Improbable Cause

April 20th, 2012

Zimmerman Prosecutor Fail

I watched the last 20 minutes or so of George Zimmerman’s bond hearing today.

You can get bogged down in the details and sniping, but it makes more sense to examine the dispositive issues.

In order to convict George Zimmerman, the state has to prove certain things. If Zimmerman did not start a fight, and he shot to prevent a forcible felony (aggravated assault or aggravated battery), or if he was in actual, reasonable fear of severe bodily harm, he walks.

People think you can only shoot if you’re in reasonable apprehension of severe bodily injury or death. That’s wrong. Look at the statute. You can shoot to prevent a forcible felony, including aggravated assault, IF you have clean hands. If someone is committing a forcible felony, you are PRESUMED to be in fear of death or great bodily harm.

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.

That’s a cut-and-paste. Look at the last part of it.

Here is the definition of “forcible felony”:

Forcible felony.—“Forcible felony” means treason; murder; manslaughter; sexual battery; carjacking; home-invasion robbery; robbery; burglary; arson; kidnapping; aggravated assault; aggravated battery; aggravated stalking; aircraft piracy; unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.

The state has to prove Martin was not in the process of committing a forcible felony when he was shot, AND that Zimmerman was not in reasonable fear of great bodily harm.

I now believe they have no chance. If the state has a bombshell that will convict Zimmerman, they haven’t shown it yet, and they have made it clear they can’t prove Zimmerman was the aggressor.

Sometimes it’s good to separate known facts from opinions and disputed facts, so let’s look at facts that can’t be reargued.

Fact (admitted by the state under oath):

1. Zimmerman and Martin fought.

2. Zimmerman had lacerations on the back of his head, consistent with having an assailant beat his head against a sidewalk.

3. There are no witnesses to the start of the fight.

4. The state has no evidence that Zimmerman was not attacked.

5. Martin was shot up close, possibly with the gun barrel against him.

You don’t really need more than that. Again, the burden of proof is on the state, and it’s very high. They can’t win by proving Zimmerman COULD have been the aggressor. They have to show that it’s the only explanation a reasonable person could accept.

Zimmerman only has to show that his version COULD be true. That’s it.

If you can’t prove Zimmerman started the fight, you can’t prove Martin wasn’t committing (or about to commit) a forcible felony. The beating took place. That can’t be disputed. If Zimmerman was attacked and Martin was beating his head on a concrete sidewalk, Zimmerman had every reason to believe the attack would progress at least to aggravated assault, and possibly to aggravated battery or murder. That’s just common sense.

If Martin attacked, it triggers the statute, and that would end the case instantly.

If Martin had merely punched him, there could be doubt. But he beat Zimmerman’s head against the sidewalk, opening two long gashes, and he broke his nose. These acts may constitute a felony in and of themselves, and coupled with Martin’s persistence (shown by the number of injuries) they definitely establish the intent to commit a felony.

The only issue is who started it. And the state has affirmatively averred it has no evidence proving Zimmerman is lying about that particular fact. With no other evidence, his word is the most powerful guide the jury has.

What if Martin had been shot from a distance? It would cast doubt on Zimmerman’s story. You can shoot to put an end to a felony, but you can’t shoot once your attacker gets up and runs off. What if Zimmerman had no injuries, or the injuries were not consistent with a battery? He would have a hard time showing a felony had been in progress. But the injuries are there, and the state says they conform to his story.

What if a witness had seen Zimmerman attack Martin? That would be powerful evidence that he committed a crime. But no such witness exists. The state says so, under oath. Witnesses heard people argue. One witness said one “figure” chased another past her home, and she can’t identify them (and chasing is not a crime). Another witness saw Zimmerman on his back under Martin. No matter how you slice it, the state has a hard row to hoe.

The cops say Zimmerman claimed Martin covered Zimmerman’s mouth and nose, and that it was at this point that Zimmerman grabbed his gun and fired. The prosecutor say they have evidence that Zimmerman is wrong. That’s fine, but it wouldn’t affect the outcome. You can say something that isn’t true and still be innocent. Maybe Zimmerman stretched the truth or even lied, but if Martin was on top of him, and Martin was the aggressor, the state loses.

Remember, Zimmerman hasn’t been charged with perjury. Murder is the charge. He can lie all day and still be innocent of murder, as long as the physical evidence backs him up, and there are no witnesses to contradict him.

