When a man shot and killed a boy on a rainy night on the streets of Sanford Florida, because he looked suspicious and the man took it upon himself to investigate this person wearing a hoodie, the State District Attorney filed second degree murder charges against the adult, but may have inadvertently have all the charges of murder dismissed or find him not guilty.
The State of Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey has charged George Zimmerman for second degree murder against Trayvon Martin, which according to Florida’s law may get Zimmerman life in prison. But there seems to be a catch. According to Florida’s law, to prove second degree murder, the State of Florida must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The victim is dead;
- The death was caused by the criminal act of the defendant;
- There was an unlawful killing of the victim by an act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life.
01) Travon Martin is dead. Zimmerman claimed he killed him in self defense.
02) When the 911 operator said to not get involved, Zimmerman disobeyed the operator and confronted Martin. By not obeying the order, this can be grounds for obstruction of justice, an arrestable offense, therefore, satisfying two of three within the laws of second degree murder.
03) There was an unlawful killing of the victim by an act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life may be the issue here.
According to Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, the word depraved says: marked by corruption or evil; especially : perverted. The State has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman’s mind was corrupt or evil or even perverted. Also what is reasonable doubt?
Reasonable doubt: Prosecution must be proven to the extent that there could be no “reasonable doubt” in the mind of a “reasonable person” that the defendant is guilty.
So is there any doubt that Zimmerman’s mind was corrupt, evil or perverted? The defense may say that he was concerned about the safety and well being of the community and that his intentions were to protect property and Zimmerman who gave chase, was a victim of Martin, who pounced on him, started to smash his head against the concrete and Zimmerman had no choice but to shoot Zimmerman to defend himself. If Zimmerman sticks with that story, the jury would have no choice but to say not guilty. On the other hand, the D.A. can still file manslaughter charges.
According to Florida law: Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought. Manslaughter may be voluntary or involuntary. Essentially, the difference between manslaughter and murder is that manslaughter was the result of an accident, heat of passion, or some other act in which the person does not have the mental state to commit a murder.
Involuntary manslaughter: To establish involuntary manslaughter, the prosecutor must show that the defendant acted with “culpable negligence.” Florida statutes define culpable negligence as a disregard for human life while engaging in wanton or reckless behavior. The state may be able to prove involuntary manslaughter by showing the defendant’s recklessness or lack of care when handling a dangerous instrument or weapon, or while engaging in a range of other activities that could lead to death if performed recklessly. Example: If the defendant handles a loaded gun without any knowledge of whether the gun is loaded, and he later discharges the gun into a group of people, the defendant’s actions likely meet the recklessness requirement for a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Florida state laws also establish involuntary manslaughter if the prosecutor shows that the defendant used excessive force during self-defense or the defense of another person. The prosecution and defense can look at the facts and circumstances of the killing to determine whether the defendant reasonably believed that self-defense was necessary; if not necessary, the state might proceed with an involuntary manslaughter charge.
If the D.A. cannot prove that the Zimmerman was depraved, then legally, Zimmerman is a free man and under the double jeopardy rules, he cannot be tried again for the same crime…but then there is federal court.