Zimmerman Trial: Prosecution Focuses on Neighborhood Watch Rules

George Zimmerman trial (courtesy NBC)

Assistant State Attorney John Guy questioned George Zimmerman’s former Neighborhood Watch commander (?) to establish the roles and responsibilities of a Neighborhood Watch Coordinator. Specifically, the “eyes and ears only” training that George Zimmerman received in preparation for his participation. [Click here for live coverage.] The avuncular (to be charitable) defense attorney Don West’s cross kept to the established pattern: prosecution delivers a short sharp shock, West goes on and on and on and on.

comments

  1. avatar JoshinGA says:

    Neighborhood watch rules arent law last time I checked. They should be focusing on whether or not Zimmerman was right to fear for his life, thus justifying or condemning him for shooting Martin.

    1. avatar Nick Leghorn says:

      I think they’re trying to establish that he was operating outside the rules of the neighborhood watch, that he was “itching for a fight” and out for blood.

      1. avatar Gtfoxy says:

        It is interesting to see this perspective being used.

        I remember when CC was passed in WI our Sherriff was on record as saying that he forbid any citizen patrol to carry in his County.

        I thought the position laughable at the time &, even in light of this case, I still do.

        Is it acceptable to think that because we enter into some form of “watch” program that we basically give up or Right to self-defense?

        To me it is unrealistic that somehow, in the service of others, in a capacity of a “watchmen”, we are less deserving of our ability of preserving or Well-being or being in a capacity to offer due force in the defense of others.

        1. avatar David says:

          My biggest problem with this case issue, whatever you want to call it, has simply been that he started following the guy in his car and then got out on foot and continued to follow him. I think this is why they are going after the view of he was looking for a fight, or at least why alot of people are thinking that way. Also if he just stayed in his car in the first place none of this would have happened. I know when I took my concealed carry class one of the first things the instructor told us was the best thing we could do was avoid a confrentation when possible.

  2. avatar In Memphis says:

    Eyes and ears only? Unless they can prove he attacked Trayvon then I guess Zimmerman did just that. Anyways, I dont think that the neighborhood watch rules are law so they have nothing. It would be like if my employer found out I keep my gun in my car, they can fire me for violating the companys policy but they cant prosecute me because I am not breaking the law.

    1. avatar Mike says:

      Well he did attack Trayvon, he is dead.
      Stand your ground is intended if someone comes into your house, not if you follow said person.

      1. avatar Patriot says:

        After Trayvon got done beating Zimmerman’s head on the ground. By your logic every single case of self-defense outside the home would be considered an attack and not self-defense.

        You are right about one thing, Trayvon IS dead, one less D-Bag in the world growing up believing “whitey” is out to get him because that is what he was taught by dear old dad.

        http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-04-14/african-american-parents-talk-to-sons-about-race/54258448/1

      2. avatar full.tang.halo says:

        776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.—

        (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.

        While this specific case has more details to it, you are incorrect that Florida “stand your ground” is in any way limited to your residence.

      3. avatar Second Amendment says:

        Wow, Mike, doubly wrong. 1) Self defense is not an attack. 2) Castle doctrine is what covers someone coming into one’s home (it includes the presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm). Stand your ground gets rid of any duty to retreat, but unlike castle doctrine the defender must show that they reasonably feared death or great bodily harm.

        1. avatar Kelly In GA says:

          So broken nose and head bashed against sidewalk doesn’t count as great bodily harm?

      4. avatar DJ says:

        Mike, I think you are confusing stand your ground with the castle doctrine.

        Stand your ground essentially says there is no duty to retreat if you are attacked while you are 1) not breaking any laws and 2) in a place you have a right to be in (whether that place is your house, your car, or a sidewalk).

      5. avatar Doug says:

        Why are you arguing about stand your ground? Stand your ground doesn’t apply here. Zimmerman tried to escape while he was being attacked, but was pinned down. He dragged himself off the sidewalk onto a lawn trying to escape (and protect his head).

      6. avatar Spunkmeister says:

        Yeah, he attacked Tray-gones fist with his face. Moron.

      7. avatar Azimuth says:

        Zimmerman is NOT using the stand your ground law in his defense. This news is at least 2 weeks old. It has no bearing on this case. This case is about self defense….from having your life prematurely ended by unauthorized persons…of any race.

