I haven't written much about the trial of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin. Relying only on media reports a few things seemed obvious to me from the beginning and the verdict pretty much vindicates all my prior beliefs.
1. There's no dispute that Zimmerman killed Martin, but nothing about the sequence of events lines up with the criteria for murder (or manslaughter). For one thing, a man intent on murder wouldn't have called the police right beforehand.
2. Zimmerman was foolish to get out of his car to pursue or observe someone he thought was dangerous. Martin didn't have criminal intentions, but if Zimmerman had been right then it probably would have been Zimmerman who was killed. Unless you believe that someone is in immediate danger it is foolish to endanger yourself.
3. Based on the injuries and witness reports it seems obvious that Martin initiated the physical confrontation. Zimmerman had injuries consistent with being beaten as he and other witnesses described; the only wound on Martin was the fatal gunshot.
4. Despite the foolishness of his pursuit, Zimmerman had as much of a right to be walking around the neighborhood as Martin did and did not provoke the assault.
5. Race was not really a factor in the event, but race has been injected into the situation by the media and others who benefit from sensationalizing tragedy.
6. "Not guilty" is the right verdict. Martin's death was tragic and avoidable, and both his actions and Zimmerman's contributed to it.
Finally, consider the very similar case of Roderick Scott, a black man with a handgun permit who killed Christopher Cervini, a white teenager, in self-defense in 2009.
Cervini's family members say justice wasn't served. They say Christopher was murdered in cold blood, that he'd never been in trouble and Scott acted as judge, jury and executioner.
"The message is that we can all go out and get guns and feel anybody that we feel is threatening us and lie about the fact," said Jim Cervini, Christopher's father. "My son never threatened anybody. He was a gentle child, his nature was gentle, he was a good person and he was never, ever arrested for anything, and has never been in trouble. He was 16 years and four months old, and he was slaughtered."
Scott says he acted in self defense when he confronted Cervini and two others saying they were stealing from neighbors cars. He told them he had a gun and ordered them to freeze and wait for police.
Scott says he shot Cervini twice when the victim charged toward him yelling he was going to get Scott.
"How can this happen to a beautiful, sweet child like that?" asked Cervini's aunt Carol Cervini. "All he wanted to do was go home. And then for them to say, he was saying, 'Please don't kill me. I'm just a kid,' and he just kept on shooting him."