Zimmergate: Why The Jury Found "Georgie" Not Guilty


Okay, the Zimmerman trial has come and gone. It’s over. Was the outcome one that everyone wanted to see? Certainly not. And, no matter what could have happened in that Florida courtroom, Trayvon Martin would still be gone. No, gone is not the correct word. Trayvon Martin is dead. His parents will never see their son again, and I, for one, cannot imagine the pain they’ve suffered as a result of his fatal encounter with George Zimmerman.

But what actually happened that night? Did George Zimmerman act out some sort of perverted fantasy of killing a black guy who wore hoodies and enjoyed Skittles? Was “Georgie” as his friends called him, a closet racist? Does he despise African American teens? Well, let’s first examine the racial aspects of this not-so-complicated case.

Shortly after Martin died much of the news media began to paint Zimmerman as a racist who’d apparently targeted Trayvon Martin simply because he was black. In fact, NBC news even went as far as editing portions of Zimmerman’s call to 911, which seemingly bolstered those claims of racism. However, by the time the entire 911 call was made public it was far too late. The racism claim had consumed the entire country.

Zimmerman’s actual statements to the 911 call-taker/dispatcher.

Zimmerman – “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.”

Dispatcher –  “OK, and this guy – is he black, white, or Hispanic?”

Zimmerman – “He looks black.”

Now, here’s what NBC broadcast to the public.

“This guy looks like he’s up to no good…. He looks black.”

There’s a huge difference between the two, and NBC’s edited version certainly makes Zimmerman appear to think the suspect was up to no good merely because of the color of his skin. Not so, though. What Zimmerman actually reported can be heard on any number of police radios all across the country. That’s how police narrow the field, so they won’t be looking for a suspect of the wrong race. It’s a logical question and response. For example:

Caller – “There’s a man in the liquor store with a gun. Oh my God, he just shot the clerk and now he’s running away!”

Dispatcher – “Can you give me a description?”

Caller – “He’s a big guy wearing a hoodie.”

Dispatcher – “How about his race? Is he white, black, Hispanic?”

Caller – “He looks white… Hold on… Yes, he’s white for sure. The hood just fell away from his face.”

Okay, now police can focus only on the white men wearing hoodies near the liquor store. Nothing racist about the description. In fact, it’s a totally necessary description. And that’s exactly what Zimmerman offered to the police dispatcher, that the man in question appeared to be black.

It was this edited 911 call that basically ignited the racism aspect of the case. Of course, President Obama didn’t help matters at all when he made his comment, “You know, if I had a son he’d look like Trayvon.” You know, I don’t believe the president of the United States has any business poking his nose into a local criminal case, especially before the evidence has been gathered. His premature statement was like pouring gasoline on a campfire. It sent the cries of racism through the roof, and the aftermath was brutal, and it came without first knowing the facts. It was a knee-jerk reaction of huge proportion.

A large segment of the population screamed, protested, and demanded that neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman be arrested, and he was, eventually. But not before Chief of Police Bill Lee lost his job for no more reason than his department wasn’t able to find enough probable cause to arrest George Zimmerman. Neither could the local prosecutor.

In fact, just last week, Chief Lee told CNN’s George Howell in an exclusive interview that he was pressured by city officials to arrest Zimmerman to placate the public. “It was (relayed) to me that they just wanted an arrest,” said Lee. “They didn’t care if it got dismissed later,” he said. “You don’t do that.”

So the governor of Florida appointed a special prosecutor to the case, and she, Angela Corey, wasted no time in pacifying the public when she charged George Zimmerman with 2nd degree murder based on the same evidence (or lack of) that Chief Lee, his investigators, and the local prosecutor didn’t believe was enough to even establish weak probable cause to arrest.

But now we all know that Chief Lee and his staff did their jobs. Sure, there were a few missteps, such as not bagging the hands of the victim and placing wet clothing in plastic bags instead of paper, (readers of this blog know that paper allows proper air drying for the preservation of DNA and blood evidence). Luckily, though, neither of those oversights were important to this case since the identity of the shooter was known all along.

We also know that Prosecutor Norm Wolfinger did his job correctly by not bringing charges against Zimmerman, because there simply wasn’t enough evidence to garner a conviction of any type, including manslaughter.

Florida State Attorney Angela Corey was the appointed prosecutor who charged, or over-charged, Zimmerman with 2nd degree murder. And I say over-charged because there wasn’t even the tiniest shred of evidence that pointed to 2nd degree murder. So this is basically what the prosecution had to offer as far evidence in this highly-charged, high-profile case…

– Second-degree murder in Florida is defined as a killing carried out with hatred, ill will, or spite, but is not premeditated. Basically, the only thing separating this charge from 1st degree murder is the lack of premeditation. There absolutely was no indication of Zimmerman having any hatred, ill will, or spite toward Martin. None. Unfortunately, it appears that the special prosecutor succumbed to political pressure and charged Zimmerman merely to…well, I’ll leave opinion out of this and stick to the facts I know. And that means I have no way of knowing what Angela Corey was thinking when she brought the charges, no more than she could’ve known what thoughts were zipping through Zimmerman’s mind on the night he shot Trayvon Martin.

