The man accused of gunning down Trayvon Martin one year ago will need to prove he acted in self-defense, according to a panel of law experts who discussed the case at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies on Tuesday.
The experts, Richmond law professor John Douglass and criminal law professor Vincent Robertson, fleshed out some of the legal issues associated with the shooter’s approaching trial.
After hearing the established facts of the case, the few dozen students in the audience engaged in a lengthy question-and-answer segment with the experts.
“The key question is who holds the privilege of self-defense in this case,” Robertson said. If the shooter instigated the scuffle with Martin he will have a hard time winning his immunity, the experts said.
The discrepancy regarding who started the fight earned the case significant national coverage over the past year, and supporters of the Martin family have called for the shooter’s indictment.
Kwadwo Yeboah Kankam, president of Richmond’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA), organized the panel to provide objective insights to the shooting on its one-year anniversary.
“We asked professor Douglass and Vincent Robertson to be here to shed a neutral light on the case,” Yeboah Kankam said. As prosecution and defense experts, respectively, the panelists examined the case from both sides of the legal playing field.
Even though much of the African-American community has tuned into the case, BLSA sought to inform the rest of the Richmond community on the issue.
“We wanted to broaden understanding of the case because some Richmond students might not even be aware of it,” said Antrelle Tyson, another BLSA member.
Aaron Brown, one of the students in the audience, said he attended to learn more about the case and was impressed by the panelist’s discussion.
“They discussed evidence that I had not gathered from the media and therefore did not even know existed,” Brown said.
A vigil to honor Martin had been scheduled to begin once the panel discussion ended. Because of the rain, a moment of silence was observed instead.
Contact reporter Clay Helms at firstname.lastname@example.org