BY MOHAMED MATOPE
As the Trayvon Martin’s case was unfolding, I had to admit that I developed obsessive compulsive disorder with the case, I followed every bits of it ,I listened every single witnesses on the case , I listened defense lawyers and State prosecutors opening statements and closing arguments ,above all, I completely abstained myself from listening to the mainstream media’s opinions on the case. I just wanted to formulate my own judgment and overall, to better understand of US criminal law and its application in to the justice system.
Let me put the facts of this case into a prospective incase you did not follow it; The 17-year-old,trayvon Martin, who is black, was walking to a friend’s home in a gated community in Sanford, Florida., when a neighborhood-watch volunteer, 28-year-old George Zimmerman, spotted him. Zimmerman called the cops to report a suspicious person. They told him not to follow. “This f**kin punks always get away,” Zimmerman told dispatch in a 911, and he kept tracking Trayvon. Zimmerman had a gun. Trayvon was carrying only an ice tea and the Skittles he had just bought at the convenience store. The two had a confrontation that no one vividly witnessed, since it was dark and raining. Nearly 4 minutes after he spotted Trayvon, Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon at close range with one bullet to the chest. Hearing shots, neighbors called 911. In one call that’s hard to listen to, a woman anxiously says she can hear someone calling for help while in the background, a terrified, wailing voice pleads, "help”, “help” Zimmerman admitted that he shot Trayvon , and claimed he did so in self-defense.
Zimmerman claims he pulled his gun and fired because he feared for his life, which is the basis of Florida's stand-your-ground law. The 2005 legislation says a person who believes that he's in imminent danger has "no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force if the person is in a place where he or she has a right to be." In other way, this law allows people to defend themselves with force, including deadly force, if they feel threatened in their home, business, car, or a place where they "have a legal right to be" — rather than avoiding or pulling away from the confrontation, the law allows people to shot first then argue for justified homicide afterward.
Despite the question of "stands your ground" laws and the critical question of self-defense, this trial was also about race. Had this case involved two individuals of the same race, the story would have gained no national exposure. But from the very beginning, the issue of race has been central to this story. According to the testimonies and witnesses on the case, it was very clear that, Zimmerman profiled Trayvon because he was black guy wearing hood sweatshirt, walking in the neighborhood that have been burglarized by black guys in the past.
On Saturday, a jury of six women (five whites and one Hispanic) found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder. A legal finding of not guilty, however, does not absolve Zimmerman of the fact that he took the life of a teen who was simply returning from the store with a box of Skittles — a teen who would be alive today if the neighborhood watch member had not initiated a confrontation, then escalated it by pulling a gun.The fact of the matter is, had Zimmermann stayed in his truck, as he was directed by 911 dispatcher who told him not to follow Trayvon, we wouldn’t be here talking about this case today.
It is very difficult for me to wrap my mind around the legalities of Florida’s interpretation of self defense statue, the fact that, you’re a black kid walking home from a convenience store with Skittles and a fruit drink, a 28 year old man is watching and trailing you with his truck, then he gets out of the truck and follows you thinking “your up to no good”. He can disobey a police dispatcher who tells him he doesn't need to follow the 17-year-old. When the teen, who happens to be going back to his parent’s house, gets upset that some stranger is following him and the two wind up in a fight, the man can pull out a concealed gun and shoot him dead. Then he can claim self-defense even though he was the one who provoked the confrontation. And the aggressor ended up found no guilt with any crime on the justice system, and walk away free, as free as you and me, without even misdemeanor conviction on his record.
The jury felt that Zimmerman acted in self-defense or, and abundantly clear that the state failed to prove the second degree murder case against Zimmerman ,partly due to the burden that was placed upon the state to prove second degree murder or manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt, considering the case was argued based on the words of Zimmerman against the words of Trayvon, and Trayvon was absent, I mean dead . The jury’s conclusion was terrible, because, no matter what the legal definitions that guided the jury, it seems impossible that someone’s young son, guilty of nothing, should die while his killer walks scot free with law on his side. To sum this all up… if the law was properly applied in this case and the verdict was impartial, and the ruling was just, then the legal system sucks.