Friday, June 28, 2013
I had previously written a couple of blog posts on this subject, and made some predictions back in April of 2012. Now, the Florida trial has begun. And, we will see how this plays out.
Most of what I said back in 2012 still holds true today – except… I predicted that this case would never go to trial. I was wrong. My feeling at the time was that the stakes on both sides were too high for the gamble. Why? The prosecution had much to lose, prestige-wise, with an acquittal; and George Zimmerman had much to lose in not accepting a plea bargain – if offered. I’m not sure it was ever offered. Especially in light of the Pit Bull prosecutor, Angela Corey, getting involved and her political career hanging out there like John Wayne Bobbitt at a nude beach.
Perhaps some of you are not aware of the following:
· Ronald Thompson, an Army veteran and long-time community volunteer, including his work with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Florida, was convicted for the crime of firing two shots into the ground to scare off some belligerent teenagers – using a gun for which he had a ‘concealed weapon’ permit (2009). You can read more about the case on line. He was offered a plea deal to serve three years, but refused because he felt that he had done nothing wrong. He ultimately received 20 years in prison. A judge subsequently opined that the sentence was unconscionable and misdirected. An appeals court changed Thompson’s sentence to three years. The Pit Bull appealed the court’s decision and Thompson’s 20 years sentence was reinstated. Thompson, likely to die in prison, was 65 when convicted and in poor health.
· Marissa Alexander, a Florida woman, was given 20 years in prison for firing a ‘warning shot,’ into the wall, as she demanded that her known abusive husband leave her residence (2010). Marissa was, at the time, staying at her mother’s house, where she had taken refuge from her husband. Marissa was offered three years in prison by Angela Corey’s office, in exchange for a guilty plea to a lesser offense in that shooting incident. Marissa declined and they went to trial. Marissa Alexander was convicted and sentenced to twenty years in prison.
Now, Ms. Corey might blame these excessive terms in prison on Florida’s Minimum Mandatory sentencing. But, don’t be fooled. Much of this has to do with the prosecutor’s self-serving motives. The prosecutor often decides the seriousness of the crime to which the defendant will be charged. Example: Zimmerman could have been charged with something like Manslaughter or Negligent Homicide; but instead was charged with Murder in the Second Degree which dictates a sentence of life in prison.
Six female jurors whose identities have not been revealed will evaluate the presented evidence. Interestingly enough, the six selected knew little if anything about the George Zimmerman – Trayvon Martin case, prior to their selection. Where do they find these people?
One other thought, I would advise that Zimmerman testify. He needs to show the jury that he has the backbone to defend himself. He will need to be truthful; and more importantly he must appear to be truthful and likable.
I’m not sure that his defense attorney got off to a very good start in the likable category with his ridiculously unfunny knock-knock joke. Oh-my-gosh, I couldn’t believe that. It just made me cringe.