Wegs - kwhilborn is right that attacking someone without a clear self-defense reason is assault and is illegal; Yes, it means the only criminal that day was Martin. And that's why it is so critical to establish if Zimmerman started the fight; it was required for a conviction to prove Zimmerman started the fight or committed some other criminal act leading up to the fight. ....But it is still wrong to say "it's been assumed that he [Martin] started the fight." It isn't assumed at all. It is just a weak conclusion based on evidence. Saying it is assumed means that there is no evidence, yet people believe it absolutely. That just isn't the case. "Instigator"? Of what? I didn't use that word, I said Martin likely started the fight. You can weasel out of that with intentional obfuscation. I have a hard time believing you honestly believe that. First of all, you ignored half of the evidence I mentioned, which implies again intentional deception on your part. Indeed, the fact that Martin had no injuries from the "fight" implies that Zimmerman wasn't even "fighting" at all. But beyond that, the element of surprise and aggression matters. All else being equal, throwing the first punch, when the other is not even expecting a fight, makes the person throwing it more likely to win. Then, also mentioned by kwhilborn and others, is the element of the gun changes the thought process for the person who has it. If Zimmerman was out looking to kill someone (as the prosecution's murder charge would require), why wouldn't he shoot Martin instead of just fighting with him? It is a dumb enough suggestion that for the prosecution to put it to the jury implies they are just reaching and hoping instead of trying to prove a single coherent story. But in addition (as said), starting a fight when you have a gun is a very risky proposition. It turns what could just be a minor fistfight into a potentially deadly situation, for either person. The argument 'Zimmerman could have started the fight knowing he had a gun to fall back on' (paraphrase) doesn't really work because there are lots of scenarios and similar examples where he could be the one ending up getting shot. Martin would have been very unlikely to successfully prove self-defense, so while it is "unfortunate", it isn't nearly as unfortunate as you imply. Martin was not in a catch-22, where he could have been dead either way. He had a choice to leave and decided instead to attack. I doubt he realized that dabbling in thuggery would cost him his life that night, but he underestimated Zimmerman, to his demise. That isn't 100% certain but it is still a good point. More important I think is at the time they came into contact with each other the second time, it was Martin who was following Zimmerman, not the other way around. Many of the 'Zimmerman "instigated" it' complaints assume that it was Zimmerman following Martin the whole time, and I've typically let that go because it isn't essential, but it isn't even true anyway. Well, Zimmerman did know he (Zimmerman) was armed. And yes, Zimmerman definitely seems reckless here. But how reckless? So reckless that you don't even have a reasonable doubt that wasn't dumb enough to start a fight with someone taller than him, who he considered dangerous, while hiding a gun? Actually, several people here have, but... Yes, Zimmerman acted recklessly. But not criminally recklessly. It is certainly possible, but in order for him to have told significant lies, he would have to be a true criminal mastermind, since he called the police long before the shot. He would have had to have known he was setting up a defense for a crime he hadn't committed yet when he said (for example) that he was walking back to his truck. Like you, I think Zimmerman is reckless and kinda dumb, so I don't see how it is reasonable to believe he's also a criminal mastermind.