On March 18, I was moved enough by what I was seeing about the Trayvon Martin shooting case that I wrote this:
On April 11, Special Prosecutor Angela Corley announced that George Zimmerman was being charged with 2nd degree murder in the death of Martin. He turned himself in that evening.
It’s been difficult for me watching this case “develop”. As I wrote here: http://www.vizionzfromthebottom.com/2012/03/23/my-son-is-black/
This matter hits far too close to home for my comfort. I ache at the thought that the lives of young Black men are not valued in this nation, and that Martin is like so many that came before him, and will come after him. It may not be open season on Black boys, but it sure as fuck feels like it most of the time.
I write about the Martin case because it is how I cope. This topic is beyond painful for me and examining the nuts and bolts of the case, instead of just allowing my emotions to run freely allows me to still move in society. When I stop being clinical about the case I turn into the angry Black woman who knocks small White women to the ground in the subway. You laugh but it has happened.
My position has never wavered about this case.
This death is a tragedy. This death may never have justice.
In the weeks since the media attention focused on Sanford FL, lots of details have been leaked. Some things about Trayvon, some things about Zimmerman, some things about various public officials in Sanford. No matter how many details we have heard, none of us yet have the facts to the case.
The stand your ground law makes this case much more complex than one might immediately guess.
Despite the outcry from many people in the community that Zimmerman’s following Trayvon negates his ability to claim self-defense or standing your ground, IT DOES NOT. I am sure that people will grumble about that statement but that does not make it less true. Zimmerman following Trayvon was not illegal. It was questionable, it was likely racial profiling, but it was not illegal.
This is difficult for many to digest, but that is because there are many of us caught up in our feelings.
There was a bail hearing for George Zimmerman on April 20. That bail hearing if watched, if understood, if picked apart can help up process all of the possibilities, if we stop doing things like getting angry that Zimmerman was eligible for bail.
Bail or bond is a part of our legal system like it or not, and no matter how much Law & Order we’ve watched over the years, people arrested and accused of crimes get bail every day. Every motherfucking day B. You can be charged with a felony in some cases, you can be charged with MULTIPLE FELONIES, and still make bail. I will also let you in on a secret, sometimes you don’t have to pay one penny.
The criminal charge of 2nd degree murder is a charge that bail can be set for, and often is, and the world saw that in play. In the state of Florida, if the prosecution opposes bail for a defendant, the standard of proof that must be presented to the judge is ridiculous. It is an even higher standard than beyond all reasonable doubt which is pretty darned high. The prosecution must prove that the accused is a danger to society and that their release will cause irreparable harm, or that the accused will be on the first midnight train to Georgia – the RUSSIAN Georgia.
The justice system is reluctant to criminally house an accused except in the worst of circumstance. To those of us emotional and invested it is the worst of circumstance…to the justice system…it is not that deep.
The bail hearing was interesting to watch. The George Zimmerman that appeared in court looked much smaller than the Zimmerman people saw on the surveillance tape from the police station that was taken on Feb. 26. He looked smaller in height, smaller in weight, and with the tie that was too big, and the suit that fit…but not quite…he looked nothing like danger.
Zimmerman’s wife of 5 years, his mother, and his father testified via telephone. They feared for their safety so they did not appear in court. I am sad to say, simply watching the reactions on Twitter to this hearing….they made a correct choice.
I watched with shock and at times horror as my timeline went in on the Zimmerman witnesses, as if they were Zimmerman themselves. The connections forgotten, wife, mother, father….otherwise “rational” adults wished injury on these people, and scoffed at their defense. It was as if we’ve forgotten that Zimmerman prior to being a killer was once a man. Hatred for this man has bled out to anyone who might be connected to him.
The prosecution unable to prove that Zimmerman was a flight risk…obviously….since he did not flee in any of the weeks that it took to get to his arrest, instead attempted to prove that Zimmerman was a violent person. They brought up his previous arrests and charges, including an altercation with a police officer.
The defense called to the stand the lead investigator for the Martin case, and began at once to poke holes in the charges, the perception of guilt, and quite honestly caught the prosecution with their pants down.
The lead investigator said on the stand under oath, I was not prepared to testify. The prosecutor more than once said, we just were not prepared to argue this case.
In what will be a fairly long process, or could be if there is no – or an unsuccessful stand your ground hearing – the defense scored points, began to talk to the potential jury pool, and demonstrated that regardless of our emotional reactions, this case is not a slam dunk by any stretch of the imagination.
The lead investigator was pummeled about choice of language, and tiny details of the probable cause affidavit. To the lay person watching, and frothing at the mouth for ‘justice’ the importance of this may have been lost. When your #1 investigator is forced to admit on the stand: there is no evidence that counters the Zimmerman statement that he was retreating to his vehicle and was confronted by Martin.
That is a powerful thing. Almost as powerful as the somewhat surprising move to swear in George Zimmerman, the devil himself, and allow him to take the stand.
Zimmerman was coached to make a very simple statement, I am sorry your son is gone, I didn’t know his age or that he was unarmed.
The specificity of the statement prevented the prosecution from asking questions of Zimmerman, without providing additional evidence into this hearing.
Bubba Gump Crump afterwards expressed the outrage of the Martin family at the Zimmerman statement. Outrage be damned, the trial has begun and the defense has now shown, to the nation, and to the jury if one is ever seated, that Zimmerman has remorse. They’ve also done it, without also obliging Zimmerman to take the stand at a later date, at an eventual trial, if one happens.
At the conclusion of the hearing the sitting judge made the correct legal decision: Zimmerman should be granted bail.
The bail set was $150,000.
Electronic monitoring is a condition.
Curfew, drug & alcohol testing are also conditions.
Witnessing the justice system at work turns out a lot like watching sausage being made.