My main job that pays the bills is that of a private investigator in Sacramento, CA. My background includes military police in the Air Force and civilian law enforcement. Like much of America, I’ve been engrossed in the details of the Zimmerman/Martin case. I was born and raised in Orlando, Florida. This incident occurred in the nearby community of Sanford, Florida where I used to host a daily midday talk radio show in the mid 90’s.
One of the main aspects that isn’t being discussed much by the talking heads regarding the George Zimmerman trial is the likelihood of the all female jury to perceive Zimmerman’s actions as BOTH ‘self defense’ AND ‘excessive’ in nature. (I pointed out the all women aspect, but I think an all male jury would also likely see this aspect in the shooting.)
The result is very disconcerting and controversial…It is very possible that as a result of seeing Zimmerman’s actions as both self defense AND unreasonably excessive, the jury decides to go with the lesser included offense the judge allowed for their consideration, that being ‘manslaughter’. The HUGE problem with this is that by current Florida law (and I find this to be a travesty of justice) the jury is not allowed to be informed – they are specifically NOT informed – about penalties attached to the charges they are to consider…they are therefore specifically not informed of the unusually SEVERE penalty that is currently attached to ‘manslaughter’ in Florida, especially with the aggravated factors strongly increasing the penalty in his case, including the use of a firearm and the victim being under the age of 18.
Recently CNN reported that the charge of ‘manslaughter’ including those aggravating factors of the victim being under the age of 18 and the use of a firearm in the act, can carry up to 30 years for Zimmerman…Unbelievably, it carries conceivably as much as 2nd degree murder. Many people including myself do not believe a 2nd degree murder charge is remotely supported at all by the facts of the case. There is a large amount of reasonable doubt that Zimmerman had any ‘malice aforethought’ to stalk and kill Trayvon Martin. I mean, he wants to stalk and kill him, but he calls 911 first? That doesn’t add up.
The facts strongly point to an unexpected physical altercation taking place that in my opinion escalated and involved Zimmerman likely pulling his firearm in the middle of it, if not even at the beginning. The altercation most likely resulted in a fight for control of the gun. Neither he nor Trayvon may have initially intended to use the gun, but once it is seen, they both may then think the other is going to use it. Then they ironically are BOTH in fear for their life. The problem is, Zimmerman was a much larger adult male, and Trayvon was a smaller, thinner, albeit a bit taller 17 year old. (Zimmerman has gained 125 pounds since the incident, but was very strong and fit at the time of the shooting)
Back to my initial point: Many ‘reasonable’ people on a jury would see the insertion of a gun in such a physical confrontation by an adult with a young 17 year old kid as ‘excessive’ force, even if he was getting the worst of some punches in the fight. It is reasonable therefore, if the jury feels that way, to go with a verdict of manslaughter because of the perceived unnecessary use of ‘deadly force’ in self defense.
Zimmerman has said that Trayvon had him on his back, pinned, knees in his armpits. That makes it impossible to at that point be able to ‘draw’ the firearm as he has maintained. How could both facts be true? This is undoubtedly going to be a question the ladies of the jury will be asking themselves. Which means it is most likely as I said above, that Zimmerman had introduced the firearm early on, and that is the contributing factor to a reasonable perception of excessive force during the physical fight, resulting in a possible manslaughter charge.
Manslaughter is similar in many respects, if not often synonymous with ‘negligent homicide’, like in such a possible scenario of excessive self defense. The problem is, the jury that otherwise would see manslaughter as a ‘reasonable’ alternative to 2nd degree murder would likely NEVER opt for that compromise verdict if they were properly and fully informed of the surprisingly HUGE 20 to 30 year penalty such a ‘lesser included offense’ compromise would bring Zimmerman.
What do you think this all female jury is going to do? Do you believe they are going to completely acquit Zimmerman? Do you think it is right for Florida’s justice system to include such a ‘lesser included offense’ and not make sure the jury is fully informed of the penalty attached to each charge? Someone recently commented to me about the injustice of the prosecution actually being allowed to wait until the 11th hour to add such ‘lesser charges’ such as manslaughter, when they perceive the primary charge they built their case on appears to be losing with the jury. Shouldn’t the justice system of course require that any charges the prosecution feels are applicable be included at the very beginning, and explained to the jury at that time, with no opportunity to re-create their case depending on how it appears to be going at the end?
Actually, the prosecution even tried to include another lesser offense of ‘felony child abuse’ at the 11th hour that was all but laughed out of court by the judge and denied. Similarly, with aggravating factors, even felony child abuse in Florida would have carried a similar penalty as 2nd degree murder. How would you react if you were on the jury, voted for the manslaughter ‘lesser included’ offense, only to find the penalty was practically the same as 2nd degree murder?