While I am still having trouble accepting that you can follow a hoodie-clad black teenager on his way home, confront him, provoke a fight, shoot him through the heart and get away with it, I have to accept the jury’s verdict.
On Saturday night, after more than 16 hours of deliberation, a Seminole County jury of six women found George Zimmerman not guilty of any crime in the slaying of Trayvon Martin on that drizzly February night in Sanford, Fla.
Zimmerman walked out of court Saturday a free man.
The jury obviously determined that Zimmerman acted in self-defense.
But it’s worth remembering something that must send a chill down the spine of every parent of a black teenager in this country: Zimmerman was the architect of the events of that night.
Had he not disregarded the advice of a non-emergency police operator, gotten out of his car and followed the teenager, Martin would still be alive. Zimmerman was armed with a fully loaded semi-automatic pistol and two flashlights. Martin was on his way home from a 7-Eleven armed with a pack of Skittles, a watermelon-flavored Arizona Tea and a cellphone.
I found it appalling – though not surprising -- when defense attorney Mark O’Mara showed jurors a chunk of concrete sidewalk in the courtroom on Friday and sneered at the idea that Martin was unarmed because, after all, he banged Zimmerman’s head into the sidewalk, and a sidewalk is a weapon.
Prosecutor John Guy told the jury in the state’s final argument Friday: “ This is not a case about ‘stand your ground.’ It’s a case about ‘stay in your car.’”
When all is said and done, the legal evidence was simply not there. There was apparently no way for prosecutors to prove what exactly happened because the only other person who could have contradicted Zimmerman’s story was dead. Even killers get the benefit of the doubt.
Has justice been served?
I have trouble answering that right now.
But as one of CNN’s legal experts said shortly after the verdict. “Justice is about the process, not about the outcome.”
That doesn't totally take the sting out of the verdict, but we must have faith that the system worked.