It feels wrong, this verdict of not guilty for George Zimmerman. It feels wrong to say that Zimmerman is guilty of no crime. If he hadn’t approached 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, if he hadn’t pulled his gun, Martin would be alive.
But that doesn’t mean Zimmerman was guilty of murder, not in the state of Florida. It doesn’t even mean he was guilty of manslaughter, though that was the middle ground I hoped the jury would find its way toward. (And in fact, the jurors asked for a clarification on the manslaughter charge during its 16½ hours of deliberation.) Here’s the problem: To convict Zimmerman of murder, the six women of the jury had to find that he killed Martin out of ill will, hatred, or spite, or with a depraved mind. The law didn’t account Zimmerman’s fear or feeling of being physically threatened.
But the physical evidence suggested that in the heat of the moment, Zimmerman could have felt both of those things. A forensics expert testified that from the angle of his wounds, it appeared that Martin was on top of Zimmerman when he was shot. The neighbor who came closest to being an eyewitness—there were none—said it looked to him like he saw a fight in which the person on top, straddling the person below, was wearing a red or a light-colored shirt. That, too, suggested Martin was on top. Zimmerman did have injuries: lacerations to the back of his head from the pavement and a swollen bloody nose.
It’s true that there was also evidence on the other side: None of Zimmerman’s DNA was found under Martin’s fingernails. None of Martin’s DNA was found on the gun. These facts contradict key aspects of the account Zimmerman gave police. Why believe him about the rest of his account? And even if you do give him the benefit of that doubt, why did Zimmerman feel so very threatened? Why did he pull his gun and shoot to kill?
Part of the couple’s probation included ensuring their additional children, ranging up to 17 years old, get regular medical checkups and go to the doctor when there’s any sign of illness.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said the care was never given and decided to bring murder charges against the couple. The couple’s remaining seven children are in foster care.
The Schaibles are part of First Century Gospel Church in the Juniata Park section of Philadelphia. The church, one of two in the city, believe in faith-healing over modern medicine.
NBC10 has learned at least two dozen children from First Century Gospel and its mother church First Tabernacle Congregation have died since 1971.
A Virginia man who said his 2-year-old daughter was possessed by a demon has been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison for her death.
Thirty-year-old Eder Guzman-Rodriguez was sentenced Monday in Floyd County after pleading no contest to first-degree murder. His daughter, Jocelyn, was found dead in November 2011.
Prosecutors say Guzman-Rodriguez told police that his daughter had a demon inside of her and that he had attempted to exorcise her of the demon.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Shortt said the first deputy who arrived saw “several Hispanics holding Bibles” standing on the deck of the mobile home.
The toddler’s body was found on a bed in the master bedroom, wrapped in a blanket and without a pulse. The room was in disarray with several Bibles and “other religious literature,” Shortt said.
A 24-year-old man charged with killing an elderly couple and raping their 2-year-old great-grandchild had been released early from prison just hours before the attacks, state officials said on Tuesday.
Jerry Active was arrested on Saturday by police and has been charged in the murders of Sorn Sreap, 71, and her husband, Touch Chea, 73, and the rape of the toddler they were babysitting that night. Active is also charged with raping Sreap.
The elderly victims’ bodies had signs of blunt-force trauma, but autopsies will determine the cause of death, the Anchorage Police Department said in a statement. Active could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of the murders and rapes.
Active, who had pleaded guilty to breaking into a Dillingham, Alaska, home in 2009 and sexually assaulting a child and other residents, was released from prison on probation on Saturday morning after serving part of a seven-year sentence, said Kaci Schroeder, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Corrections.
It was not immediately clear why Active was allowed to serve less than his full sentence. Schroeder said she did not have certain details about his case.
The death of an 8-month-old child whose parents believe in healing by prayer has been ruled a homicide by the Philadelphia medical examiner, according to CBS Philly.
Brandon Schaible, infant son of Herbert and Catherine Schaible, reportedly died on April 18th from dehydration and bacterial pneumonia stemming from a streptococcus infection.
The Schaibles have worked as teachers at their fundamentalist church, the First Century Gospel Church in Philadelphia. They don’t believe in medical help and pray for healing instead, according to CBS Philly.
The station reported the couple was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2009 for the death of their 2-year-old. That child also died of pneumonia and the parents were sentenced to 10 years probation.
The measles outbreak in Wales may have claimed its first victim.
According to the Guardian, a 25-year-old man was found dead in his apartment in Swansea Thursday. Gareth Colfer-Williams was known to have measles at the time of his death. What’s not clear is what the actual cause of death was; he was an ill man, apparently suffering from severe asthma. We’ll know what the exact cause of death was soon enough, I imagine. But his having measles at the time is very, very suspicious, and more tests will be run next week.
