March 19, 2012
Florida State's Attorney
107 West Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Dear Mr. Wolfinger:
I am writing to encourage your office to carefully consider prosecuting Mr. Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin. Neither the state of Florida, nor the nation will not be well-served by ignoring this matter. The longer it takes for prosecution to occur, the more it will grow and undermine the lawful authority of police and the courts. Our system of justice depends upon the consent of citizens to be governed. Whenever confidence in law enforcement is eroded, the entire society suffers.
This case is more about police failure to investigate and right-wing fear-driven, gun zealot takeover of Southern legislatures than anything else, including race. Zimmerman may be innocent. He may be guilty of manslaughter, or he may be a murderer. The State of Florida deserves its day in court to make its case. Many prosecutors in Florida opposed so-called Stand Your Ground Laws for the very reason they take away from prosecutors and jurors the consideration of whether deadly force in defense of self is reasonably deployed. These laws don't protect the public - they protect the careers of pandering activist legislators. At the time the Florida law was changed to remove a centuries-old "duty to retreat", it was predicted that the law would empower vigilantes. Now that is occurring. This is not principally about race, but about justice and the kind of nation we want to be.
These facts must be weighed in favor of prosecution:
a. A witness heard the scream of a “young boy”
b. Zimmerman followed Martin despite being told by the police not to do so
c. Zimmerman revealed his own bias in statements to the dispatcher
d. Zimmerman suffered no serious injury
e. Zimmerman initiated the confrontation
f. Zimmerman had an exit route – his vehicle
g. Martin had no apparent capacity to carry out a threat of serious bodily harm
We request that you respond to these questions:
1. What is the nature and source of Mr. Zimmerman’s special relationship to the Sanford police department?
2. What about Trayvon Martin’s behavior justified the use of deadly force?
3. Does Zimmerman contend that Martin had a weapon?
4. Exactly what is the nature of the imminent threat that Zimmerman feared from Martin?
5. Do you have ballistics or other test results to tell the distance between Zimmerman and Martin at the time the weapon was fired?
6. Why weren’t interested witnesses contacted?
7. Are any police staff being investigated for failure to take witness statements?
8. What was the condition of Martin’s clothing?
9. Was either person under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
Although many prosecutors disfavor them, you don’t have to oppose so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws to know that this case requires special attention. Failure to thoroughly answer these questions will only undermine future legitimate claims of self-defense. As you know, the prosecutor’s role is to seek justice. Justice demands answers to these (and other) questions and must be administered without fear or favor. The eyes of the world are watching whether justice can be achieved in Seminole County. I look forward to your prompt response.
Janice L. Mathis, Esq.
Cc: Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.