The following is an abridged version of a conversation at http://www.facebook.com/edpagecourant.
Brian DeBlasiis: George Zimmerman should have never been charged. This case highlights the serious problem posed when prosecutors are elected. Political pressure forced the prosecution to bring charges against George Zimmerman, and in our society that should never be a justification for a criminal prosecution.
Kevin White: Given circumstantial uncertainty, there is no absolute right (or wrong) in this tragedy. There is only what happened, and what was decided. Right or wrong over such then becomes mere prism of one's opinion.
Ellen Raff: It touched a nerve because it has been played up in the news — not because it's a remarkable case (people fight and kill every day in the U.S.) but because of the current fascination with guns and gun rights. Those of us who believe the presence of guns leads to senseless killing hope that at least, when there is a senseless killing, justice will be done. In this case, it was not.
Michael White: A jury selected and agreed upon by both sides found it impossible to convict without reasonable doubt. That is the correct thing to do in this, and any/all cases. Whether justice was served, only one person knows for sure. Is it about race? Personally, I don't think Martin was killed because of his race, but I do think it was a factor in Zimmerman's suspicion of him. The feds should only get involved if they suspect misconduct in the Florida judicial system with this case.
Brian DeBlasiis: Well in the case, a concrete sidewalk was used in an attempted senseless killing and a gun stopped that senseless killing.
Lorna Cyr: How many times in our lives have we asked, "what if?" My "what if": What if Mr. Zimmerman had never left his car?
Brian DeBlasiis: Doesn't matter whether Zimmerman was wrong to follow Martin when it comes to his use of force to self-defense. All that matters is that Martin used lethal force first.
Ellen Raff: Reality — adult armed with gun picks fight with unarmed teen, who has done nothing wrong, then shoots him. We have to live with the jury verdict, but you have to live with the public outcry against justice undone.
Ralph Cap: Who's right? Most likely the jury, because unlike the rest of us, they listened to the entire case.
Tina Bourke: Martin had his right to self-defense and unfortunately he isn't here to tell us. He was being stalked, he was scared and he attempted to protect himself. He was unarmed and simply passing through minding his own business. Not making a race or gun case, just sad all the way around that he isn't here to tell us in person because he was murdered in cold blood.
Susan Trappe: The culpability and responsibility lies with the state of FL for arming a civilian. This is what happens when people casually carry loaded weapons.
Scott Schaller: George Zimmerman killed someone. Why? Because he was a wannabe cop who got himself in a dangerous situation that he couldn't or shouldn't have tried to handle. I dont know what happened in their confrontation, but unless Trayvon Martin pulled him out of his car, it should have never happened at all.
Brian DeBlasiis: The decision to use a gun comes down to when the person faces the risk of serious bodily injury or death. ... Justice was done here. An innocent man gets to go home to his family because a jury of his peers heard the evidence and decided he wasn't guilty of the crimes charged.
Ellen Raff: If it is legal for a man to pick a fight with a teenager, then when he gets the fight, kill the teenager with a firearm, then you are right — that's one of those things I just didn't think was legal in the U.S. What a surprise to me and millions of others.
Michael White: I hope Tina, Ellen, Susan and Scott aren't on any jury in the near future. You talk like you were there and know exactly what happened. The jury's decision should be based on facts and the facts of this case are not clear or were not presented to the jury adequately. Therefore, reasonable doubt. I am not saying that is not what happened, but factually, we will never know. I'm sorry if the verdict doesn't sit well with you, but I would rather live in a country that convicts on facts and not hearsay and opinion.
Ellen Raff: Great Michael, and I hope Michael, Patrick, Brian and Ralph aren't on any jury in the near future. With our Facebook records, maybe we'll all be dismissed.
Scott Schaller: Michael, I dont know the facts other than he should have never gotten out of his car. He had no need to follow Trayvon Martin. He had no need to engage him in any way. If Martin had attacked him, carjacked him, tried to rob him, I would have zero issue with what he did. I'm going to be very interested in people's opinions the next time Mr. Zimmerman is involved in a similar conflict.
Shannon Jacovino: Ellen, thank you for articulating this all so well. And thank you for having the patience to address the tortured logic on this thread. And by the way Brian, a finding of "not guilty" is not a finding of innocence.
Tina Bourke: There is another side to the "facts" and those are Martin's; however, he is not here to tell them!
Jack Jansen: I am so tired of the media's spin on the Martin case. I watched every minute of the case, and the jury spoke. I figured, like the liberal media, Ellen, that they had enough of a case to convict Zimmerman but, as time went on, it was hard to say they proved anything he was guilty of.
Marybeth Dougherty: Reasonable doubt is much easier to achieve when both moms are claiming the person crying out on a tape is their son. How do you decide that? And while I think what Zimmerman did is despicable and evil, maybe the prosecutor overstepped the evidence in charging second-degree murder. Maybe should have gone at manslaughter from the start. And what Ellen said is so obvious, unless you are purposefully trying not to acknowlege the obvious — if a pudgy 29-year-old [ ] hadn't had a gun, no one would have been injured or killed. George Zimmerman had no business stalking that poor, dead kid, regardless of what Martin's school records say about his background. What is more likely? Death by sidewalk or death by gun? Don't trail the kid and then he can't kill you with a sidewalk. Duh.
William Perkins: Marybeth, actually you can kill someone by pounding their head on the sidewalk. Also, I believe George was actually 26 when this occurred, not 29 as you said. And Mr. Martin was a 17 year old football player, not the 10-year-old child the media would have you believe.
Candylynn Marie: Well, my dad and i talked about it, and it was so simple because the jury was five white women and one Hispanic woman ... and I am sure that they did not see what he did wrong.
