During Tuesday morning’s radio broadcast, renown legal professor Alan Dershowitz joined Glenn Beck and his co-hosts to discuss the legal intricacies of second degree murder charges, particularly as they relate to George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case. The veteran law expert asserted unequivocally that the evidence in the case does not support the charge of second degree murder and that it is “unethical” behavior, “not incompetence,” on the part of the prosecution to have pursed such a charge.
Dershowitz explained that in order to substantiate second degree murder, pure malice and “extreme disregard” for human life must be evident and that nothing present in the affidavit submitted met those elements. He added that the prosecution would have had to show Zimmerman made a conscious decision “to kill the young man because he hated him.. or didn’t value his life.”
The legal professor also explained that, given the pictures of Zimmerman’s bloodied head and the facts of the case known thus far, a second degree murder charge is nearly impossible to prosecute. With this in mind, Dershowitz concluded that the prosecution must have purposely withheld evidence for political purposes in order to pursue a second degree murder charge.
“The blood is a smoking gun,” he stated emphatically.
According to Dershowitz, in Florida, a second degree murder charge is the same as first degree murder except for the fact that it does not carry the death penalty. This is not the kind of case where second degree murder “is charged by ethical and rational prosecutors based on the evidence.” He added that withholding evidence is unlawful and reminded that “this is not a poker game.”
In exploring the reasons why the prosecution might have withheld evidence, Dershowitz said that the prosecutor was politically elected and likely seeks to avoid riots and other forms of backlash through “over-charging.” He said that while a charge of manslaughter would have been a reasonable point of debate among people, a second degree murder charge shows the prosecutor’s motives were not about justice “but about politics.” Dershowitz explained to Beck that if he were a judge, under Stand Your Ground laws, he would undoubtedly throw out the charge of second degree murder but said even if Stand Your Ground were not applicable, Zimmerman could still be legally tried under the lens of self-defense.
In analyzing where he sees the case leading, Dershowitz said he could perhaps envision a plea bargain, but definitely not a second degree murder conviction. He pointed out, however, that to ensure a fair trial, the case will have to be moved to a different county so that jurors will not feel threatened by agitators and can comfortably and fairly weigh their verdict without risking harm to themselves or their families.
Dershowtiz was also quick to note that people’s political leanings should not factor into this case as it is not about politics, but instead “about justice.” He noted that, per the core principles of America’s justice system, it is better to “err on the side of acquitting the possibly guilty” rather than err on the side of “convicting the possibly innocent.”