Today marks the beginning of the murder trial centering around volunteer neighborhood watch guard George Zimmerman, and teenager Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman’s criminal defense attorney will have to keep the state from convincing the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed by Zimmerman.
Community Volunteer versus a Teenager
In February of last year, Trayvon Martin was shot in the chest by Zimmerman after a violent encounter on a dark, rainy neighborhood street. Zimmerman claimed to be acting in self-defense, and was released after minimal time by the Sanford Police Department, sparking outrage across the country, where people felt Zimmerman had racially profiled Martin – literally getting away with murder.
On the evening of Febuary 26, 2012, Zimmerman was patrolling the streets of Florida neighborhood Retreat at Twin Lakes, when he saw Martin walking back from getting snacks at a local 7-11. Zimmerman felt the teenager was acting suspiciously, and reported his behavior to the police. He continued to watch Martin and began to follow him. At some point, the situation turned violent, ending in Zimmerman’s fatal shot.
Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law
Florida is one of many states that has a “stand your ground” law, which allows for an individual to use any amount of force in self-defense, even if that means they kill their attacker. Zimmerman reported that he had acted in self-defense to the police, and was promptly released back into the community. Pictures taken the night of the incident show Zimmerman with a broken nose, bruises and cuts on the back of his head.
A Public Outcry
News of Zimmerman’s lack of arrest flooded the media, leading to an enormous public outcry claiming that racial profiling and idealism had undermined the possible extent of the neighborhood watchman’s crime. Rallies and demonstrations calling for Zimmerman’s arrest took place, and even President Obama urged the case to be investigated further. After much deliberation, Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder.
Opening statements were given today, June 24, 2013 to an all-female jury carefully selected out of a pool of 211 potential jurors. Zimmerman could face life in prison if convicted and continues to claim he shot Martin in self-defense. While for the moment we can only speculate how the defense and prosecution will handle the trial, we can only hope that the truth be revealed and justice be served.