From the projects to the White House, February’s shooting death of punk-in-the-making Trayvon Martin has provided a ready-made call to arms for the nation’s professional race hustlers. Even the President has taken advantage of this opportunity to pimp a black death for electoral profit.
And though it isn’t surprising that much of the national media have ignored the way in which the facts of the shooting apply to Florida statute, it does seem difficult to believe that no one in the nation is interested.
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Given the many conflicting stories concerning surveillance video and witness testimony, it is difficult to know what really happened on the night Martin was killed by George Zimmerman. And until all of the evidence is presented in court, all that can be stated with any degree of certainty is that the one individual privy to existing information, Florida prosecutor Angela Corey, believed there to be enough evidence against Zimmerman to charge him with 2nd degree murder. A jury will have to decide whether her decision was inspired by fact or politics.
Florida statute defines 2nd degree murder as a killing “…evincing a depraved mind regardless of (having no regard for) human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual…”
Whether according to centuries of English common law or the terms of the Modern Penal Code, a necessary element of criminal homicide—such as 2nd degree murder in Florida– is malice. And a person who kills another is possessed of a requisite degree of malice if he exhibits: “the intention to kill a human being; the intention to inflict grievous bodily injury…; or an extremely reckless disregard for the value of human life…” It is malice revealed through such a state of mind which makes the killing of another a criminal act worthy of punishment.
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Given this definition and its application under Florida statute, it appears that a charge of 2nd degree murder might indeed be legitimately brought against George Zimmerman.
However, the taking of a human life only becomes criminal homicide if it is committed intentionally and without justification. And throughout the United States, “…self-defense, including the use of deadly force in self-protection, [is recognized] as a justification defense” (from Joshua Dressler’s book Understanding Criminal Law.)
Any individual who is NOT the aggressor in a confrontation is entitled to the use of force, including deadly force, “…if he reasonable believes that such force is necessary to protect himself from imminent use of unlawful deadly force by the other person.” Nor is it necessary that an aggressor be armed with a gun, knife, or anything usually thought of as a deadly weapon. For “…‘deadly force’ is force likely to cause death or grievous bodily injury,” whether effected by a weapon OR bare hands (see Understanding Criminal Law.)
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If video, witness testimony, and physical evidence clearly show Trayvon Martin the aggressor; if they reveal a violent attack by Martin sufficient to inflict “grievous bodily injury”; and if it appears that Zimmerman made a decision to fire based upon a reasonable fear of his life or well-being, then innocent by reason of self-defense must be the verdict delivered by a properly instructed, un-biased jury.
Killing without justification is murder. Killing with the justification of self-defense is not. All George Zimmerman and Americans interested in justice can hope for is a jury of 12 honest people, unafraid to do the right thing.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.
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