– The prosecution offered the tape of someone, either Martin or Zimmerman, screaming for help. Well, both sides claim it was their person who was doing the screaming. Therefore, this, as evidence, was rendered a moot point. You know, though, at the beginning of the investigation, police officers said that Martin’s father answered “No,” when they asked if it was Trayvon’s voice he heard on the tape.

– A lack of physical evidence (blood, DNA, etc.) on both Zimmerman and Martin. It was raining that night, which more than likely washed away what little evidence there was, if any. I’ve investigated more than my share of homicides in my day, and I’ve seen murder victims who bled very little, if any, from gunshot wounds. I’ve also investigated cases on nights when the sky opened up sending buckets of rain onto the scene and the victim’s body. The evidence is quickly destroyed if the area isn’t quickly protected, and sometimes it impossible to do so due to response times and other difficulties.

– Testimony of witnesses…for the most part, each of the witnesses had something to say that backed Zimmerman’s accounting of the shooting.

In other words, There wasn’t enough evidence to charge George Zimmerman with even the lesser of the charges, manslaughter. And there certainly wasn’t enough evidence to convict him of murder. Not even close.

Even so, after being presented with the lack of evidence and the evidence that proved Zimmerman was not guilty of the charges brought against him, there are people across the country who still believe Martin’s death was racially motivated. And those people are taking to the streets, even as far away as Oakland, California, to destroy the property of hard-working men and women who have absolutely nothing to do with George Zimmerman or Trayvon Martin.

The protestors using violence to express their “concerns” are basically diminishing the cause when they break storefront windows, block traffic, destroy police cars, set fires, and burn American flags that belong to businesses.

You know, if you want to protest by burning an American flag, spend your own money to buy your own flag to burn instead of stealing one from a fast food restaurant. You want to break a window, break the glass on your own house, not at a store owned by people no better off than you. You want to seek revenge on the police, do it on election day by voting the people out of office who support the officials that don’t share your beliefs. After all, repairing or replacing a police car is no big deal. The government simply draws the necessary funds to do so out of our tax dollars. Same thing with out of control, violent protests. We have to pay the police overtime to handle to violence, and where do you think the money comes from to pay them? We all suffer from these acts of stupidity, not the government.

Finally, the president of the United States of America should be savvy enough to wait until the evidence comes in before openly taking sides in a local criminal matter. Besides, he above all others should be perfectly aware of the consequences of wading into an issue without first doing some pretty extensive homework. Didn’t he sort of inherit a war that was based on faulty intelligence?

Remember folks, George Zimmerman was found not guilty, but that doesn’t mean the jury found him innocent. They did the best they could with the evidence presented to them, which wasn’t much at all. And, based on my experience and the fact that there’s no such thing as a perfect crime, having no evidence is a good indicator that someone’s not guilty.

The jury was right in this case. No doubt about it.

And to those of you who’re itching to protest senseless killings, I can list hundreds of them all over the U.S., including a dozen or so recent murders in the Savannah, Ga area, starting with 21-year-old Rebecca Foley who was shot dead as she drove into her apartment parking lot after a long day at work. Mr. President, I have to ask, if you had another daughter would she look like Rebecca?

What about, Michael Biancosino and Emily Pickels who were shot dead while driving home after work?

How about Amber DeLoatch, who was assaulted, strangled, raped, and murdered, and then placed into the trunk of her car. Her killer then set the vehicle on fire. DeLoatch’s charred remains were later discovered by police.

What kind of human could do that sort of thing to another human?

36-year-old Shan Demetrius Cheley has been indicted for DeLoatch’s murder. Cheley has an extensive criminal history.

And let’s not forget Chicago, where 67 people were shot (11 killed) during the 4th of July weekend alone. Forty-six were shot (8 killed) on Father’s Day.

I could go on and on listing the shootings that occur in this country every day, but I won’t. But I will continue to wonder why there’s no outrage over these senseless killings. Where are the protestors? Where’s the anger? Are these lives not as important as another?

Who do these murder victims look like…Biden, Pelosi, Clinton, Holder, Romney?

I say our government officials need to worry about Snowden and the IRS, and leave policing to the good, hardworking people who know what they’re doing.

There is no place for politics when it comes to crime-solving.

*I chose the cases above because they were the ones most accessible to me. Race had nothing to do with my posting them. Sadly, there are plenty of murder victims—far too many—of all races. Killers too.

50 replies
  1. Barbara L
    Barbara L says:

    I don’t know what I would have decided if I was on the jury. 2cd degree was an overreach and maybe there isn’t a law but I can’t exonerate Zimmerman.

    Item: Neighborhood Watch rules do not allow carrying a weapon or confronting a suspect. Why didn’t the prosecutor bring this into evidence.

