Many people are wondering why accused murderer George Zimmerman, 29, was found not guilty by a jury of his peers in Florida on Saturday night after he admittedly shot and killed unarmed Trayvon Martin, 17, in February of last year. The case has been riddled with racial undertones, at times overt, as many people around the U.S. believed Zimmerman pursued Martin only because he was a black male wearing a dark-colored hoodie.
To say all white people believed Zimmerman was innocent and all black people thought he was guilty would be entirely too mendacious of a statement, but to say race didn’t play a factor in the high-profile case would be naive.
The prosecution’s main problem with its case was being able to prove Zimmerman guilty of second-degree murder, that he had the intent to kill the teenager, legal expert William Birmingham told the International Business Times exclusively. “In order for the state to have secured a conviction, they had the burden of proving that Mr. Zimmerman either intended to kill Trayvon or that he had a complete disregard for his life,” Birmingham said. The attorney, an associate at Castiglia-Rubinstein & Associates in Melville, N.Y., added that the state ultimately could not prove what Zimmerman’s intentions were once he left his car.
“The prosecution would have been more likely to have convicted Mr. Zimmerman on the lesser charge of manslaughter as the state would have the lesser burden of proving that he was not justified in killing the teenager,” Birmingham said. “Judge [Debra] Nelson did include this charge towards the end; nevertheless, the state had not been making this argument throughout the trial.”
Although the judge added the manslaughter charge at the end of the trial, it is impossible to determine what would have happened had the state properly charged Zimmerman in the first place, said Birmingham, who noted, “If the state had charged him with manslaughter and argued manslaughter the entire time, it is more likely that he would have been convicted.”
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According to the lawyer, “The prosecution presented Zimmerman as a racist wannabe cop who was angry about recent burglaries going unsolved with mere circumstantial evidence to back that up.”