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The Trayvon Martin Killing, One Year Later
It's been one year since Trayvon Martin was confronted, shot, and killed in Florida by George Zimmerman. Ever since Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder last April in the death of the unarmed teen, a story that sparked a firestorm of debate over racial tensions, law enforcement, and gun regulations has mostly faded from the headlines. Zimmerman's trial is expected to begin this summer. In the meantime, here are some key aspects of the case worth considering:
Does Zimmerman's story add up?
A written statement and police video released last June, in which Zimmerman reenacts the deadly altercation for investigators at the scene, raised questions about Zimmerman's story in more ways than one. He seemed to suffer from some peculiar memory loss that night regarding a street in his neighborhood of many years, and his description of the confrontation did not jibe with a prior written statement that he'd given police. More details here.
Conflicting video evidence
A cautionary reminder about trying Zimmerman in the court of public opinion: Videos emerged in the media with different views of the alleged injury to Zimmerman's head the night of the killing. Did Al Sharpton's show on MSNBC play fast and loose with the footage?
Zimmerman's 911 obsession
The case was tinged with racial tensions from the start. While Zimmerman and his supporters maintained that racial bias played no part in his pursuit of Martin that night, police call logs surfaced last March suggesting that Zimmerman was obsessed with suburban law-and-order minutiae—and black men stalking the neighborhood. Other police records showed Zimmerman had called 911 a total of 46 times between 2004 and the day he shot Martin. Federal investigators later conducted local interviews and concluded that Zimmerman was not a racist.
Florida was just the beginning for "Stand Your Ground" gun laws
The Sunshine State's controversial legislation allowing citizens to defend themselves with lethal force was the "first step of a multi-state strategy," said the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre after the law was signed in 2005. As an in-depth MoJo investigation last summer revealed, Stand Your Ground laws—backed by the NRA as well as the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-sponsored consortium of lawmakers—spread to two dozen other states by 2012. Meanwhile, studies showed that Stand Your Ground laws do not deter crime, are racially discriminatory, and are associated with increases in homicides.
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