The discovery materials which the defense finally received from the prosecution after a long and arduous fight revealed Trayvon Martin to be deeply into drugs, and a young man who reveled in street fighting, and more.  (Didn’t seem to have much respect for women, either.) None of that was allowed in.

The reason tracks to something found in the Federal Rules of Evidence in the Rule 404 series, particularly Rule 404(b).   Among other things, it means that prior bad acts of the person you harmed, IF THEY WERE NOT KNOWN TO YOU AT THE TIME YOU HARMED HIM, cannot be used by you to defend inflicting that harm. This is because, being unknown to you, they had no part in your decision to act as you did, and it is that act and that decision for which you are being judged at trial.

Some courts have disagreed with that. The Massachusetts State Supreme Court in two precedent cases, and the Arizona State Supreme Court in one, have ruled that if the deceased had attacked people previously a manner similar to how the defendant described being attacked by him, that the jury SHOULD be allowed to know. (There was reference in the discovery materials to Martin having punched out a school bus driver.) There is no such precedent in Florida that I know of.  State Supreme Court decisions from other jurisdictions do not bind on other states, but can be used as persuasive argument during a pre-trial motion in limine to allow such evidence.

Back in 1984, I was on the defense team as an expert witness called by two of the finest attorneys I’ve ever worked with, the great Roy Black and the brilliant Mark Seiden. Mark and I later served two years together as co-vice chairs of the forensic evidence committee of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, and Roy’s courtroom accomplishments are legend. It would be worth your time to read Roy’s autobiography “Black’s Law.” In the 1984 trial, Roy and Mark defended Miami Police Officer Luis Alvarez against Manslaughter charges in the shooting death of one Nevell “Snake” Johnson. (There were interesting parallels between that case and Zimmerman’s. An officer of Hispanic descent had shot a 20-year-old black man who was reaching for a gun as that officer and another attempted to arrest him. The shooting triggered a race riot. A scapegoat was needed. Janet Reno, then State’s Attorney there, indicted the cop.)

In that case, the state had portrayed the late Mr. Johnson as a perfect specimen of innocent young manhood, and this is what opened the door for the judge to consider the 40-page memorandum of law that Black and his team put before the bench.  The judge set aside 404(b) to allow the defense to rebut that characterization, and the jury got to hear an elderly black woman describe the terror she had experienced when Nevell Johnson had made her the victim of an armed robbery. To make a long story short, Alvarez was acquitted. (Which triggered another race riot, but that’s another story.)

The lead prosecutor in Zimmerman, Bernie de la Rionda, was too smart to open that door. I understand why Judge Nelson did not allow evidence of prior bad acts by Trayvon Martin to go in front of the jury.  Interestingly, though – at the very end of the trial, when it was too late for the defense to do much of anything about it – second seat prosecutor John Guy made the state’s final argument to the jury, a soliloquy rife with references to Martin, who was much taller than the man he attacked, as a “child.”  “Child” was also used in this respect by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg after the verdict, and was Martin family lawyer Ben Crump’s refrain from the beginning.

Yet the Trayvon Martin who emerged from the state’s reluctantly-provided evidence, the evidence the jury didn’t see, was something else entirely. (Discovery available here.)

If Guy, Bloomberg, or Crump had ever met 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in life, and called him a helpless “child” to his face, I strongly suspect Martin would have kicked them in the balls.


  1. “If Guy, Bloomberg, or Crump had ever met 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in life, and called him a helpless “child” to his face, I strongly suspect Martin would have kicked them in the balls.”

    I pray it would be a kick with enough force to send their testicles out the top of their respective heads.

  2. So much of this story has been surpressed by the powers that be. I ‘ve been interested in the extended family environment of TM. As I have dug around, it is amazing what a cesspool this wanna be thug grew up in. The father having bio mother, girlfriend, wife floating around. That Ms. Fulton didn ‘t raise TM. That the girlfriend of the father lived with her sister in the condo that TM was “visiting “. That said sister is a convicted drug dealer. Every thing pointing to a scrambled wacky criminal set of adults “raising ” TM. Like many thugs the streets of Miami was actually where TM was growing up.