    Item: Why did Zimmerman get so close to Martin to be hit? Did he hit first or try to grab Martin? Did Martin have no right of self defense? Do you still have self-defense rights if you instigate a fight? Since nobody knows these answers, except Zimmerman if he even remembers accurately, you can’t convict him.

    Item: I heard Zimmerman’s father on the radio speaking what I call “polite racism”. “Those people” — referring to black leaders were only upset about the unnecessary death of a black kid. Doesn’t mean the son was.

    I have been followed or pursued on several occasions in my life, mostly as a young woman. I took evasive procedures – “flight” – and made sure not to go home until I had shaken the pursuer. On two occasions, I was trapped and took up “fight”. Once, the innocent paper boy who had blocked me into my garage with my 2 babies in the car, and I charged out at him yelling “go away” before I recognized his shaken voice identifying himself. Recently I saved my life, when I whirled at my screen door because I didn’t have time to get in. The beast stopped at the foot of the stairs, and considered if I could harm it. I’ve heard since that coyotes are both timid and stupid. An 8 year-old chased one off by bopping its nose.

    Point is, it’s scary to be followed by an unknown person. I don’t know how teenage boys think, but some sexual predators go after young males. Gacy got 33 boys.

    This case seems to be a transformative event in our national consciousness. There’s more hurrah than the last lynching. Emmet Till would be about 73 years old now, if he hadn’t been young for (maybe) whistling.

  2. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Thanks, Bud. I posted the link to Alafair’s article on my Facebook page a couple of days ago and thought I’d done so here. I guess not.

    Here’s what I posted on my FB page.

    Here’s a wonderfully written article by Alafair Burke on the Zimmerman case. In the HuffPo piece, she talks about the jury instructions and a couple of well-played defense moves. Couple what Alafair says with the case evidence and it’s not at all difficult to see why the jury came to their conclusion.

    Good job, Alafair!


  3. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Terry, you’re overlooking an important detail. George Zimmerman didn’t testify at the trial. We didn’t hear his side/opinion at all. The evidence presented by the defense was physical evidence and witness testimony. It was the prosecution’s job to prove Zimmerman was guilty and to tell Trayvon’s story through a chain of events and evidence, but they couldn’t do it because those things just weren’t there.

    Also, we have not seen one single shred of evidence that says Zimmerman started a confrontation. All we know is that he got out of his vehicle to follow Martin, and that’s it.

    Remember, I’m remaining neutral, and I’m basing my comments on the facts we know. No speculation.

  4. Terry
    Terry says:

    We will never have all of the facts in this case, because we will never have Trayvon’s side of the story. He’s dead, he doesn’t get to tell it. All we have are the different versions that Zimmerman told. When you kill someone, you can tell a version that makes you the victim. I have no sympathy at all for George Zimmerman. He started the confrontation. I hope he has to look over his shoulder the rest of his life thinking someone might get him alone on a dark night with no witnesses and confront him for no reason.

  5. Pamela Beason
    Pamela Beason says:

    As a private investigator, I know that there is ALWAYS more to the story than is covered in the news. I’m appalled when people on the street believe they know the truth based on nothing more than a sound bite, but that seems to be the nature of both media and the general public these days. It’s a theme I often include in my books. Thanks for the article, Lee, and for writing such a consistently helpful blog.

  6. C. C. Harrison
    C. C. Harrison says:

    Excellent article and analysis, Lee. I’m a news junky, but you mentioned a couple of things I didn’t know. This is a sad case all around, my heart breaks for everyone involved.

  7. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    I don’t believe anyone is disputing Zimmerman’s past. But it wasn’t an issue at the precise moment of the shooting. It wouldn’t matter if Charles Manson had been the shooter had he done so in self defense. And that’s what the jury had to decide, and did. Everyone has a right to defend themselves, including Charles Manson, Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, and Captain Kangaroo.

  8. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Janis, I totally understand Martin not calling 911. His age and background, and race, could have played a part in him deciding to confront the “creepy-a** cracker” who was following him instead of using his phone to report the guy. Many people have a huge distrust of police officers. And, they feel as if the police would side with the white guy, so what’s the point in calling. I do see that as a possible mindset for Martin. This is definitely an area that needs a ton of work. The police in this country need to find a way to close the “us against them” gap.

    You know, this unfortunate event should open people’s eyes regarding taking matters into their own hands. There are a whole lot of people out there carrying concealed weapons, and they’re doing a whole lot of target shooting with the intention of protecting themselves against possible threats. It’s a new world out there.

  9. Les Edgerton
    Les Edgerton says:

    Bravo, Lee! This was a thorough, dispassionate account of the trial and outcome, fairly and evenly delivered. The victim(s) here are Mr. Zimmerman whose life will forever be negatively altered by what the lame street media has created, as well as the unjustly fired police chief and the original prosecutor. The media is sickening. They simply pander to the professional race-baiters like Sharpton, Jackson, et al.

