george zimmerman mugshot

George Zimmerman’s 2nd-Degree Murder Charge Fixes Nothing

There are only two people who know exactly what happened on the night of Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., and one of them is dead.

Angela Corey, the Florida special prosecutor investigating the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, announced this afternoon that she intends to prosecute Zimmerman for second-degree murder. Because Martin is unquestionably dead, and because Zimmerman indisputably caused his death, the single proposition the prosecution must establish is that the killing was unlawful.

But there is almost no chance the state will be able to obtain a conviction, and despite Corey’s assertion that public pressure did not influence the decision to move forward with the prosecution, the fact that Florida authorities did nothing for six weeks after the killing makes her claim implausible. The decision to prosecute therefore seems more intended to assuage the community’s moral outrage than redress a legal violation.

The problem here is that there are actually two problems: one is what George Zimmerman did, which was to shoot and kill an unarmed young man who had every right to be where he was. The second is that Florida law allows that to happen.

Chapter 776.013(3) of Florida law—the now-infamous “Stand Your Ground” provision—states: “A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

The so-called Castle Doctrine—named after the quaint British expression that a man’s house is his castle—dates back at least to the early 17th century and permits someone in his or her home to use lethal force against an intruder. American colonists brought it with them, and today, more than half the states have versions of the doctrine. The effect of the Castle Doctrine is to override the duty to retreat. So even if it is perfectly possible for the homeowner to safely escape, the Castle Doctrine means the homeowner does not have to.

Many states have adopted bulked-up versions of the doctrine and done away with the duty to retreat in places besides the home. Others have done away with the duty altogether, so long as the person believes lethal force is reasonably required to protect himself or herself from serious injury.

But Florida law remains unique. Unlike Texas law, for example, which does not permit deadly force to be used by someone who provokes hostile action, Florida allows someone to use deadly force even if his conduct somehow created the very threat to which his lethal force responds. So if, as Zimmerman claims, Martin walked toward him and asked why he was following him, and Zimmerman reasonably felt threatened by that question, Florida gives him permission to shoot, even though his very conduct provoked Martin’s question.

That’s not the end of it: Florida law also permits the use of lethal force by someone whose own welfare is not directly threatened. It even permits the use of lethal force where the only threat is to property—including property not owned by the person using the force.

In Florida, therefore, the Castle Doctrine extends across every inch of the state, and it allows someone to kill somebody else even if that other person is not threatening any human being. In fact, Florida’s law imposes but a single requirement regulating its use: The person who uses lethal force must be acting on the basis of a “reasonable” belief.

It is precisely the statute’s use of the word “reasonable” that makes it possible for Corey to pursue criminal charges against Zimmerman. If his action was unreasonable, then the killing was unlawful, and he is guilty of second-degree murder.

The prosecution’s case will therefore be built entirely around the reasonableness of Zimmerman’s conduct. The problem for the state is that it bears the burden of proof, meaning it will essentially be required to prove that his belief was unreasonable. Since the principal witness who could help establish that fact is dead, the probability of a conviction seems exceedingly remote.

There will presumably be witnesses who will testify as to their perception of what was happening. Trayvon Martin’s girlfriend might testify about her conversation with him. Other eyewitnesses might say that they saw Zimmerman acting aggressively. Others still might report on whether Zimmerman had physical wounds.

This editorial originally appeared on The Daily Beast. Read the rest of the editorial here.

  • Myambitioniswicked

    I think it’s wrong to have the title of this article read his murder charge fixes nothing. 

    • scullyson

      . Yeah That was some dumb sh*t

  • James Peach

    I believe he is gonna take a plea and have the charges dropped to manslaughter and serve 3-10 years  with a chance or parole

  • scullyson

    Anybody that says that this means nothing sounds more like an instigator then a positive thinker. Everybody knows the system period has tremendous flaws so it’s not just Fla but right now Fla is in the spotlight as a result of Zimmerman actions. Dont be fooled into thinking there aint no george zimmerman in your Back yard. Zimmerman needs to be held accountable for his actions and thats all we need to be thinking about. BS aint nothing RIP Tray

