Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz appeared on MSNBC to express some grave doubts about the prosecution’s charges of second-degree murder against George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin shooting:
Dershowitz slams special prosecutor Angela Corey hard, saying he thinks “what you have here is an elected public official who made a campaign speech last night for reelection when she gave her presentation and overcharged.” He described the affidavit of probable cause as “thin,” “irresponsible,” and “unethical.”
What’s most intriguing about the point Dershowitz makes is that the documents leveling the charge against Zimmerman don’t lay out the necessary conditions for second-degree murder, which requires a “depraved” indifference to human life. The prosecution’s own paperwork describes a classic, if tragic, case of shooting in self-defense, mixed with the still strongly contested assertion that Martin is the one who can be heard crying for help on the 911 tapes. In the early days of the case, even members of Martin’s family said it wasn’t his voice.
The affidavit does not address the injuries Zimmerman received at all, nor does it mention Zimmerman’s testimony that Martin approached him and initiated the physical confrontation, after the 911 dispatcher “instructed” Zimmerman to stop following Martin. I’ve heard a number of opinions that the dispatcher’s comment to Zimmerman, which the affidavit does not quote in full (“OK, we don’t need you to do that”) does not constitute a legal order from the police, but I presume that will be hashed out definitively in court.
The affidavit also shoots down the cottage industry of making Zimmerman out to be a racist by guessing that he was muttering racial epithets under his breath on the 911 tape. He did indeed use some salty language, but none of it was racial, according to direct quotes included in the affidavit.
The affidavit ends with a declaration that the facts it mentions “are not a complete recitation of all the pertinent facts and evidence in this case, but only are presented for a determination of Probable Cause for Second Degree Murder.” Except, as Dershowitz pointed out, nothing in the affidavit really supports that charge.