  3. I understand (intellectually, anyway) why background info would be kept out of court so that the jury could focus on the facts of a case alone… But why was the prosecution then allowed to dig in Zimmerman’s past to substantiate their conjectures. They pulled the “liar”, “racist” and “cop wannabe” accusations right out of thin air in order to influence the jury’s perception of the man.
    If that was fair, then getting into Martin’s head and blood stream to speculate on what condition he was in and what type of intentions he could’ve harbored also was unless I’m missing something.

  4. It is a blessing to have you Mas. Your practical common sense knowledge is worth its weight in gold. Thanks for clearing all the smoke.

  5. Mr Ayoob:

    “Character is what one s=does when no one is watching.” Your choice to await the verdict before adding your considerable expertise to this case is a reflection of your fine character.

    Would that the race-baiters and gun-haters had similar character traits have resulted in fewer meaningless protests and more accurate information available to the public? I believe so, but we wiill never know in this case.

    Thank you again for your valuable contribution to this discussion.

  6. I’ve gotta agree with AlonzoGomez. If Trayvon’s past was inadmissible, why was Zimmerman’s up for scrutiny?

  7. I understand why 404b may be useful at times and why TMs past was hidden but had that come out in trial the jury would have known why he was acting suspicious and caught GWs attention. But now that it’s over it becomes that damn “what if ” crap.

  8. Trayvon Martin’s Father: Change “Stand Your Ground” Laws on Federal Level

    Posted on July 24, 2013 by Nick Leghorn

    The constant drumbeat from politicians and gun control advocates continues apace, despite the fact that “stand your ground” laws were never a part of this case. Wednesday, Tracy Martin spoke to members of the Black Caucus in Washington to urge them to change the law on the federal level to make it that SYG laws wouldn’t apply to a person who was the “initial aggressor.” Exactly what that means and how it would be legislated remains rather unclear, and sounds to be about as effective as an “assault weapons” ban.


    The “Trayvon Martin Act” would amend “stand your ground” to make it illegal for a person acting in self-defense if that person was the initial aggressor.

    Martin said the act would help establish a future in which people “can’t profile our children, shoot them in the heart and then say that you’re defending yourself.”

    Norton went on to state that “stand your ground” laws present “a clear and present danger to black men.” However, as we have reported earlier, it appears that blacks benefit disproportionately from those same laws that Martin is now agitating to repeal, and President Obama backed a strengthening of those same laws in Illinois before his run for the presidency.

  9. Patrick, thanks for bringing that up. Existing SYG laws already don’t afford protection to the initial aggressor.

    Alonzo, the stuff you mentioned was allowed in because it didn’t come under prior bad acts or character. Zimmerman’s current status on Neighborhood Watch at the time of the shooting, such training as he had at a fitness center that taught MMA, etc. were “fair game” because they went to his status and state of mind at the time he took the actions for which he was being judged.

  10. According to the sleazy prosecution team, Trayvon Martin wasn’t just a “child”, the wannabe gangsta was literally a toddler with a pacifier in his mouth and a baby rattle in his hand (which he probably held sideways).

    Interestingly enough, when I was in patrol numerous years ago and worked the more crimeridden parts of town, many young black men actually wore baby pacifiers around the necks in addition to their ever present gold chains with oversized Mercedes, Playboy Bunny, and Uzi logos.

  11. Thanks for the rest of the story, and it is too bad 404b still exists in Florida. This was definitely one where those previous acts would have helped the defense to offset the ‘child’ image…

  12. This case was the biggest travesty of justice I ever have experienced in 36 years in the law enforcement business. It was a total disgrace.

    Then on the other factor, how many people will want to ever be involved in helping their fellow neighborhoods again??? The community orientated system of policing getting people involved just shot it’s self in the foot. It will push people away like no tomorrow. Zimmerman was thrown under the bus and subjected to hell and back consisting of a $1.5 million dollar legal battle for being a neighborhood watch captain.

  13. Mas, as usual you’ve made things clear. One of these days, I’ll enjoy taking one of your classes. Thank you so much for everything you do for us.

  14. What the whiners seem to have missed was tht Zimmerman was NOT standing his ground. He was ON the ground with po lil trayvon trying to fracture his skull on the concrete.

    The network news scum, the prosecution, and his parents gloss over the fact that trayvon was the attacker, NOT Zimmerman

  15. If there is any question that the dead guy was menacing, his (assumedly “his”) history should be a part of the evidence record.

