'Stand your ground' law
Rules ready-made for vigilantes
George Zimmerman, not guilty. Trayvon Martin, certainly not guilty. The guilty parties in this sad saga are the legislators who wrote the unfortunate "stand your ground" law.
Stand your ground is the lit match in a dried-out forest. Here we are in one of the most gun-happy states in the most gun-happy nation recruiting vigilantes to take on what should be the responsibility of trained police officers.
Durell Peaden, the former Republican senator from Crestview who sponsored the bill, said the law was never intended for people who put themselves in harm's way before they start firing. Nevertheless, the law has exonerated many who have killed unarmed people. More than a third of the cases were like the Zimmerman case, where the armed person initiates the conflict.
If there is anything good that could come out of this case, it would be the repeal of stand your ground.
George Chase, St. Pete Beach
One smart jury
Congratulations to the six ladies who turned in a verdict of not guilty in the George Zimmerman trial. They certainly showed gumption as well as an intelligent grasp of the facts in reaching their verdict. A loud hooray for the American justice system.
Robert H. MacPherson, St. Petersburg
Prosecutors at fault?
If the state had originally charged George Zimmerman with manslaughter instead of second-degree murder, the verdict could have very possibly been guilty. In Florida, the definition of manslaughter includes someone doing something on purpose that could cause someone to die without thinking of that possibility and someone dies. Also, doing something stupid or (failure to do something smart) and someone dies.
The jury heard the complete trial based on second-degree murder with little understanding of manslaughter, allowed at the last minute. They questioned the court on manslaughter but only received a reply asking what more they wanted to know. They did not respond and found Zimmerman not guilty.
Was the state at fault for not pursuing manslaughter in the first place? Was the court itself at fault for not giving full details of a manslaughter charge when jurors asked for it instead of asking what more they wanted to know?
The jury rendered its verdict on the charge that was prosecuted and defended. Don't blame the jury!
Jack Burlakos, Kenneth City
Legal verdict can't mask greater truths July 14, John Romano column
What should haunt us
Greater truths are indeed highlighted in this column. This was justice, and the system remains fair. But the events before the confrontation should haunt us all. George Zimmerman misread Trayvon Martin's actions, he did not follow the directions of the dispatcher, he got out of his car and he made the decision to carry a weapon. A lesson for us all.
Gay Gentry, Largo
Nation needs to hear jurors July 15, Eric Deggans column
They did their duty
I must disagree with Eric Deggans' call for jurors to explain themselves. I fervently hope that the judge will not reconsider her decision to keep jurors' names from the public. This case and the Casey Anthony case are exactly why TV cameras should be barred from courtrooms. Armchair jurors, prosecutors and defense attorneys hang on every word or implication and make their own decisions with no knowledge other than that of the so-called experts provided by cable television. Then when the actual verdict does not comport with their decision, there is chaos.
The "race card" was played immediately after Trayvon Martin was killed, and it has continued to be played by cable TV, along with the "he was only a kid" card. As was pointed out in a New York Times article, "Trials, for better or worse, are not morality plays." Prosecutors had a weak case from the start, and there were missteps by both them and the police. I disagreed with the juries in both this and the Casey Anthony case. However, I firmly agree with the president's statement: "We are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken."
Joyce Oldmixon, New Port Richey
Wrong place for 36 towers | July 10, editorial
Project a jolt for downtown | July 14, letter
Better sites for apartments
As downtown Tampa resident since 1995, I am keen to encourage intelligent, strategically planned residential growth. The proposed location of these apartments does not meet these criteria.
Vinny Tafuro's letter misses several key points. First, the Straz Center is a crown jewel with superb programming and outstanding attendance. Its No. 1 concern is parking and access for its patron base. Second, if the streets around the center are unsafe, the city must make the needed changes from its operating budget. Third, if the city is using $2 million of the $4 million proceeds from the land sale to improve the streets, whose money is it really? (Hint, the taxpayers').
I fervently desire more residential and retail growth downtown, east of Ashley. The TECO lot, former Maas Brothers block, the Kress building and the block including Domino's Pizza have been identified as ideal sites. Let's all take a deep breath — and another look — before we leap.
Sharon Sibert, Tampa
Charter schools surge again | July 7
A matter of commitment
The increasing focus on charter and fundamental schools implies an interest in what school leaders and politicians have long been unwilling to grant — that education of our children requires the buy-in of the community, not just students and teachers. Aside from the rules and curriculum found in charter and fundamental schools, the big difference between those schools and regular schools is the buy-in from parents. Our daughter attended Academie Da Vinci elementary school in Dunedin (a public charter school) and Clearwater Fundamental Middle School (a public fundamental school). The quality of education at both schools is excellent, as are the staffs. Parents and children have to sign agreements to abide by rules.
Any school can use the same formula. Are we willing to make these commitments to help our children? If not, all the testing, schemes, and hard work of teachers and students will not be enough.
Gregory Byrd, Clearwater