The case of Tayvon Martin, a 17 years old Afro-American male shot to death in Sanford, Florida in February 2012 grew in popularity considerably in the last couple of weeks. The victim was unarmed at the time of the incident, yet the shooter, a neighborhood watch leader named George Zimmerman declared he had acted in self defense. The public attention towards the case has increased as comparisons were made between this incident and the beating of Rodney King which led to the L.A. Riots twenty years ago.
Initially Zimmerman has not been charged until public pressure made things change. However when charged with second degree murder he pleaded not guilty and was released from jail in exchange of a $150,000 bail. Although family and community members are anxiously waiting for the trial and sentencing, murder trials normally take several months if not even years before they can take place.
However Zimmerman will be charged with second degree murder, a term that defines a killing that has not been premeditated nor committed out of passion. If found guilty, he will be sentenced to prison time of 19 to 25 years. But there is also the possibility that he will be found not guilty.
Zimmerman will have a trial by jury. In these cases the way the defense attorney presents the case can make all the difference. Zimmerman’s criminal defense lawyer considers there are important differences between the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the beating of Rodney King. His client was acting legally when he asked Martin about his presence in the neighborhood. As a neighborhood watch leader he was also entitled to carry a gun. Although Martin was unarmed, Zimmerman’s statement of self defense might be accepted as at the time the police arrived at the scene he show obvious signs of physical aggression. Besides that accusing Zimmerman of racism is an ungrounded allegation: himself comes from a multiracial family.