Life for Zimmerman? Don't Count on It
Prosecutors face many hurdles to prove the second-degree-murder charge in the Trayvon Martin case.
So there is lots to chew on and many hurdles between now and a close to the case that began Feb. 26. That's when Zimmerman, an overly eager neighborhood-watch volunteer in a section of Sanford, Fla., where he lived and Trayvon was visiting, came upon the young man and became suspicious. He followed Trayvon from his automobile and later by foot. Zimmerman confronted him and ultimately shot him.
"This is just the beginning. We have a long way to go," Trayvon's father, Tracy Martin, said at a news conference following the arrest. Trayvon's mother, Sybrina Fulton, added: "We simply wanted an arrest. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, justice will be served."
That's what the family's lawyer, Benjamin Crump, seemed to have in mind: "Zimmerman will have his day in court, and Trayvon's family will have their day in court. That's all we've been asking for."
Reacting to these developments in a story that's of greater interest to blacks than to whites, and to Democrats than to Republicans, NAACP President Ben Jealous said in a statement that "the wheels of justice have finally begun to turn. This is an important first step toward bringing justice for Trayvon and his family."
The case almost did not get this far. Zimmerman was originally let go by Sanford police, who relied on his claim of self-defense under Florida's "Stand your ground" law. But weeks of prayer vigils, protests and petitioning (more than 1 million signers at change.com) in the United States and abroad brought action, including the appointment of the special prosecutor, Angela Corey, who announced the murder charge.
She won't admit it, but the attention brought to the case by the masses and the media has had an impact. Still, Corey said, "Let me emphasize that we do not prosecute by pressure or petition. We prosecute cases based on the relevant facts of each case and on the laws of the state of Florida."
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who is working with the family both in his capacity as president of the National Action Network, a civil rights group, and as host of a talk show, PoliticsNation, on MSNBC, has said that public pressure most assuredly forced the state to take another look at the case after Sanford officials had essentially closed the book on Trayvon Martin's death. Sharpton gives Corey the benefit of the doubt when she says the charge of murder was not influenced by the public outcry.
Zimmerman is now in jail, segregated from the general population for his protection. But his legal team is taking steps to have him released on bail.