Trayvon Martin Killing Calls For Repeal Of Stand Your Ground LawPosted: March 27, 2012
(Update 5/15/2012: Martin’s autopsy shows injuries (cuts) to his knuckles. Zimmerman’s medical records from a family physician indicate a broken nose and head lacerations.)
(Update 4/11/2012: George Zimmerman arrested and charged with second degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin with penalty 25 years to life. Self-defense, likely, pre-trial motion to dismiss, if Zimmerman loses motion, jury will decide self-defense or murder.)
There is no dispute that George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. But, was it self-defense or murder? We may never know. But, what we do know is that the US legislature and the legislatures in 23 states that have the “Stand Your Ground” law are now reviewing the law.
What have we learned about the “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) law? A lot.
Unlike California, when one is attacked in Florida, one can respond with disproportionate force. One can respond with deadly force even if the other is unarmed. No question one has the right to defend themselves. But, in Florida, killings are presumed to be justified self-defense killings and the prosecution has to prove otherwise (it wasn’t self-defense) in SYG states. The burden of proof shifts and deters many prosecutions without a living witness.
In fact, since the SYG law was enacted in 2006, there has been an increase in justified “self-defense” homicides. And, more importantly, many prosecutors and police chiefs, including those in Florida, had opposed the law fearing that people would take the law into their own hands and many violent offenders would simply claim self-defense and escape prosecution. Florida’s old law had a duty to retreat and limited self-defense to your home.
As a former prosecutor, in light of Trayvon Martin’s tragic death, and others killings that will undoubtedly follow, maybe, the Stand Your Ground Law isn’t a law we want to have.
Simply my opinion, what say you?
(Video of recent TV appearances on Trayvon Martin Case)
Florida Statute Title XLVI 776.013, in pertinent part, (3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.