    I doubt if many know about Martin’s lengthy rap sheet, the discovery of women’s jewelry in his possession most likely from a prior burglary, the burglar tool he threw away at the scene and the shots of him smoking weed, cursing white people and a bunch of other things like this. They certainly won’t find out about any of this by watching Pravda (the major networks). As an ex-con who did time for burglary, (second-degree–businesses–not first-degree–home creeper), this guy was easy to spot. He’s basically a thug and the great thing is that Zimmerman probably saved somebody’s life in the future as it’s fairly clear what Martin’s future would be like. Common sense predicts where he was headed.

    Zimmerman is simply a caring young man who tried to help keep his neighborhood safe from thugs like Martin. I commend and salute him. He’s a true hero.

  10. Janis Patterson
    Janis Patterson says:

    Thank you, Lee, for a factual and cogent exposition of the case. We must keep repeating that self-defense is not a crime. Martin was a tatted-out thug with a record, burglary tools in his school locker and a habit of smoking dope. He was six feet tall and heavily muscled. Zimmerman had a clean record, was 5’7″ and not muscled. Martin smashed the back of Zimmerman’s head to the ground, beat him so badly his nose was broken and seen to be on top of him, ‘grounding and pounding’ him. Of course Zimmerman was in fear of his life. I repeat, self-defense is not a crime.

    What I have not seen addressed was why Martin automatically attacked. He had a cell phone. Instead of talking to his girl friend, why didn’t he dial the police if he felt threatened? Why didn’t he push back his hoodie, take a non-threatening stance and ask what was going on and try to defuse the situation as any civilized person would? Instead he attacked.

    Self-defense is not a crime.

  11. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Al, I’m sure if Trayvon Martin did indeed see the gun he would’ve feared for his life. And, if so, he had every right to defend himself against it. The same is true for every single person in this country. We all have the right to defend ourselves against bodily harm. But that is not the same as the Stand Your Ground law. This was a self defense case through and through.

    By the way, some of you are making assumptions about my personal feelings regarding Zimmerman and Martin. You just may be preaching to the choir. So let’s try to leave emotions and assumptions out of this and stick to the facts of case. Take a breath. Stand back and look at only the facts and you just might see things differently. That’s what investigators must do when working their cases. It’s the only way to reach the truth of the matter.

  12. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Wraith, I think you’re missing my point regarding the president’s statement, and that was that the POTUS should not pick and choose which local criminal cases in which he should stand on a public stage to comment on. Actually, the federal government has no place in local/state policing.

    The president’s public comments pointed to him leaning toward the defense without first knowing the details of the case. And that alone added fuel to the racism fire.

    Now, if he had a policy of addressing the nation about every single murder in the country, then have at it. But to single out a couple and choose a side is, well, it’s not appropriate, especially when the cases are highly charged.

    Yes, there was a need to find out what happened, and that was exactly what the police were in the process of doing. Cops don’t always arrest suspects immediately. Evidence that establishes probable cause must be gathered first, and that’s when the case is presented to the prosecutor who makes the decision as to when or if the case moves forward. And it takes time to do this job correctly, and that time was taken away from the police. A HUGE mistake in this case.

  13. Al Tucher
    Al Tucher says:

    Stand Your Ground may not have been invoked explicitly, but it was the air that the case breathed. Zimmerman could take his gun and go looking for trouble, and as long as only he was left alive, his version would prevail.

    He may have feared for his life, but we have only his word for it. Trayvon Martin may have seen Zimmerman’s gun and also feared for his life. The physical evidence won’t tell us that, and Zimmerman certainly won’t either.

  14. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    Excellent recap, Lee. Every time a case comes to a verdict the people don’t like the first thing I say is we (the public) don’t know all the evidence presented in the courtroom. And, like in this case, the prosecution goes for way to high a charge. Take the Casey Anthony case, I told people the jury’s decision was good, not because she didn’t kill her daughter, but because the prosecution went for murder and not manslaughter. Sometimes even the justice system gets lost in a thirst for revenge, not justice.

  15. Virginia Tenery
    Virginia Tenery says:

    I love it when people use facts rather than emotions in an argument, but it rarely happens. Thanks for being one of the exceptions in this unfortunate case. Great article.


  16. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    I agree with everything you have said about this matter, Lee, including the rather pathetic media coverage this affair has gotten. And, from what I know about the events that took place, I agree with the jury’s decision.

    I would like to encourage those that are so angered by Trayvon Martin’s killing, and the threat that the George Zimmerman’s of this world impose on all of us, to work to get the gun laws–at the very least–modified, to help prevent future cases such as this from arising. That, or, you know, you can just be “emotional” and throw out accusations in all directions, ’cause that really helps.

  17. wraith808
    wraith808 says:

    Lee, I do understand a bit more after the earlier article about where the verdict came from. I don’t necessarily agree from the standpoint that I do think that Zimmerman was culpable, and it wasn’t a clean shooting. But from the case as presented, I do understand that part.

    But what I wanted to post about was the President’s statement. He wasn’t talking about the case, and in taking that one statement out of context, it seems that you are falling victim to the same thing that the news media did in taking Zimmerman out of context.

