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Old Fri, 13th Apr '12, 10:53pm   #1
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Default The elephant in the room -- Martin and Zimmerman

I'm really surprised no one has started a thread on this. it's pretty big here in North America. I'm going to assume we all have a working knowledge of the situation.

There are two ways to look at this. One is that the shooting was justified, the other is that it wasn't. I'll start with:

JUSTIFIED

Teenagers today are often snotty little bastards.* They have little to no respect for anyone, and reasonable requests to them are met with arrogance, rudeness, and intimidation laden posturing. I've worked with kids like this, and I've seen it firsthand. So Zimmerman's contention that the Miller got aggressive and physically assaulted him are not beyond the realm of possibility. A teen Miller's age could easily inflict serious bodily harm or even death on someone, and we all know how popular culture glorifies that sort of nonsense -- think curb stomping and the like. If Zimmerman felt he was about to be injured or killed, that's a good enough reason to cap your opponent, especially if the opponent is not likely to be phased by the mere threat of the gun, and likely has the reflexes to disarm you.

Any claims that Miller was a sweet, innocent darling are somewhat undercut by the fact that he had recently been in trouble at school -- suspended, IIRC, possibly expelled. His reputation is not snow white.

NOT JUSTIFIED

Zimmerman was told point blank by the 911 operator to walk the other frigging way. He perversely ignored that advice and confronted Miller. Teens aren't the only ones who can be snotty little bastards. Zimmerman may have been acting with excessive machisimo himself, and perhaps Miller merely turned his back on him or pushed him away in self defense. God knows, Miller was not carrying housebreaking tools or a big bag or heroin -- he was carrying candy, FFS. The alleged beating he attempted to lay down on Zimmerman is by no means a rock solid fact. Zimmerman's reputation in this matter is not snow white either. A case could be made he was looking to assert himself and make some trouble.

CONCLUSION

Who the hell knows? Thoughts? Opinions? Rants?

*I'm not saying all teens are like that, but a lot of them are. If you've never set foot in a North American classroom, you really have no clue.
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Old Fri, 13th Apr '12, 11:07pm   #2
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I think you mean Martin, not Miller.

We know very little and thus should avoid jumping to conclusions.
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Old Sat, 14th Apr '12, 5:18am   #3
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If Zimmerman had any resources he should have fled to France and stayed with Roman Polanski.

This poor shmuck is about to get railroaded like few people ever have. He has already been found guilty by the media. First in every photo they showed of the guy they showed him in a prison jumpsuit, fatter, and just not looking nice. Then they juxtaposed that with a picture of Trayvon as a twelve year old instead of the seventeen year old he was. It made him look like he killed the "Black Opie" Then NBC edited the 911 tape to make him sound very racist and kept broadcasting it over and over. This brought out all of the usual "race hustlers" such as Sharpton and Jackson who can smell blood (and money) in the water better than any shark. Then we have geniuses like Spike Lee tweeting where Zimmerman was and basically telling people to go get him. Of course it turned out he tweeted the wrong address. Allegedly he has already settled out of court with the poor people he screwed. So now all of the black people in southern Florida are whipped into a frenzy and "Justice for Trayvon" is now a very trendy topic so the celebrities are jumping on board. For crying out loud even the President is weighing in by saying that Trayvon could have been his son. I also love how they keep calling Zimmerman a white guy, when he is hispanic. I guess it makes for a better story.

I don't see how this guy can come even close to getting a fair trial. If I were him and it was an option, I would skip the jury trial and the circus that would entail and be tried by a judge. Then when the judge finds him guilty you could go to appeals where he might have a chance at a fair trial.

As to guilt or innocence, here is my spin. First of all he is an idiot. When the 911 operator tells you to stop following someone that is probably good advice. Zimmerman claims that when he approached Trayvon, Trayvon assaulted him and was smashing his head into the ground. From what I have read Zimmerman did need medical attention and I believe those records will ultimately be crucial to his defense. If Trayvon did assault Zimmerman and Zimmerman shot him in self defense then he should be found not-guilty according to the "stand your ground" laws Florida has. However, I'm curious as to the wording of those laws if it can be insinuated that you were the first provoker (which I beleive he was). I don't believe for a second tht he planned on gunning Trayvon down. Personally, I think he should be found guilty of some sort of "manslaughter" Then the problem comes with how do you send this guy to prison. When they prison population is disproportionatly black I tend to think they can't.
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Old Mon, 16th Apr '12, 5:39pm   #4
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Originally Posted by The Great Snook View Post
This poor shmuck is about to get railroaded like few people ever have. He has already been found guilty by the media.
Well, we'll see. Was there ever a case where people were found guilty by the media more than the officers that beat Rodney King? We all know how that turned out. (Although him being found guilty is not necessarily a better outcome, as we'd have riots throughout southern Florida.)

