Senior U.S. civil rights leader Jesse Jackson attended the trial of a South Florida teenager charged with the murder of an 11-year-old biracial boy that garnered national attention, drawing criticism in a world of online distractions.
Both sides in the trial of a Miami teen alleged to have fatally shot an 11-year-old classmate under the cover of darkness during an Easter weekend sleepover held in 2015 have claimed they heard shots, but said they couldn’t see if or when they were fired because the shooting took place in broad daylight outside a local park and completely out of their earshot.
Prosecutors say a squad car speeding down a canal trail that night may have sounded the shots that killed 11-year-old Ahmud Arty. During the sentencing phase of the murder trial this week, prosecutors showed the jury surveillance footage of what is alleged to be the teenager firing at a guard shack at the canal and then running off. Defense attorneys claim the teenager was in a neighboring garage when he fired shots and it would have been impossible for his assailant to have fired from the front of the garage.
Jackson attended both the murder trial and the sentencing phase. Both ended in mistrials.
Critics were quick to note that Jackson has followed the trial — tweeting updates and observations from inside the courtroom — but did not comment on the case publicly. By Wednesday evening, he had deleted his Twitter account.
One person was killed and two others injured in the shooting, all of whom were black. Two other teenagers, ages 17 and 19, face charges in the case. They could each face life in prison if convicted.
Two black teenagers are facing murder charges in the shooting death of a boy, 11, in Miami-Dade. This is a white guy killing a black kid. The fat lady hasn’t sung in this case. https://t.co/RloYzpoTnW — Kevin Powell (@kevinpowell) November 15, 2017
“I watched more than three hours of footage of the shooting and I saw no motive for the shooting,” Jackson said during a news conference after the second mistrial.
“I can’t find anything that points to racism or bigotry or greed in the case,” he added.
Jackson was lambasted by racial commentators for not commenting on the trial, which closely reflects the racial tension that fueled a national march on Washington in 1963 and a “March on Washington” three years later. Jackson presided over that event.
Janine Di Giovanni, a civil rights attorney in Washington, said it was clear Jackson was not briefed on the case.
“It’s very disturbing,” she said. “What Jackson did in this instance was really separate and distinct from what he has done in the past in regards to race. He had been blind to this case from the very beginning.”
Jackson did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.