Zimmerman trial in doubt
CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 4/19/2012, 4:08 p.m.
As the Trayvon Martin case presses forward and George Zimmerman remains in jail on second-degree murder charges, questions about why he was released in the rst place continue to linger.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has ensured a thorough investigation by the Department of Justice of the Sanford Police Department, which let Zimmerman go when he shot the unarmed 17-year-old Martin. The de-
partment's treatment of the situation not only raised eyebrows in the small Florida town, it sparked a national movement.
Heavy criticism from Sanford residents about the department's handling of the incident urged City Manager Norton Bonaparte to involve the Depart-
ment of Justice.
Citizens of color in the town have reportedly complained that they have received different treatment than whites from police, including pro ling.
"The American public, the people of the town of Sanford and certainly the Martin family deserve to see justice and a fair trial for Trayvon's killer, George Zimmerman.
The people of the United States need to believe that our legal system is fair and just," said Florida Rep. Corrine Brown. Holder conrmed the Justice Department's investigation into what went wrong at the Nationaln Action Network's annual convention, hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton last week
in Washington, D.C.
"In all of these discussions, we're listening carefully to concerns and emphasizing that the department will conduct a thorough and independent review of the evidence," Holder said.
"Although I cannot share where current efforts will lead us from here, I can assure you that, in this investigation--and in all cases--we will examine the facts and the law.
If we indevidence of a potential federal criminal civil rights crime, we will take appropriate action.
And at every step, the facts and the law will guide us forward." Zimmerman remains in jail on murder charges in Florida.
He did not enter a plea and no bail was set; his arraignment is scheduled for May 29, where he will enter a plea.
Reports indicated that Zimmerman's new lawyer, Mark O' Mara, has said that his client will plead not guilty.
However, Zimmerman might not even have a trial and his case could be thrown out completely if the judge decides he cannot face a jury of his peers.
Also, the charge of second-degree murder, which could land Zimmerman in prison for life, might be hard to prove by prosecutors, who must show that the shooting was drawn from ill will or hatred. They must also
prove that his claim of self-defense is false.
There is a strong possibility that the case may be dismissed on May 29 if Zimmerman's lawyer can prove by a preponderance of evidence that Zimmerman was acting in self-defense.
In a similar case in Florida just weeks ago, Miami Judge Beth Bloom dismissed second-degree murder charges against a killer who not only didn't stand his groun but actively pursued his victim.
In that case, a man saw another man stealing his car radio, grabbed a knife, pursued him and stabbed him to death.
The fatal stabbing was captured on videotape. Bloom dismissed the
charges after deciding that the man's testimony regarding his need to defend himself was credible.
"Some argue that Zimmerman can't defend his actions under Florida's Stand Your Ground self-defense law, because he didn't just stand his ground; instead, he went after Martin and confronted him.
But even if this version of events is established, it might not defeat Zimmerman's self-defense claim," said George Washington University public interest law professor John Banzhaf. As the arraignment ap-
proaches, conlicts with the presiding judge in the case have come to light.
Reports indicate that Zimmerman approached a partner at Circui Judge Jessica Recksiedler's husband's law firm about representing him.
The partner recommended Zimmerman's current lawyer, who also has done legal commentary for CNN.
Recksiedleris scheduled to recuse herself from the case this week. Meanwhile, rallies continue across the country for the case, keeping the pressure on to make sure that Zimmerman does go to trial.
Even after his arrest, marches and rallies have taken place in Hackensack, N.J., Los Angeles, Baltimore and Florida.