Huckleby wrote:When I heard last week that Florida law allows the jury to convict on manslaughter even though the prosecution charged 2nd degree murder, I was pleased. A manslaughter conviction seems like the most just outcome.
But after thinking about it, the idea of sliding-down charges when the prosecution offers a weak case is bogus. Real bogus. Psychologically, I think a jury is likely to return a conviction on a reduced charge just because it feels like a fair middle ground in a confusing case. But also, the defense is geared towards defending the primary charge; re-rigging the game at the 11th hour seems unjust.
Guess this is the sort of law you get in right-leaning, tough-on-crime state. Which uncoincidentally has a large population of minorities.
Manslaughter is usually a lesser included offense of murder so it has to be an option for the jury in every jurisdiction where it fits because of a Supreme Court decision. And that makes sense, because it's just murder minus the intent element. The Supreme Court's reasoning was basically that it was better to allow a jury a chance to punish a life taker than let the person walk just because there might be some small amount of reasonable doubt about the intent to kill.
I don't see why it's a problem normally, but I don't think it's appropriate in this case. Zimmerman didn't do something stupid or reckless that resulted in a death. He didn't fire into the air and end up hitting Martin. He didn't pull out his gun and wave it around to scare Martin and then accidentally have it discharge. He intentionally shot at Martin, and that's very likely to cause a death, which we all know. That makes it murder.
If he has a self-defense defense, then so be it. But in this case manslaughter would be a jury cop out.
But at least it's not as stupid as the prosecution's attempt at third-degree felony murder based on felony child abuse. That's just ridiculous because that does require a whole seperate element (felony child abuse) which itself requires a whole bunch of other elements (ie: intentional infliction of physical or mental harm on a child, or something like that), none of which were even remotely argued at trial. It's like they let the interns run the last day of the trial. Such a silly thing to attempt, and it doesn't exactly make them look confident in their case.