  • jamaicanbornanbreed

    true…dis means nothing…i’ll celebrate when dat bitch zimmerman is being passed around the prison yard like a well lit blount….my homeboy was ACCUSED of puling a gun out on this dude..son was arrested da same day…dis faggott killed this poor black kid..and was just arrested so whut dat tells me is the law is already on his side..da difference is my homie is black and he pulled out on another black…florida law dnt care bout dat…but a white dude murder a black kid…dats whut florida law calls standing ur ground….it wasan’t like dat with my homie though….lets not forget this is florida..remember when daddy bush told george dnt worry about florida…even when it apperared he lost,,,daddy bush was still like no ur brother got dat state we good….this is just a band-aid to put over a cut by a machete…i’m whising for da best though

  • whc83

    If that was my son he killed this fool would be off the map.

  • Devon James

    Let’s throw the whole issue of race out for a minute and look at the facts/ the 911 operator told him to STOP following the kid and he kept going. this alone is a good reason for a conviction.
    if the stand your ground law works that easily i see no reason for any future divorces all you have to say is that you felt threatened. they are sending a dangerous message if this guy doesn’t get convicted.

  • mrgibson

    Sure doesn’t mean anything.   The incident happened a month ago, yet his weapon hasn’t been confiscated and other things haven’t been done.  His dad is probably behind the scenes working on getting him little to no time. 

  • $18916246

    Zimmerman’s arrest means everything!!!!! As it was the fact that Florida state refused to pursue prosecution in this matter that has the nation in an uproar. Zimmerman is nothing more that the son of an empowered racist bigot. Zimmerman’s family stronghold was weakened today with Zimmerman’s arrest. This is an open and shut case as Zimmerman’s defense argument starts after he was told over the phone in a recorded conversation by his  local police department to stay away from Trayvon. His actions there after only serve to incriminate Zimmerman’s as his physical engagement with Trayvon was provoked by Zimmerman in an effort to justify his calculated, premeditated, cold blooded murder of Trayvon Martin.

    Zimmerman was arrested because the American Just-US sytstem could not afford to re-write the law books. Allowing Zimmerman to remain free would create a new unjust and unfounded precedence in law. That would cause many people currently on trial for murder Black, White or otherwise in America to legally seek the same treatment. It would also cause many US prisoners already serving time to revisit they’re murder cases seeking to overturn verdicts where one may have been convicted of murder with a hand gun. So people I challenge all to not be surface dwellars and see beneath the media propaganda. This is not a time to celebrate for any reason as Trayvon is the story that made the media headlines. Many people have died similar deaths here in America and the cases have gone unheard and justice has gone un-served and it still remains to be seen as to what tricks will be played in the upcoming Trayvon Murder trial.

    Social media also plays another part in why Zimmerman was arrested. The fact that unlike in America’s past of civil and social unrest pertaining to matters of race crimes. A cover up was easy to commence and efforts to smooth over the hype was easily control through the media. This is not true anymore. The Trayvon murder was a hotbed of discussion throughout the world let alone the US due to social media oulets that would not let this case die.

    Vigilante-ism and Karma. In Florida’s effort to tailor make laws to support the murder of Trayvon, Florida did not anticipate that there would be a nationwide grass root cry for Zimmerman’s head literally. Which only heighten social tension between the races as Many people of color felt street justice was not out of the question if the Just-US system chose to announce a blatant abandonment of the law in this case. Many whites also feared misguided acts retribution. To many whites Trayvon’s murder may seem to be nothing to be concerned about until one has to fathom they’re own youth being slayed as payback.

    Another thing to think about,  Amercan police officers who have never been trained to deal with widespread social unrest to include violent riots as a result of massive public outcry for justice i.e., The flatfoots, The American beat cops, are not ready. He and she are trained in isolated covert interaction as it pertains to the public. The American Just-US system trains them (cops) and then sicks them on the American public in a concise, controlled manner. The 1992 LA riot proved that when the American people take to the street and random uncontrollable acts of violence commence, Police go home.

    In closing  I’m saying, if the American Just-US system wants to avoid the possibility of massive global race riots destined to spark if Zimmerman is not convicted of murder, Then the American government will need to ask themselves is Zimmerman,  one” American Racist Bigot” worth the trouble.

