Feature

Seeking facts in the Martin case

The parents of Trayvon Martin called for federal officials to investigate the prosecutor who decided not to charge their son’s killer.

The parents of Trayvon Martin this week called for federal officials to investigate the prosecutor who decided not to charge their son’s killer. The family alleges that State Attorney Norm Wolfinger, who has since stepped down from the case, met with the Sanford, Fla., police chief hours after the 17-year-old’s death and overruled a detective’s recommendation that the shooter, neighborhood-watch volunteer George Zimmerman, be charged with manslaughter. Wolfinger dismissed the allegations as “outright lies” and said no such meeting took place. Zimmerman claims that he shot Martin in self-defense after the unarmed black teen assaulted him. But his account was called into question by two audio forensic experts, who concluded that a voice heard calling for help moments before the shooting—captured on a neighbor’s 911 call—was not Zimmerman’s, as his supporters claimed.

Right-wing pundits have been disturbingly quick to defend Zimmerman, said David Carr in The New York Times. DrudgeReport.com, a conservative blog, published numerous stories casting doubt on “how much of a victim Trayvon was.” The site claimed he had been repeatedly suspended from school, and published pictures of the teen striking hip-hop poses. “The facile implication was that the young man was obviously well-acquainted with thug life” and got what he deserved.

If anyone has sought to prejudice this case, it’s the left-leaning media, said Victor Davis Hanson in NationalReview.com. The Today show aired a version of Zimmerman’s 911 call in which he said that Martin was “up to no good” and that “he looks black.” That second sentence came after the operator asked about Martin’s race; by editing the question out, Today made Zimmerman seem like “a racist bigot.” And despite media assertions that a police video proved Zimmerman suffered no injuries in scuffling with Martin, “careful analysis of the tape” seems to reveal a gash on his scalp.

We simply don’t know “if this was a case of justifiable homicide, murder, or something in between,” said James Taranto in WSJ.com. Conservatives and liberals are foolish to defend or damn Zimmerman before all the evidence is in. “His guilt or innocence turns on the facts of the case, not any ideological belief.” We all have to depend on due process and the rule of law.

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