First off, I was surprised how quickly this incident became political. One citizen shoots another one, they don’t know each other, and instantly the right and left take sides. What political gain is there, really (potential answer below)?
Racism: It’s suggested by the 911 tapes that Zimmerman muttered “f*&king coons”. This may be relevant in regard to hate crimes law, especially if Zimmerman is found guilty. But it’s never been the crux of the case for me.
Martin’s Past: The defense (and again, bizarrely, the political right) was really trying to smear Trayvon, saying he was a bad kid, did drugs, thought himself ‘gangsta’, etc…. As the judge rightly pointed out, this is completely irrelevant. Zimmerman didn’t know who Trayvon was (hence his suspicion); Trayvon could have been Charles Manson or Mother Theresa. It in no way influenced Zimmerman’s thinking. Maybe (per the racism thinking) he assumed Trayvon was ‘no good’ because he was black, but there’s no way any personal details about Trayvon could possibly have influenced the outcome.
Stand Your Ground: These laws are ridiculous (personal opinion), but it’s likely this issue, because of its direct relation to the gun safety debate, is the reason this got so political so fast. I personally think this is the simple core of the case. First, Zimmerman was told specifically NOT to follow Martin. He did anyway, confronted him, and ended up killing him. That’s not standing your ground. Second, most of the attention on this law has been solely on Zimmerman’s right to “stand your ground”. What about Martin’s? He didn’t have a gun, but from his point of view, he was walking home, and some guy he doesn’t know starts following him. This guy confronts him, with a firearm. What was Martin supposed to do? He has every reason to feel as threatened, if not more, as Zimmerman. Why can Zimmerman follow and confront someone and claim “Stand Your Ground”, but an unarmed teenager can be followed and confronted by a citizen with a firearm, and he can’t stand HIS ground? Clearly he tried, witness Zimmerman’s bloodied face. But he lost that battle.
For this reason, I think it should be a quick guilty verdict. Unfortunately, this crazy country is so polarized now, who knows what could happen.