The George Zimmerman jury is facing the choice of second degree murder or manslaughter. But what are the legal requirements for manslaughter?
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the original charge in the George Zimmerman trial was only second degree murder. The state prosecutors requested the judge to allow the jury to consider other options, including manslaughter, third degree murder based upon child abuse, or aggravated assault.
George Zimmerman Jury Decides
Prosecutor John Guy presented his closing arguments in the George Zimmerman trial by claiming, “If the defendant did only what he is supposed to do — see and call — none of us would’ve been here. This case isn’t about standing your ground. It is about staying in your car.”
But what people probably will remember is prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda’s delivery on Thursday morning. He screamed, raised his voice, and at one point he illustrated how George Zimmerman could go free by literally “skipping free” around the courtroom.
The defense, on the other hand, said, “They’ve got to prove their case. The burden is on the state.”
TV critics agree with that assessment of the George Zimmerman trial and the prosecution did a good job of making a case for the defense. They say, “It’s about facts and evidence presented to the jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt…. It’s not the prosecutor’s job to raise reasonable doubt…. The defense is sitting back and letting the state do their job for ’em…. This was not a technically proficient closing argument. They failed miserably.”
George Zimmerman Manslaughter?
So now the all non-black and female George Zimmerman jury, whose members include at least two gun owners, must decide whether George Zimmerman should face a second-degree murder charge, which includes life in prison, or manslaughter, which would still put George Zimmerman in jail for years.
Second degree murder requires that George Zimmerman had a “depraved mind, hatred, malice, evil intent or ill will” toward Trayvon Martin despite the two never meeting before that night. The prosecution had to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that George Zimmerman did not believe self defense was the only way to protect himself from “imminent death or great bodily harm.” The famous Stand Your Ground was waived before the George Zimmerman trial even began, so it’s not even relevant here.
But the jury can say George Zimmerman’s actions constitute manslaughter even if they were involuntary. The legal definition for manslaughter is “the unjustifiable, inexcusable, and intentional killing of a human being without deliberation, premeditation, and malice.”
But manslaughter is not legally defined very well in Florida law. Some states allow for an “imperfect self-defense,” where someone kills in self defense and overreacted, but in Florida the George Zimmerman jury only has the options of saying George Zimmerman either had a right to act in self-defense or is a murderer. The only legal loophole is voluntary manslaughter where someone kills due to “culpable negligence.”
Legal experts say the last minute inclusion of manslaughter charges in the George Zimmerman trial “flies in the face of the theme and theory of the case presented by the state.” The manslaughter option is an “indication of how weak their case has become” and if George Zimmerman’s manslaughter charges are convicted then his defense could actually use them in an appeal.
If the judge had allowed the middle ground option of aggravated assault the George Zimmerman jury could have had more options to fit the details of this case. But if they lean toward self defense their only option is to let George Zimmerman go.
Do you think George Zimmerman’s manslaughter charges are fair?