    Given the courts stacking the deck against the armed citizen (for HOW LONG now?), this needs to be fixed, just like other absurd legal doctrines like “attractive nuisance”.

  16. “”If Guy, Bloomberg, or Crump had ever met 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in life, and called him a helpless “child” to his face, I strongly suspect Martin would have kicked them in the balls.””

    Holy crap! That’s funny!

  17. The “Trayvon Martin Act” would amend “stand your ground” to make it illegal for a person acting in self-defense if that person was the initial aggressor.
    Well my friends unless I’m totally confused the initial aggressor in this case would have been TM and he would be breaking his own signiture law. Proof and testimony during the case shows that TM THREW THE FIRST PUNCH and was in the process of putting the “WHOOP-ASS” on Zimmerman. If all they did was stand Nose to Nose and scream at each other until the police arrived, no one would have been hurt and no one would have been arrested, most likely….End of story.

  18. I thought this was a state case. Why are the Federal Rules of Evidence being used in a state court case since the Florida courts have their own rules of evidence?

  19. I wonder if the same evidence rules restrictions would apply to a “civil suit”.
    While not a lawyer I suspect that given the level of “proof of guilt” is lower, that the ability to keep evidence “out” would be much more difficult. If this action was filed the 17 year old thug would be shown to be what he was – a menacing perpetrator, thief, street hood. They recognize that the media will not be able to keep this side from being reported. That is why in order to keep the flames burning the DOJ discusses additional Federal prosecution where they can again stack the deck.

  20. I agree wholehartedly with Tom and what he said about parenting. As much as TM was a significant player in this tragedy, his parents have to take blame for the absolutely terrible upbringing of TM. They are as responsible for this as anyone involved in this case. Parents are responsible for the molding of good character, while instilling integrity, honor, and a sense of goodness in a child. They are like clay that needs to be molded. The outcome is directly proportional to the time spent molding that clay. If the sculpting is done on the street, what do you thing the end result will be? Trayvon Martin’s irresponsible parents-Guilty as Charged- End of Story! I would prefer to believe that there is no bad boy from the start, only bad parenting.

  21. I also have read about the proposed TM Act. Wondered what could be the rationale for the family and race baiters pushing it? Then realized that the Florida SYG law immunizes folks from CIVIL SUIT. Ah that is the key here. The race hustlers know that in the civil courts they can cripple someone with legal fees. They can essentially extort folks to settle. They can get absurd judgements of many MILLIONS of dollars from THEIR VICTIMS of legal thievery. So be prepared as this moves forward to hear that they want that section of the law removed most of all.

  22. What a great and interesting article. I wish the media would have had the interest in bringing out the real truth rather than all junk just to increase their ratings. As always, Great job Mas. Keep up the good work. May God bless.

  23. What Patrick says about the “Trayvon Martin Act” is of course true. This administration is going to enact a law that is already in place and by doing so, falsely call it a victory. They are depending on the uneducated public to stay uneducated, and that is why it is so important for you (Mas) to keep doing what you are doing.

  24. Harold Fish, RIP, had a similar experience with character evidence of the deceased. Part of the prosecutorial team’s effort in that case was to portray the deceased as a poor misunderstood animal lover, when in fact based on the record, he was a psychotic violent aggressor in numerous past events. The idea is that Fish could have had no prior knowledge of who he was up against and therefore could not argue that based on the prior actions of the deceased that the deceased provoked the violent confrontation. IN part, 404(b) prevents a victim’s past actions from being introduced at trial which is generally a good thing. For example, defendants find it hard to introduce past sexual history of victims of rape and claim that they were asking for it. On the other hand, given that the totality of circumstances over whether a shoot was reasonable, it is helpful to the jury to take into account how the deceased would have behaved in a confrontation (pattern of behavior). To do that, past evidence on what sort of person the defendant was is necessary to understand just what might have happened in that brief confrontation. But, Zimmerman also kept out some evidence regarding his arrest using 404(b). And so it goes.

  25. The feds cannot not constitutionally control state law directly, so the only way a federal “Trayvon Martin Act” of the type described above could work would be to condition the receipt of some kind of federal funds — in this case probably law enforcement grants — on the states amending their SYG laws to include the required provision. Good luck with that, or for that matter any bill of this kind, with this Congress.

