As most of America reels over what appears to be a massive injustice in the slaying of Florida teen Trayvon Martin (the story has catapulted to the top of the buzz frenzy on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and notable figures including President Obama have spoken out on the case in droves) it seems it would be hard to find a man as hated in America right now as shooter George Zimmerman.
Who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon is not in dispute. Why Zimmerman shot Trayvon isn’t really even in dispute- thanks to the wonders of technology and very garden variety surveillance, we’ve all had the opportunity to listen to the maddening 911 calls in which Zimmerman (apparently a frequent caller to emergency services and self-styled neighborhood watch, albeit lacking any sort of training) stalks and ultimately murders the unarmed teen. It should be noted, however, that the parents of Trayvon Martin were forced in their grief to sue for the release of the recordings.
There are so many infuriating and depressing circumstances that led up to and followed the teen’s needless death, with the 911 calls just one aspect of how the case seems to have been handled terribly. Another would be the fact that while a minor child was murdered so close to his home, in possession of the cell phone he was speaking on when he was shot, his body sat unidentified for three days despite the missing persons report filed by his dad.
But first and foremost, the lack of arrest is the single driving factor in the outrage surrounding Martin’s murder. Even as Americans in a culture with liberal gun laws, it boggles the mind that an armed person can shoot an unarmed one after provably instigating a confrontation and defying emergency services’ direction to stand down. That Zimmerman was allowed to walk from the scene is unbelievable- and a legal expert says that the grounds to arrest Zimmerman would have been “solid.”
However, George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley also noted when speaking to The Guardian that while arrest in the case would have nearly been simple, prosecution may not be. Turley explains that Zimmerman could have been taken into custody, but that we don’t know what if any forensic evidence exists:
“Some parts of the 911 tape would work to the disadvantage of Zimmerman, others to his advantage. It would be a very difficult case for the prosecution without more evidence… We haven’t seen any of the forensic evidence, which is the key.”
Turley ultimately believes that the Martin case will hinge on the self-defense claim, and whether Zimmerman’s demonstrable aggression will negate such an assertion”
“You lose that defence if you are the aggressor or if you do not have a reasonable basis for fear or serious harm or death. Even if he is not the aggressor there will remain the question of escalation or confrontation.”
Indeed, or many conscienceless people would go around goading their enemies into confrontations to obtain a reason to murder. Again, Turley says, evidence to arrest is almost undoubtedly there- but evidence to convict could be harder to find:
“Police would have been on solid grounds to arrest him. You have an unarmed teenager and someone who does not comply with a request that he not follow Martin… That doesn’t mean there’s enough evidence to secure a conviction.”
Which again prompts the question at the heart of the furor- why has there been no arrest so far in the Trayvon Martin case? Not even on lesser charges while murder charges are probed? You can read Turley’s blog post on the lack of arrest in the Trayvon Martin case here.