      8. avatar Ropnald R. Johnson says:

        Stuff it Mike U are dumb as a stump, the castle doctrine allows you kill an intruder in your home, stand you ground is for when you are not at home and any where else and need to defend yourself! U need to engage your brain [ assuming U have one] and Trayvon came after Zimmerman after Zimmerman had started walking back to his truck!
        And David is almost as dumb as U are, there is no law against following anyone and George couldn’t be driving his truck across people’s lawns trying to follow them in his truck, so he had to get out and walk, but was attacked by Trayvon after he was almost back to his truck! Thanks to George we have one less Known criminal to have to worry about any more and if his parents had of controlled him r the courts had sent him to prison where he belonged he would be alive now, but he in H*LL now and we wont ever have to worry about him again!!

  3. avatar Fred says:

    So all the defense needs to do is tell the truth, Martin walked up to Zimmerman and started beating on him and Zimmerman acted in self defense. It’s easy to see when there is no case. The only question is how much mental back bending they’re willing to do to avoid riots, off that’s even a consideration anymore.

    1. avatar Mike says:

      I didn`t realize you alone knew the truth and you are not even on the jury!
      Zimmerman was at home, why did he go out and follow Martin? He was not standing his ground.

      1. avatar MN Matt says:

        So you have the inside scoop? Pot, meet Kettle.

      2. avatar styrgwillidar says:

        He didn’t follow him. Are you watching the trial? Did you hear the dispatcher’s testimony about the phone call? Zimmerman got out of the car to determine which way Martin was heading. He did not continue to follow Martin, in fact stating ‘they always get away’ as he discussed with the dispatcher where he would meet the police who were on the way. The girl on the phone with Martin confirmed that, saying Martin himself indicated he had lost the guy (Zimmerman). Here’s a couple of good websites-

        http://statelymcdanielmanor.wordpress.com/category/courts-and-cops/the-trayvon-martin-case/

        Twitter feed of lawyers following the case (who seem to think he defense is turning every state witness into a defense witness)

        https://twitter.com/LegInsurrection/zimmerman-trial

        Live feed of the case-
        http://legalinsurrection.com/2013/06/zimmerman-trial-live-video-day-2-opening-statements/

      3. avatar The Blue Angel says:

        Mike, your ass, remove your head from it you must.

      4. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

        Mike: in Florida, you cannot beat on the head of everyone you suspect is following you.

      5. avatar Ropnald R. Johnson says:

        Mike,
        If U were not so stupid and had watched even a little bit of the trial you would know George did not even use the Stand your ground law, it’s stupid people like you flapping their Jowls about something they know nothing about! Again to show how stupid you are George was not at home he was driving to a store when he saw Martin walking between apartments looking in windows and since he was the Watch Captain started checking him out and Martin didn’t like it and attacked him! I would say u have the brains of a dead goat, but wouldn’t want to insult goats, dead or alive! Go to the local News paper and read the reporters story and maybe then if u have someone explain it and all the big words U then might know what U are talking about, Maybe!

  4. avatar Chris says:

    What a ridiculous way to approach the case but when you have no evidence and are forced to bring charges against an innocent man to placate the race baiters this is what you get.

    Stand your ground isn’t even being discussed in this trial, self defense is a completely separate statute and clearly applies when someone is smashing your head into the concrete with no provocation other than someone following another person which is entirely legal.

  5. avatar jwm says:

    What it all boils down to is why did GZ leave his car? It doesn’t matter what the dispatcher advised him to do. TM was unarmed and on foot. I’m not an expert on neighberhood watches but what non sworn citizen has the right to stop and question other citizens on the street? Do we next install lights on our cars and start pulling over other citizens in their cars?

    There was a lot of stupid on that street that night. If GZ had been a sworn officer I believe he would be getting crucified by the majority of commentors here.

    1. avatar Hinshelworld says:

      This is the truth. If he was a cop you guys would be tearing him apart right now, not defending him.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Yeah, but if he was a cop he would have shoved a plunger handle up Martin’s ass, raided the wrong home and shot the family’s chihuahua.

      2. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

        Untrue, hinshel. I have yet to see an instance of a citizen attacking a cop and the cop shooting the suspect causing any sort of outrage here.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          J&D, does this mean you’re as supportive of a sworn officers right to stop and question citizens on the street as you appear to be with an unsworn neighberhood watch member?

        2. avatar DJ says:

          J&D, does this mean you’re as supportive of a sworn officers right to investigate what they believe to be a crime in progress as you appear to be with an unsworn neighberhood watch member?

          There, I fixed it for you.

          I’m not a big fan of everything law enforcement does, but sometimes you guys take it a bit far.

