Feature

Zimmerman: Should charges be dropped?

Evidence released by prosecutors bolsters George Zimmerman's claim that he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense.

The second-degree murder case against George Zimmerman is “looking more and more like a long shot,” said Beth Kassab in the Orlando Sentinel. Thanks to a trove of evidence released last week by prosecutors, we now know that Zimmerman—who shot and killed the unarmed Trayvon Martin in February—did indeed suffer a broken nose and scalp lacerations, bolstering his claim that he shot Martin in self-defense after the black 17-year-old knocked him to the ground and was punching him. Martin’s autopsy, furthermore, found bruises on his knuckles but no evidence that he’d been punched. Experts, meanwhile, can’t agree about whether the voice screaming for help on the 911 call can be identified. Not all the evidence helps Zimmerman: Martin told his girlfriend via cellphone that he was being followed by a man who looked “crazy and creepy”; she then heard a male voice ask, “What are you doing around here?” But unless the prosecutor has some evidence that Zimmerman lied to cops about a key detail in his story, it’s hard to see a jury convicting him of anything more than manslaughter.

Special prosecutor Angela Corey should be ashamed, said Alan Dershowitz in the New York Daily News. She has produced no evidence to contradict Zimmerman’s claim that he fired the fatal shot in self-defense. Corey seems to think her job is to appease those clamoring for Zimmerman’s head, but if she “wants to act ethically, lawfully, and professionally,” she has no choice now but to reduce the murder charge to manslaughter, or even drop the case altogether. Those out for Zimmerman’s blood don’t care about the facts, said Jennifer Rubin in WashingtonPost
.com
. They see him as the villain in a racial morality play, and want him punished. This ill-founded prosecution looks “more and more like mob justice.”

The facts of the case remain murky, said Mansfield Frazier in TheDailyBeast.com, but one thing is not in dispute: Trayvon Martin would still be alive if George Zimmerman hadn’t ignored the advice of the 911 dispatcher and chased after the teen with a handgun. “Stand Your Ground” laws give guys like Zimmerman what’s called on the street “pistol courage,” puffing them up to challenge other people in an aggressive way that often leads to violence. What’s really on trial here are the dangerous “Stand Your Ground” laws themselves, which give public streets over to gunslingers and vigilantes, and turn our country into a 21st-century version of the Wild West.

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