Why George Zimmerman May Be Hard To Convict

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:

  1. The victim is dead;
  2. The death was caused by the criminal act of the defendant;
  3. 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.

15 Replies to “Why George Zimmerman May Be Hard To Convict”

  1. I have been concerned about two things:

    A. The prosecutor failed to charge lesser includeds, though there is still time to amend that.

    B. According to the initial report, Zimmerman had spoken of “f*ing coons”. The information renders that, “f*ing punks”.

    I know little about this prosecutor, but under (p)Rick S(n)ott, I wouldn’t put it past the state to sabotage its own case.

  2. Zimmerman will go free. The stand your ground law will see to that because regardless of his intent, his defense only has to insinuate he was fearful for his life. The Castle Doctrine achieved its goal; legal cover for Wild West gunslingers.

  3. Uhh.. Rmuse… I’m not a wild west gunslinger by any stretch of the imagination, and I’m thankful for that law.

    Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

  4. Actually A Walkaway, Stand Your Ground if you read the text, does not apply to Zimmerman:

    Florida

    2011 Florida Statutes CHAPTER 776 JUSTIFIABLE USE OF FORCE: http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2011/Chapter0776/All

    776.012 Use of force in defense of person.—A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

    (1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or
    (2) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013.

    776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.—

    (1) A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:

    (a) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
    (b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

    (2) The presumption set forth in subsection (1) does not apply if:

    (a) The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person; or
    (b) The person or persons sought to be removed is a child or grandchild, or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of, the person against whom the defensive force is used; or
    (c) The person who uses defensive force is engaged in an unlawful activity or is using the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle to further an unlawful activity; or
    (d) The person against whom the defensive force is used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who enters or attempts to enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person entering or attempting to enter was a law enforcement officer.

    (3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

    (4) A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person’s dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.

    (5) As used in this section, the term:

    (a) “Dwelling” means a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night.
    (b) “Residence” means a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily or permanently or is visiting as an invited guest.
    (c) “Vehicle” means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, which is designed to transport people or property.

    776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.—

    (1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

    (2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.

    (3) The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).

    776.041 Use of force by aggressor. —The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:

    (1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or

    (2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:

    (a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
    (b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.

    Now tell me, where does it say that a person using standing your ground can chase someone? It doesn’t. He may have claimed to stand his ground because he was getting beat up, but if you read my story, Second degree murder is not the appropriate charge and it has nothing to do with standing ones ground. It has everything to do with criminal negligence and because Zimmerman put himself in harm’s way, he had to commit a homicide, thus making him negligent by not listening to the 911 operator and killing a human being…and Stand Your Ground really doesn’t apply.

  5. Thank you for posting that. That’s a lot less dense and easier to read than other laws I’ve waded through.

    I don’t see anywhere in that law where it could be used as justification for killing minorities, or any of the other slanderous things I’ve read regarding the “Stand your Ground” laws. It seems very clear to me that this is a good, common sense law that protects people from being punished by the law for defending themselves, and it’s clear the law was meant to only protect those people who WERE defending themselves.

    I found it ironic that the law assumes that law enforcement are to be trusted and if they’re doing their “lawful duties”, said duties might not be just or actually legal. I’m thinking in this case how our “great” sheriff arrested Ellenbeth Wachs… full swat team and all that to arrest her for making “sexual sounds” (probably more like pain or misery… she WAS going though Chemo after all) – there were over a dozen cars at her house when it happened including the SWAT response vehicle from what someone living near her said. It was a clear act of intimidation for someone who didn’t go along with the dominionists and their forcing prayer into government meetings (which is still going on, by the way).

    If it gets repealed, we’re going to be going back to the same old “let them do what they want and try to run if you can – don’t resist otherwise you could be arrested” BS that was the standard response before SYG.

  6. I will say this about that.

    One there may be evidence we don’t know about which is why the prosecutor chose second-degree murder.

    Two the prosecutor is inadequate for the job.