    And I quote:
    “I can only imagine what these parents are going through,” Mr. Obama said from the White House Rose Garden, “and when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids, and I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this and that everybody pulls together, federal, state and local, to figure out how this tragedy happened.”

    Mr. Obama added, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

    I totally agree with that statement, i.e. there was a need to find out exactly what happened. I don’t agree with the media circus the investigation became, and the court proceedings. But there was a need for an investigation into a proceeding that left a 17-year old dead for pretty much no reason. It doesn’t matter whether he was black or white- that needed to happen. I think the bit about looking like Trayvon was to impart pathos to the statement, not to stoke anything on either side.

  18. Michael Goodvale
    Michael Goodvale says:

    Always enjoyed reading your Southland reviews, Lee. This post is just as excellent, and exceedingly more thoughtful and insightful than most of the other commentary out there about the Zimmerman trial. Do I like the fact that a 17 year old kid was killed while walking home? Absolutely not. But there is no question the jury made the right decision. They should be commended for applying the law to the evidence presented in court, as they swore an oath to do. I hope the public comes to appreciate that.

  19. Bud Crawford
    Bud Crawford says:

    Lee, I think you’re right on the verdict under the law. And it is a fair stance to take, that you’re sticking to the facts as known.

    The story that the country is reacting to happened in a larger context. You isolate the narrative, as an investigator, a prosecutor, or a judge must do, for a charge to be fairly tried.

    White guy shoots a black guy and gets away with it. Shoots him, apparently, because the fight that he started was going badly.

    Initially, he was off scot-free, scarcely interrogated, scarcely any investigation, and no charge filed. This did catch people’s attention. Stand your ground means a white guy can kill a black kid and if he says he was afraid, it’s okay. Do you think a black man who killed a white kid would get the same dispensation? What’s the score in Florida, so far?

    Stand Your Ground is bad law. Killing in self defense should get a lot of scrutiny, it should not be simple or painless for the killer. Maybe invocation of stand-your-ground should entail a murder trial, every time.

    There’s a very easy answer to whether this case is a little bit or a lot involved with race. All the people pleased with the verdict are white. No black person feels anything but sadness and pain and fear. Okay, that overstates it. But by how much?

  20. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    John, I appreciate all comments, but this site is read by many students, including younger ones. They use the material found here for various school projects. Therefore, we try to keep our language clean and our comments constructive. I’ve edited a word in your comment, which, by the way, is totally an opinion that’s not based on any fact. Unless, that is, you can provide evidence that Zimmerman is a coward and that the people of Sanford stalk and kill people. Now that would be the makings of great article.

  21. John McEvoy
    John McEvoy says:

    If Georgie wasn’t armed, you think he would have gotten his cowardly a** out of his car to confront Martin? No effin way.

    The Sanford FL way is simple: stalk ’em and kill ’em. JMc

  22. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Kylie – I haven’t said I support the police chief. I do not know him or anyone else there. But the chief was unjustly accused of not doing his job when he refused to arrest Zimmerman without probable cause to do so. That’s illegal, and he should have refused at that point in the investigation.

    What came after the chief’s dismissal was a hurried fiasco just to appease the public. Had the police been given time to properly investigate the case the outcome might very well have been different than what we saw on Saturday. For example, the city manager played the “Help!” recording for the Martin family, all at once. That’s a huge no-no that any rookie investigator knows not to do. Besides, it should have been the police who played the tape for them, one at a time, not a non-law enforcement politician/city manager. Huge mistake that really damaged the case.

    You know, bad breaks don’t normally occur when your case is strong enough to convict.

    From above – Chief Lee told CNN’s George Howell in an exclusive interview that he was pressured by city officials to arrest Zimmerman to placate the public. “It was (relayed) to me that they just wanted an arrest,” said Lee. “They didn’t care if it got dismissed later,” he said. “You don’t do that.”

  23. Kylie Brant
    Kylie Brant says:

    Interesting recap. I don’t share your total support for the chief of police, although I agree Zimmerman was overcharged. I do think there was a 50/50 chance of getting him for manslaughter, simply because it could be argued that he incited the incident by following Martin. The prosecution had some bad breaks, number one being their *star witness*. The phone call could have gone either way…

  24. C. Hope Clark
    C. Hope Clark says:


    An absolutely excellent synopsis. Good for you in coming forward with this post. It’s a shame that reckless journalism (I see a lawsuit coming on that front) and mob mentality is running this situation. No wonder the jury wants to remain anonymous. They did their job, but people don’t want to hear that. Too many wanted emotion to drive this verdict. Any one of us can get caught in a difficult situation that the ignorant and unknowing can misinterpret. Thank God for laws.

    C. Hope Clark

  25. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Wendy, first of all I appreciate your passion, but I believe you have a sort of skewed understanding of the facts as related to this specific case. I do understand the confusion because it’s sometimes tough to be on the outside looking in. It would be like me watching a highly skilled baker at work. I see the end result, but I don’t quite understand how they make a delicious cake out of a bunch of different dry and wet ingredients, especially when some of the components are only known to the chef.

