Like millions of others I awaited the verdict in the George Zimmerman case with the realization that regardless of the outcome there are no winners. On that rainy night on February 26, 2012 two lives collided and resulted not just in the death of an unarmed teenager but also unleashed a media storm that morphed a neighborhood watch volunteer into a fearsome creature.
In the media, social and otherwise, some questioned why there was a trial when it was "obvious" that George was guilty. Still others wondered the need for a trial for different reasons. Those people saw this case as a textbook case of self-defense.
All day I listened as HLN replayed the "highlights" of the case and I wondered again and again just how we got here. Of course I knew the answer. Former Sheriff Bill Lee had admitted that he felt pressure from cit officials to arrest Zimmerman to placate the public rather than as a matter of justice.
Lee insisted that based on the evidence at hand, arresting Zimmerman would have been a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. Protests and petitions for arrest only managed to prevent the department a chance to complete their investigation. Lee still takes issue with the media portraying his department as apathetic or lackadaisical in this case.
Ultimately Lee was given a vote of no confidence and asked to step down due to these same outside pressures.
I think this case has been confusing to many who watched as prosecution witnesses were called to the stand only to shred the case for the prosecution. Even the lead investigator stated under oath that he did not think Zimmerman was guilty.
Still Judge Debora Nelson refused three times to dismiss the case against Zimmerman insisting that there was "substantial evidence and circumstantial evidence to merit that the case be sent before the jury.
On Friday the jury was given the case to deliberate and they did so for three and a half hours before retiring for the evening. Only one question had been sent to the court and that was actually a request for an itemized list of evidence exhibits. Some media commentators saw this as a positive sign for the prosecution.
The jury came back today and worked straight through lunch,
When asked how I thought the case would be decided an vacillated. I looked upon the question that the jury sent to the court today as saying that the charge of Second Degree was off the table and that the jury was considering a verdict of manslaughter either as a compromise verdict. I was not convinced yet that the jury would find George Zimmerman not guilty.
I told my husband, "If the jury plans to find Zimmerman not guilty they will make that decision tonight before they leave. If the jury plans to vote for manslaughter, I believed that they would sleep on the decision before coming forward with the verdict the next day."
Finally the jury came back with the verdict and my husband and I said a prayer for the families of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. We prayed that each family could eventually find peace and healing.
After sixteen and a half hours of deliberation the jury came back with a verdict of "NOT GUILTY".
After the verdict was read, George Zimmerman hugged his family.
“(George Zimmerman) A man who believes in the system… A man whose dad was a judge, who maybe wanted to be a cop or a prosecutor and then gets a system… Two systems went against George Zimmerman that he CAN’T understand. You guys, the media, he was like a patient on an operating table where mad scientists were committing experiments on him and he had no anesthesia. He didn’t know why he was turned into this monster, but quite honestly you guys had a lot to do with it, you just did, because you took a story that was fed to you and you ran with it and you ran right over him and that was HORRID to him.
Then, he comes into a system that he trusts… Let’s not forget SIX voluntary statements, voluntary surrender, and he believes in a system that he really wanted to be a part of, right? And then he gets prosecutors that charge him with a crime that they could never ever prove. It’s not like they… they didn’t lose evidence along the way, right? So, I don’t think anyone would argue with me in this room, that they had evidence of 2nd degree murder. This “in your heart” kind of stuff, that’s not what we’re supposed to do and it’s not what they’re supposed to do. SO, those 2 systems failed him!”