Letter: Jurors were told to observe law | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Jurors were told to observe law

Dear Editor:

I thank Daniel Mehler for his thoughtful response to my guest column about the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin trial and, more importantly, the issues of gun control and gun rights (“Stick to facts in Zimmerman discourse,” Letters, July 29). The purpose of my piece was to encourage the reasonable discussion of those often conflicting issues, and I certainly welcome any well-informed arguments.

I’d like to respond to and clarify two points Mehler made. He states that the instructions to the Zimmerman jury “lack any mention” of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. On the contrary, at the conclusion of the trial, Zimmerman’s defense team requested and received the following instruction:

“If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

That instruction contains the essence of the Florida law, the absence of a “duty to retreat” and the right to “stand his ground.” At least two of the Zimmerman jurors, including one who initially voted to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder, noted the instruction as being persuasive in post-verdict interviews. States without Stand Your Ground laws impose upon a person a duty to retreat from a confrontation, i.e., to avoid violence, when retreat is reasonably available. Residents of Florida have no such legal obligation.

As to Mehler’s second point, I’m not sure how one can be intellectually dishonest in asking a hypothetical. Hypothetical presupposes the assumption of certain nonextant “facts.” The point I tried to make, apparently inarticulately, was that I believe the post-verdict discussion of the trial has focused solely on the issue of race at the expense of reawakening a colloquy about gun violence.

David Olmsted


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