George Zimmerman was charged for second-degree murder Wednesday regarding the death of Trayvon Martin. This comes as a relief to some and as an outrage to others. Zimmerman himself, at the trial, cuffed and decked out in a jump suit, stood tall and answered but two questions, indicating that he understood the charges, as he faced a judge televised on a screen.
Prosecutors must prove that Zimmerman committed an “imminently dangerous” act motivated by a “depraved” lack of regard for human life. If he is convicted, he will serve at least a mandatory 25 years in prison. But there is a chance the case will be dismissed entirely based on the Stand Your Ground law that gives people the right to defend themselves by violent force if attacked.
The prosecution, lead by Angela Corey, did not explain why she charged Zimmerman with murder. But she did characterize Zimmerman as a violent racist:
“Zimmerman … observed Martin and assumed Martin was a criminal. Zimmerman felt Martin did not belong in the gated community and called the police.” She also noted that Zimmerman “made reference to people he felt had committed and gotten away with break-ins in his neighborhood. Later, while taking about Martin, Zimmerman stated these assholes, ‘they always get away’ and also ‘these f—-g punks.”
Her affidavit notes the situation that led to a high strung Zimmerman: the neighborhood had been repeatedly hit by an increasing number of burglaries.
There is a “high likelihood [the case] could be dismissed by the judge even before the jury gets to hear the case,” said Florida defense attorney Richard Hornsby.
A recent poll shows racially divided reactions to the case. The poll, conducted by Reuters/Ipsos, said that 91% of African Americans surveyed said the shooting of Martin was unjustified, while only 35% of whites thought it was unjustified. A major difference of opinion is based on what each group believes actually happened, though all groups polled agreed that we may never know the truth of what happened.
At least one person feels greatly relieved that Zimmerman was charged. Jeff Triplett, the mayor of Sanford, has found the part-time job of mayor to be more than he signed up for. He has taken leave of his banking job to give his full time focus to answering interviews, telephone calls, and soothing the incredible tensions surrounding the case. When Zimmerman was charged, he said:
“The relief of, it’s truly in their hands now. We can take that part off of our plate.”