Stand your ground laws are flawed, reckless
July 24, 2013 at 7:24 a.m.
Editor, the Advocate:
There is an inherent flaw in Texas' "stand your ground" law, similar to the one in Florida, which has become a central feature in the discussion of guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Neighborhood watcher Zimmerman was acquitted Saturday in the shooting of the unarmed Martin last year in Florida. This occurred while the youth was on his way back from getting snacks.
This was apparently "suspicious" to Zimmerman. A jury bought the argument that Zimmerman was not guilty of second-degree murder and that he apparently acted in self-defense because he was in fear of his life - even though he instigated the encounter by targeting a youth, one can reasonably surmise, simply because he was black and wearing a hoodie.
"Stand your ground" law says there is no duty to retreat in such encounters, even outside the home. The burden shifts to the police to disprove the claim of self-defense.
And the inherent flaw here is that the best possible witness is dead. "Stand your ground" and removal of this duty to retreat give license to using deadly force. It is an invitation to walk around armed.
Witnesses to the encounter between Zimmerman and Martin injected reasonable doubt. The prosecution could not disprove that claim of self-defense.
OK, that's how the system works. But would the law have worked the same way if Martin had lived and Zimmerman died? An honest answer is unsettling.
E.T. Rendon, Inez