What has been called “the reverse Trayvon Martin case” is scheduled to go to trial on August 14 in Phoenix.
As in the Martin case, the accused killed an unarmed young man and claimed he was justified in using deadly force because he had feared he might suffer serious bodily harm.
But in the Arizona case, the gunman was black and the victim was Hispanic, not the other way around. And, should 22-year-old Cordell Jude be convicted of murder in the shooting of 29-year-old Daniel Adkins, no doubt some people will point to George Zimmerman’s acquittal and say the determining difference was the race of the accused.
The victim in the Arizona case, Adkins, was mentally disabled and was estimated to have a mental age of 13. Adkins was walking his yellow lab, Sandy, in Laveen on the evening of April 3, 2012, when he cut through the parking lot of a Taco Bell. He came around a blind corner of the drive-in lane just as an SUV pulled up. Jude was at the wheel. His pregnant fiancée was beside him.
“What the hell, you almost hit me!” Adkins reportedly exclaimed. “Watch where the f--- you’re going!”
Jude pulled a .40 caliber automatic pistol from the waistband of his sweatpants and fired once. He would say afterward that Adkins had threatened him with a pipe-like object and that he could not drive off because the dog was blocking his way. Police would not find evidence that Adkins had anything but the dog leash in his hand. Sandy remained at Adkins’s side as he bled to death on the pavement.
As in the Martin killing 37 days before in Florida, the prosecutor in Maricopa County, Arizona, initially held off on authorizing an arrest. Arizona also has a Stand Your Ground law, known as the Make My Day law, instituted in 2010 as a last-minute amendment after a 20-second spiel by a gun lobbyist to the Judiciary Committee of the state Senate.
Adkins’s parents, Daniel Sr. and Antonia, wrote a letter to Martin’s parents, expressing sympathy as well as solidarity with them in their loss. The Adkins family demanded justice, just as the Martin family had, and in July 2012 Jude was indicted for second-degree murder, just as Zimmerman had been.
A major difference in the Arizona case is that nobody is suggesting race had anything to do with Jude imagining Adkins was a threat. Race, it appears, only looms at the prospect of a jury deciding whether a black defendant was justified in using deadly force.
One common denominator is a gun. Jude seems to have been fond enough of his before the shooting to tweet a photo of it. He was able to carry it, just as Zimmerman was able to carry his, because of lax laws that are said to be in keeping with the supposed right to bear arms.
But there were other rights involved, rights the Declaration of Independence deemed inalienable, in particular the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Just as Martin was exercising these rights when he went out to buy Skittles and a drink, Adkins was exercising them as he walked his dog. Both men forever lost these rights due to a gun placed in the shooter’s hand by a right spelled out only in part of a poorly written sentence in the Second Amendment of the Constitution, couched in the need for a well-regulated militia.
Even after a maniac armed with an assault rifle massacred 26 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Congress failed to pass any real gun-control legislation, supposedly out of respect for the Second Amendment.
What about those rights that the Founding Fathers deemed inalienable at the county’s very inception?
Whether or not the so-called reverse Trayvon case ends in a conviction, there will be no restoring the victim’s life, liberty, or even a chance at happiness.