New Trayvon Martin Twist: Anonymous Witness Reportedly Tells Police Martin Attacked Zimmerman

We’ve run a lot of posts on the Trayvon Martin killing controversy. And as TMV Guest Voice Columnist Simon Owens notes, there has been a truly shocking lack of coverage of this story from some conservative websites. So it’ll be interesting to see if suddenly — as a further sign of just how everything in American politics must devolve into a partisan and ideological struggle — conservative website suddenly pick up this new twist in the Trayvon Martin tragedy. As of this writing none of the news sites (Fox News, ABC News, CBS News, MSNBC and BBC) are reporting this story. A witness has reportedly come forward and told police that Martin provoked neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman:

Trayvon Martin may have attacked a Neighborhood Watch captain before the man shot dead the unarmed teen in a gated community in Florida, an anonymous witness who spoke to police claimed yesterday.

The witness, known only as John, told Sanford police that he saw Martin on top of George Zimmerman shortly before the fatal shot that has led to a national outcry, including a huge ‘hoodie’ march in Philadelphia last night.

He recounted the details to Fox 35 News in Florida.

The witness told FOX 35 in Orlando that he saw evidence of a fight between Martin and Zimmerman, which could lend credence to the gunman’s claim that he was acting in self-defence.

‘The guy on the bottom who had a red sweater on was yelling to me: “Help, help… and I told him to stop and I was calling 911,’ he said.

Zimmerman was wearing a red sweater; Martin was in a grey hoodie.

He added: ‘When I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on top beating up the other guy, was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point.’

This account is drastically different from the portrait painted of Martin by his friends and acquaintances.

Friends of the slain 17-year-old say they cannot imagine him getting involved in a fight, and insist that he was not violent.

‘There’s no way I can believe that, because he’s not a confrontational kid,’ said Jerome Horton, who was one of Martin’s former football coaches and knew him since he was a small child.

‘It just wouldn’t happen. That’s just not that kid.’

Meanwhile, the attorney hired to represent Zimmerman is echoing claims of the Neighbourhood Watchman’s father – that he’s not racist.

What is notable on this to this former fulltime journalist who worked on several newspapers: the fact that none of the news sites (including Fox) are not reporting it suggests a)editors need to confirm the report that was on the local TV station and carried on The Daily Mail b)there is some uneasiness. Sometimes editors will not pick up a “new twist” story if they cannot get confirmation or their sources dismiss it as not solid.

But I’m feeling some uneasiness. I am predicting that once again we will see something become a tool in the 24/7 ongoing partisan ideological struggle. Each side will blast the side that support the side with whom they sympathize:

–Those who feel Trayvon was a teen armed with Skittles and an iced tea who was basically murdered by a person who was a neighborhood watch commander who may have taken that to mean he was a real policeman will feel the eyewitness was a set up or a sympathizer with Zimmerman and lying.

–Those who feel Trayvon was a menacing teen (I will not even link to some of the suggestions made on some websites and in comments on some websites that display utter racism and an automatic assumption that he was on the street to commit a crime) will contend the statement by Trayvon’s girlfriend that she was on the phone when he was trying to avoid a many following him is a lie.

–Those who see a way to somehow turn this into a political football to use in the Presidential election will do so.

I hope I’m wrong. I’m no psychic. But if this account is carried by the mainstream news sites you can place money in Vegas that I will be right.

Three things to watch:

1. Is this account carried by the mainstream media yet? As of this writing it is only being picked up by conservative websites.Check GOOGLE NEWS HERE. Did these website carry any other info on this case or did they ignore it until this account came out? If so, why? Prediction: Mainstream media will report this once they get their own confirmation that this has been communicated to police. It would also explain why Zimmerman’s new lawyer is now contending he can use a regular self defense defense, versus a defense based on the Florida law.

2. How is it playing with talk show hosts? Will they use this latest story to whip it up into a partisan issue?

3. The reaction of people such as Rep. Allen West on Facebook – a conservative who has come out strongly in favor of getting to the bottom of this and has called the case an outrage.

  

32 Comments

  1. It’s funny how few people actually waited to see if there was more to the story. I’ve been called names because of concern that the public outcry would be the driving force instead of the facts. Doesn’t mean I think this absolves Zimmerman or anything, at the least there seem to be conflicting stories, but this rush to judgment thing just gets out of hand and doesn’t serve the truth.

  2. *eyes rolling*

    You guys HONESTLY believe that a guy walking on a sidewalk or the side of the street ATTACKED a guy driving an SUV? Really?