  26. Jacob, they aren’t used directly, but the Federal Rules of Evidence are considered so well-written that they have been adopted word-for-word, or close to it, as the evidence rules for many states, including (I just checked) Florida. Since the wording is the same, decisions made in the federal courts and in other state courts which have rules with the same wording are influential in decisions in all states which have the same wording. Florida’s version of FRE 404 is Florida Statutes Sec. 90.404 and, though I’ve not compared them word-for-word, they’re either identical or very similar on at least a quick glance.

  27. I believe I know the answer to this question, but look forward to your comments.
    question: why was there no discussion, from the day of the Zimmerman/martin shooting through the trial, regarding the moment that it was determined that martin was actually unarmed? not a word was mentioned by the media, defense, prosecution et al about the possibility that, until the shot was fired, no one (except martin) knew martin was unarmed. the media and talking heads sure made hay of the “unarmed child” headline.

    also mas, I noticed that Zimmerman was taking notes left-handed during the trial, yet fired the gun with his right hand. (must have a dominant right eye?)
    keep up your great work.

  28. IIRC the prosecution’s theory was that Zimmerman already had his gun out, brandishing it before he even approached Martin.

    If true, that “threat of force” would have justified Martin initiating physical contact.

    However, there is no evidence to support that theory, and the jury clearly didn’t believe any aspect of the prosecution’s theory of events.

  29. Several of the black “community leaders” and liberal commentators have despaired, asking “what do I tell my sons now?” The facts presented by Mas’ series of articles provide a very simple answer: Don’t initiate violence. The law looks very hard at any who escalate a confrontation to the level of violence.

  30. 1. As soon as they brought up GZ’s past, that should have unlocked TM’s past. But then that would have been fair.
    2. I was surprised to see that FL allows the state to have a final and second closing argument. Never heard of that before. Also that the Judge would allow them to bring new rhetoric with that “child” crap. Technically he was a child. The inference however was inappropriate.

  31. Wow, I hate to make three consecutive posts, but I have to note that less than two hours after I made the post about federal funds I discovered that Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has filed a bill that would cut state’s funding under the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 by 20% if their self defense laws don’t require retreat in all situations, unless the person exercising self-defense is a victim of domestic violence. There’s no Castle Doctrine exception. The bill also prohibits neighborhood watch organizations unless they’re registered with both the local police and the DoJ. See

    Can I call ’em or what?

    Being the ‘ol liberal that I am, I’m down with the first part of that law (though it wouldn’t cause me conniption fits for it to have a Castle Doctrine exception), but not so much with the neighborhood watch part, which is poorly defined and an improper restraint on freedom of assembly.

  32. Mas, thanks for dispelling the lies the DNC propaganda media lapdogs keep trying to force feed us.

  33. If Obama had a city it would look like Detroit and be filled with Trayvons. Oh yeah, that’s a far-fetched idea………………………………………….

  34. Mas,
    Thanks for all of the posts on this. I can’t stop thinking about the juxtaposition of your lengthy in depth analysis with the figurative bullets flying from the mouths and pages of mainstream, liberal and conservative media. Your reporting of evidence, reasoned arguments and historical perspective, and the fact that you are choosing to address a complex set of issues in more the 140 characters shouldn’t be a refreshing change from the norm, but it is.

    Your posts have changed my perspective on the case. I have to admit that I had neither made definitive judgements nor followed the case from the beginning. However my limited knowledge of the case did lead to believe that Zimmerman partially contributed in a legal sense to Martins death. Your reporting has changed my understanding of this. I still feel that if Zimmerman had acted differently this would not have happened, but I think its clear that he reasonably could not have imagined the final outcome when he got out of his car, and that he was acting in good faith. In the end, Martins anger at being followed was understandable when understood in the context of racial prejudice that he undoubtedly experienced. However his reaction was unjustified and criminal, and his death was the result of his own actions.

    At the end of all of this I find myself concerned with the same two things that I was concerned with before this case ever grabbed the nations attention, so in this sense I feel nothing good has come out of this.

    One is that on the pro-gun side of the isle, many people still have distorted views on the judicious use of deadly force and the legal realities, fair or otherwise, that they face when they pull their gun. There is still way too much John Wayne talk out there, and these cases further inflame this. Will this result in a negative quantitative difference in the way people behave. Its probably impossible to tell, but a lot of my fellow gun owners still don’t understand that a gun is the tool of last resort, rather than a convenient way of protecting ones wicker deck furniture from theft.

