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Juror: Trayvon Martin “played a huge role in his death.” (Did prosecution play role in acquittal?)

Update, news story here

@MarcACaputo

Anderson Cooper’s blockbuster interview with Juror B37 continues tonight, and it looks like the anonymous woman has some pretty explosive things to say.

The partial transcript:

Anderson Cooper: Do you think Trayvon Martin played a role in his own death? That this just isn't something that happened to him. This is something he also...

Juror: Oh I believe he played a huge role in his death. He could have... When George confronted him, he could have walked away and gone home. He didn't have to do whatever he did and come back and be in a fight.

AC: And the other jurors felt that as well?

Juror: They did. I mean, as far as my perspective of it, they did.

Beyond the idea that the unarmed victim is to blame for his own shooting death, it's interesting the juror thinks Zimmerman “confronted” Trayvon at one point. If so, that gets Zimmerman closer to being an “aggressor,” a title under Florida statutes that could have denied him a Stand Your Ground defense.

We were the first (April 15, 2012) to note the significance of the statute as it relates to this case and Stand Your Ground. Read that here

And presumably special prosecutor Angela Corey’s office knew about it as well.

But then either the prosecutors forgot about its significance or just got outmaneuvered by the defense.

Without putting up a significant fight, the prosecution watched as Judge Nelson struck the “initial aggressor” language from the jury instructions. So if jurors wanted to hold the pursuit of Trayvon against Zimmerman, there wasn't much instruction for them to do so.

“Losing the initial aggressor instruction may have been the moment the state lost its case,” criminal-law professor Alafair Burke writes in the Huffington Post, which detailed the blow-by-blow:

The defense objected to the initial aggressor instruction. (See the defense argument here.) As a factual matter, the defense argued that no evidence indicated that Zimmerman physically initiated the confrontation. As a legal matter, the defense relied on Gibbs v. State, a 2001 decision from the Fourth Division of the Florida Court of Appeals, which held that a defendant loses the right to self-defense as an initial aggressor only if he provokes the victim's use of force through either force or "threat of force."

After Judge Nelson indicated that she understood the arguments on both sides, defense attorney Don West interjected, "Well, let me point out, as a matter of law, following someone on foot or by car is not against the law.... That cannot be considered provocation under the law... Force means physical force or the threat of physical force...." In conclusion, he emphasized, "It would be ERROR, and frankly, promoting miscarriage of justice, if the state were allowed to argue that to the jury." (See 3:37 here.)

The state attempted to rebut the defense's argument by noting the defense's request for a separate instruction regarding the legality of following a person. Judge Nelson responded, "We're not there yet," then quickly ruled without elaboration: "The defense does not want to give [the initial aggressor exception]; the state does. The court is not going to give it."

Now, of course, this is all Monday morning quarterbacking. For those of us watching the trial, it looked at the time as if the prosecution wasn’t adequately focusing on the fight and not the pursuit that led up to it.

“Prosecution close seems unfocused, talks 2 much about fight/2 little that #zimmerman followed Trayvon, advised by cops not to do so,” I tweeted July 11. (Although I’m no lawyer and I’m not as smart as Prof. Burke -- as I previously tweeted that the jury instructions looked like a prosecution win.)

There’s good evidence from Juror B37 that the “initial aggressor” instructions might have made some difference (we don't know how much). On Tuesday, she said she had concerns about Zimmerman's initial pursuit of Trayvon, but said he was justified in shooting the teen when the fight got underway.

"I’m 101 percent that he should have done what he did, except for the things that he did before," she said.

On Monday night, she told Cooper that at least one juror was trying to figure out how the pursuit of Trayvon factored into the manslaughter charge and self defense.

The jury even asked a question about it.

What would have happened if the aggressor language had appeared in front of them to start with? We'll never really know.

And, in an even more-hypothetical world, what would have happened if the aggressor language made it into the jury instructions AND the state had it's pre-Stand Your Ground laws?

We'll still never know. The reason: it's unclear when a pursuit of someone makes a person an aggressor. And even if it does, an aggressor can still use deadly force if he starts getting his brains beaten in. And Zimmerman argued that very fact. So Zimmerman might have had a duty to retreat (under the old law) and not get out of his car. But even if he did (under the old law) and picked a fight, he could have likely used lawful deadly force against Trayvon if he felt his life was in jeopardy. Again, Zimmerman argued that very fact.

Again, this is second-guessing after the fact. And after the fact, it sure seems like Juror B37 had her mind made up. She found Zimmerman was believable, the prosecution’s case wasn’t and now says that Trayvon essentially helped kill himself because he fought and didn’t flee.

Put another way: Trayvon stood his ground with fists, Zimmerman did it with a gun.

**Update: Zimmerman's jury-picking consultant, Robert Hirschhorn, told CNN that he forecast that Juror B37 was a top pick for the defense and would be the type of juror the prosecution didn't want. He certainly was right.

B37 also told Cooper that jurors cried about their verdict before it was read and that bailiffs gave them "about 20 minutes to try to get everything together." But in the end, the jurors knew Martin's family would be disappointed.

"We couldn't give them the verdict they wanted," she said.

Comments

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Jennifer Goltman

It was proven that Trayvon was standing-in-Zimmerman's ground. Zimmerman was pinned down getting his head bashed into the ground. A great race-baiter once said "you should ignore people suspected of terrorizing your neighborhood, just get back in the car, and let them do their thing"... That boost to criminal confidence would have us living among tribal-warfare like in Somalia in NO time... but I'm sure that's what you want, isn't it? Make it feel like home for you terrorizers? Trayvon was closer to his front door before he doubled-back, lying-in-wait for 4 minutes to attack Zimmerman; he should have just kept walking home...

