The mother of Trayvon Martin, a Florida teen slain in 2012 on a Sanford street in a controversial “self defense” case, faced off against Sen. Ted Cruz after a tense hearing over the “stand your ground” laws so linked with the trial over the minor’s shooting death.
While George Zimmerman did not ultimately claim “stand your ground” invocation in the murder trial for Martin, the laws hung over the case and factored into jury instruction before they began deliberating.
Zimmerman was ultimately found not guilty in Martin’s murder, and the mother of Trayvon Martin pled yesterday with lawmakers to reconsider the laws that (while not directly invoked) may have led to the failure to convict the man who shot her teenaged son.
Sybrina Fulton testified that Trayvon “was simply going to the store to get snacks — nothing more, nothing less. He was not going to get cigarettes or bullets or condoms or other items of that nature. He was not the criminal that the person who shot and killed him thought he was.”
Despite having lost Martin and additionally enduring the acquittal of the man who admitted shooting the teen, Fulton testified that she had no desire to see legal gun ownership affected — simply requesting that the laws regarding situations like the one in which Zimmerman had no duty to retreat be reconsidered.
“I only want to see the laws surrounding self-defense clarified so that they are applied logically and most importantly, consistently.”
Sen, Ted Cruz, fresh off his earlier crusade to end Obamacare, countered that the “stand your ground” law was not in play for the trial, to which Fulton later said:
“The person that shot and killed my son is walking the streets today and this law does not work. We need to seriously take a look at this law, we need to seriously speak with the state attorney’s office, the police departments, more attorneys, we need to do something about this law when our kids cannot feel safe in their own community.”
Cruz did not address the bones of the Martin controversy, instead framing the laws as a necessary part of self-defense claims — he said:
“In Florida, the data show that African American defendants have availed themselves of the ‘Stand Your Ground’ defense more frequently than have Anglo defendants… I find the notion that we say, if you and your family are attacked on the street, you don’t have a right to defend yourself – I find that an astonishing proposition, and one that I certainly hope members of the U.S. Senate will not advocate.”
Illinois Democrat Sen. Richard Durbin testified that the laws were “resulting in unnecessary tragedies and they are diminishing accountability under our justice system” and suggested review.