When I was chief economist at the US Sentencing Commission, I had the opportunity to read a number of "Affidavits of probable cause."
In the one involving George Zimmerman, I am not sure that I have ever previously read a vague and incomplete affidavit like this. As Alan Dershowitz noted, the document doesn't include any information that favors the defendant. And the material in it, with the possible exception of the claim by Trayvon Martin's mom that Martin was the person who screamed for help, does not rule out that Zimmerman acted in self-defense. But it excludes extremely relevant information that the police knew about: the grass and wetness on the back of Zimmerman's shirt, the gashes on the back of his head, the bloody nose, and the other witness accounts that saw Martin on top of Zimmerman beating him before the shot was fired. If Zimmerman was on his back when he was being pummeled by Martin, that provides a clear reason for self-defense under traditional Florida law (with no reference to the Stand Your Ground necessary).
Note if there was any evidence of racial animus on Zimmerman's part it would have been mentioned. Despite references to Zimmerman making derogatory statements about criminals, there is no mention of the claimed statement "f****** coons" that got so much attention. This confirms CNN's previous investigation
For those interested, here is an example of an "Affidavit of probable cause" from another case
It also seems clear that this case was overcharged. See this discussion here
there are three typical situations that can constitute second degree murder:
A killing done impulsively without premeditation, but with malice aforethought
A killing that results from an act intended to cause serious bodily harm
A killing that results from an act that demonstrates the perpetrators depraved indifference to human life
For example, in the situation above, instead of shooting Bill, Adam grabs a shovel and hits Bill on the head with all his strength. Adam didnt explicitly intend to kill Bill when he hit him, but he did intend to hit him with the tire iron, and he knew that such a blow to the head carried with it a distinct possibility of death. Adams killing of Bill in this instance also constitutes second degree murder. . . .
Act Intended to Cause Serious Bodily Harm?
The killer might not necessarily intend to kill the victim, but knows that death is a likely outcome.
For example, in the situation above, instead of shooting Bill, Adam grabs a shovel and hits Bill on the head with all his strength. Adam didnt explicitly intend to kill Bill when he hit him, but he did intend to hit him with the tire iron, and he knew that such a blow to the head carried with it a distinct possibility of death. Adams killing of Bill in this instance also constitutes second degree murder.
Depraved Indifference to Human Life?
Depraved indifference to human life can mean different things in different jurisdictions, but in general it signifies that the perpetrator had an utter disregard for the potential damage to human life that their actions could cause.
Going back to Adam and Bill, imagine that, instead of hitting Bill over the head with the tire iron, Adam grabbed his gun and fired in anger into a crowd of onlookers. Adam didnt necessarily mean to kill anyone, but also didnt give any thought to the harm that his actions could cause in the crowd. . . . .
Labels: george zimmerman, ProsecutorialAbuse, Selfdefense