June 24, 2013 — This is hard for me to get into. The main reason: this website is here to share with the world the great things happening in the Pine Hills, FL community, despite the nickname given to it years ago because of the perceived level of crime. Orlando Community News is here to help Pine Hills continue to rise. Yet, when major stories, high-profile trials, take place in a nearby community, I feel obligated to talk about them and share different viewpoints, hoping something good comes out of it.
After nearly a year and a half the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager in Sanford, the trial of George Zimmerman, the 29-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed him, got started last week. Sanford is just north of Orlando, in Seminole County. It is the town where I grew up. People think I am related to the teenager because we share the same last name and this killing happened in Sanford. The murder trial, State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman, has gained just as much attention nationally as the Casey Anthony murder trial in Orlando last year, although they are two very different cases.
In the Seminole County trial, there is a racial overtone because the Sanford Police Department did not immediately charge Zimmerman with any crime in the shooting of Martin, who had just turned 17 years old earlier in the same month (February 2012).
A special state prosecutor (appointed by Florida Governor Rick Scott) investigated the case and charged Zimmerman with second degree murder about three months after the shooting. State prosecutors say Zimmerman profiled the teenager, followed him and then shot him, Martin, a complete stranger who was walking from a convenience store through a neighborhood. Zimmerman’s defense attorneys say he was acting in self-defense when he shot the teenager who he thought looked suspicious because he was walking through the neighborhood that night in the rain, wearing a gray hoodie.
I will occasionally use comments from two attorneys from Sanford who are either connected to the case or following it. They are: Natalie Jackson, who is one of the attorneys representing Trayvon’s parents and Vera June, who is a trial attorney with offices in Altamonte Springs, FL and Atlanta, GA. Like me, they grew up in Sanford, and can offer a unique perspective on this trial.
Although based on what I have previously heard and read before the trial, I believe Zimmerman racially profiled Trayvon, I also agree with Jackson’s comments about the jury selection of six women (5 White women and 1 Hispanic woman). “This case has never been about Black vs. White as some would try to make it out to be,” Jackson recently wrote. “This case has always been about EQUAL JUSTICE. Equal Justice is not a black or white thing but an AMERICAN thing.”
I agree. It’s about the RIGHT thing, what we call JUSTICE. That’s my prayer – for fairness during the trial and for justice to prevail.
June has posted on Twitter regular “Trial Insights” on this trial. Here is one to think about: “You have just seen two very different styles for opening statements. Which do you think was more effective. State or defense?”
Follow Attorney June on Twitter at @junelegal and Attorney Jackson at @NatJackEsq.
Trish Martin, Founder & Editor, Orlando Community News
© Orlando Community News, 2013