Even though conventional wisdom says that the decision by Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey to not use a grand jury in the Trayvon Martin case reveals very little about future charges, George Zimmerman should check his mailbox. The warrant should be on the way.
This formal investigation is taking a lot of time — many say way too much time. But we must continue to work from the historical understanding that all too often, justice for African Americans is a long time coming. We must continue to be vigilant and engaged and remember that positive, direct action works. As Dr. King said years ago, “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
It is important to remember that, according to the Miami Herald, special prosecutor Corey stated that during the initial investigation, the Sanford police department requested an arrest warrant from the Seminole County state attorney’s office on the grounds of “homicide/negligent manslaughter.” Corey said, ” … as far as the process, I can tell you that the police went to the state attorney with a capias request … ” A capias is a request for charges to be filed. The Herald reported that the Seminole County state attorney’s office was consulted the night of the killing but did not send an investigator or prosecutor to the scene.
Politically, it would have been much easier to pass this case off to the grand jury (as Seminole County State Attorney Norm Wolfinger had scheduled) and allow an anonymous group of Floridians to make the decision as to whether or not justice for Trayvon would be determined in a court of law. When Wolfinger failed to issue the warrant for Zimmerman’s arrest, Gov. Rick Scott eventually had to act.
Scott replaced Wolfinger with Corey, following political pressure from a coalition of Florida lawmakers including state Sens. Gary Siplin, Chris Smith and Oscar Braynon, along with an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and social pressure from the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and a host of others. Corey has a reputation for being a strong prosecutor who has no problem making the tough decisions.
It is important to understand that in Florida only first-degree murder cases automatically go to the grand jury. First-degree murder requires the element of premeditation, and no one has ever claimed that George Zimmerman set out to shoot Trayvon Martin.
As if Zimmerman’s problems were not serious enough, on Tuesday attorneys Craig Sooner and Hal Uhrig withdrew from the case, saying they had lost contact with Zimmerman and that he tried to speak with the special prosecutor and Fox News’ Sean Hannity without consulting them. But they also continued to speak up for him. “The first person who swung, from what we can tell, was Trayvon,” Uhrig said during a press conference. “The crime was battery by Trayvon Martin against George Zimmerman.” Even if this were true, once Zimmerman followed Martin against the advice of the police dispatcher and approached him at night on that street, Zimmerman became the aggressor and Martin had every right to “stand his ground.”
Zimmerman made horrific mistakes in presumption, thought and action, resulting in the death of an innocent young man. Even though he has stopped communicating with his legal counsel, tried to contact the special prosecutor (who would not speak with him without counsel) and allegedly has spoken with Hannity, Zimmerman should be arrested and a jury of his peers should decide his fate.
I don’t think special prosecutor Angela Corey will compound the mistakes made by Zimmerman, Sanford’s police Chief Bill Lee, and Wolfinger. Zimmerman should check his mailbox. The warrant for homicide/negligent manslaughter should be in the mail.