Our View: Zimmerman jury begins its job
Millions of eyes across this nation and maybe from around the world, too, are focused on Sanford, Fla., this week as arguments and testimony begin in the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman.
The Sanford resident was taking a turn on neighborhood watch the rainy night of Feb. 26, 2012, when he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was staying with his father in a Sanford residential area. Zimmerman, 29, says that he shot Martin in self-defense after Martin attacked him.
Over the last 16 months, information about this incident trickled out as the investigation by police and prosecutors unfolded. Many have offered their views and opinions about the case. Discussions revolved around a variety of topics spawned by the case — including guilt and innocence, race and ethnicity, neighborhood watch programs and vigilante action, “stand your ground” laws and gun control regulations.
Even now, as Zimmerman’s trial enters the arguments and testimony phase, these discussions outside of that Florida courtroom are continuing. But those discussions don’t matter anymore. The only conversations that matter now are those inside the courtroom. Six women have been seated to hear the prosecution’s case against Zimmerman. Then they will hear the defense that Zimmerman’s attorneys will present.
We expect this trial will include a thorough examination of Florida’s “stand your ground” law. This look likely will provide valuable legal understanding of what such laws are intended to accomplish and what responsibility anyone carrying a firearm has in relation to the law. Testimony about race and ethnicity also may figure into the trial, with Martin being black and Zimmerman being Hispanic.
But most importantly, the expectation is that this jury objectively reviews the evidence presented to determine what happened between Martin and Zimmerman on the night of Feb. 26, 2012, and then render an impartial verdict — and that those on the outside looking in conduct themselves in a calm and rational manner, no matter what the verdict.