George Zimmerman is Already on Trial

Trayvon Martin’s death has been one of the most highly covered events of 2012. While the Florida teenager’s death is certainly tragic, many individuals have already jumped to the conclusion that George Zimmerman was acting out of malice, not self defense. Even if he was, the public must allow the criminal justice system to investigate and decide if Zimmerman committed a crime for which he should be charged and tried.  This process takes time, and investigators must be honest and impartial.

In 1996, police officer Richard Jewell saved dozens of lives during the Olympic Games in Atlanta. Seeing an unclaimed backpack, Jewell alerted higher authority and began to evacuate the area. The backpack, loaded with nails, then exploded, killing one and injuring 111. Initially, Jewell was heralded for preventing further casualties, but local and national media began to release information leaked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he was considered the bombing’s prime suspect. Although never charged, Jewell quickly went from hero to villain because the FBI, and later the public, were convinced of his guilt. The policeman was essentially tried by the media, destroying his reputation despite the fact that he was fully exonerated.

While the cases of Zimmerman and Jewell are not perfectly analogous, the court of public opinion played a deleterious role in each. The Floridian may very well have committed a heinous crime. However, if it so happens that Martin’s death really was an act of self-defense, will Zimmerman be given a fair trial to prove his innocence? The truth is that the shooter is already in court. Like Jewell, Zimmerman has been dragged through a trial by media, where celebrities are rallying, tweeting and calling for his arrest without full knowledge of what actually took place on the evening of Feb. 26. Martin supporters have settled on the following scenario: Zimmerman hunted and killed Martin because of his race. But without access to the investigation (forensics, observations, witness accounts and the like), no one can be sure if this is true.

Several facts involving the case have emerged in the past week, none of which have definitively determined the legality of the shooting. For instance, a video released Wednesday shows Zimmerman arriving at the Sanford police station for questioning.  It seemed that his appearance contradicted previous claims he was injured and bloodied after Martin attacked him. The Daily Caller took a closer look and discovered what could be a sizeable gash on Zimmerman’s head. It should also be noted that a report filed by one of the officers who took Zimmerman in for questioning stated that he was “bleeding from the nose and back of the head.” I am willing to wager that there are plenty more facts yet to be released or discovered in the coming weeks. Instead of allowing the media to play the roles of judge and prosecuting attorney in the kangaroo court of public opinion, Sanford police and State of Florida should sort this out on their own. If this case does go to trial, will authorities be able to assemble an unbiased jury after the overwhelming media coverage?

I am not advocating for Zimmerman’s nor Martin’s guilt or innocence. Rather, people must understand that investigations take time and additional information has yet to be released, let alone discovered.  Until the investigation is complete, should we really accept the scenario of events offered by people who are thin on facts and fat on agenda? After all, the FBI, the media, and the general public were largely certain of Jewell’s guilt, only to be proved shamefully wrong. Zimmerman and Martin are different sides of the same coin: both deserve justice equally. We must allow the criminal justice system to handle this case on its own time. Justice is colorblind; truth – not agendas – must prevail.

8 thoughts on “George Zimmerman is Already on Trial

    1. You don’t know the Florida stand your ground law and you don’t know the facts in the case….or you merely are ignoring the facts in the case.

      Following someone doesn’t make them an “aggressor”. Media reports aren’t the same thing as fact. And Zimmerman has his claim of what has happened and until someone can offer evidence to the contrary, it is going to be difficult to convict him.

      Do you have evidence he was the “aggressor”? Following someone doesn’t make them aggressive.

      1. Title XLVI
        CRIMES
        Chapter 776
        JUSTIFIABLE USE OF FORCE
        776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.—
        (1) A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:
        (a) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
        (b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

      2. But following someone after making a 911 call and hearing the operator tell you “not to pursue” is actually making an aggressive move towards the individual. I don’t need the media to listen to these publicly available 911 calls that Zimmerman made.

        Also, I find it quite rude you immediately reacted that Megan “[did] not know the Florida stand your ground law and [she didn’t] know the facts in the case….or [she] merely [is] ignoring the facts in the case.” Really? If anything, it looks like you’re the one ignoring the information.

      3. I would also like to add that, by your definition of what is and what is not an “aggressor,” stalking and harassment is apparently ok. Which it’s obviously not? In other words, yes, following someone can definitely reveal the follower as aggressive.

  1. I think there are many layers to this tragedy, and unpeeling it like an onion, I see racsism (I have extreme doubts this would have been handled by the states attorney the same way had the victim been white and the shooter black); a Stand Your Ground law that encourages vigilante justice (police nationwide have opposed it), and gun laws that turn ordinary misunderstandings into tragedies. Frustration is understandably high when a young man walking home armed with Skittles is killed, and George Zimmerman, rightly or wrongly, is the focus of these frustrations. I wish people of all stripes were out on the streets, looking beyond Zimmerman and this particular incident to the causes which led up to it and the things we can do to prevent further deaths of innocent people. Given what happened in VA, the home of VA Tech, this year, with gun laws, I don’t see common sense intervening.

    1. Are you ignoring the claim that Trayvon Martin attacked Zimmerman as you ramble on about skittles?

      You lack common sense to be making a claim that you don’t see it intervening. Common sense is that there are two sides to every story and Zimmerman is innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.

      Your red herring VA Tech comment doesn’t really have a place here. It is meant to distract and shift the topic. Is this where I counter a red herring with another red herring to take this conversation into the realm of gun control instead of Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin and the media’s irresponsible reporting of this case?

      Ok, sure. Chicago has some of the most strict gun laws on the books. Has this prevented gun violence?

      1. “Common sense is that there are two sides to every story and Zimmerman is innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.”

        True. But the guy hasn’t even been arrested yet! Common sense says that when you see multiple sources saying that Zimmerman was not injured, that the screams for help were not Zimmermans, and that Martin had no visible marks on him from the scuffle Zimmerman said occurred, there is cause for suspicion. Whether Zimmerman is guilty or not is not something we cannot make a definitive statement on, but that’s a jury’s role…if there was one.

        When there is cause for suspicion an arrest is made and claims are investigated further and adjudicated on. This entire process has yet to happen.

        You also say we reflexively take the Martin family’s narrative of the murder as true, but what makes you so sure Zimmerman was attacked? There is no corroborating evidence as of yet besides Zimmerman and his brother’s own word.

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