Jimmy Carter says the jury made the right call in finding George Zimmerman not guilty.
“I think the jury made the right decision based on the evidence presented, because the prosecution inadvertently set the standard so high that the jury had to be convinced that it was a deliberate act by Zimmerman, that he was not at all defending himself,” Carter told Atlanta NBC affiliate WXIA-TV.
On Saturday, Zimmerman was found not guilty by a jury in Florida. He shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012, Zimmerman maintains in self defense.
The former president and Georgia governor discussed the verdict, and what it says about race in America, in an on-camera interview with the station.
“It’s not a moral question, it was a legal question, and the American law requires that the jury listen to the evidence presented,” Carter said. “The action that was taken in the courtroom was not to bring in the race issue at all. The prosecution avoided that subject quite clearly.”
Judge Debra Nelson ruled that prosecutors could argue that Zimmerman “profiled” Martin, but only if they avoided suggesting Zimmerman profiled the 17-year-old based on race.
Asked what the Zimmerman verdict says about race, Carter compared it to other high-profile moments involving race and violence in U.S. history, such as the police beating of Rodney King and the ensuing 1992 Los Angeles race riots and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I think eventually, no matter how deep the moral feelings and personal feelings might be among African Americans or others, with time passing they start seeing what can we do about the present and the future and put aside their feelings about the past,” Carter said. “I think that’s what’s gonna happen in our country.”
This post has been updated.