Or how about Casey Anthony? That one was guilty until proven innocent too - and in Florida to boot.

Quote:
I don't see how this guy can come even close to getting a fair trial.
Given the media scrutiny of the case, it's going to be tough. Although part of me thinks there's information the police have that wasn't made public. I mean, it was over a month between the shooting and the arrest. If this were an open and shut case, he wouldn't have been that long.

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From what I have read Zimmerman did need medical attention and I believe those records will ultimately be crucial to his defense.
Completely essential in fact.

Quote:
If Trayvon did assault Zimmerman and Zimmerman shot him in self defense then he should be found not-guilty according to the "stand your ground" laws Florida has. However, I'm curious as to the wording of those laws if it can be insinuated that you were the first provoker (which I beleive he was).
If Zimmerman provoked the attack, then he is screwed. The stand your ground law in Florida clearly states that you cannot provoke that attack, nor can you attack the person first, and then shoot him if he fights back. If he initiated the confrontation (and I agree with you that this is likely true) - he's in trouble.

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I don't believe for a second tht he planned on gunning Trayvon down. Personally, I think he should be found guilty of some sort of "manslaughter"
I agree with that too - he has been charged with both manslaughter and 2nd degree murder - despite the vastly differing standards of proof required for convictions on those charges. For manslaughter, all they have to prove is that he acted negligently - i.e., that he should have been aware of the consequences of his actions and proceeded anyway. That level of proof seems self-evident - as you said the 911 operator told him to walk away.

For the 2nd degree murder charge however, you'd need to prove that he started the altercation with the intent to shoot Trayvon, and unless the prosecution has some serious evidence that hasn't been made public, I find it hard to believe they'll meet that standard.

My conclusion is the guy is probably going to spend some time in jail for something. There's a reason why over 90% of people who go to trial are found guilty - it's because the court systems are so overworked that district attorneys get to cherry pick the cases that go to trial. The case wouldn't have progressed as far as it has without a high probability of them getting a conviction.
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Old Mon, 16th Apr '12, 6:42pm   #5
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One thing to note is that you really have no obligation to obey a police dispatcher or 911 operator. I'm not certain in this case, but chances are that that person was not even a police officer. (They very often aren't.) So them telling you basically anything doesn't rise to the level of a lawful order.

That doesn't change the fact that it would be foolish for a civilian to unnecessarily pursue and/or confront someone suspected of a crime (or someone who appears to be behaving suspiciously), and no doubt the determination of that will affect Zimmerman's plight. However, there are (as always) mitigating circumstances.
  1. Zimmerman (or his camp) claims that he didn't confront Martin, and that he was basically attacked as he was leaving the area.
  2. In some communities, the likelihood that you will get a police response to something like a 'suspicious person' report may be slim, so you are often left to handle chasing off would be thieves et al yourself if you're inclined to.* I have no idea if this is the case in Sanford. (That's also not a commentary on whether or not Martin was a would be thief.)
  3. In some cases, it's quite ideal if a civilian pursues and even confronts someone until the police arrive. Think rapes, kidnappings, assaults, etc. I'm again not suggesting that Martin rose to that level (it seems quite clear that he didn't, actually, being as even Zimmerman doesn't claim he was doing anything beyond being suspicious). But this does demonstrate that there are exceptions and that this blanket notion that only the police are to do that sort of thing is a bit of folly. If I was being attacked, I would hope some capable person in the area would help me and that I wouldn't have to wait for the cops.

* Or you get quasi-official entities like security guards or neighborhood watch people to do it.
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Old Mon, 16th Apr '12, 10:17pm   #6
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I thought Zimmerman WAS a neighbourhood watch member?

Now here's the thing -- Martin was dressed in a hoodie, and was attempting to emulate the "gangsta" look. Well, he succeeded in arousing the suspicions of people who do not support the "Gangsta" look and mindset, and it got him killed. Some are citing this as a valid argument. To me, someone has to be doing something a bit more suspicious than wearing a hoodie to get me to approach him. It looks like Martin was doing nothing more than eating candy. I don't want open season on people just because of their clothes -- next thiong you know, it'll be open season on Mormons, 'cause we all know how those idiots dress!

So from that perspective, it would appear that Martin was guilty of WWB (Walking While Black). Not a very savoury image for Zimmerman to take before the legal system -- reminds me of a quote from Amos and Andy, the fine Nicholas Cage / Samuel L. Jackson film -- ackson is in his new house in a predominantly White neighbourhood, and someone sees him and calls the cops, thinking him a thief. The onlooker says something to thew effect of "listen, when you see a black guy in a house like that, you KNOW what he's doing!"

So Zimmerman either said "hey, you from around here?" or "Hey, BOY, what's one of your kind doing in a decent neighbourhood?". If he started off with the latter, it's kind of hard to think that the situation wouldn't have gone downhill. If he started up with the former, then the ball was in Martin's court.

