_by David E. Petzal
On April 11, Florida Special Prosecutor Angela B. Corey announced at a press conference that George Zimmerman would be indicted for second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. She prefaced this by informing the world that her team of investigators were fearless defenders of the victim, yet mindful of the rights of the accused; immune to political pressure from anyone; compassionate yet strict; enforcers not of public opinion, but of Justice. She did not say that hers was the greatest assemblage of legal minds since the drafting of the Magna Carta in 1215, but that was probably because she forgot. It reminded me of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote: “The louder he spoke of his virtue, the faster we counted our spoons.”
In all likelihood, we will never know the complete truth about what happened in the death of Trayvon Martin, but I think I can guarantee that whatever took place, George Zimmerman will go to prison.
He is guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt, of three counts of SWA–Stupid While Armed–and there is always a penalty for that.
Count One: He chose to carry a gun, despite being prohibited from doing so by the Neighborhood Watch, so he was automatically wrong no matter what happened.
Count Two: When he chose to pursue Martin, despite the police dispatcher’s telling him to stand down, he was automatically wrong, no matter what happened.
Count Three, which rises to Grossly Aggravated SWA: He shot someone who was unarmed. If you’re going to do that, and not go to prison, the guy you shoot had better have your spleen in his hands when you pull the trigger.
But how about the No-Retreat (Stand Your Ground) law? Permit me to quote a judge of my acquaintance.
“The No-Retreat law is a defense available in Florida, but it has to be established by the defendant to the jury’s satisfaction–it’s not an automatic ‘get out of jail free’ card.
“And whether or not the defense will succeed will depend on a lot of factors, especially on the defendant’s ability to establish [by evidence other than his unsupported testimony] that he was justified. This is the cautionary part–better make sure that you can back it up if you’re going to rely on the No-Retreat law. Much better to retreat if you can do so safely.”
So what will happen now? A trial will take place. The verdict will be guilty. Everyone concerned will get their time on camera, as will everyone with a cause connected to the case. It will be written and talked about endlessly. And when this sorry, tiresome dance is done, if I were George Zimmerman, I would be thinking hard about how I wanted to decorate my prison cell.