    BULLSHIT.

    This story is THREE WEEKS OLD. This is the Daily Mail, for crissakes. It’s a UK tabloid. And this anonymous person contradicts real-time statements by people in the neighborhood. And the conversation Martin was having with his girlfriend at the time.

    As I just wrote:
    http://themoderatevoice.com/14.....-kill-law/

    Think about this for a moment. A guy who has 100 pounds on you steps out of his SUV, maybe brandishing a gun, maybe not, and demands to know why you are in his neighborhood. What are you, unarmed, going to do? Attack him? Doubtful. But if he gets in your face and pushes you on the shoulder, would you push back? I think I would.

    So now there’s a fight – one that I did not start – but the mere fact that there is a fight is enough to exonerate the guy who shoots me?

  3. “And this anonymous person contradicts real-time statements by people in the neighborhood.”

    With all due respect Ms Gill, this “anonymous” person told his story to police less than 24 hours after the shooting as the poster “me” just point out. This isn’t a new or completely anonynmous witness. He was intervied on camera the day after the shooting:

    http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dp.....z1phFMGCu4

    Please listen to the 2/27 video linked with that news story. This “anonymous” person isn’t new. Of course, this narrative isn’t consistent with the race war narrative being perpetrated by race mongers, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, et al. There are also news reports Trayvon was a 6’2″ former fottball player towering over the 5’2″ Zimmerman.

    There is no doubt Zimmermen should not have followed the kid, but I’m not convinced he committed murder. As much as it runs counter to the left wing narrative, I say let the facts come out before rushing to judgement.

  4. Eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable as anyone who has been through a mock “situation” in psych class can attest. People see things at different times so you get two or more versions, both true as far as the witness is concerned, but because the time (or angle of sight) is different they seem irreconcilable.

    Witnesses also have different interpretations on what they remember as seeing. All of which are apparent in the different versions of this incident. Only ‘John’, maybe, saw the tussle on the ground. He may have seen the person on top “beating up” on the person on the bottom or he may have seen the person on top struggling with a person for possession of the gun the person on the bottom was brandishing. We don’t know, yet.

    It is futile to speculate on what happened or why it happened until a more thorough investigation is completed.

    What we do know is

    1. Trayvon Martin was killed by a gun that had been in Zimmerman’s hand.

    2. Mr. Martin’s parents were dissatisfied with the local police investigation and now state and federal authorities are looking into the case.

    3. Many blogs and national figures have been instrumental in bringing the case to national attention and a lot of people are willing to make a judgement about Mr. Zimmerman.

    4. Mr. Zimmerman is now incommunicado; according to his attorney he fears for his life.

    5. A group called the “New Black Panthers” are searching for Mr. Zimmerman and have offered a reward for his “capture”.

    That’s all we know and all we need to know until the facts all come out. If harm comes to Mr. Zimmerman before this is all over, there will be enough blame to go around. This is not the way to conduct civil discourse in a civilized country.

    I deplore all this hoopla, remembering what happened with the Tawana Brawley fiasco. No one knows yet what really happened or if she was really harmed – she may have been, but she and her 3 advisors, including Rev. Al Sharpton, were successfully sued for defamation and monetary awards were levied against all 4 defendants.

  5. There are two women who tell a different story than “John.” These women gave there names and appeared on TV to tell their story. LOL two women are braver than John…
    http://www.baynews9.com/conten.....in_shooti/
    180,000 responses to Mary Cutcher.
    http://www.google.com/search?q.....=firefox-a

    Three witnesses, including two women, have come forward, claiming they witnessed the deadly shooting.

    Mary Cutcher and her roommate said they heard the 17-year-old crying and pleading for his life.

    Then, they said they heard the gunshot that killed him. Cutcher and her roommate said they rushed outside to see Zimmerman standing over Trayvon’s body.

    Standing with the teen’s family and their attorneys Friday morning, the two witnesses said they believe Zimmerman murdered the boy, and believe police have not done enough in their investigation.

  6. What possible reason would Zimmerman have had to even get out of his SUV? Let’s all try to be honest for a moment; his intent was to provoke a confrontation. Well he got one didn’t he. And now he’s supposed to walk away scott free? Give me a break. Some people here have no apparent use for reality.

  7. “there has been a truly shocking lack of coverage of this story from some conservative websites”

    Not shocking in the least. It’s entirely consistent. Unless there is a way to politicize a tragedy to their advantage they will ignore it.

