We learned that George Zimmerman could face jail-time for his alleged texts about Beyoncé and JAY-Z over the Trayvon Martin docu-series, the finale of which aired on Sept. 10.
The six-part docuseries Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story aired its Sept. 10 finale on BET. But, days earlier, on Sept. 8, The Blast reported that George Zimmerman, 34 — the man acquitted for shooting and killing African American teenager Trayvon Martin — allegedly sent threatening text messages about the show’s producer, JAY-Z, 48, and his wife Beyoncé, 37, to a private investigator, Dennis Warren, who helped find participants for the docuseries. Us Weekly reports that it confirmed through a source close to Michael Gasparro, who executive produced the series alongside JAY-Z, that the texts are legitimate.
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was acquitted in the killing of Trayvon, based on the controversial verdict that “he had a right to stand his ground.” But now, according to criminal attorney Andrew Leventhal, George could face up to three years of prison if convicted of threatening music’s hottest couple, based on California law. “He can absolutely face criminal threat charges based on those text messages directed at JAY-Z and Beyoncé,” Andrew explains, referring to the messages published by The Blast. However, “for him to be found guilty of criminal threats, the prosecutor would have to prove that the threat was so clear, immediate, unconditional and specific that it communicated to JAY and Beyoncé a serious intention and the immediate prospect that the threat would be carried out.”
As we’ve told you, an alleged screenshot of George’s texts shows him calling JAY-Z a “b*tch,” Beyoncé a “broke whore,” and ends with: “If I ever see either of them in my life, they’ll find themselves inside a 13 foot gator.” But use of the word “if” word in the final text may save George’s back in court. “That is one problem the prosecution would have because the threat seems to be conditional because there’s an ‘if’ in there. He says, ‘if I see them,'” our legal expert further explains. The next issue is the alleged recipient of George’s texts: Warren, who reached out to Zimmerman to see if he was interested in appearing on the documentary, as opposed to Beyonce and JAY-Z directly. Andrew says, “The second part of the threat that makes it remote and not so immediate and clear is the notion that the threats were made and translated to a third party, and not directly to JAY-Z and Beyoncé. Because Beyoncé and JAY-Z would be indirectly learning of the threat too, that undermines the immediacy of it.”
“Also, the prosecutor would have to prove that Beyoncé and JAY-Z have a sustained fear of George Zimmerman in regards to this threat,” Andrew adds. While a source close to JAY-Z EXCLUSIVELY told us on Sept. 8 that he and Beyoncé think George is a “nasty piece of work,” they were not scared “of him or his threats.” So, where does that put George’s legal fate at the moment? Given the shaky yet still malevolent nature of the texts he allegedly sent, there are two big possible verdicts. “Criminal threats charges are known as what’s called a wobbler, meaning it can go back and forth between being a misdemeanor criminal threat or a felony criminal threat,” our criminal attorney insider reveals. “If he’s charged with felony criminal threats it’s very serious and it’s actually one strike and he could go to prison for 16 months to 3 years. If he’s charged with a misdemeanor criminal threat then he’s facing one year.”
America’s legal system has taken heat in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. The Sept. 10 finale of the docuseries showed an older clip of Trayvon’s mother Sybrina Fulton pleading in court to amend the Stand-your-ground law, which formed the basis of George’s acquittal. “This law, we have to get people to understand what it says,” JAY-Z said in an interview with The New York Times, published on July 29. “Of course, he will not be found guilty. It’s very difficult to be found guilty with this law as it stands today.”