The tragic death of Trayvon Martin and subsequent trial of George Zimmerman have been hotly debated across the country for the last 16 months. As a juror in the case, I’ve spent the last several weeks listening to all kinds of legal arguments from both sides, hearing testimony from 56 witnesses, and considering detailed evidence from a host of forensic experts. Ultimately, we acquitted Zimmerman on charges of both second-degree murder and manslaughter, and millions are outraged by the outcome of the case, arguing that justice had been subverted and a known killer was allowed to walk free.
Now, I realize many of you are incredibly upset by our verdict, but in our defense, these laws are completely fucked up, and our responsibility as jurors was to rule in accordance with them. Perhaps you should focus your anger not on us, but the moronic—I might say insane—statutes we were charged with upholding.
I mean, for the people who are angry at us, you do realize that we can’t just use our own personal ethical guidelines as a basis to determine a defendant’s innocence or guilt, right? That’s not how it works. And if you think that’s how it works, you’re idiots. In many ways, making a judgment based purely on our own moral compass would have been way, way easier to do. This guy pursued an unarmed kid who was doing absolutely nothing wrong and shot him to death. Seems pretty clear-cut to me that the guy should be punished in some way, shape, or form.
But thanks to these dumb-as-dog-shit laws, while the defense had to introduce some evidence that George Zimmerman acted in self-defense, they didn’t actually have to completely convince us of it. All they had to do, according to the undoubtedly moronic but explicitly written Florida statutes, was create a “reasonable doubt” as to whether he acted in self-defense.
Does that make sense to me? Absolutely not. But I was put in the position to decide whether the prosecution was able to present a case that proved that George Zimmerman was not acting in self-defense when he shot and killed Trayvon Martin. And based on the guidelines, which all of us thought were pretty ludicrous and sort of made us question the entire U.S. justice system, the prosecution didn’t do it.
I know it’s easier for all of you who are enraged at us to look past the details. After all, putting yourselves in our position would force you to try to understand how brutally complex, and legitimately dysfunctional, the legal system truly is. And why do that when you can just call us unsympathetic monsters?
Look, I’m not an idiot. I know George Zimmerman shot an unarmed teenager to death—he admitted to it, for Christ’s sake. Zimmerman followed an innocent 17-year-old (we couldn’t take into consideration whether or not Martin was racially profiled, by the way, which was yet another little legal gem that was handed our way), called 911, was told by the operator not to pursue him, but instead began a physical altercation that ended in the young man’s death. And the state of Florida stipulated that, from a strict legal standpoint, George Zimmerman did nothing wrong.
Pretty fucking dumb, right? Trust me, we tried looking at this thing from every angle while we were in deliberation for 16 hours. There’s no way around it.
Seriously, do you have any idea how incredibly frustrating that is? Knowing someone killed another human being, but at the same time having your hands tied when determining his guilt because of laws that make absolutely no sense whatsoever? So, when you accuse myself and my fellow jury members of being racist or incompetent, try keeping in mind that Florida has laws that expressly allow anyone to use deadly force against another person if they feel threatened. Believe it or not, it’s actually kind of tricky to convict a man with murder when that’s the case.
It kind of leaves you wondering how anyone can be guilty of murder in this state. And actually, we were sarcastically joking about that very fact right before we entered the courtroom and delivered our final verdict.
In a way, though, as much as it makes me absolutely sick to my stomach knowing this man got off scot-free after robbing the Martin family of their son, I’m actually proud that we successfully avoided the intense pressure from the public and stuck to the completely convoluted, idiotic letter of the law.
At the end of the day, an innocent young man is dead, and the law clearly says that, given the circumstances, the man who killed him is free to go. The law says that. Not us. But sure, you’re right. It’s all our fault. We’re the ones who fucked this one up.