'm going with the later.

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Article comment by: 60 Grit

Buckey Chuckey -- I assume you live somewhere around here, but you seem blissfully unaware that AZ did not vote for Obama. Not one Electoral College vote. Maybe you should find a conservative state to go post comments to.

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Article comment by: Letís SeeÖ

@Think Too Much.
Zimmerman made the choice to leave his car with a loaded handgun in order to pursue Martin against the advice of the 911 operator. The result was a dead 17 year old unarmed kid. While there is probably enough reasonable doubt to acquit Zimmerman of murder, there is certainly enough negligence on Zimmermanís part to warrant a manslaughter conviction. No matter what the other extenuating circumstances, when Zimmerman chose to pursue Martin with a loaded gun he crossed the line between concerned citizen and vigilante.

@Ignorance is not bliss, Itís just ignorance
Your version of events that night directly mirrors the story told by Zimmerman (a man who would say anything to get out of a murder charge) and his defense team. It is far from proven. In truth, we have a dead, unarmed 17 year old and an adult with a gun and a story. We donít know what really happened and Martin canít tell his side.

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Article comment by: And it proceeds to get even more ridiculous

Zimmerman failed: I'll give you this, you are more creative than most of the anti-gun bigots.
You don't think the cops that looked at his injuries in person immediately following the incident would have noticed? Ah, I'll bet they don't have "special eyes" like you do. Laughable. You're agenda is painfully obvious. As someone said below Zimmerman's crime in the eyes of white liberals is that he used a gun in self defense. The one thing that is unforgivable.
Oh, and Trayvon wasn't a resident, he was a visitor to his Father's girlfriends house. As usual, no knowledge of even the most basic facts.

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Article comment by: Zimmerman failed to Protect Resident Trayvon

Take another look at Zimmerman's photos. There are two red marks on cheek, at the line with the nose. Match that up with the gun and the slide. Then, you will see the bruising on the side of the noise from where the slide recoil hit him. Like fangs, the back is cut at about 45 degrees, leaving two sharp points on the slide that match the red marks on the cheek at the nose. Once you see that photo with this understanding, you know how bad the prosecutors were.
The gun problem is easy to solve. Lower the age of carrying a concealed hand gun.

"The only cure for a bad man with a gun, is a good man with a gun" or a teenager.

I'll be taking collections for disadvantaged youth to own hand guns where their parents can't afford to buy them one. That will end racism.

Seriously, check out those first night photos of Zimmerman.

Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2013
Article comment by: Buckey Chuckey

Bush was a saint compared to devil Obama.

This is the change you all voted for.

Good luck with all that.

Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2013
Article comment by: Think Much

Let's See: No one knows what happened and that supports a conviction for manslaughter. Actually, no it doesn't. Let me help: NO ONE REALLY KNOWS WHAT HAPPENED (your words) = reasonable doubt. See, it's not hard.

Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2013
Article comment by: Ignorance is not bliss, It's just ignorance

Dear Good Guy: Sorry, but you sound like someone that didn't watch any of the trial just caught the "summary" from Al Sharpton on MSNBC every night. George Zimmerman is a Neighborhood Watch Captain and was in his own neighborhood. He wasn't out cruising the streets of Sanford looking for trouble. Neighborhood Watch Programs are encouraged and supported by Police Departments across the country. Their purpose is to report suspicious activity so crimes can be prevented BEFORE they happen. This specific neighborhood has had a lot of recent property crime. Zimmerman sees a stranger (Martin didn't live there, he was visiting) walking through the neighborhood after dark, he follows the stranger a bit and then he calls 911 asking that a cop come and check it out. As he had stopped to call, he lost sight of Martin. The Dispatcher asked "where is he now" and Zimmerman started after Martin to be able to answer the question and told the Dispatcher what he was doing. The Dispatcher said "we don't need you to do that" and at that point ZIMMERMAN STARTED BACK TO HIS VEHICLE. Trayvon then bum rushes him out of the dark, sucker punches him breaking his nose and knocks him to the ground, and starts the "ground and pound". Zimmerman shots Martin. If you see defending yourself from a serious beating any way you can as being a pathetic coward, sign me up. If you are one of those brilliant folks that believe no damage can be done with fists, feet and concrete, I'll refer you to the FBI website to see more people are murdered each year with bare hands/feet than with assault rifles. Seriously learn the facts, you're embarrassing yourself here. You're not alone but that's no excuse. Here's the thing, you sucker punch a stranger, knock him to the ground, then jump on him, rain blows down on his face, you are responsible for what happens next. Lesson here: Do not attack people just for following you just because they are a"creepy cracka". Yeah, add to everything else, Martin was a bit of a racist. And, don't get me started on Trayvon's drug use, punching the school bus driver, the photos of the underage girls on his phone, bragging about loving to fight, the burglary tools and women's jewelry he was caught with, and so on. Suffice to say this was no angelic 12 year old as the media would have you believe.

Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2013
Article comment by: Dear Guy Good

You provided exactly what I Needed with your response, thank you. I am not blaming the jury here, but I think the laws of Florida are the problem. In my original comment I wrote I thought George Zimmerman was a pathetic coward, I think that is signifigant here. It was about perception not reality. Trayvon Martin certainly got hassled by Mr. Zimmerman, we don't know how. My gut tells me Trayvon overreacted. But, Mr. Zimmerman's injuries are minor and indicative of a scuffle, not a life threatening beating. It was Mr. Zimmerman's perception that allowed him to kill Trayvon Martin, not the reality. Again I think George Zimmerman is a pathetic coward. By the way, what does a gay rapist have to do with anything?

Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2013

On the night Zimmerman defended himself using our second amendment rights.

Everything else you saw in court was a sad attempt by Eric Holder and Obama to make us afraid to use our second amendment rights.

Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Article comment by: The Rev

Believe they should have gone after George on negligent homicide and that alone. Trayvon was in the wrong but George helped get him there.

Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Article comment by: B W

Two issues seem clear to me. First, if you are presenting an affirmative defense, Not Guilty by reason of self-defense or Not Guilty by reason of insanity, you, by virtue of that claim are asserting you have done nothing incriminating and therefore you should be compelled to be a witness. Second, pre-empery challenge is being used to skew juries. I say only allow lawyers to exclude potential jurors based on answers to the questionnaire, without any identifying data, no race, no age, no gender, then randomly select from the pool. Also, employ professional Jury Forepersons, that way the jury has some guidance and can't be run amok by powerful personalities or foolish interpretation of law or practice.

Posted: Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Article comment by: Blunt Truth

Zimmerman's only real crime as far as the Black activist community is concerned? He's not Black. Zimmerman's only real crime as far as white liberals are concerned? He used a gun in self defense. Neither of those groups cares a whit about the truth.

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