Can George Zimmerman get a fair trial?

I think it is a good thing, and not a bad thing, that the killing of Trayvon Martin is a national news story.   If it weren’t, the whole case might have been brushed under the rug.

But George Zimmerman is entitled to a fair trial, in which he is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  And both he and we, the people, are entitled to accurate news coverage, which we have not always got.

It would have been despicable of Spike Lee and Rev. Al Sharpton to publish George Zimmerman’s address even if they hadn’t published the wrong address and subjected an innocent person to harassment.  It is wrong that Zimmerman has to go into hiding—although Trayvon Martin’s family might say that this is better than being dead.

A criminal trial is not a good place to resolve complex social issues.  Racial profiling is a serious problem, Florida’s stand-your-ground law is a serious problem.  But when George Zimmerman goes to trial, the only issue to be tried is whether the prosecution can prove he is guilty of second-degree murder.

Many legal experts doubt that there is a case for a second-degree murder conviction.  Second-degree murder is an intentional but unplanned killing, or assault in which the death of the victim was a distinct possibility.  They argue there would be a stronger case for a lesser charge, such as manslaughter or assault.  Here in New York, there is a crime called “reckless endangerment.” which might fit.

What I wanted to see in the case, and what I now do see, is for the law to treat the killing of a young man as a serious matter.  I am willing to let a judge and jury decide whether Zimmerman has committed a crime or deserves to be punished.  I just want him to be held accountable for what he did.

Click on The Zimmerman Case: Reactions for a roundup by The Agitator of lawyers’ comments on the indictment.

Click on Altering the Zimmerman Tape for Ta-Nehisi Coates’ comment on NBC’s doctoring the tapes of Zimmerman’s 911 call to make Zimmerman appear racially prejudiced.

Click on The Trayvon-Industrial Complex for a post about the exploitation of the Trayvon Martin killing by Rod Dreher of The American Conservative.  The comment thread is well worth reading.

Click on Trayvon Martin Photos for Snopes.com’s report on bogus photos of Trayvon Martin being circulated on the Internet by Zimmerman supporters.  Click on Koch Plays George Zimmerman’s Legal Fees? for Snopes.com’s exposure of another false rumor.  These may be just the tip of the iceberg of false information circulating in the Internet.

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