  8. Some people here are waiting for all the facts to be made public. And hoping vigilante justice isn’t making a comeback.

  9. so basically, you’re im,plying that it’s ok for someone to arbitrarily stalk someone, get out of your car, provoke an altercation, and when the person being stalked proceeds to protect himself (esp. given the notion that kids are supposed to look out for strangers looking to kidnap them, sexually assult them, etc.), he then becomes the agressor, and it is then ok to kill him because he did was he was supposed to do, i.e., protect himself from someone he perceives to be a threat? The gun whackos are really, really reaching on this one. Turning a 17 yr old who by all accounts was a good kid into what the gun lobby wishes he was, a black thug who should be feared, therefore deserved what he got, is really in the gutter. The facts are as follows; Travon was well within his rights to be walking home, from the store. If Zimmerman left his car to confront Trayvon based on his own prejudices, then Trayvon was well within his rights to protect himself, since he was doing no wrong, although there are no confirmed reports that he even defended himself. To believe that a 140 lb kid got the better of someone who weight 240 is somewhat unbelievable.
    Zimmerman should be in jail. He murdered this kid. Plain and simple. THis bogus story is simply the gun lobby trotting out a fake story to interject doubt, as they do not want their “stand your ground” law to come under scrutiny.

  10. The eyewitness could be real or they could be a friend or relative of Zimmerman’s– if the account is true, I could see why they would not want to come forward.

    I agree, however, with Kathy. If Zimmerman stalked the kid and demanded to know what he was doing there–in a threatening way, Trayvon would have been right in defending himself- he might have gotten the upper hand and been on top of Zimmerman before he shot him.

    I still think the SYG law is to blame and the Sanford PD who shirked their duty to do a full investigation with forensics

  11. Gill and rudi claim that other eyewitnesses contradict this witness’ testimony. That’s simply not true. The two women didn’t leave their house until after the shot was fired, so they have no knowledge of a fight, much less who might have been on top.

    As a TX CHL holder, I can tell you that what George Zimmerman did was wrong. The purpose of a CHL is to be prepared to defend yourself in life-threatening situations. We are to avoid conflict if at all possible and only to shoot when there are no other options.

    Of course we don’t know all the facts, and the media has distorted this story for political reasons. But common sense tells you that Zimmerman was the aggressor. Had he simply remained in his car and waited for the police to arrive, Trayvon would alive today.

    When the confrontation occurred, however it occurred, Trayvon was the one who possessed the right of self defense. Had I been in his shoes, I would have shot Zimmerman without hesitation. Unfortunately, Trayvon didn’t have that option.

  12. In the courtroom, there is no such thing as an anonymous witness … which no doubt explains why Zimmerman, his lawyer, and the local authorities that sanctioned his behavior will do everything in their power to prevent charges from being filed against this racist vigilante.

  13. This headline is flat-out wrong. This eyewitness account does _NOT_ say who initiated the confrontation (who ‘attacked’ whom), only that Martin was on top of the physical confrontation at one time. Facts on the scene that we objectively knew already:

    - Zimmerman followed Martin because he was black (the call to the police dispatcher proves Martin’s race, not just his attire, is what made him suspicious to Zimmerman),
    - he brought his firearm with him when he did that,
    - there was a physical confrontation between the two, and
    - Zimmerman eventually fatally shot Martin.

    Character witnesses for Zimmerman say he isn’t at all racist, but that gets very low weight because objective facts on the scene contradict it in this case – ‘black male’ was part of the grounds for suspicion.
    Maybe others dispute this, but I think character witnesses for Martin say mostly that he would not _start_ a fight.

    So one explanation that works fine with all of that, plus this account, is that Zimmerman confronted Martin, started a fight, and when Martin got on top in the fight, Zimmerman felt ‘afraid for his life’ and shot Martin. To the extent that physical differences between Martin and Zimmerman make Martin getting on top unlikely, so too do they weaken the credibility of Zimmerman’s ‘reasonable fear’ claims to justify killing in self-defense.

    Even if he did not ‘start it’ as the kindergarteners say, Zimmerman was following Martin, not the other way around, and Zimmerman was armed while Martin was unarmed, not the other way around. There is a decent probability that if Zimmerman said something while following Martin, he said something intimidating, which would mean he might have already committed criminal assault according to Florida criminal code.

  14. I can’t see any way Zimmerman isn’t going to end up behind the wall. Keep in mind, had there been no public outcry the Sanford Police Dept. would have allowed this injustice stay in place, which means they are complicit.