    And three, the second-degree murder charge was declared because the prosecutor does not want a conviction which would affect her political career.

    a fourth one might be that someone is going to use the stand your ground law against George Zimmerman. if it’s this easy to get away with shooting Mr. Martin, Then it should be a breeze to be able to shoot Zimmerman and anyone else you want to shoot. In fact someone could become a serial killer standing their ground. in fact the NRA could get exactly what it wants. Hundreds of serial killers openly shooting people

    And the southern Christians would be happy to see that guns are being put to good use

  7. I doubt that it will get repealed. Maybe applied properly, like Stand Your Ground. Not follow? And anyway, the D.A. is not filing the correct charges, because, I doubt that Zimmerman was depraved. Negligent? Putting himself in harm’s way and had to use his firearm to protect himself? If he’d listened to the 911 operator, would this have happened? Can we prove from the 911 recording that he was negligent? A lot better than saying he’s depraved. Right? Therefore, Stand Your Ground does not apply and the wrong charge was applied on Zimmerman

  8. @Shiva, you may be correct, there may be other evidence, but what we heard so far, the corpus delecti for second degree murder was met, except for the depraved part.

    California definition of Second Degree murder:

    Murder is the unlawful killing of a person or fetus with malice planned beforehand. Murder is classified either as first- or second-degree. In order to be classified as murder, the victim must die within a year of the crime causing his or her death. The definition of murder is found in Penal Code Section 187.

    Second-degree murder is similar to first-degree murder except that premeditation does not have to be proven. All that is necessary is the awareness on the part of the defendant that his or her conduct is dangerous to human life. Second-degree murder is such a killing without premeditation, as murder committed in the heat of passion or in a sudden fight or dispute.

    Malice in second-degree murder may be determined by a death due to the reckless lack of concern for the lives of others, such as firing a loaded gun into a crowd or bashing someone with a deadly weapon. Under California law, the punishment for second-degree murder is lifetime imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

    Depending on various circumstances and state laws, murder in the first- or second-degree may be charged to a person who did not actually kill the victim but was involved in the killing of the victim by proxy, though someone else did the killing. For example, in a liquor store robbery where the clerk shoots back at the thief and kills an innocent bystander, the armed robber can be held responsible for at least second-degree murder.

    Another example of second-degree murder is if a person kills while committing a felony that is intrinsically dangerous to human life (other than arson, burglary, etc.); the person will be found guilty of committing second-degree murder. For example, if the defendant supplies heroin to someone who uses it and subsequently dies of an overdose, the defendant may be charged with murder in the second-degree. Under the law, it is dictated that, if the defendant had the specific intention to supply the heroin, he or she had enough malice to be charged with murder.

    Death of an unborn child who is moving can be murder, provided there was premeditation, malice, and no legal authority. Thusly, abortion is not considered as murder under the law. For example, someone who shoots a pregnant woman, resulting in the death of the unborn child, would be charged with second-degree murder.

    They don’t have to prove that the person was depraved, just that there was no malice aforethought or intent. Florida, just by reading the laws, is dangerous!

  9. Um…because he’s innocent?

    And the backlash against him is pure, unadulterated, liberal racism?

  10. “Florida, just by reading the laws, is dangerous!”

    (LAUGH!) You called that one right!

    In this state, you can be in bed recovering from chemo, be arrested! For making “Sexual noises”!

    Or put in jail for picking up a blue jay feather!

    Or even calling and asking the police about the legality of carrying a pistol while jogging (actually nearly happened to me quite a few years ago).

    And that’s just the police!

  11. Oh, I understand what you’re saying. I don’t know if we will ever get a straight story since it happened in this state… unless someone can get copies of the tapes and go over them thoroughly. (Or if it turns out someone videotaped the whole thing.)

    If someone tried to get copies of the tapes, I’d be concerned that some sort of accident would make them unusable.

    I do NOT expect justice to happen, and that’s because I’ve lived here as long as I have. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.

  12. Of course he’s innocent. Like O.J. is? Like Robert Blake? Yes, they are all innocent. I have no problem saying that Zimmerman is innocent. I can quote the law, but I will say he’s innocent. You have issues with the examples I have given?

  13. Uh… Conservative Heart isn’t what he or she seems. Usually the comments are so over-the-top that they’re hilarious! (And deliberately so.)

    We do joke and play with our words around here from time to time.

    (Hey, I’d rather play with my words than eat them!)

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