New York criminal attorney Joe Tacopina writes about the Zimmerman case and the verdict returned by the jury. From the NY Daily Post.
The George Zimmerman jury did what juries are supposed to do. The six women on the jury applied the law to the facts and found that Zimmerman was not guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter.
Despite the outcry by political activists, race baiters and people who do not understand the legal system, particularly Florida’s unique and controversial law, the jury’s decision was that he had the right to shoot Martin under the Stand Your Ground law.
Under that law, people fearing for their lives can use deadly force without having to retreat from a confrontation, even when it is possible. Whether or not that law should be repealed is a different issue but not one this jury was called upon to decide.
This case was initially investigated by local law enforcement, which found it did not amount to a crime. Based on the evidence at trial and the jury’s verdict, it appears former Sanford, Fla., police chief Bill Lee had been right: Zimmerman should not have been charged.
In order to prove Zimmerman guilty of second-degree murder, the prosecution had to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he acted intentionally out of ill will or spite when he shot Martin.
But Zimmerman said he did not pull out his gun until after Martin approached him; an altercation developed, and Martin ended up on top of Zimmerman, slamming Zimmerman’s head into the ground after punching him in the face.
In order to convict, the jury did not have to believe Zimmerman’s account. Instead, jurors had to decide beyond a reasonable doubt the shooting didn’t happen in this manner and that Zimmerman was not acting in self-defense.
The injuries Zimmerman sustained, although not serious, corroborated his version of events that Martin was slamming his head on the ground and that he genuinely feared for his life.
The prosecution failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense put forth evidence in an attempt to create the doubt that was already present in the case, including a forensic expert to show the shooting was consistent with Zimmerman’s version of events.
There was absolutely no evidence put forth by the prosecution to rebut Zimmerman’s claim of self defense. That is all that was relevant. With that, the jury was left no choice at all. The jurors were not empaneled to improve race relations or right historical wrongs. This courageous jury complied with its oath and discharged its duty properly.