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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Self Defense, Manslaughter, Child Abuse?

Despite defense attorney Don West's best efforts, the jury will consider a charge of manslaughter in addition to second degree murder.  The judge ruled that the evidence did not support 3rd degree murder.

Third degree murder is derived from the fact that Trayvon Martin was only 17 years old and therefore George Zimmerman committed child abuse when he murdered him. Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda did his best to make Martin appear childlike when he showed the jury a package of Skittles and the fruity ice tea that Martin purchased. It was not good enough for Judge Debra Nelson.

The defense is upset by the lesser charges although it is not unusual for them to be part of the instructions to the jury. The problem is that the jury may consider manslaughter a compromise when actually the sentence for manslaughter is longer than if  Zimmerman was convicted of second degree murder.  The maximum sentence for second degree murder is life and the minimum is 25 years because a firearm was used. George Zimmerman would serve 30 years for manslaughter because he used a gun. Manslaughter without a firearm would be 15 years.

Attorney Mark O'Mara must make the jury understand that self defense is applicable to both charges. His closing remarks need to address the fact that the killing was not intentional and not the result of ill-will, hatred, or negligence.