    Criminal investigations also require a lot of ingredients and all of them are not made public, even when a case is covered on TV or covered by print media. There’s a lot that goes on outside of public view.

    There are also laws that govern what the police can and cannot do, just as there are laws that govern what citizens can and cannot do. Killing a human under normal circumstances is definitely illegal. However, when defending ourselves from bodily harm or a threat to our lives, then we are justified in doing whatever it takes to defend ourselves. And, we don’t have to wait until we are teetering on the edge of death before taking necessary action.

    Also, making an arrest without probable cause to do so is illegal.

    To address your comments:

    – There was absolutely no evidence introduced stating that Zimmerman threatened Martin. If he had, then that’s a crime he could’ve been charged with and convicted of.

    – Zimmerman did not invoke the Stand Your Ground defense. However, both men, Martin and Zimmerman had every right to defend themselves to prevent bodily harm and/or a threat to life. The self defense action in this case, however, did not occur until the two men engaged in the scuffle/fight. Everything until that point has nothing to do with the self defense aspect of the case.

    – We absolutely cannot predict what would have happened had Martin won the fight, although, I believe you’re right, he’d probably had a tough time defending his actions, especially since he was known to have been in physical altercations, was a drug user, and he’d been seen in photos portraying the role of a “gansta’, including recklessly displaying a firearm. But his troubles wouldn’t have been because of his race, though, but because Zimmerman, a watch captain, had already called in and reported seeing a suspicious person in the neighborhood.

    – There’s a difference between a smoking gun case and a case where someone’s holding a gun that’s smoking because it had just been used to defend someone’s life. They are not the same and this was not a “smoking gun” case.

    – To best address your “white girl” comment…
    Hypothetically – had a white girl knocked Zimmerman to the ground and then beat him to the point where he thought he was in clear danger of bodily harm or death, then sure, he, or anyone else, would be justified in doing whatever it takes to survive the encounter.

    And, to further illustrate the point, I’ve worked many cases where women have assaulted, beaten, stabbed, cut, and/or shot men to the point where the males were forced to defend themselves or be badly injured or killed. In most of those cases the women were arrested. You just don’t hear much about these instances because the crimes are normally white on white, or black on black, or Hispanic on Hispanic, etc., and they do not receive the attention that cases like the Zimmerman case received.

    By the way, I’ve been in many physical altercations in my lifetime, and one of the times I truly saw “bright lights and white stars” was when a woman hit me with a well-placed right hook. I don’t think I’ve ever been hit any harder by any man. And no, she was not some heavily muscled female bodybuilding pro wrestler. This was a young, blonde white girl wearing a cute little polka dot mini skirt.

  26. Joe Prentis
    Joe Prentis says:

    I agree with everything you said concerning the Zimmerman investigation and the subsequent trial. We are drowning under a flood of foolishness called ‘political correctness.’ Traced to its source, most political correctness is a smokescreen thrown up to hide the mistakes made by politicians. If they can inject racism or sexism into every event, they can divert our attention away from the mess the last few administrations has made of our nation. A case in point is the plane crash at the San Francisco airport. The airline is going to sue the government agency investigating the crash and a news agency because they ‘racially profiled’ the pilots with the bogus name (Wi To Lo) the intern released to the newsmen. As this moves along, everyone will forget that a pilot is supposed to land a plane safely at an airport time after time, with no excuse or explanation. Three people were killed, over 80 injured, and a multimillion-dollar airplane destroyed. Someone owes an apology, but it isn’t the passengers, the airport, or the American public. I hope there aren’t any riots over this issue as there will probably be with the outcome of the Zimmerman trial.

  27. May
    May says:

    What’s really sad is the media blew this into a Race issue, then stands back and says ‘wow, look at all this’ while the racism is growing. Very sad that people say they want “Justice” but to them it’s only “Justice” if it agrees with their opinion. This was put to a Jury – ‘of his peers’ – who gave their verdict based on the information provided by the Prosecutors (who have the burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt) and the defense (or explanation of the prosecutors arguments). If the Prosecutors failed to provide the evidence, that is not the responsibility of the Defendant (Guilty or not). A Jury HAS spoken – Agree or not, Justice has been provided.

  28. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    This mystifies me. George Zimmerman shot and killed a seventeen year old boy. The evidence is that he was at the scene, it was his gun, and he confessed. What more should anyone need?

    The wrong in this case is not that Zimmerman went to trial but that if you’re an adult male who kills a black teenager, you don’t have to justify your actions. If Zimmerman had shot and killed an unarmed seventeen-year-old white girl under exactly the same circumstances, I do not believe the police would have hesitate two minutes before charging him with murder no matter what kind of story he told. There’d be plenty of evidence for that case.

