As pressure to arrest the man who shot and killed Florida teen Trayvon Martin mounts, lawyers who’ve been following the case say the next step for prosecutors will come down to the evidence that law enforcement officials gather.
Martin was shot to death on Feb. 26 by a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, who said during a 911 call that he thought the unarmed black 17-year-old was a criminal targeting property in the gated community where he walked. Martin was actually returning to his father’s fiancée’s home, nearby, after a trip to a convenience store.
Zimmerman has so far avoided arrest because of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which prohibits prosecutors from charging people with murder or manslaughter if they kill someone else in certain self-defense situations.
Debbie Hines, a former prosecutor who founded LegalSpeaks, a blog about sex, race and the law, said that a civil rights investigation is clearly appropriate, given inconsistent application of the law in Florida.
Casey Anthony, accused of killing her white two-year-old daughter, was ultimately acquitted of first degree murder due to inadequate evidence, but at least she was tried, Hines said. Meanwhile, she said, the publicly-known evidence against Zimmerman, a Hispanic man accused of killing an African American, seems much more compelling, and yet no charges have been pressed.
“I hope that, through the state attorney’s office in Florida, they’re going to bring charges, either for manslaughter or second degree murder,” Hines said. “If the state attorney’s office does not prosecute, my hope would be that the Justice Department can find a way to bring charges. To not have this tried in court and let a jury decide is a tragedy.”
To Read more about the analysis on the case in Lawyers.com including interviews from several lawyers, click here