  15. “As much as it runs counter to the left wing narrative, I say let the facts come out before rushing to judgement.” – Smooth Jazz

    “left wing narrative”?????? Good grief…

  16. Look, when two people are involved in a physical fight one person will end up on the ground and the other person will be on top. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the attacker ended up on the ground while the guy he fought with was on top of him.

    What I would like to know is if the anonymous witness saw Zimmerman attack Martin, or if the anonymous person saw Martin attack Zimmerman. Coming upon two people in the middle of a fight doesn’t tell anyone who started the fight.

    And if Zimmerman had a gun out while on the ground then I would try to knock him out, knowing that if I didn’t knock him out running away would get me killed. I don’t run faster then bullets.

  17. Zephyr, it’s false to claim the police are complicit. According to reporting of the incident, the police wanted to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter, but the DA told them they didn’t have enough evidence to make the case.

    StockBoyLA, the witness didn’t see the start of the fight, so he didn’t say who started it. That’s part of the problem with this case, although I think Zimmerman’s aggressive behavior mitigates against his argument of self defense.

    As to Zimmerman having a gun, as a CHL holder I am always armed when in public. So, that, by itself, doesn’t argue that I’m aggressive. My behavior would determine that, not my possession of a weapon.

    bookworm914, according to Trayvon’s girlfriend, who was talking to him on his cellphone, she heard him say, “What are you following me for?” Then she heard Zimmerman reply, “What are you doing here?” Then she heard “pushing” and the phone went dead.

    Unless she’s lying (and I seriously doubt that given the other facts that we know), Zimmerman escalated the situation and triggered the chain of events that led to Trayvon’s death. That sounds like manslaughter to me. I don’t think the Florida “Stand Your Ground” law has anything to do with this case.

  18. txantimedia: thanks. In the third paragraph you mentioned that you’re always armed in public and that your behavior would determine whether you’re aggressive or not. I agree.

    I don’t know who you addressed that comment to, but I think it’s part of your response to me.

    The point I was making was if I was in a fight and someone had a gun out then I would do my best to knock him out, knowing that I would more than likely be shot if I fled. I didn’t mean to suggest that if I saw someone carrying a gun I would assume they were aggressive and I would attack them. Sorry if that’s how my statement came across. If you were addressing another point by someone else, then please disregard this last paragraph. Thanks. :)

  19. @JMNash
    Thanks, I had lost the link.
    Read down to the bottom.
    Sure, in the 2nd exchange the dispatcher prompts for race, which is a description.
    Exchange 7-8,

    Dispatcher: That’s the clubhouse, do you know what the—he’s near the
    clubhouse right now?
    Zimmerman: Yeah, now he’s coming towards me.
    Dispatcher: OK.
    Zimmerman: He’s got his hand in his waistband. And he’s a black male.

    Zimmerman thinks Martin’s blackness makes his behavior suspicious, or at least more suspicious.

  20. sorry, I messed up the xhtml tag, the end should be

    Exchange 7-8:

    Dispatcher: That’s the clubhouse, do you know what the—he’s near the
    clubhouse right now?
    Zimmerman: Yeah, now he’s coming towards me.
    Dispatcher: OK.
    Zimmerman: He’s got his hand in his waistband. And he’s a black male.

    Zimmerman thinks Martin’s blackness makes his behavior suspicious, or at least more suspicious.

  21. When asked about race, he says he ‘looks black’. When Martin comes closer he confirms he’s black.
    In his next statement he adds that he’s got ‘button on his shirt, late teens’.

    He’s giving a description, and updating it as he gets a better view.

  22. Zimmerman thinks Martin’s blackness makes his behavior suspicious, or at least more suspicious.

    Wow not only are you a mind reader but you can go back in time and read minds. Honestly tho the certainty of that statement seems a bit much. Heck we aren’t even listening to the tape but just reading and you are positive of not only his meaning but what he is thinking? I certainly wouldn’t say that your claim is impossible, or even unlikely, but people don’t really seem to be evaluating fact as much as trying to jam bits of info into fitting what they have decided happened.

  23. This is not new information and you aren’t a moderate. This witness report was in the local paper the day after the shooting. While the death of Martin is profoundly sad, the handling of this case in the media has been dishonest and played for political purposes. Shame on them.

  24. this witness “john” story – something must be up about it. because yes, the existence of this witness is not new, it was reported by local news w/in 24 hours. why wasn’t it cited before police chief resigned?

