I’ve been checking the #travyonmartin tag on Twitter from time to time over the last week of this media circus, and note that quite a few people are absolutists about the chain of events that ended in George Zimmerman firing the single shot that killed Trayvon Martin.
One absolutist position is that Zimmerman was totally justified in shooting Martin, without qualifications. This seems to be a minority absolutist position that relatively few people espouse.
The other absolutist position–which sadly seems to be shared among a large contingent, if not the majority of Martin’s politicized supporters–is that Martin did nothing wrong, and that Zimmerman is a murderer.
The reality is much more likely that both men are at fault to varying degrees, and it is in these varying degrees that we either have a crime or we don’t.
There simply isn’t any evidence that supports the cries that Zimmerman “murdered” Martin. I’ll merely link to the applicable statutes under Florida law instead of publishing the whole of law on homicides, but the “short of it” is that the shooting does not come close to being a murder under the law.
If George Zimmerman ends up being charged for Martin’s death, it is more than likely that he would face a charge of manslaughter , or perhaps 782.11 “Unnecessary killing to prevent unlawful act” if Zimmerman’s self-defense claim does not seem valid. It is also possible Zimmerman’s decision to shoot will be judged valid.
It is my, non-judicial opinion that the severity of the wounds Zimmerman’s suffered will play a role in the grand jury’s ultimate determination (though sadly, not as much as politics at this point).
If Zimmerman’s injuries are consistent with being assaulted, and the severity of the wounds suggest that the assault was of such ferocity that a reasonable person under the same sort of assault would feel that their life was in danger, then Zimmerman has a valid self-defense claim.
That isn’t going to be popular, but it is the law as I understand it.