idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
776.041 Use of force by aggressor. —The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
(1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or
(2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:
--(a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
--(b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.
It's fully possible that the prosecution could label Zimmerman the aggressor, through a charge of criminal negligence (a felony in Florida) by putting Martin (a minor) into a dangerous situation by chasing him.
That's an absurd stretch though. Chasing someone is not a forcible felony, so you're wrong immediately. Also, there's no reasonable expectation that merely following (or even chasing) Martin is putting him into a dangerous situation. You'd need to show that Zimmerman followed him with either an intent to harm him *or* the intent of causing him to harm himself (chasing someone towards a cliff, for example).
Following a suspicious person through a housing complex is a far cry from that.
Whether or not this is an acceptable defense isn't for us to decide, it's for a jury.
It's not about acceptable defense, it's about an acceptable charge to file in the first place. A prosecutor doesn't get to just charge someone with whatever random thing he thinks of and then get a jury to decide if the defendant is guilty of it. Before you get to a jury trial, a judge makes a determination as to whether there is sufficient evidence to move forward. You can't possibly actually think any judge would buy that claim from a prosecutor.
But the fact remains that you don't KNOW crap. You are assuming your side and then acting like you derived it from something true and interesting.
That's some serious projection on your part given you just argued we should skip like 8 steps in our legal system and go right to a jury because you've already accepted an assumption about the case. Heck with the law! I know he's guilty!!!
Furthermore, the (ridiculous) part of this law means that, even if the court would label Martin the aggressor, it means that Zimmerman cannot cover his **** with SYG if it was Martin screaming for help. The aggressor's willingness to surrender invalidates your right to "defend" yourself.
Sure. If some evidence could be produced showing that just prior to the shot being fired Martin attempted to flee (or at least stopped fighting), you would be correct. See how I'm basing my position on the evidence and not assumption?
Now find that evidence. Don't just speculate that it might exist, but actually find it. The problem is that even those ear-witnesses who (after the fact) insist that it must have been Martin they heard screaming for help do not claim that they heard two separate voices. No one said "I heard a mans voice calling for help, then I heard a teens voice calling for help, then I heard the shot". All the witnesses report just one voice calling for help. And all those who actually saw the fight describe Martin as being on top and Zimmerman being on the bottom (and calling for help).
We can speculate that some oddity of sound caused every witness who just heard the fight to hear only Martin's cries for help, and every witness that actually saw them to hear only Zimmerman's, but it seems far far far more reasonable to conclude that those who only heard the cries for help didn't know who's voice it was at the time, and then incorrectly assumed it was Martin later. You do agree that this is the more likely explanation, right?
On that note...
I can't believe how stupid this law is. I really can't. Why would ANYONE think this was a good idea?
It's a quite reasonable law actually. If you stop and think it through absent your own position in this case. It's designed to allow people to defend themselves, while applying reasonable rules to how you do it. You can defend yourself only to the point of actually acting defensively (or in protection of home, or another who is the victim of a forcible felony). The two of them fighting would not have justified self defense for Zimmerman. It was when Martin went past defending himself, and even went past just fighting someone, but put Zimmerman in a position where he could not retreat and continued to assault him that he gave Zimmerman the right to self defense.
And frankly, while we can talk all day (and for several weeks) about whether Zimmerman should have followed Martin, whether Martin was doing anything wrong, whether he was scared, or thought he was being stalked, or whatever, none of that justifies Martin being in a position on top of Zimmerman, pinning him to the ground, and beating on him. That's an action that is well past any sort of defensive act or attacking someone out of fear. It's pretty darn indefensible in fact.
None of that removes the pain this causes for the Martin family, but at the end of the day we are responsible for our own actions. And based on the evidence in this case, Martin made a choice and took an action which ultimately cost him his life. We could blame Zimmerman, but he was acting reasonably. We could ban handguns, but then Zimmerman would have been beaten and had no defense. The correct response IMO is to stress that there are certain boundaries you should not cross. If you do, you are taking your own life into your hands. It's not like it should be hard to avoid doing what Martin was doing, right? I mean, I've gotten in my share of fights and have *never* found myself straddling some stranger, pinning him to the ground and continued beating him in the face while he's screaming for help. Have you? If not, then what Martin was doing wasn't normal, and should not be defended.
That's the line he crossed. He chose to cross it. And that's what really matters in this case.