George Zimmerman is probably guilty of something — but not murder, at least according to a Florida jury.
I know I’m beating my head against the wall on this, but the system requires guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. And as far as I can tell, of the only ones who know for sure what happened on that rainy night, one is dead and the other told his story of self-defense to the police and stuck to it. The defense did its job in convincing the jury that there was doubt about what happened, and then the jury followed the law and acquitted.
I know a lot of people would’ve felt better if we’d hanged Zimmerman from the highest tree, but that would’ve been wrong, because according to the way the system works, he didn’t commit a crime.
Oh, everyone wanted him to have committed a crime. The police initially put a charge on his report and then later released him. When Zimmerman not being charged became politically unsavory for Florida, a special prosecutor was appointed for the sole reason of charging him — and saving face. The police department then changed its report repeatedly and issued the strongly worded statement that Martin didn’t do anything wrong and this was all Zimmerman’s fault.
Then the politicians, pundits and anchors began weighing in. The court of public opinion was in session. And thank the Founding Fathers we don’t convict people based on opinion. We convict based on fact, and here’s what we know:
Zimmerman followed Martin. They got in a fight. Zimmerman shot and killed Martin. Zimmerman says it was self-defense. The end.
We simply don’t know what transpired between Zimmerman’s 911 call and the fatal shot. Who started the fight? Did Zimmerman hunt down Martin and kill him in cold blood? Or did Martin ambush Zimmerman, like Zimmerman claimed? And if Martin did, was it because he was in fear for his life? Was it pre-emptive self-defense?
Was Zimmerman getting his butt kicked the whole time, with Martin trying to suffocate him like he claimed? Or did Zimmerman try to detain Martin, with Martin then getting the best of him?
Did Zimmerman take the whipping he claimed, a claim the bloody nose and head appear to support? But if so, where was the blood, the DNA and the offensive wounds to the hands on Martin’s body? Pictures of Zimmerman’s clothes appear to show his back as clean, but the arresting officer reported Zimmerman looked like he’d been lying on his back on the ground, with mud and grass on his back. So which is it?
That’s a lot of questions in the previous few paragraphs. And that means doubt.
Should Zimmerman have stayed in the truck and not followed Trayvon Martin? Yes. Of that, there is no doubt. Zimmerman had called 911 and police were on the way. He should’ve let them handle it. At the least, he is guilty of poor judgment. And he may well have lied and be guilty of something more, but the jury didn’t think so. And that’s because no one ever proved it to them beyond a reasonable doubt.
Like it or not, that’s how the system works.
Email Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.