    The second is that much of the policy priorities and rhetoric on the gun control side are fueled by simple technical ignorance of how firearms work and why people choose to carry a weapon or choose an ammunition type. Even “experts” can’t stop confusing the device used to load rounds into an M1 Garand and the device that housed rounds in those evil “Glocks” all the mass shooters seem to like. And a large part of the gun control movement is, not uniquely, driven by reactionary emotion. They actually sound a lot like the anti-gay folks, and this is not a good base for sound public policy. Likewise the fact that I can’t find any ammunition after a mass shooting, because people flock to gun stores is also a bizarre emotional illogical reaction, seemingly by people of every persuasion. To me the whole discussion and understanding of guns, crime and self-defense is broken.

    I’d like to think there could be a reasonable discussion of firearms regulation that takes into account individual rights to self defense and recreation and the efficacy of any form of legislation in actually reducing violent crime. There could be a reasonable discussion of gun violence that takes into account the socioeconomic factors, instead of focusing on peripheral issues such as the magazine size or brand of gun that a person who has decided to commit murder chooses or the video games they used to play. I’m tired of hearing about Call of Duty, rap music, Glocks, “clips” and hollow points, every time a diagnosed schizophrenic kills someone. Likewise, I’m tired of seeing guys wearing fatigues, shouldering AR-15’s yelling into a bullhorn at a public park. I don’t personally like to publicly talk about what kinds of guns I own, let alone display them publicly except when tech talking at the range.

    Unfortunately reasonable discussion is unlikely to happen. I will say however, that in a sea of rage and rhetoric at least I can point people from either side of the gun divide to your articles for some reality and untainted reasoned perspective.

  35. Radio talk show host Mike Rosen of KOA 850AM in Denver (top 10 show nationally) read parts of this article on his show this morning and discussed the points made. (1. Self defense expert, Massad Ayoob on why certain defense evidence was disallowed in the Zimmerman trial. )

    You can get the mp3 podcast (edited of all by 30 seconds worth of commercials) of the show at or

    Mas was featured on Rosen’s show for two hours back on Feb.12th, so scroll to that date to get the podcasts of those shows (well worth it for the information given).

  36. Thanks, Mas. I’m sure it was legal, but it seemed unfair. Maybe it’s because while Zimmerman was the defendant I actually saw him as the victim once I learned the facts. And also because so much of what the prosecution and Martin supporters put forward was pure speculation and emotion.

  37. I can understand why this rule would make sense in many cases. At the same time, in a case like this one I would make an exception. This was a case where the jury had to make a judgement-with little eyewitness data-on what most likely happened. I would say that Martin’s aggressive tendencies would be a factor lending weight to Zimmerman’s version of events.

    And since Zimmerman was unaware of these tendencies, nobody could say that he deliberately “set up” Martin in order to whack him and get away with it.

  38. The justice system failed Trayvon Martin.
    The fact that it has been revealed, Trayvon Martin was a burglar.
    Trayvon was on suspension from school.
    The justice department gave Trayvon a pass because of fear of being called racist.
    Trayvon’s actions should have landed him in juvenile detention.
    Had the justice department done their job, Trayvon would have been off the street that night and therefore would not have been shot.

  39. I dunno about a kick in the balls, but I think Trayvon would be insulted by the idea that he was the one crying for help in the 911 tape.

  40. This is a self defense case. Unlike in a murder case, a self defense case must look equally at both parties. State laws need to be changed in this regard because in self defense the supposed victim’s previous actions and character have a bearing on why he was killed, and if it really was self defense. A murder case presumes no participation on the part of the victim in his murder. In a self defense case, the so-called victim is necessarily a predatory participant, so the so-called victim must be tried for murder as well as the victim. In a murder case, the jury must only prove the suspect committed the murder. In a self defense case, the jury must make a very complex decision in comparison to a murder case. This calls for all information about the supposed victim to be presented. With all of the information, thugs cannot be presented as innocent children. States need to clarify self defense law to reflect the reality of the necessity for a double trial – a trial for both participants in the incident. There will be fewer cases bound over for trial if a law like this is enacted by states. Trayvon’s parents might not have been so interested in having Trayvon on trial: Trayvon does not compare at all favorably to Zimmerman, and Trayvon’s parents might have wanted to avoid the embarrassment to their son’s memory and their own parenting skills.