Either way, this tragic death has focused attention again on what’s happening in Wales. More than 800 people have been diagnosed with measles in Swansea in this recent outbreak. People are lining up to get their vaccinations, and a campaign has been started to get more people vaccinated, which is a good thing; I just hope it’s in time. But with so many people contracting the illness, serious repercussions are almost inevitable.
Wales has had low Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) vaccination rates for some time … since about 1998, in fact, when Andrew Wakefield published his bogus study in the Lancet falsely linking the MMR vaccine to autism.
It’s easy to lay all this misery at Wakefield’s feet, but there’s plenty to go around. The Lancet should never have published it (many of the co-authors later withdrew their names from the paper). Tony Blair, then prime minister of Britain, declined to reveal whether his own son had gotten the MMR vaccine, prompting rumors it wasn’t safe.
I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.
I don’t expect to die anytime soon. But it could happen this moment, while I am writing. I was talking the other day with Jim Toback, a friend of 35 years, and the conversation turned to our deaths, as it always does. “Ask someone how they feel about death,” he said, “and they’ll tell you everyone’s gonna die. Ask them, In the next 30 seconds? No, no, no, that’s not gonna happen. How about this afternoon? No. What you’re really asking them to admit is, Oh my God, I don’t really exist. I might be gone at any given second.”
Me too, but I hope not. I have plans. Still, illness led me resolutely toward the contemplation of death. That led me to the subject of evolution, that most consoling of all the sciences, and I became engulfed on my blog in unforeseen discussions about God, the afterlife, religion, theory of evolution, intelligent design, reincarnation, the nature of reality, what came before the big bang, what waits after the end, the nature of intelligence, the reality of the self, death, death, death.
More: I Do Not Fear Death
Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, the lesbian couple at the center of a major gay rights case set to go before the Supreme Court this month, were in many ways a typical New York power couple.
Spyer was a psychologist; Windsor, a consultant at IBM. They met in a Greenwich Village restaurant in the 1960s and lived together for decades, summering at a Long Island beach house.
They waited until they were in their mid-70s to marry in Canada in 2007. When Spyer died in 2009, Windsor inherited her spouse’s estate, worth about $4.1 million, according to lawyers.
But because she is gay, Windsor missed out on one of the most lucrative tax breaks enjoyed by affluent Americans - the exemption from federal estate tax on wealth passed from one spouse to another.
“The biggest benefit of marriage, financially, is when you die,” said Fred Slater, a New York tax accountant.
The spousal exemption to the estate tax is denied to same-sex couples because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law passed by Congress and signed by the president in 1996 that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Authorities in Mississippi said Thursday they had charged a man with the death of Clarksdale mayoral candidate Marco McMillian, described by a national organization as one of the first viable openly gay office-seekers in the state.
The Coahoma County Sheriff’s Department issued a statement saying Lawrence Reed, 22, of Shelby, Miss., was charged in the death of McMillian, 34.
The cause of death was not released, and the sheriff’s office did not offer a motive.
Politics probably wasn’t a factor in McMillian’s death, Coahoma County Coroner Scotty Meredith said.
McMillian’s body was found near the Mississippi River on Wednesday after a search that began when his SUV crashed into another vehicle early that morning. The candidate was not in the car. Reed was.
Offering condolences to McMillian’s family on Twitter, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a national group promoting the election of gay, lesbian and transgender candidates, called him “one of the 1st viable openly #LGBT candidates in Mississippi.”
Just another law abiding citizen with guns, until he wasn’t.
Two Santa Cruz police officers were shot and killed Tuesday afternoon, and a suspect was later killed by police, authorities said.
Police Chief Kevin Vogel confirmed that the officers had been killed while trying to arrest the suspect.
Struggling to contain his emotions, Vogel told reporters, “We lost two exceptionally fine officers today. … We need to figure out a way to bring our department together and get through this. It’s a horrible, horrible day for the Santa Cruz Police Department and the community of Santa Cruz.”
The officers, identified by Vogel as Detective Sgt. Loran “Butch” Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler, were answering a call at 801 N. Branciforte Ave., about a mile northeast of downtown Santa Cruz, at around 3:30 p.m. when the suspect opened fire, said April Skalland, a spokeswoman for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department.
“They got into a shooting, two officers were killed, and so was the suspect,” Skalland said.
The elder Goulet said his son had recently moved to Santa Cruz, where he loved the beach.
“He’s never been convicted of a felony,” he said. He said he understood that police had wanted to talk to his son about allegedly breaking into the home of a Santa Cruz co-worker and making inappropriate advances to her.
He said his son had never been violent. “He does have guns - he’s a collector and he does target practice. But I don’t think he’s going to be shooting anyone.”