    • scullyson

      Well said

    • immackulate

      good post up and all … but this is a classic case of YOU BEING IN YOUR OWN WAY – you literally out thought yourself because no matter how much truth was in what you typed you still fail to mention that …

      from the colonization of the America’s to the extermination of the American Indians
      to the assasination of Martin and Malcolm to the Rodney King beatings, the Sean Bell and Oscar Grant

      true social media does help get info out to a vast majority however – are you aware that they still own whats being printed and reported thru these social media outlets …

      DID YOU KNOW THAT THERE’S BEEN ALMOST 5 KILLINGS AND 1 UNARMED MAN SHOT MULTIPLE TIMES BY POLICE AND SURVIVED – dont be so naive as to thinking that “it cant happen again”

  • s0rethumb

    It means something. It means he must go through the “criminal” justice system for killing a 17 year old unarmed kid. This case will have its moments but let’s hope the justice system works correctly and holds off the riots and rallies with a guilty conviction.

  • Roberto Ciamora

    Some people are just negative by nature I swear

    Last Week

    “Why havent they arrested Zimmerman?? This is an outrage, we demand justice for Trayvon!!!”


    “Meh, this arrest means nothing”

    SMH…….. At least give the state of Florida the chance to screw this up before you jump tp conclusions

    • immackulate

      aye man BUMP THAT “negative by nature” bs – i bet yo bytch azz believe in turning the cheek (400 yrs later huh) – NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BE DOCILE AND COOPERATIVE – you know its already been 8 BLACK AMERICAN’s that have been murdered in CLOD BLOOD since TRAYVON’s murder –

      im from the SHOW-ME State … you can show me better than you can tell me
      and up until this weak azz arrest which only came because the public was ready to GRIP UP and bring justice w/ or w/o Sanford PD is THEONLY REASON AN ARREST WAS MADE …

      we need to be unified and not SISSIFIED

      • Roberto Ciamora

        Blah Blah Blah

        STFU, like I said, people were mad that he didnt get arrested, he gets arrested, now your drawing conclusions from a case that hasnt happened yet

        Your determined to be miserable, you havent even given them a chance to screw up

        I bet if he gets convicted and sentenced to life, you’ll cry and say “This means nothing, he deserved the Death penalty”

        Your one of those people that finds something to complain about even when things are going your way, I have a brother who does the same thing, he could win the lottery and the first thing he would do is moan and groan about the taxes that he’d have to pay on it……I know your style well

        Just change your screen name to “Debbie Downer” and keep it movin

      • jamaicanbornanbreed

        look berto…and make sure u read what i write carefully cuz u knw nothing of whut u speak…..we in america as black ppl has always got the short end of da stick…over da years history has shown dat it dosen’t matter if we’re guilty or not we still usually suffer there so-called justice…dats why we feel like even though this scumbag is arrested dat they still wont prosecute to the full extent of da law….IT TOOK DEM MONTHS TO ARREST DUDE…and i live in florida(tampa bay)this south state aint built for niggas to win…plus it seemed like sanford police department was well content to let this go and not investigate…if it wasn’t for da fact of the worldwide outage and steady threats on this faggots life nothing would  of been done…i can see ur definetly not a black man but ur name does imply dat you are of spanish decendents…which amaze da shit out of me because my brown brothers and sisters go through da same thing…i used to live in brooklyn..and my spanish homies always had our backs when jake would try shit on da block and vica versa…if u really wanna knw why we’re so negative is cuz we are use to it unfortunetly…through constant situations in the past…it’s almost a memtic virus(inherantly bad or submissive)…brother ciamora read about emmit teal…or better yet whut they did to ur zuit suit ancestors(not knowing if u have mexicans in ur familiy if not no disrespect)…if there is something dat has been embeded in our psyhcoligical make-up is simply this:we hope for the best however we prepare for the worst

      • Mmmmhmm, tell it brotha!  The mothaship be comin fo deez crackas. 

      • malachindyahveah

         white ppl were the first slaves in the americas the irish and they were treated worse then blacks. Are they always complaining

  • Aaron Davis

    Dis was a weird case of where the law kinda allowed racism to take place. Zimmerman approached Trayvon the way he did cuz he was black(and that in his mind meant he’s up to no good) and the Sanford Police Department allowed him to get away w/murder. They didnt investigate this properly and just totally bought into this guys story w/out actually looking into it as a murder case. (which in itself is appalling and sad) Either way, I believe justice will eventually be served and his arresst does mean something because it needed to happen for his safety and to help calm the public until he’s finally sentenced. I hope we can learn from this (no matter what race you are) and that Florida really looks into removing or changing that law.