The longer this case goes on, the more disgusted I become. The arrest and charges are the result of the public outcry, not a proper investigation and determination of probable cause. The governor denies this, but look at the facts. Zimmerman was free and in the clear until people started raising hell. There was no chance of an arrest. It’s amazing that the governor would tell such an obvious lie. It is definitely a lie; there is no other explanation.

I doubt Zimmerman will be tried. If O’Mara is any kind of lawyer, he’ll get this thing dismissed. The judge may be a politician, and if he is, he’ll rule in favor of the state. I guess that’s the state’s only hope. But they still have to get a jury to buy their theory.

Anything is possible. Shocking new evidence could come to light, proving Zimmerman’s guilt. But right now, by its own admission, the state has nothing.

8 Responses to “Improbable Cause”

  1. MGD Says:

    It’s a trial by jury isn’t it? Public opinion will matter. If Zimmerman is found not guilty, the charges dismissed, he’s acquitted, mis-trial declared, etc., justice will take its own path.

  2. Steve H. Says:

    It might not be a trial by jury. Surely O’Mara will file a motion to dismiss, and given the facts, I believe he should prevail. Of course, the judge may not have the guts to dismiss, in which case he’ll deny the motion and force a jury to do his job.

  3. Mike James Says:

    I’ll predict, hoping I am wrong, riots in several cities around the country at the conclusion of the trial, no matter the verdict. It has that feel right now, and the Attorney General and his Department of Justice could have seen and acted on their duty a little more clearly, I think. I heard some audio of the remarks he made, some sort of testimonial to Al Sharpton. Did any other AG ever have nice things to say in public about someone with blood on his hands?

    Some day Al Sharpton will find himself on a cable news show with the pastor of a Christian church, and won’t he be surprised.

  4. Andrea Harris Says:

    I have the bad feeling that no matter what happens, there will be riots. These riots will mainly hurt poor black people, as always. Rich black people like Sharpton et al, wealthy mainly white-run news media organizations, and politicians will benefit. The Zimmermans will have to enter the witness protection program and possibly several other unrelated families whose last name is Zimmerman will too. The Martin family, after its brush with fame, will be dropped like used diapers by their new “friends” and will probably end up bankrupt and the younger members on the street or in prison. Florida will be a scapegoat for the country’s problems, again. I don’t see any good outcome to this.

  5. krm Says:

    I fear great unpleasantness when this does get resolved.

  6. MGD Says:

    “You” are not a cop, yet you are out on a neighborhood watch patrol with a gun? Licensed, permitted by state law or not, if the neighborhood is that dangerous or filled with crime, then patrolling the streets is a job for the police, not an armed citizen.

    Zimmerman is no doubt already being martyred in places like Greenpoint Brooklyn, New York City, N.Y. Seen it before, the last time it was a hammer wielding religious zealot, who threatened neighborhood residents on a regular basis. He was elevated to sainthood as well.

  7. Steve H. Says:

    Great example of the provincial thinking that has caused this anti-Second-Amendment witch hunt.

    1. Carrying a gun is legal in Florida, and Zimmerman bought his gun on the advice of the authorities, who were not able to do anything about a pit bull that was terrorizing his family and neighbors. Maybe you live in a place where a hysterical fear of guns is considered normal, but the vast majority of states permit carrying weapons. Furthermore, you would have to be an idiot to go out on neighborhood watch, expecting to be exposed to criminals, with no means of protecting yourself. And please don’t say that’s the job of the police. The police cannot respond quickly enough to prevent violent crime. When seconds matter, the police are just minutes away.

    2. “Patrolling the streets is a job for the police, not an armed citizen.” This one doesn’t even merit a response, BUT…the police ENCOURAGE the formation of neighborhood watches (including Zimmerman’s), and they do not patrol our neighborhoods sufficiently well to protect us on our own. Ask Malcolm X how well the police protect people.

    3. You conveniently choose not to address the facts of the case, or the applicable law. That speaks volumes. So far, we have not even seen probable cause, and proving guilt is much, much harder. On the other hand, we have seen much compelling evidence that this was self-defense.

    George Zimmerman is on trial for murder, not for offending your provincial liberal sensibilities. There are certain facts the prosecutor has to prove, and “patrolling the streets is a job for the police, not an armed citizen” is not one of them. It has no relevance.

  8. Justthisguy Says:

    Dang, Steve, you quite literally smacked that guy down by the numbers,as in 1, 2, and 3. I surely ain’t gonna argue with you unless I am quite certain I have all my ducks in a row, so to speak.