Preston Scott

Marc, I watched a different trial and heard a different 911 call. Stand Your Ground was not invoked. The juror referenced it, but it did not factor in the trial or verdict. It was self-defense. According to the 911 call I listened to, you know the one edited by NBC to make it look like Zimmerman was profiling Martin, when asked to stop following Martin he is heard on the tape to say, "OK". There is no evidence to suggest he did otherwise. The juror revealed that there had been a number of burglaries in the subdivision and Zimmerman's observation that Martin looked "hopped-up" was proven correct by blood tests, though the defense chose not to go there. The suggestion that Zimmerman should have stayed in the car is similar to suggesting short skirts lead to rape. Martin jumped him or, at the least confronted him. Remember, it was Zimmerman who had police en route. This case never should have seen the light of the courtroom. It was a politically correct prosecution. By the way...anyone in the newsroom covering the story of Joshua Chellew? The lack of coverage of his story explains everything.

whasup

I've been saying, but few have listened, that the stand-your-ground law gives you a right to defend yourself, but not a guarantee of success against an intimidator, aggressor, or a thug. Too many supporters of stand-your-ground (I am one) think it's as simple as: "I'll just pull my gun and blow the thug away for threatening or menacing me."

But many people who have acted within their rights and even prudently do end up dead at the hands of thugs. Even had both Martin and Zimmerman had guns, in the confrontation(s) and ensuing fight, either might have shot the other. What I've wondered all along--and none of the civil rights bandwagoneer, publicity hounds have mentioned--is this question: when Martin was being followed by the "creepy a** cracker", why didn't he call 911 to ask for police help?

miami should be ashamed of its stupidity

U sound like idiots. Carry on.

Simple Jack

Genetic testing would prove that Trayvon's apelike behavior when confronted by Zimmerman was related to a 2-repeat allele of the MAOA gene...

Proverb

"Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—
the Lord detests them both." Proverbs

Favpapa

Enough already. So tired of journalists skewing the facts. Let's talk about the two brothers killed in Jacksonville on Sunday night. OOPS sorry, they were white and therefore not news.

RobG73436

You know people seem to keep forgetting, there are 2 Sides to this Saga… George Zimmerman's & Trayvon Martin's. Trayvon Martin wasn't able to tell his version of how events unfolded because George Zimmerman took his life. So George is free to tell his side however he wishes. Trayvon can't tell us anything. I am right or wrong about that? If Trayvon did anything wrong, it was that he did not call 911 and report "There is some one that appears to be following me."

And the other thing… Why does no one seem to recognize Trayvon Martin had the right to defend himself from George Zimmerman, The Man who was in effect Stalking him, with a loaded gun.

Juror B37 states "I’m 101 percent that he should have done what he did, except for the things that he did before," she said.

Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2013/07/juror-trayvon-martin-played-a-huge-role-in-his-death-did-prosecution-play-role-in-acquittal.html#storylink=cpy

Well Juror B37, if George Zimmerman, as I interpret your statement to mean "he should not have done the things that he did before" ( before he pulled the trigger right? ), then how can you possibly justify his shooting Trayvon Martin.

This event & the "Not Guilty" is sending out 2 messages now…

1 ) Hey it's Ok to go get a Conceal & Carry Permit, Drive the Neighborhood & find a Suspicious Looking Person ( Regardless of Age, Race, so on ), then Engage & Confront them. If you shoot them in the process "It's Self Defense."

2 ) We are sending a message to our Children, to everyone for that matter, that if someone is following & stalking you, you do not have the right to defend yourself from this Person(s). If you choose to do so, then they the Pursuer will have the right to end your life. In other words, the Pursuer has the Right to Defend themselves, but the one being pursued has no such Right anymore. Because if they try to defend themselves against a Predator, the Predator can legally use deadly force "Claiming Self Defense".


Is that the Message you are sending to our Children & the Rest of the Population? Well I got news for you Juror B37, you just did.

S Baker

The way I understand it Rob is that indeed Treyvon could have shot Zimmerman. Yeehaa

Bill123

George Z. disobeyed police advice to leave Martin alone. Zimmerman was armed, against the rules of his neighborhood watch group. Zimmerman chased an unarmed black child into a dark place and shot him dead. Florida's "stand your ground" law is the only reason he is free today.

In Florida just two weeks earlier, a woman who already had a legal restraining order against her abusive husband shot a hole in her ceiling to scare him when he entered her home to try to attack her. She also claimed Florida's "stand your ground" law when she was charged with attempted murder.

That woman, black, was sentenced to 20 years in prison just two weeks before the killer of Trayvon Martin, black, was set free by the same law to make all the money he wants off TV shows, book deals, and his Facebook fundraising.

Florida is a racist state. Sanford, Florida has a long history of violent racist attacks against law-abiding black Americans.

And, only a racist could compare Trayvon Martin to a "thug," a "hardened criminal," or anything but a black youth growing up in white racist America.

Bill123

"Zimmerman's observation that Martin looked "hopped-up" was proven correct by blood tests, though the defense chose not to go there."

No, Preston, the defense didn't "go there," because there was only a small trace of marijuana in Travon's blood. A trace doesn't indicate recent smoking.

Maybe just coincidence, but blowing up a trace to make it appear Martin was "hopped up," in this discussion, is also the behavior of racists. Are you?

Die Zimmerman

African American DNA eradicates any other DNA---GOD WANTED IT THAT WAY! So hold on to what you have now--eventually--Caucasian will just be a word read in history books.

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