Malvi Lennon: Candylynn Marie: Five of the six women are mothers — do really believe they could not relate to Sebrina Fulton? Zimmerman had a fair trial. A jury of hispeers found him not guilty, and that is where this story should end. Anything more would be a gross abuse of power.
William Perkins: It was a forgone conclusion because their was no evidence.
Dawn Cooper: It will be interesting to see if Eric Holder's Justice Dept. turns this into a case of double jeopardy in spite of the fact that the FBI never found any evidence of racial motivation. In fact, the only words that were spoken with any racial intent, was Martin's reference to Zimmerman as a "white cracker."
Tina Bourke: @Dawn, Zimmerman was directly asked if he was following Martin and consequently we know this was true. ... He was told "you don't need to do that." In doing so, following Martin, it was Zimmerman who had the suspicion and judgment, and possibly intent? We can't exactly get to the facts when the one defending himself is dead. Hey, there is still civil and federal court. Zimmerman did kill a boy and a loss is a loss. No one deserved to die. It was not a kill-or-be-killed scenario for Zimmerman; that is the tragedy here.
Patrick Cooper: Tina, you're right it was Zimmerman who killed Martin, while Martin was on top of him beating him up. Should you allow someone to beat you to a pulp when you're being attacked? Or should you do whatever is necessary to stop that person from attacking you?
Tina Bourke: What was Zimmerman's intent in following him? Zimmerman didn't die — he wasn't even close to lethal injuries. That is so blown out ...
Patrick Cooper: To see if he was up to no good; that question does not matter, though. And it doesn't matter if someone is close to lethal injuries. You don't need to wait until you are close to death to defend yourself with a gun.
Dan Durso: If George Zimmerman doesn't have a gun, he doesn't get out of his car. He follows the Neighborhood Watch Guidebook and stays in the car and waits for the police like he's been told. Yeah, so the worst thing that may happen is that Trayvon gets away with trespassing. But no, George is emboldened. He is emboldened not only by carrying a gun but by the new "Stand Your Ground" law. The law George studied in college. He gets out of the car, ignoring the good advice of the police and of his Neighborhood Watch Guidebook. "These a____s always get away," says George. You know the rest. I guess my point is bad laws. You elect bad people and they pass and sign bad laws. You can't just vote for president every four years and meanwhile allow these other jerks to get elected. Jerks who pass laws that make it easier not only to carry a gun, but to shoot and kill someone, even kids.
Cj Bernabucci: There is a saying among the kids in Hartford ... "Don't stay hit." That is what Mr. Martin was trying to do ... he perceived he was being followed; he stopped, waited, turned and confronted Mr. Zimmerman, instead of taking the path directly to his father's house. Mr. Martin, like so many youngsters, didn't want to "stay hit." He could have gone home. Another senseless tragedy.
Dawn Cooper: Tina, the forensic evidence told the other side of the story. Martin was on top of Zimmerman. The eyewitness told the story, Martin was "grounding and pounding MMA style."
Marty Townsend: George Zimmerman was the one who took classes in MMA training. The witness who said he saw Trayvon "grounding and pounding MMA style" admitted during cross-examination that he didn't see any punches land on George Zimmerman. The facts are that George Zimmerman got out of his vehicle and followed an unarmed teenager against the directions of a police dispatcher. A cop wannabe who was relegated to being a neighborhood watch person stalked an innocent teenager who ended up dead. We have only George Zimmerman's word that Trayvon landed the first blow. George Zimmerman picked a fight with a kid and got his ass whupped. Instead of taking his beating like a man, he took the coward's way out and shot Trayvon. He may have been found not guilty under Florida's loose self-defense laws, but he is guilty of taking another's life and cowardice.
Michael White: Marty please don't state "the facts are" and then cease being factual in your next sentence. "This is my biased opinion" would work better in your statement than stating your version of facts. The courts ruled that Zimmerman was justified in using deadly force against someone beating him. ... If the court and jury are proven wrong or malicious in their intent, then I would probably feel the same as you do. But until then, I will side with our justice system.
Marty Townsend: What's not factual? Is Trayvon still alive? Is George Zimmerman not a cop wannabe? Did he not stalk an innocent teenager? Did he stay in his vehicle? If Trayvon had been white, the police would have secured the scene and the evidence and George Zimmerman would have been held pending a decision on whether to charge him. He would not have been released to spend the night in his own bed while Trayvon spent the night in the morgue.
Michael White: Also, it is your opinion what the cops would do if Martin was white. You have no way to prove that.
Michael Burke: Case law is well established that one can defend one's self with lethal force when confronted by a disparity of force or numbers. So much went wrong that evening and the result is tragic. Both sides could have made decisions that would have them both at home tonight.
Marty Townsend: Chasing someone down, picking a fight and then shooting him isn't self-defense, it's hunting.
John M. Stanko: Justice is at a new, or should I say a normal low when it comes to interracial crime. Zimmerman was hostile, armed, and dangerous whereas Trayvon Martin was an unarmed kid walking down the street minding his own business. Frank Harris was right on the money in his article when he said, "America's history is riddled with the stories of black males killed. It is our past. It is our present. It is our future." And of course the worse part of what he said is, "It is our future." Unless the people of the country do something about it right now, the Zimmermans of this country will continue to do as they please. Stronger gun laws and a legal system that is fair and balanced are a first step that should be taken immediately.
Jill Bartolomei Espelin: I guess we'll never really know what happened that night. We have the story from the survivor. Witnesses from both sides have accounts of what happened, but accounts are, a lot of times, subjective — and perspectives can be very different.