  25. @JMNash, @EEllis
    The 2nd reference to race is different b/c it is unprompted. The dispatcher has last asked about location, and has most recently said only ‘ok’ when Zimmerman just imparts more info that he thinks is important. ‘Hand in waistband’ is a description of suspicious behavior, not an identification. If someone were confirming a previous ‘likely’ statement, I’d expect an adverb associated (definitely), whereas here it seems like he is adding context to explain the previous statement.
    But the next thing he says is identifying descriptors, and the diction analysis is highly subjective and probabilistic, so you’re right, he might be confirming the previous description.
    Certainly, none of this reasoning is evidence that holds for the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard of criminal conviction. But in terms of actual truth, I think you have to err toward a racialized analysis: Zimmerman thought something about Martin was suspicious while he was walking carrying skittles, but _walking_isn’t_a_suspicious_act_, neither skittles… not a lot of factors left in play.
    I would be more comfortable watching you two dispute the racial analysis if I had seen you agree that it is a travesty for Zimmerman to have never been arrested – even if someone who you tried to disengage from (after you scarily followed him) is beating you up, a single unarmed someone (not just no gun, but no knife, no steel toes, no brass knuckles…) simply does not pose a reasonable risk of grave bodily harm, so fatal shooting is not a legit means of self-defense.
    It’s entirely possible y’all have said that in one of the comment threads here that I haven’t read (or on another site), which is my fault for not having seen, but it ntl would be great if you could say it again here.

  26. I would be more comfortable watching you two dispute the racial analysis if I had seen you agree that it is a travesty for Zimmerman to have never been arrested – even if someone who you tried to disengage from (after you scarily followed him) is beating you up, a single unarmed someone (not just no gun, but no knife, no steel toes, no brass knuckles…) simply does not pose a reasonable risk of grave bodily harm, so fatal shooting is not a legit means of self-defense.
    It’s entirely possible y’all have said that in one of the comment threads here that I haven’t read (or on another site), which is my fault for not having seen, but it ntl would be great if you could say it again here.

    There is a lot here so let me try and cover it all. You would be happier if I had jumped on the bandwagon and demanded the police arrest someone when I didn’t know the evidence or anything but contradictory media accounts? Well thats pretty screwed up and I am happy not to of done so thank you very much. One of the accounts has Martin banging GZ’s head on concrete, so yes grave bodily harm is not only a possible risk but an seemingly reasonable on if that is true. Martin was not a resident he was a visitor. GZ may have well known most of the residents, maybe even all of them and that fact is just as likely, or more so since there are blacks living in the community, as Martins race. Seemingly GZ wasn’t sure of Martins race when he first became suspicious so being as I care about the truth and fact no I don’t believe a conclusion drawn from the evidence we have is much more likely to be the actual truth than if we flipped a coin.

  27. @EEllis
    If someone shoots someone else, he should be arrested, and should assert his self-defense claim in a trial. This is just really simple: if you say you killed someone, you should be arrested. If evidence at a crime scene proves you killed someone, you should be arrested. When we habeas a dead corpus, and we know who killed him (by legitimate means – don’t decontextualize and say I’m again miranda or such), we had darn well better habeas the live corpus also, because society needs to adjudicate whether it was justified or not. Arrest is a huge disruption to a person’s life and needs to be taken seriously. Death is a permanent end to a person’s life, and if you caused it, your life will get a little disrupted.

    You are criticizing everyone here for convicting Zimmerman in the court of public opinion (“bandwagon”), but the fundamental argument people on this site (no defense for crazy people elsewhere) are making is that because there is no doubt he did it, and because there is significant room for doubt on justification (we are all arguing the detail of that), he should be arrested. You are defending the error in the process, not us. ‘Bandwagon’ is an attempt to impune my argument as fallacy, but I’m not appealing to popularity. You shouldn’t defend arrest because everyone else does. You should defend it for the reasons that each other person is also defending it, as I explained above.

  28. If someone shoots someone else, he should be arrested, and should assert his self-defense claim in a trial.

    That is absurd and isn’t based in law. Maybe a Grand Jury where a DA would go and say “Here is the case and we believe/don’t believe he did it” But the idea that any and every shooting means jail time regardless of the circumstances. There was an 83 yo woman who shot a burglar who was coming thru a window during the day. Dispatcher told her not to shoot she did and killed the bad guy. Police later said she did the right thing. That the burglar most likely knew she was there and was trying to get in knowing that. You would haul granny down town to a cell? How about the police act according to the law which I have yet to see any evidence they have not just people upset because they wanted a different response regardless of evidence.

    and because there is significant room for doubt on justification

    And you know this is true based on the evidence the police have collected do you? or just on the rumors, gossip, and bad reporting we have access to so far? So far no one has given a good reason for GZ’s arrest that is based in FL law.

