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Misrepresenting "Stand Your Ground"

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I got an email from change.org in the name of the parents of Trayvon Martin. Regrettably, they have abandoned the high road and are now campaigning against "stand your ground" laws with some serious misrepresentations.

Last year, our son Trayvon Martin was stalked, chased down and killed by George Zimmerman, and Zimmerman received no punishment whatsoever. That's in large part because Florida is one of at least 21 states with some form of 'Stand Your Ground' law which enables people like George Zimmerman to claim self-defense.
That is simply not true.  As we have noted on this blog earlier, the "stand your ground" portion of Florida's self-defense law was rendered irrelevant by the testimony of the prosecution's witness that Martin had Zimmerman pinned on the ground.  The verdict was based on the portion of Florida's self-defense law that deadly force is justifiable in response to a threat of great bodily harm, which is substantially the same as the law throughout the country.
'Stand Your Ground' was never meant to give aggressors the opportunity to get away with murder, but that is what happened when our son Trayvon was killed.
The first clause is correct.  It wasn't meant to, and it doesn't.  The law (Fla. Stat. ยง776.013(3)) begins, "A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be...."  Aggressors do not qualify for the law's protection.  The second clause is not correct.

Even worse, the jury in the case was instructed to think of what Zimmerman did as self-defense, even though Zimmerman ignored instructions from the police and instigated conflict with our son, who was just trying to get home to his father.  [Italics added.]
No, the jury was not instructed that what Zimmerman did would be self-defense if he was the one who instigated conflict.  That is just plain false.  The jury instructions are here, and the self-defense instruction is on page 12.  In accordance with the statutory language quoted above, the key paragraph says (italics added):

If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
The critical question is who first crossed the line and committed an act of physical violence.  There is no evidence that it was Zimmerman.  Zimmerman's statement that it was Martin is, of course, self-serving and entitled to little weight by itself.  Much more telling is this:

One of the officers who questioned Zimmerman, lead investigator Chris Serino, testified that he tried to bluff Zimmerman into thinking the clash had been recorded to convince him that he would be in more trouble if he lied.

"I believe his words were, 'Thank God, I was hoping somebody would videotape it,'" Serino said.

It would take a sophisticated liar to call that bluff.  One thing nobody has accused Zimmerman of is sophistication.

I hate to be critical of parents who have lost their son, but that loss does not justify misrepresenting to the public what the law is and how it was applied to this case.  From what we know about this case, it appears that Zimmerman had not committed any criminal offense at the time Martin assaulted him, and at that point he was properly entitled to defend himself.  That is the law nationwide, and "stand your ground" has nothing to do with it.

4 Comments

Whatever criticism Martin's parents may deserve, the people who are patently using them for their own agenda are beyond reprehensible.

Zimmerman should not have been following Martin. But that didn't forfeit Zimmerman's right to self-defense. Why this is not obvious to the many people who have commented on this case is beyond me.

Congratulations to Kent for refusing to be bullied by Political Correctness and telling the truth whether or not it's popular.

I hope Zimmerman sues Change.org and Trayvon's parents. Also note the lie that Trayvon was trying to get back to his father. That would have been difficult as Tracy Martin was out of town at a convention. Also in a HuffPo interview, the fat cow Rachel Jeantel stated that Trayvon made it back to his house. Trayvon's aunt is also on YouTube stating that Trayvon made it back to the townhouse of Brandy Green.

Federale,

We appreciate the additional factual information. We would also appreciate it if you could refrain from the name-calling henceforth.

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