Had Martin simply said "I'm visiting my Aunt, she's at 6788 North Chickweed Lane, I'll show you" would Zimmerman have been a douche about it? Maybe. Maybe he's a real piece of work. But Zimmerman says he didn't get a polite response from Martin. Perhaps Martin said something like "eff off, man, or I'll crack open your skull! I don't answer to no one or nobody, so step off, man!" Still not a reason to shoot somebody, true, but not the response that will likely engender a positive conversation.

So who was ignorant first? Who cast the first racial or insulting epithet? We really have no way of knowing at this point. Unless there's a witness who can come forward, it all comes down to reputation -- whose story will the judge or jury find more convincing?
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Old Tue, 17th Apr '12, 12:16am   #7
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I thought Zimmerman WAS a neighbourhood watch member?
That's correct, according to all the news media reports.

Quote:
So Zimmerman either said "hey, you from around here?" or "Hey, BOY, what's one of your kind doing in a decent neighbourhood?". If he started off with the latter, it's kind of hard to think that the situation wouldn't have gone downhill. If he started up with the former, then the ball was in Martin's court.
Those are far from the only possibilities, ElKay.
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Old Tue, 17th Apr '12, 5:05am   #8
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I'm going to go out on a limb and say the the prosecution's case will likely be based on the fact that the aggressor can't claim "stand your ground" immunity. After all, Zimmerman is the one who approached Martin, not the other way around. Zimmereman is the one who had a gun and was waving it around (OK, I know the latter part is speculation, but he had to show the gun at some point if he ended up shooting Martin). Whether that's enough to get him convicted, I have no idea. But it's worth a try. I assume the 2nd degree charge is just a bargaining chip to settle on manslaughter.

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Those are far from the only possibilities, ElKay.
You are, of course, referring to the "second shooter" hypothesis.
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Old Tue, 17th Apr '12, 5:09pm   #9
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I don't want open season on people just because of their clothes -- next thiong you know, it'll be open season on Mormons
Yeah, and there's a history of that already happening in the US. (Granted, not in the last 150 or so years, but it's happened.)

Quote:
reminds me of a quote from Amos and Andy, the fine Nicholas Cage / Samuel L. Jackson film
I never heard of Amos n' Andy as a Cage/Jackson film. Are you aware that the origins of that show are in radio, and predate the film by 60 or 70 years? Amos 'n Andy.

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I'm going to go out on a limb and say the the prosecution's case will likely be based on the fact that the aggressor can't claim "stand your ground" immunity. After all, Zimmerman is the one who approached Martin, not the other way around.
I agree. Even if Zimmerman was injured in the conflict, he still can't claim "stand your ground" if he instigated the confrontation. However, while there are witnesses that say they saw the fight, there are no witnesses that have stated they are aware who started the fight. It may be only Zimmerman's story that gets heard in court. He could say that he just asked Martin where he lived, where he was going, or whatever, and Martin attacked him, thus allowing "stand your ground" to apply.

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I assume the 2nd degree charge is just a bargaining chip to settle on manslaughter.
That's likely. The prosecution typically introduces "compromise" charges when they aren't sure they can get a conviction. They are probably confident that they can get him on at least manslaughter, so they'll charge him with both.
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Old Tue, 17th Apr '12, 5:42pm   #10
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I believe that 'stand your ground' would still apply to Zimmerman if he lawfully initiated contact with Martin and was then forced to defend himself. If he simply attacked Martin, obviously that would not be the case. But that does mean that Zimmerman confronting Martin is not automatically a scenario where 'stand your ground' does not apply (particularly when considering that doing so may have been his 'job' in some context).

The fact is, there's no law against being foolish. If you are doing something foolish that leads you to need to defend yourself, that does not mean that defending yourself becomes unlawful, or that the person attacking you is entitled to because you were doing something foolish. (If that were the case, a lot of rapes would be justified.) It seems to me that the best place to address potential foolhardy behavior is in civil court. e.g., if Zimmerman were found not guilty criminally because it was determined he lawfully defended himself after doing something foolish, he may still be on the hook in terms of damages for contributing to the likelihood that such a situation would occur.
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Old Tue, 17th Apr '12, 5:49pm   #11
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I believe that 'stand your ground' would still apply to Zimmerman if he lawfully initiated contact with Martin and was then forced to defend himself.
It would, but if he had the gun out when he approached Martin, that wouldn't be lawfully initiating contact. When someone pulls a gun on you, it is considered an instant clear and present danger to your life, so if he approached Martin with gun drawn, and Martin attacked him, "stand your ground" goes out the window.

Now granted, that is speculative - we don't know whether or not that was the case, and given the witnesses, it may never be known. Drawing a gun on someone though is considered initiating the confrontation. It was never the intent of the "stand your ground" law to pick a fight with someone and then shoot them because you were defending yourself.
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Old Tue, 17th Apr '12, 5:57pm   #12
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I agree.

