Much has been made of, especially in the conservative-leaning US media, that the case against Mr George Zimmerman was unmerited, and worse, politically motivated.
Indeed, I watched with great interest as Mr Geraldo Rivera, a Fox News commentator, remarked that, under Florida law, Mr Zimmerman committed no crime in killing Mr Trayvon Martin, a minor. Mr Zimmerman claimed that he had invoked his natural right to self-defense in shooting Mr Martin as an physical altercation between them became seriously violent. Florida state law allows for a citizen’s use of deadly force in the event he or she believes that his or her life is in immediate mortal danger from another individual.
Mr Zimmerman indicated that, while on neighborhood watch duty on the night in question, he had observed a suspicious looking individual traversing his community. He had reported the sighting to the police, and then exited his vehicle with his personal firearm to trail the individual. At some point soon after, an altercation between the two occurred, of which the details are still not clear. However, Mr Zimmerman admitted to having shot Mr Martin in the chest with his legal firearm.
The police collected statements from Mr Zimmerman, and of course, there were none forthcoming from the deceased Mr. Martin. The fact that Mr Martin had no weapon, and had been returning from a nearby store to his father’s house in Mr Zimmerman’s community, was noted with great alarm in the press.
Mr Rivera, the above mentioned commentator, reminded his viewers that the police and local prosecutor had declined to charge Mr Zimmerman in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, citing a lack of evidence on which to base a case.
Mr Rivera went on to posit that political pressure was put to bear on Florida’s State Prosecutor’s office, starting from the White House on down. He cited President Barack Obama’s comments in a March 2012 press appearance, in which the latter commented on the tragic case. Mr Rivera attempted to make the case that the President, by indirectly commenting on the deceased ethnicity, had essentially interfered with the course of justice, directly leading to the eventual arrest and charging of Mr Zimmerman with second degree murder.
With Mr Zimmerman now on trial, the State of Florida had to make the case that he either bore Mr Martin ill-will, or was depraved, and so sought to deliberately kill the child.