        3. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

          This is my confused about the question face.

    2. avatar styrgwillidar says:

      Well, except Zimmerman didn’t stop or question anybody. He was returning to his car after having lost Martin when Martin approached him (according to deposition by the girl on the phone with Martin).

    3. avatar Second Amendment says:

      jwm, “unarmed” is utterly irrelevant. Beating deaths and strangulation deaths are usually accomplished by an “unarmed” perpetrator. Just because Trayvon was not carrying a weapon doesn’t mean a thing if you’re getting your head bashed in by him, alone, and with NO ONE coming to your aid.

      Had Zimmerman not ventilated that gansta wannabe thug, the story would’ve simply been a forgettable note on the local crime blotter page of the newspaper: “Black male youth beats Hispanic male to death during altercation in local neighborhood.

    4. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

      jwm: this case has nothing to do with why GZ was leaving his car. In Forida, one is legally allowed to leave one’s car and follow another, especially in one’s own neighborhood. One is legally allowed to ask questions of another. The other is legally allowed to tell the other to fvck off. What one is legally not allowed to do is punch the other in the nose and bash his head into the sidewalk. Legally, one is allowed to shoot at that point. The Prosecution is avoiding this part of the equation, which is the only part that matters.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Guys, I’m not defending TM here. He did some stupid things that he didn’t live to learn from. But GZ was at least as stupid and even if he’s found not guilty of all charges his life will never be his. He’ll always have to be on gaurd and he’ll always be known as the wannebe that killed a boy. What good can come of all this?

        And be honest with yourselves. No need to answer me, but answer yourselves. If TM had been a 17 yo white boy would you be defending GZ so avidly?

        1. avatar styrgwillidar says:

          Yes. Very much so.

          But, I would probably also be defending Trayvon if he had killed Zimmerman and stated it was because Zimmerman attacked him (absent any contradictory evidence). It’s not a crime to be good at fighting, and if Z had attacked T, it would be completely legitimate for T to use lethal force (including bashing Z’s head against the pavement) in defense of his life.

          I can’t know for certain who turned the encounter physical, but from everything I’ve read (and the prosecutor’s investigator confirmed in one of the early court hearings) there is no evidence to contradict Zimmerman’s story. If it had turned out differently, I think T would have been in the same situation. Standing there alive with nothing to contradict a claim to self-defense.

        2. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

          jwm: I’m not conceding that GZ did anything really that stupid. In hindsight, of course. But checking out a suspicious black kid in a neighborhood ravaged by burglaries by young black males isn’t all that stupid. And I really don’t care what the racial makeup of the two participants is. I’m not buying into the Racial Grievance Industry’s attempt to make this a racial issue. I’m on the side of right. I initially was on TM’s side based on the initial media accounts. Once more info came out, I changed my mind.

        3. avatar DerryM says:

          It makes no difference to me what Trayvon Martin may be labeled, nor what George Zimmerman may be labeled. What matters is that a young man died, another man is accused of killing him and appropriate guilt or innocence is determined by the Jury. That’s all.

    5. avatar Jason says:

      A cop would *not* have the right to stop Martin, without probable cause…but the suspicious behavior Zimmerman described could qualify. As a private citizen, Zimmerman can question anybody he wants to, as long as it’s not harassment.
      Why he left the car is immaterial. What matters is who performed the first aggressive act. If Martin did, then it’s self defense. If Zimmerman did, then it’s murder. That’s why I think the evidence about Martin’s character (the videos, pictures, etc.) should be admissible, because they support the defense’s alternate theory of events (i.e. Martin attacked first).
      But in America we have this philosophy that it’s better to let ten guilty men go free than to imprison one innocent man, so unless the prosecution can prove conclusively that Zimmerman started the aggression, he should go free.
      And yes, I believe that this should apply equally to a defendant that I don’t sympathize with, like a serial rapist. But I also believe women and teenage girls should have guns (and lots of training) to shoot the rapist in the first place.

  6. avatar DerryM says:

    Kind of looks like Zimmerman is in more danger of being convicted by his own rather inept Defense Attorneys at this point than by any good Prosecution work.

    It is my impression (and I emphasize “impression”) that during the struggle TM saw the gun and grabbed for it, but GZ got ahold of it by the grips and in the ensuing tussle GZ discharged it hitting TM in the torso with a killing shot. I base this on reports from Fox News, in which this sequence of events was stated by GZ in an interview, but am not recalling if it was with a Fox Reporter or a print media reporter that Fox had contact with and obtained this version of “the story”. This does seem to be supported by the issue that TM’s sweatshirt showed a contact discharge while his body showed no contact discharge.