I guess an important determination at trial will be Zimmerman's motives, as well as any indications that he brandished a firearm at Martin. Have there been any reports (witness statements, et al) that indicate that?
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Old Tue, 17th Apr '12, 6:32pm   #13
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They are probably confident that they can get him on at least manslaughter, so they'll charge him with both.
I'm not quite convinced they are confident of anything. I believe this purely a political arrest.
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Old Tue, 17th Apr '12, 7:02pm   #14
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I guess an important determination at trial will be Zimmerman's motives, as well as any indications that he brandished a firearm at Martin. Have there been any reports (witness statements, et al) that indicate that?
There are, but they are wildly divergent, to the point of having opposite witness statements. Some people say that Martin started it, some people say Zimmerman started it, one person said Zimmerman had a gun in his hand but did not point it at Martin, others say they didn't see a gun, and one person said Martin turned around and asked Zimmerman why the hell he was following him. The only commonality in the witnesses statements was there was a verbal and physical confrontation between the two of them before Martin was shot. But there is no agreement in witness statements regarding who started the fight, nor whether Zimmerman drew the gun before or after the fight started.
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Old Tue, 17th Apr '12, 11:36pm   #15
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I thought Zimmerman WAS a neighbourhood watch member?
How much does that matter, anyway? As far as I know it is a simply volunteer position without any particular powers.
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Old Wed, 18th Apr '12, 1:53am   #16
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It has no special powers, but if he was engaged in carrying out that function, his business with Martin could to some degree be construed as 'official.'

From what I've read, Zimmerman was appointed to the neighborhood watch position by the neighborhood association. He was not self-appointed (e.g. a loose canon out there running around without any formal consent).
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Old Mon, 23rd Apr '12, 6:51pm   #17
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Apparantly ABC news has released this photograph which is supposedly Zimmerman right after the shooting. While he is still stupid (IMHO) I'm guessing there may be some truth to his story that Trayvon was smashing his head into the sidewalk.

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Old Mon, 23rd Apr '12, 7:33pm   #18
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Well, Zimmerman has an excellent case for self-defense. Of course, it would be a lot stronger if you could actually, you know, see his face. Was it part of a larger clip where you see his face, and then he turns around so you can see the back of his head, or is this still shot the only photographic evidence? Because if this is all they have, I can easily see the prosecution arguing, "How do we know that the picture we see is actually Zimmerman?"

The reason I bring this up is that it looks like the guy in this picture has a pretty obvious receding hairline. Unlike the sides and the back of his head where you see the hair is short, there is no evidence that there is any hair at all on the top of the person's head in the photo. The problem is that from all appearances, Zimmerman has hair on the top of his head.
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Old Mon, 23rd Apr '12, 8:00pm   #19
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I'm assuming that's a police photo from at the scene and would thus be a part of the state's evidence. (Zimmerman obviously didn't take it, and with the scene secured, no one else would be allowed to come in and take photographs. Plus it's normal for the police to document conditions and elements of a crime or accident scene with photos, among other things.)

If it was taken by the cops, then actors and chain of custody will be properly and acceptably documented for court purposes. e.g. "officer so and so took photographs x, y, and z of subject 1 at crime scene showing injuries and blood on back of head using digital camera x, and conveyed same to police evidence room for safekeeping under file #12-123456," etc., etc.

If the state disavows any knowledge of it, then that would be a different story. When was it taken, by whom, etc. Being as Zimmerman's head did not show the same degree of blood stains in the police station video, we can deduce that the pictures must have been taken between the time of the shooting and his arrival at the police station, during which time the blood stains must have been nominally removed (such a thing would have happened during the reported EMS treatment, incidentally). Given that, if the state claims that the police did not take the photo, that would mean that the scene was compromised and that unauthorized persons were running aroud in there taking closeup photos of Zimmerman's head. No one is supposed to have that type of access to a person in custody at a crime scene besides police and EMS. Either that, or the photo was a total fake, in which case that would be easy enough to document through photo meta-data and basic deduction (no one had access to the subject during the time photo was claimed to have been taken, etc.).

[edit]

I just read that according to ABC News, the photo was taken by a witness just moments after the shooting (before police arrived), and that meta-data (time, location) from the photo supports its authenticity.

Last edited by Gaear; Mon, 23rd Apr '12 at 9:23pm.
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Old Mon, 23rd Apr '12, 8:17pm   #20
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Hmph. Looks like some cop spilled his cherry icee on his head and took a picture so he could laugh about it later
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Old Thu, 3rd May '12, 8:51pm   #21
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Last I heard there are some people who believe that Zimmerman shouldn't be allowed to fundraise for his defense or some such nonsense. Did he break a law or something? What utter nonsense.
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