    The person who had a real right to Stand Your Ground was Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman went followed him and threatened him: Martin had a right to defend himself. If events had gone the other way, though, and Zimmerman had died during their altercation, I’m sure Martin would be going to jail for a long time, despite being a minor at the time. For Zimmerman to use Stand Your Ground, he would have had to explain and justify chasing Martin down. It’s not standing your ground when you follow someone and threaten them.

    And the protests are not about a tragic senseless killing — they’re about a justice system that considers a smoking gun not enough evidence when it comes to the death of a black boy at the hands of a white man. I’m not much of a protestor myself and this is the first thing I’ve ever said or written about this case, but even I can see that much.

  29. Allison Brennan
    Allison Brennan says:

    I really haven’t followed the case except after the fact, but in reading the transcript, it sounds like Zimmerman began to following Martin, but when the dispatcher told him not to follow, he stopped, and turned around and went back to his truck.

    I would have stayed in my vehicle as well and stayed on the phone with the police, but I can totally see how someone who lived in a neighborhood that was prone to burglaries, and wanted to keep his neighborhood safe for his kids, might make a different decision. We used to have teens that would get drunk and stoned at the park around the corner from our house in a good, middle class suburban neighborhood. We were more concerned about the stupid things drunk teens do than any imminent physical danger, but police aren’t going to always come out ASAP to a call of drinking teenagers at a park. These calls are prioritized. So my husband and other dads in the neighborhood would walk to the park and tell the kids to leave, the park is closed. When you have toddlers who play in the park and find broken beer bottles in the sand, you tend to be more proactive about stopping the problem.

    Anyway, I think my point is that while the case is tragic for all concerned, I think a lot of people would have done what Zimmerman did or a variation of his actions.

  30. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Elise – It’s important for everyone to understand that criminal proceedings and investigations are based on fact, not emotions and/or political leanings and beliefs about racism. The courts simply cannot convict someone if the evidence is not there. Nor can it convict if laws don’t support a conviction.

  31. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    SZ – Based on what I’ve seen and heard about this case, no, I don’t believe I would have charged/arrested Zimmerman that night. But I would have certainly begun a thorough investigation to see if a crime had indeed been committed, or if Zimmerman had acted in self defense.

    Part of that investigation would have been to bring Zimmerman to the police department for an interview/interrogation. Then, when I had all the facts together I would have presented my findings and evidence to the prosecutor, who would make the decision as to whether or not to proceed with indictment proceedings/grand jury, or a preliminary hearing where a judge would decide if there was enough evidence to proceed.

    The police in this case were not allowed to do their job. Instead, it was taken out of their hands, which can lead to a disaster during courtroom proceedings.

    Being told by a dispatcher to not follow someone has no more meaning than me telling you right now to not walk on your living room floor. A police dispatcher has no authority over anyone.

  32. Elise M. Stone
    Elise M. Stone says:

    Thanks for your reasoned presentation of the facts, Lee. Unfortunately, those who are taking out their anger on the innocent will not be the ones reading it.

  33. SZ
    SZ says:

    Lee, if you had to decide at the initial incident, would you have charged him something ? I was not manslaughter however after being told not to follow Martin and then doing so seems very negligent

  34. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Sally, Zimmerman did not use the “Stand Your Ground” defense. Instead, his attorneys simply argued that he’d acted in self defense, which is something we can all do when attacked.

    Marni – I’m not sure why the judge didn’t allow some evidence and some she did. Actually, I’m not sure of a lot of things done by some judges. One will allow something and the next won’t allow the same thing. Sometimes I think they have a “Yes or No” dartboard back in chambers. Either that or a Magic Eight Ball.

  35. Sally Carpenter
    Sally Carpenter says:

    Very good blog, Lee. I’m curious, if the incident had taken place in a state without the “stand and defend” law, would the verdict have been different? After all, from what I’ve read the crux of the matter was that Zimmerman shot because he felt his life was in danger. Is “self defense” a valid defense in all states?

  36. Marni Gradd
    Marni Gradd says:

    Great summing up if a tragic case. The distortions of Zimmerman only fueled the anger and racial charges. Why did the judge allow his history–down to classes he took– into evidence but not anything relating to Martins history, behavior or cell messages/photos? The jury acted appropriately.

  37. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    As an aside, how many of you were aware that a branch of the DOJ, the Community Relations Service (CRS), have assisted with protests and marches following the Trayvon Martin shootings?

    An article in the Orlando Sentinel said they (CRS) helped “set up a meeting between the local NAACP and elected officials that led to the temporary resignation of police Chief Bill Lee.”

    A day after she charged Zimmerman with murder, the CRS arranged a meeting between Special Prosecutor Angela Corey and a group of Sanford ministers, where Corey answered questions and shared her testimony of faith.

    According to Fox News, CRS recorded $674 in expenses for a March deployment to Sanford, Fla., to “work marches, demonstrations and rallies related to the shooting and death of an African-American teen by a neighborhood watch captain.”

    CRS agents wear hats bearing the DOJ seal, windbreakers, and the traditional dark glasses worn by many federal agents.