    Insofar as the Community Watch Rules, GZ was not following them, both in going back to find TM and in carrying his pistol while acting as a Community Watchman even though he had the permit and, hence. right to do so. However, the Community Watch Rules are not law. I think this is why the Prosecutor is focusing on GZ’s intent…”he (GZ) killed Trayvon Martin because he WANTED to.” Acting outside the Community Watch Rules may damn GZ in the end as the Jury might “reasonably” conclude GZ did want a violent confrontation, knew he had the pistol and believed (enough to gamble on it) TM was an unarmed kid.

    1. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

      I have yet to see any “ineptness” on the part of GZ’s attorneys. This is opinion, of course.

      1. avatar styrgwillidar says:

        Other than the knock-knock joke. Everthing else has been very good, particularly their written appeals and requests. The fact the judge has been over-ruled twice in decisions she made against defense requsts by the District Court of Appeals is interesting. There are so many reversible errors in her decisions/conduct that it’s almost like she intends to have any guilty verdict overturned on appeal.

      2. avatar DerryM says:

        Agreed. My use of “ineptness” was opinion on my part, as well, based on the opening argument “Knock…knock Joke” and reports the Defense has tended to drone on and on thus far…GZ’s Defense just did not seem to get off to a good start which IS purely my opinion…in fact if your impression is they are doing well, I take that as a good thing…

        1. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

          The knock-knock joke is known as “Cognitive Reset”, which was designed to cleanse the minds of the jury after the Prosecution’s opening statement. And it probably worked.

          http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2013/06/24/b2-spirit-temporarily-replaces-spectre-inside-baseball-day-1-zimmerman-trial-stuff/http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2013/06/24/b2-spirit-temporarily-replaces-spectre-inside-baseball-day-1-zimmerman-trial-stuff/

        2. avatar Jason says:

          An intelligent speaker writes for his audience. The only audience that matters here are half a dozen women sitting in a box. The prosecution’s quick style might work better with men, but women tend to like a slower, relaxed approach (insert sex jokes here). If the defense can make those women feel more comfortable with his style than with the DA, it helps.

    2. avatar styrgwillidar says:

      Well, the SPD neighborhood watch commander (a state witness) basically provided a testimonial for George Zimmerman during her testimony. She stated he did everything in accordance with guidance, was a ‘meek’, professional, respectful person sincerely interested in the good of the neighborhood.

      On the stand she confirmed the break-ins that had been occuring in the neighborhood including a hot prowl in a home with a woman and baby. She and the HOA president testified NW had been told to ‘follow at a safe distance’. And both confirmed that NW participants followed this policy in an incident which led to the arrest of a 17-18 year old.

  7. avatar Chris says:

    Interesting take. They were never told not to carry and they were actually told to follow at a distance. From the defenses own witnesses it sounds like GZ played this one by the book. The NW stopped a 17 year old black kid from a burglary by doing exactly what GZ did that night.

    All this is noise though, the State has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that GZ committed murder and when you get to the injuries to GZ I don’t know how that doesn’t cast doubt.

    1. avatar styrgwillidar says:

      They also have to prove Zimmerman had a ‘depraved’ state of mind. It looked like the state was trying to get the dispatcher’s testimony about the curse words to cover that. Instead the defense has him providing the professional assessment based on specific training he’s received in dealing with callers that Zimmerman was calm with no indication of anger.

      1. avatar Chris says:

        Yup, the state has provided witnesses that have shown he was a frustrated man with good character who wanted to help his community.

        1. avatar Jason says:

          We have to remember that the State didn’t want to prosecute this one to begin with. The local PD and DA both saw it as a clear DGU. It wasn’t until Al Sharpton started screaming and the prez practically called Martin his son, that the “special prosecutor” got involved.

  8. avatar Mr. Pierogie says:

    What’s the difference whether GZ followed TM or what the rules where for the neighborhood watch with respect to firearms? There were robberies in the neighborhood before, so was it unreasonable for GZ to keep any eye on a person who seemed to be a stranger, not from that neighborhood? Even if GZ confronted TM first, what sort of confrontation was it? Looks like it was verbal and nothing else. Why would GZ want to attack TM? That doesn’t make any sense.

