If there is any murder case that has captivated the American people and the entire world, it is the George Zimmerman trial. What started out as a fatal shooting escalated into an international news frenzy resurrecting the delicate topic of racism in America.
For anyone that has been following the captivating trail, you can attest to the amount of drama and theatrics that has unfolded and the comical "diva tantrums" Defense Attorney Don West kept on throwing at Judge Debra Nelson, who unquestionably dislikes West. However, there has been an interesting shift of argument by the prosecutors from alleging that Zimmerman should be found guilty for murder in the second degree to now including a possible lesser charge of manlaughter. However, there is no doubt in my mind that Zimmerman is guilty of murder in the second degree because there was clear "ill will" and "malice" in his actions towards Trayvon Martin the night he killed him. Before we go into details of what merits "ill will" or "malice", it is important to outline the difference between second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Second-Degree Murder is defined as a non-premeditated killing of a person with malice or ill will, resulting from an assault in which death of the victim was a distinct possibility.
Manslaughter is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being without express or implied malice or intent to do injury.
Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda kept on highlighting Thursday during his closing arguments that George Zimmerman had malice in killing Trayvon Martin. He emphasized the initial words George Zimmerman uttered: "F**king punks. Those a**holes always get away," comments made during a 911 call he made when he saw Trayvon Martin walking home after buying a bag of candy and some iced tea. In Zimmerman's mind, a young black boy wearing a hoodie walking in the dark meant a criminal was in the compound.
Prosecutor de la Rionda continued to portray Zimmerman as a "wannabe cop" who followed 17-year-old Martin, insinuating that Martin was the one in fear, not Zimmerman. "Who started this? Who followed who? Who was minding their own business? Of the two, who was the one that was armed?" asked de la Rionda to the 6 jurors. De la Rionda also highlighted the inconsistencies of this neighborhood watchman claiming to not know the three streets he patrolled for four years, alleging that after Zimmerman "circled" his car, he got out to look for a street name or a house number to give to the 911 dispatcher. De la Rionda pointed out that there was an address right next to Zimmerman that he could have used, but rather chose to follow Trayvon Martin into the dark. All this was consistent with a re-enactment video that was played at the trial. Prosecutor de la Rionda also pointed to the fact that Trayvon's hands had no blood on them, contrary to the "25 times" he punched Zimmerman, supposedly leaving him bleeding. De la Rionda also emphasized DNA evidence that there was no DNA trace of Trayvon Martin on the gun, nor on George Zimmerman's face, despite the claim made by Zimmerman that Trayvon grabbed his gun and had his hands over his mouth.
Essentially, for George Zimmerman to be convicted of manslaughter, all the prosecutors have to do is say that George Zimmerman merely acted recklessly and that his actions were not justified. A scenario for manslaughter in this case, would have Zimmerman "recklessly" walking that night in the dark, unknowingly and accidentally bumping into Travyon Martin, and having his loaded gun go off hitting and killing Trayvon Martin. I am merely highlighting the "accident" or unintentional nature that needs to be present for a manslaughter conviction.
However, that is not what happened that night. George Zimmerman leaving his home armed with a fully-loaded gun, spotted a young boy, concluded that young boy was a criminal, left his car and followed Martin despite clear instructions to not follow him, and shot him in the heart. This not simple "reckless" or "accidental" behavior that would merit a manslaughter charge. George Zimmerman's actions, everything he did from when he stepped out of his house, led to the intentional following, hunting, and killing of Trayvon Benjamin Martin, a crime that must be accounted for by a charge of murder in the second degree.