Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sue Carlton: Federal charges for Zimmerman? A second bite at a bad apple

"I think all of us thought that race did not play a role."

Juror B37, on the deliberations in the trial of George Zimmerman, who was found not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin.

And so this latest case about race in America ends, to the dismay but maybe not the surprise of many, with an acquittal of the neighborhood watch volunteer who targeted the kid he thought was up to no good.

George Zimmerman is officially not guilty in the utterly pointless shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who had the bad luck to walk through a gated community in the Florida town of Sanford after buying Skittles at a corner convenience store.

In the aftermath of the verdict, some who see Zimmerman as an overzealous cop-wanna-be who assumed Martin was trouble because he was young, black, male and there, are looking to federal authorities for another chance to convict him.

Of something.

The NAACP, among others, wants the Justice Department to pursue civil rights charges — another bite of the apple, as they say in court. You can understand in the heat of this case why. But it's not how our justice system — however flawed — is supposed to work.

It was important for the world to hear this week from a juror, identified only as B37 because of the high emotion surrounding this, on what logic led them to decide Zimmerman was guilty of neither second-degree murder nor manslaughter. (It was less good to hear an initial report that this same juror planned to write a book, this being America where no exploitation is too outrageous, though she later said she would not.)

Manslaughter — committing an act that ultimately causes a death — seemed to me the more appropriate charge. But the juror told CNN's Anderson Cooper she believed that in the confrontation between the two, the teenager was the one who was on the attack and who threw the first punch.

She said nearly every juror believed it was Zimmerman who could be heard screaming on the 911 call. She had "no doubt George feared for his life" in those last moments. And she believed his motive had to do with vandalism in the neighborhood, not race. "It just went terribly wrong," she said.

Even if you disagree vehemently, it's important to know what jurors saw in that courtroom. They were there for every minute of it. They saw each piece of evidence and heard every nuance of what witnesses and lawyers and the judge said.

That evidence is unlikely to change, much less get better, for federal prosecutors.

Does anyone think there is a single stone unturned, a witness we haven't heard, a piece of evidence unseen, in a case America cares this much about?

Remember, the federal government did not opt to pursue a civil rights charge against Zimmerman when this happened, even as the president himself was saying if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon. They left it to the state courts, and we have the verdict.

A federal jury would have to find this was motivated by race. A state juror says the way they saw it, it wasn't. So say we all.

That's how it works. That's our system of justice, even when the results seem like something far from it.

Sue Carlton: Federal charges for Zimmerman? A second bite at a bad apple 07/16/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 9:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021

    Bucs

    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals in 2009. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also …

    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left, holds the AFC Championship trophy? as he celebrates with head coach Bill Belichick after the AFC championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots defeated the the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 to advance to the Super Bowl.? (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) FBO247
  2. Sputtering Rays keep falling one run short

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Even going into play against the Angels on Tuesday just a game under .500 at 23-24, the Rays have some issues they have to resolve.

    Rays starter Alex Cobb waits for Mike Trout to finish his trot after homering to give the Angels a 2-0 lead.
  3. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared

    World

    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.

  4. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  5. Suspicious device at Pinellas Park home was a spent artillery round, police say

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — Bomb squad investigators determined that a "suspicious device" found at a Pinellas Park home Tuesday afternoon was a spent artillery round, police said.