Ask the Times: Will Trayvon Martin's parents file civil suit?

Wrongful-death lawsuit?

If Trayvon Martin's parents file a civil wrongful-death suit, could the HOA at the Retreat at Twin Lakes community be liable on the basis of Zimmerman acting on its behalf as the neighborhood watchman?

Homeowners associations may be held liable for the actions of their neighborhood watch volunteers. The parents of Trayvon Martin did file a civil lawsuit against the homeowners association of the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford. It was settled in April for about $1 million, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Not part of that settlement was neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, then 28, who shot the 17-year-old on Feb. 26, 2012, inside the 260-unit gated community.

The Martin family also is pursuing a civil lawsuit against Zimmerman, according to its attorney, Benjamin Crump. "They are certainly going to look at that as an option," Crump told ABC News. "They deeply want a sense of justice. They deeply don't want their son's death to be in vain."

Why no manslaughter?

Now that the Zimmerman trial is over, I wonder why George Zimmerman was never charged with manslaughter. As I remember, he was told in the beginning by a 911 operator not to interfere with Trayvon Martin, the inference being that the police would take care of it.

On March 22, 2012, Gov. Rick Scott appointed Angela Corey as the special prosecutor to investigate the shooting death of Martin by Zimmerman. On April 11, Corey, the state attorney for the Fourth Judicial District Court, covering Duval, Nassau and Clay counties, filed a charge of second-degree murder against Zimmerman.

She has never explained why she filed a murder charge instead of manslaughter. What she did say was: "I can tell you we did not come to this decision lightly. ... Let me emphasize that we do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition. We prosecute based on the facts of any given case, as well as the laws of the state of Florida."

The move shocked many legal experts at the time, though Denis de Vlaming, a Clearwater defense attorney, told Tampa Bay Times reporter Dan Sullivan that he wasn't surprised Corey went for a murder charge.

In a highly scrutinized case complete with racial overtones and a public outcry for justice, the prosecutor went for the most serious charge she could, de Vlaming said in 2012. Even if a jury does not buy murder, it might settle on a lesser charge of manslaughter.

Base jumping's meaning

How did "base jumping" get its name?

According to basejumper.com, BASE "is an acronym that stands for the four categories of objects from which one can jump: building, antenna, span and earth."

Compiled from Times and wire reports. To submit a question, email answers@tampabay.com.

Ask the Times: Will Trayvon Martin's parents file civil suit? 07/26/13 [Last modified: Thursday, July 18, 2013 2:44pm]

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