  38. Allison Brennan
    Allison Brennan says:

    Very excellent blog, Lee. Thank you for the analysis.

    As far as following the victim, I read the transcript and when the dispatcher asked him not to follow the victim, he said “Ok” and then said the kid ran and he didn’t know where he was. I think there was a LOT of misinformation spread exactly because of what you initially said in your blog.

    It’s truly a lose-lose situation, and Zimmerman’s life has been virtually destroyed and whether he made a mistake or not, he didn’t deserve what happened to him. I feel for Martin’s family as well. We really have two victims.

  39. Nike Chillemi
    Nike Chillemi says:

    The president has poked his nose into a lot of places where it doesn’t belong. In fact he doesn’t understand his role as Commander In Chief and strong statements he has made to punish racists to the max in the military have actually helped to free them as it’s seen as undue interference by a superior officer.

  40. Jason Leisemann
    Jason Leisemann says:

    As I discussed in a blog post of my own focused more on the need for jurors to emotionally detach themselves from a case and its implications, it could have also been prevented if Martin had gone inside the house that he was staying at, assuming he was telling the truth when he said that he was there a few minutes before the confrontation.

    I hadn’t known it was raining at the time, which makes it even easier to question some of the evidence in this case; thank you for your summation, Lee, I hope you don’t mind if I promote it a bit for those who want to look at the facts.

  41. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    It is, Karen. And, unfortunately someone is now dead. Sure, many argue that had Zimmerman stayed in his car until police arrived none of this would have happened. However, he didn’t, nor was he required to do so (in my opinion, he should have remained in the car with his doors locked and windows rolled up), and we’re at the point where we are today. To convict Zimmerman of the charges, the jury had to base their decision on facts. And that’s what they did.

  42. Karen Cantwell
    Karen Cantwell says:

    It is unfortunate that so many people pay attention to sound bites and skewed media reporting (from ANY news source), specifically designed to rile them up and create discord. Very informative post, Lee. This entire episode is tragic on so very many levels.

  43. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Ashley, please don’t read between the lines. Of course I think the president should’ve gone to Sandy Hook. But that’s not the same as him making the statement about Trayvon Martin at the time he made it. It’s also not what this article was about or I’d have brought it up.

    There was no hidden or special meaning in posting the DeLoatch and Cheley photos. Absolutely none. I could’ve selected any number of photos of victims and killers of all races if I’d had the time to do so. These were images I already had in my files. I’d been following the cases because they occurred in Savannah and were particularly interesting from an investigatory aspect. Again, please don’t read anything into any of my posts. If it’s fact or my opinion I’ll post it. But I do not leave any mysterious tidbits of information floating around.

    Disagreeing on what the president said regarding Trayvon Martin, well, we will disagree on this one because his comments could easily be interpreted as racial, and to do so at that early stage was inappropriate. He injected an opinion that was not based on fact…at that point. It certainly didn’t help to close the racial divide. Had he made the same comment after learning that the death was based on a racial issue would have been different, However, that aspect wasn’t proven. People listen to the words of the most powerful man in the world, and they take what he says quite seriously—opinion or fact.

    By the way, I think it’s natural for the president to have an opinion, even one that’s based on emotions. He’s human, and I believe he’s a caring man. That’s obvious. It’s just that the time and place were wrong for this particular statement.

    And, I’m not getting into the gun control issue.

  44. Wally Lind
    Wally Lind says:

    Good work on the summary, Lee! Sometimes the media, the politicians, and the hustlers really do screw things up on the public stage.

  45. Jim Faris
    Jim Faris says:

    My daughter is a criminal attorney in that area. That State Attorney that handled this has a reputation for reckless prosecution. The police did everything right and the chief was fired for no good reason.

  46. Ashley McConnell
    Ashley McConnell says:

    I think that the key to the case was what happened between the moment Zimmerman accosted Martin, and the moment that Martin was shot. I wasn’t in the courtroom and didn’t hear that evidence, so I don’t know what I would have decided if I’d been on the jury.

    I do think it’s also worth pointing out that blacks tend to kill blacks, and whites tend to kill whites, more often than blacks kill whites or vice versa. I was with you in your argument until you chose to post the photos of DeLoach and Cheley, which seems to emphasize cross-racial killing.

    No one, including the President, says that whites don’t get killed. And I notice you didn’t object to him showing up at the site of the Sandy Hook massacre–should he not have gotten involved in THAT either?

    If it’s “politics” getting involved in crime solving, it’s because the issue of gun control is a political issue, and guns are often involved in crime. If the President chooses to point out that he has a personal emotional reaction to the death of Trayvon Martin, I don’t see that as political any more than his talking to the parents of Sandy Hook. Perhaps you do. We’ll have to agree to disagree about that.

  47. Alice Duncan
    Alice Duncan says:

    Wow, very interesting recap, Lee. I kind of thought that when the 911 operator told him not to follow the kid and he did, he was wrong, but I can see your point. In spades.

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