Last month a socking event took place in Sanford, Florida. The 17 years old Trayvon Martin was shot to death by a neighborhood watch leader, George Zimmerman. At the moment of the incident the victim was unarmed, returning from a convenient store. The incident occurred at the time of the L.A. Riots anniversary, a circumstance that raised the public’s interest towards this case.
Many saw similarities between the brutal beating of Rodney King by four police officers twenty years ago and the death of Trayvon Martin. According to public opinion, the only reason why Martin had to die was his Afro-American origin. The violent reaction of the community towards the case is clearly visible in the fact that some members of the New Black Panthers had put out a bounty for the arrest of Zimmerman. When Zimmerman finally turned himself in, he pleaded not guilty. Since there was no clear evidence about the shooting and the defendant was not considered to be a threat for the community his bail was established at $150,000 and he was released from jail.
Zimmerman will be charged with second degree murder and if found guilty he will be sentenced to a prison time of 19 to 25 years. However until a murder trial can take place months if not even years will pass. While family and community members are waiting for the sentencing, the defendant is kept under permanent police supervision and his location is constantly changed and kept in secret, in order to protect him from possible vigilante actions from the part of individuals and groups who believe he should be kept behind bars.
Zimmerman’s L.A. criminal defense attorney sees things differently. He thinks there are considerable differences between the actions of police officers charged in the Rodney King case and his client. The policemen who brutally beat King twenty years ago were clearly committing an abuse of power, while that charge does not exist in Zimmerman’s case. He also advises his client to avoid public attention and keep a low profile until things will cool down and public attention will be directed towards other events.