While the February shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., was tragic, a special prosecutor has compounded the tragedy with a ludicrous charge.
Florida State Attorney Angela Corey has charged 28-year-old George Zimmerman with second-degree murder in the case that has galvanized the nation and stirred racial unrest. Martin was black and Zimmerman is Hispanic.
Second-degree murder was realistically the highest charge Corey could have come down with. First-degree murder would have required a grand jury and, quite frankly, requires premeditation or a few other elements that no one honestly believes applies here.
The second-degree murder charge is also a stretch.
Corey will have to convince a jury that Zimmerman acted with a depraved mind and with a complete disregard for human life. In other words, Zimmerman would have had to behave in a way that was imminently dangerous without a care about the harm it would cause others.
A neighborhood watch volunteer, legally carrying a concealed weapon, approaching a stranger in a gated community to inquire why he was there certainly does not reach the level of depravity and disregard for human life to warrant a second-degree murder charge. No reasonable person would expect that action would lead to the death of others. It is certainly not imminently dangerous.
His action is more reasonable given that Martin is a young black man and that demographic commits a disproportionate amount of crimes in this country, making Zimmerman’s suspicion reasonable.
Then there is the self-defense claim. Florida’s so-called stand-your-ground law makes it easy for a defendant to raise the defense. Traditionally, a self-defense claim could only be made at trial. However, under Florida’s law, Zimmerman will be able to raise the defense before trial. If the judge believes Zimmerman acted to prevent death or great bodily injury and was behaving in an otherwise legal fashion, which the evidence made public so far indicates, the judge can dismiss the case.
Of course, what judge is going to do that when you have violent radicals such as the New Black Panthers putting a bounty on the head of Zimmerman? A judge would dismiss this case before trial at risk of great personal harm to himself, which is the real tragedy of this whole thing. Clearly, this is mob justice at work.
If the judge does not dismiss the case, the defense can be raised again during the trial.
Corey’s actions are somewhat puzzling.
From the evidence made public so far, it is strange that Corey went for such a harsh charge. If convicted, Zimmerman faces a minimum of 25 years in prison and could be sentenced to life. All for defending himself against a violent thug who was viciously beating him.
Now, it is possible, though unlikely, that Corey has some damning evidence against Zimmerman that has not been made public. If that is true, then more power to her.
It is more likely, however, the Corey is simply buckling to the political pressure to charge Zimmerman. Perhaps she hopes to convince Zimmerman to plead to a lesser charge. We know Zimmerman, against the advice of his attorneys, has already spoken to Corey. Perhaps there is already a deal in the works.
There is also the possibility that whichever side is losing at trial will ask the judge to allow the jury to consider the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Then there is also the possibility that Corey believes Zimmerman should not be charged with a crime and is seeking the maximum charge knowing he will be acquitted of that charge. That is unlikely, though, because prosecutors love winning more than they love justice.
No matter how you slice it, however, it appears that there is no justice for George Zimmerman. In addition to Corey’s harsh charge, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, also black, has announced a separate investigation into the shooting for civil rights violations. Holder is the same man who refused to prosecute New Black Panthers for voter intimidation when they were caught on video preventing whites from voting in the 2008 presidential election.
As Americans, we expect the judicial system to be fair and impartial. However, when those judicial officers succumb to the pressure of the mob, justice suffers.