    • Law = Good Law

      Doesn’t apply to Zimmerman , but racism made it apply.
      If Trayvon had been strapped ( illegally ) & was wounded 1st , then returned fire???  Would he be charged or protected by the stand your ground law?

      • Roberto Ciamora

        Co Sign

        I live in florida, this law shouldnt be thrown away because some scumbag is trying to hide behind it to justify actions that really have nothing to do with it

        As a home owner I’m gonna “stand my ground” if somebody is on my property and tries to violate regardless of whether they do away with this law or not

  • This is a smoke screen , because no where does it mention that Trayvon Martin had the right to stand his ground. 

    Flawed theory IMHO (<< Unqualified ) 

  • jojohn

    Mr Zimmerman wasn’t doing his job as a neighbourhood watch person at the time, because he went beyond watching, he also did not watch the kid do anything to report to the police at all.

    I haven’t seen a SINGLE post saying people have a problem with neighborhood watches. I do personally have a problem with people who go beyond watching and start shooting. I do have a problem with people citing that someone is suspicious and that suspicion is not accompanied by an actual act…an illegal act, like breaking in cars, looking in a window, etc.. Wearing a hoodie, which many people own, is not suspicious.

    A kid is dead, and regardless of this man’s intent, he did and should have to answer to the law.

  • CaliTransplant

     That’s how they are going to convict him. If the state can hammer that home with the jury that he was told to STOP following him, they’ll win. If they let the defense paint Martin as the Skittles thug, then it’s a wrap and Zimmerman walks.

  • CaliTransplant

    @maxie ingles my last reply

  • churchboy2

    Once he chased Trayvon (which the 911 tapes confirm) he gave up the “Stand Your Ground” defense.

  • rep87

    This moron is going to prison for a long time it was MURDER !

  • The problem with this case is this “Florida allows someone to use deadly force even if his conduct somehow created the very threat to which his lethal force responds.”. That is why we MUST get this law repealed and JUSTICE is given to Trayvon & Family.

  • Roberto Ciamora

    One thing about this that bugs me is who the hell put this guy in charge of the neighborhood watch program to begin with??

    Dude has arrests for Domestic Violence & Assaulting A Police Officer on his jacket. how is this the guy the block wants to entrust with their safety??

    Did the friendly neighborhood rapist turn the job down??

    “Nah man, I’m kinda busy tying this chick up right now, go ask the wife beating scumbag next door”

    SMH, whatever idiot told this guy he was in charge of holding the block down should be charged as a co conspirator

  • All black women an womenz of color should unite.  We all be gettin trademark rites to our babys names an get rich off these honkeys when they get killed.  We be killin em at they own game!!!

  • rep87

    the court system is all we have the proper charges were brought and this piece of shit is sitting in jail and God will punish this loser for sure so AHH let the court handle this and stop adding fuel to this fire because he will get his for taking the life of a child

    • Jackiemaccisback

      The courts can’t handle themselves. God will handle all of us. so what does that mean? This case is too high profile. It’s out of hand and the courts are a joke. Hope the jury is better.

  • Big Ice Bastardman ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    The “Stand Your Ground” law is pretty insane.  It might as well be the “history is written by the victors” law. You kill someone and you could say anything about them threatening you, and then you’re allowed to walk.

  • pimpthoughts

    the New Black Panther Party put out a $15,000 or sumthin like that…bounty for his capture. i hope sumbody catch his ass so they can hang this peice of shit.

  • Jackiemaccisback

    Wow. so much is going on with this case – I don’t think it’s going to go like everyone think it is. Florida is Florida – it’s not changing it’s laws. Arizonia neither. Can you really trust the news. The only thing we know for sure is that zimmerman is a MURDER. THE MYSTICAL SONG SHOULD PLAY IN HIS EAR EVERYDAY. and young trayvon is dead and his parents are hurting. Hope the case starts soon. He is already in a prison (of his mind) now he needs to do the time.

  • rep87

    GOD will take care of this !

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