    Many people don’t seem to like that GZ confronted TM in the first place. Fine. But all TM had to do is to either avoid talking to GZ or tell him to piss off or mind his own business. But, it seems that TM didn’t do that, and physically attacked GZ shortly thereafter. During the struggle, GZ fired one round in self-defense.

    Even we you believe that GZ should not have followed and / or confronted TM, if you’re in the “GZ was just looking for trouble” camp, it still does not make sense that GZ would just attack TM over nothing (and TM was a bigger guy than GZ btw). It looks like, most likely, TM didn’t appreciate the confrontation, and, since he was somewhat of a troublemaker, didn’t mind starting a fight with GZ to show him who’s boss. What he didn’t realize was that GZ was in legal possession of a firearm and used it to defend his life, as he was getting beat up on the sidewalk.

    This case is in court only because the media pushed for it, because the Jessie Jacksons, Spike Lees and Al Sharptons of the world would not be relevant if they could not get on TV and scream “racism!” where there is none. Do you really think that GZ cared whether the guy bashing his skull was black or white? What’s the difference? This case is the defense attorney’s to lose, and I don’t have much faith in them, they don’t seem all that competent.

  9. avatar Treize31x says:

    Zimmerman’s primary problem, and the reason why I hope he gets life is: he waived his right to use a gun for protection by initiating the confrontation.

    1. avatar Chris says:

      Except he didn’t

    2. avatar webpawn says:

      Initiating a conversation, discussion, or even a strong verbal challenge does not void your right to self-protection. However, there has been no evidence that even that was done by the defendant.
      Did he use poor judgment in getting out of the vehicle when he lost sight of the decedent, putting himself at risk of being challenged and overpowered? I would say so. Tactically, it was not a good move. Does that warrant even an arrest? No. Life in prison? Really? If just the facts are laid out, without the prejudices and the political expediencies, it’s a non-starter.
      BTW: I hope that your mistakes (you do make them), are dealt with more justly and mercifully than you would deal with others.

    3. avatar Jason says:

      Agreed! Oh…wait…I mean the opposite of that.

      Do you have any evidence of this initiation? If so, you should hop the next plane to Miami, because the prosecution could *really* use it.

      We have this silly little thing around here called Presumption of Innocence.

  10. avatar Joke & Dagger says:

    Well put, webpawn. I would have the same answer, just not as well written.

  11. avatar Mike in NC says:

    A few points that I have noticed so far:
    1. The opening joke that has so many fixated was a cognitive reset for the jurors. The jurors quickly focused on the defense opening presentation (on the order of four hours laying out many details.) while taking notes. I saw no reports of the jurors taking notes during the prosecution opening. This fixation on this cognitive reset joke by the media has also shown that many observers require more than 24 hours to reboot their brains.
    2. The witnesses thus far have been called by the state and most have had more impact in favor of the defense and to show that GZ is the sort of neighbor every one of those jurors would want in their communities.
    3. The witness who took the non-emergency call from GZ testified that they do not give orders, but rather suggestions and this policy was for liability reasons.
    4. The SPD community watch coordinator testified that they offered to make GZ a CoP (citizens on patrol?) but he turned them down.

  12. avatar rhampton says:

    I would think “stand your ground” applies equally well to Trayvon’s case. From his point of view, some nutter with a gun followed him around, first from a truck and then on foot. So when he finally confronted Zimmerman, he could reasonably conclude that his life was in immediate, grave danger. Yes he could have fled, but the law allows him to stand his ground.

    That’s the avoidable flaw in the stand your ground doctrine: two innocent individuals, each deeply suspicious of the other, mistakenly defend themselves with lethal force. Having said that, I presume most here would agree that such scenarios are a very rare, and that the doctrine does far more good then harm.

    1. avatar Azimuth says:

      Before we go any further, we should probably square the room.
      The point that is curiously absent so far is that Trayvon was not
      a resident of that neighborhood, in fact, he was a visiting guest.
      What this speaks to more is the mindset of Trayvon Martin, and
      his willingness to assume that George Zimmerman presented a
      credible threat to his life, so much so that he felt an aggressive confrontation was the only way to handle it. Who walks around
      with an attitude like that, especially when they’re only a guest
      who’s visiting from out of town? Dangerous people, that’s who.

      For the prosecution to succeed, all basic defensive gun use must
      be portrayed as suspect, as though it was a criminal act in itself,
      …..until a court decides that it isn’t. For the prosecution to win,
      it must obscure the intentions of Trayvon Martin, and slander
      the intentions of George Zimmerman. The criminalizing of DGU.

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