There appears to be enough evidence to charge George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin. We hope the Florida grand jury that is to begin hearing facts on April 10 about Trayvon's death votes to indict the Neighborhood Watch captain who shot the 17-year-old. The matter has become a racial flash-point, and the public deserves the substantial evidence against Zimmerman to be tested in court. The assorted circumstances dribbling out in the media are no substitute for an open trial before a judge and jury.
The laws of the land in Florida include its misguided Stand Your Ground law, which lets a person under attack meet force with force, including deadly force, rather than flee when possible to avoid confrontation.
Zimmerman has said he was acting in self-defense when he shot Trayvon, and the police in Sanford, Fla., gave Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt by not charging him. But it appears that Zimmerman was not just standing his ground, he pursued Trayvon through the gated community even though a 911 dispatcher told him to stay put and let police deal with the supposed intruder.
Zimmerman's father recently told an Orlando television station that his son was subjected to a vicious attack and death threats from Trayvon, a claim not supported by a police videotape of the handcuffed Zimmerman emerging from a police car at the police station. He is not bloodied, scraped, mussed or showing any signs of discomfort. He walks unassisted from the police vehicle.
Trayvon was talking to his girlfriend on his cellphone in the moments leading up to his death. "I think this dude is following me," he said. Then, after apparently thinking he had lost Zimmerman, Trayvon said, "He is right behind me again. I'm not going to run, I'm going to walk fast." The girlfriend says she then heard another voice say, "What are you doing around here?" Trayvon answered, "Why are you following me?" She says she then heard Trayvon get pushed and the sound of his phone hitting the ground.
An unidentified witness interviewed by CNN described a loud argument and a wrestling match of sorts between two males that ended in gunfire on the rainy night of Feb. 26. One of them was yelling from help, then came another yell. But the witness, who was vague on many details, said that when the shooter got up to walk away, the victim of the shots was lying face down. The witness, who had been watching from his window, hinted, though could not say for certain, that Zimmerman had been on top. If so, it raises questions about whether the confrontation could have ended without gunfire. (We will delay comments about the unnecessary proliferation of guns in society until another day.)
Zimmerman's claims of self-defense appear flimsier by the day, even with the efforts of his father and brother to back up his story. While this page sees enough evidence to send the matter to trial, that does not mean there is enough evidence to convict Zimmerman. That will be known only after prosecutors present their case, defense lawyers test it under cross examination and a jury foreman reads the verdict aloud.
A court of law is the best and only forum to determine the truth, as best it can be determined, about the death of Trayvon Martin. The truth cannot be determined through the swirl of media interviews that are widening the racial divide.