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Trayvon Martin case should be tried by jury

Published: Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 00:04

In a sure-to-be hotly debated decision, special prosecutor Angela Corey announced that a grand jury will not examine the case of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old who was shot and killed in Sanford by self-proclaimed neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.

Corey’s decision means that she alone will decide the fate of Zimmerman, who said he shot the teen in self-defense. Though the move may be an attempt to provide an unbiased ruling for Zimmerman in a case that has polarized the nation, a jury should still weigh in so that more than one person considers a very complicated case.

According to USA Today, only first-degree murder cases require the use of grand juries in Florida, meaning Zimmerman will not be charged with first-degree murder in the case. Yet he could still be charged with a felony, such as manslaughter, and face a long prison stay — perhaps why he set up an online legal fees fund Monday.

The Martin family’s attorney Benjamin Crump told USA Today: “We want to beleive that this would be a positive sign that the prosecutor has enough information to arrest Trayvon Martin’s killer. The family is really trying hard to be patient and have faith in the system.”

Leaving a case this important up to one person does not guarantee the correct conclusion will be reached. While we can assume that Corey may be more unbiased than certain individuals who have already formed opinions of Martin or Zimmerman, the arguably even more heated Casey Anthony case still held a jury trial even though jury members had been subjected to media speculation about the trial for three years.

Had Zimmerman and Anthony both been charged and tried immediately, the fanfare could have been avoided, resulting in an unbiased trial by jury. Yet in the Anthony case, the jury ruled against the popular position that Anthony was guilty of murder because of the lack of evidence presented. It is possible a grand jury would offer a similarly objective verdict if Zimmerman was tried and is the very idea the justice system was based upon.

The case has already spurned massive protests, such as a sit-in that temporarily shut down the Sanford Police Department on Monday because student activists were blocking the doors. Regardless of the fairness of Corey’s ruling, if the case were to be settled swiftly and behind closed doors it could cause questions of its legitimacy to linger and protesters to become more fervent or even violent.

The Trayvon Martin case carries too many questions for it to be decided quietly by one person. The evidence surrounding the events of that night should be thoroughly vetted by a jury of Zimmerman’s peers and not left in the hands of a single individual.

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