  41. Wait a minute. Did I miss something. Zimmerman got off right he was found not guilty. What do you people think is going to happen when you pull a gun and shoot someone. Mas. I watch your show on the Sportsman Channel. When you shoot someone that’ just the beginning of your problems.

    How would any of you react if someone started to follow you home. It’s the Reagan “Strapping Young Buck” situatuation. Right. Those black kids are just superhuman. You need to gun to level the playing field. Is there any way that Trayvon Martin could have matched his level of force? I don’t think so.

    You guys still can’t seem to let this go even though Zimmerman got off. It’s amazing. I’m ok with the decision because a Jury found him not guilty. Even, If I disagree he went through the legal process. You have to stand by that.

    At the end of the day, he was walking home and not involved in committing any crime. What if he was a convicted felon, do you have any rights after you have served you time. If your a convicted felon does it mean you can be folled by fellow citizen and shoot.

    However, you guys will never let this go even though Zimmerman got off.

    I guess we should just be happy we are off the plantation. We shouldn’t have the right to trial if one of our kids get killed.

    I forgot they still haven’t found who tortured and kill Emmit Till for whistling at a white woman. Watch out for those “Strapping Young Bucks”.

  42. Massod,

    You have got to be out of your mind. This kid Trayvon was murdered by Zimmerman. Massod why won’t you admit that this kid had every right to stand his ground against Zimmerman. Next time your child is followed and harassed by some strange person, I suppose you would just say, “oh never mind it’s nothing to be afraid or concerned about.”

  43. Andre Smith, I hear you, but I can’t equate Emmett Till with Trayvon Martin. As you said, Till was murdered for whistling at a white girl. The two men tried for his murder were found not guilty. Whoever did it, without question, murdered an innocent kid. The evidence says so.

    Trayvon Martin was banging George Zimmerman’s head against the sidewalk when Zimmerman fired the shot that killed him…a justifiable homicide. The evidence says so.

    I don’t have any more problem with the Zimmerman verdict than I have with the verdict delivered by a Rocester, NY jury in the Roderick Scott trial in 2009. Scott was a black man who confronted a group of white youths he believed were stealing from neighbors’ cars. When they became hostile, he drew a gun to ward them off. One, 17-year-old Christopher Servini, lunged at him screaming a threat. Scott shot him twice, killing him. He, like Zimmerman, was acquitted. This grown black man killing a 17-year-old white assailant was a justifiable homicide. The evidence says so.

    Finally, we all need to remember what the media so studiously avoided: Zimmerman was part black himself, on his grandfather’s side.

    The murder of Emmett Till in 1955 was, clearly, an atrocity based on racial hatred. The deaths of white 17-year-old Cervini at the hands of black Scott, and of the 17-year-old Martin at the hands of the mixed-race Zimmerman, show no evidence of anything like that.

  44. Andre Smith – Trayvon committed a crime that night. He assaulted and tried to kill George Zimmerman. He should have been charged with this crime if he had survived. Furthermore, when he pinned Zimmerman to the ground and was bashing Zimmerman’s head into the sidewalk Zimmerman was justified in shooting Trayvon in self defense.

    The only reason Zimmerman was charged is because Obama decided to use this case for his election campaign. He and his progressive supporters told a story of a black child murdered by a racist white guy, but it was all a lie. They wanted to stir up black fears and hatred in order to motivated for Obama “If I had a son”. This was an abuse of the justice system and stirring up hatred in order to gain political power is always evil. It was just as evil when the Nazis did it to the Jews. When the Democrats did it to the black in the Jim Crow South. And it was evil when Obama did it to Zimmerman.

  45. “Zimmerman should have minded his own business on the night of Feb. 26, 2012. A teenager wandering a neighborhood — even one who looks like he might be on drugs — is not a crime. In a free country, a law-abiding young man should be free to walk in the rain, for no apparent reason, without having to explain himself to anyone — including cops or a self-appointed watchman. The gun should have provided Zimmerman with more rationale — not less — to avoid a non-essential conflict.