  29. @EEllis
    I can’t believe I am having to say this.
    I clearly did not say people should be punished. I said people should be arrested. Arrest indicates that there is probable cause that a particular person committed a crime. There is probable cause that a crime was committed, because there is near certainty that a homicide occurred (slim chance the actual COD was some random event that was not precipitated). There is also near certainty that George Zimmerman was the agent of the homicide. It is possible that the homicide was justifiable, but that is an affirmative defense and is determined by a petit jury at trial. Therefore Zimmerman should be arrested – possibly should have been arrested by the officer who arrived on the scene 1 month ago, although I’m not certain of that.
    That a guy who maintains he fatally shot someone should be arrested ought to be really obvious and non-controversial. What other circumstance could be a clearer instance of probable cause?

  30. I clearly did not say people should be punished. I said people should be arrested. Arrest indicates that there is probable cause that a particular person committed a crime

    \

    Yeah right, whatever. Arrest is punishment. You are in the exact same environment as those serving out sentences for criminal acts. And you clearly said anyone who shot someone should automatically be arrested which seemingly ignores probable cause.

    It is possible that the homicide was justifiable, but that is an affirmative defense and is determined by a petit jury at trial. Therefore Zimmerman should be arrested – possibly should have been arrested by the officer who arrived on the scene 1 month ago, although I’m not certain of that.

    No that is not how it works in Florida or thank god in my state either. In Texas some laws are written such that while x may be a crime it is a “defense to prosecution” that your reason for committing the crime is y. The idea is that the base act is a crime but the court excuses it for specific reasons. Heres a shocker self defense is not a crime so you don’t get “excused”. The burden of proof is right where it’s supposed to be with the prosecution.

    That a guy who maintains he fatally shot someone should be arrested ought to be really obvious and non-controversial. What other circumstance could be a clearer instance of probable cause?

    Again it’s just not how it works. I refer again to the Granny story. Not to mention if the DA thinks they can’t win a case arresting someone you believe you can’t convict or will not prosecute is wrong.

  31. In Texas some laws are written such that while x may be a crime it is a “defense to prosecution” that your reason for committing the crime is y. The idea is that the base act is a crime but the court excuses it for specific reasons. Heres a shocker self defense is not a crime so you don’t get “excused”. The burden of proof is right where it’s supposed to be with the prosecution.

    I understand what (affirmative) defense to prosecution means. You do not seem to, if you think it exempts people from arrest. Defenses to prosecution are presented at trial; an indictment to prosecute is not required to account for them. In affirmative defenses to prosecution, since the defendant is the one introducing facts, it is generally required that the defense prove these claims, although I do not know whether the standard of proof is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, and I would not be surprised if it were generally lower.

    The standard of proof is typically lower than beyond a reasonable doubt. It can either be proved by clear and convincing evidence or by a preponderance of the evidence.

    So, proof but by a lower standard. The paragraph goes on to mention some jurisdictions where mere assertion is sufficient and the burden of proof rests on the prosecution – maybe TX and FL are like that, if you say so. Regardless, the assertion is made at trial, and does not prevent arrest.

    If you are correct that both parties in this incident might be able to reasonably claim self-defense (and therefore justified use of deadly force) (of course, Martin cannot, being _DEAD_) under some of the excessively lenient self-defense statutes in Florida, that just proves that these statutes are horrible ideas – if people are both engaged in self-defense, death is inevitable.
    Walking around at night in the rain is not threatening. Following someone around at night in the rain is threatening. There is some argument (possibly a stretch, depending on facts) that Zimmerman’s pursuit of Martin placed him in violation of Florida’s assault law, meaning he was acting illegally and therefore had no right to self-defense. The counter to this argument (ie, not assault, right to defense) is probably but not necessarily reasonable – which side happens to be true clearly depends on facts we lack.
    It is easy to come up with scenarios in which Zimmerman was not acting in self-defense. At the very least, Zimmerman’s legal but unnecessary act of initially following Martin (even if he stopped and later encountered him accidentally) was a necessary precipitant to this. That, plus the near certainty that he killed a guy, makes it non-controversial that he should be arrested.

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