Zimmerman Case Similar to the Shooting at the OK(auchee) Corral, with One Glaring Exception

The Hells Angels have a saying: three men can keep a secret if two are dead.

During the trail of George Zimmermann, what the jury heard was the version of events from the confrontation’s only survivor.   The shooter may have been telling the truth; he might have embellished certain facts, or misrepresented his true intent.  However, the bottom line in the Zimmermann case is the bottom line: investigators and jurors are not clairvoyant.  The jury did what the jury should have done when presented with the information it received: acquit the person charged with a crime the state could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

In my book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II, I discussed a somewhat similar case in a chapter entitled, “Shooting at the OK(auchee) Corral.”  During this incident, which occurred about a year-and-a-half prior to the death of Trayvon Martin, a homeowner, Mike Fitzsimmons, heard someone inside of his unattached garage. Instead of calling the police, he decided to arm himself and confront the intruder, James Babe.  Fitzsimmons called 911 after the shooting and said, “Someone was in my garage. They ran out, they wouldn’t, they were attacking me, so I shot him.”

In the Okauchee case, the homeowner, although he alleges an attack, suffered no injuries while discharging two rounds. After the first shot hit Babe, information contained in a search warrant affidavit noted that a second round was discharged as Babe was either falling or had landed on the homeowner’s deck, as the projectile passed through Babe’s body and was lodged, in part, in a wooden plank.  Moreover, tests revealed that the shooter had marijuana in his system.

Absent much controversy, since Fitzsimmons and Babe were both white, the Waukesha County District Attorney’s office ruled the shooting a justifiable homicide.

Needless to say, Al Sharpton did not visit lake country to protest. President Obama didn’t chime into the investigation by proclaiming that if he were white and had a son the child would look like James Babe.  U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, the congressman who represents the area, did not stand in the well of the House of Representatives attired in the outer garment that Babe wore the night he died, even though there had been no recent break-ins in well-heeled Okauchee. Babe’s supporters didn’t send out Tweets promising riots, and the case barely received any attention locally, even though Mike Fitzsimmons was apparently never booked. Moreover, Wisconsin does not have a Stand Your Ground law, and, at the time of Babe’s death, the state legislature had yet to pass the Castle Doctrine.

Where, then, was the outrage from, at a minimum, the cheesehead media?

Since the Shooting at the OK(auchee) Corral lacked a racial nexus, the media types were aware that the public would care little much about the incident, although James Babe is just as dead as Trayvon Martin.

Media outlets, with the exception of taxpayer funded NPR, are for profit businesses. They need to sell what they are peddling in order to entice advertisers to fill their coffers.  Much of what is printed or makes the news has little to do with equality or justice, but, instead, the numbers on a balance sheet.

If you don’t believe me, just ask Milwaukee Police Officer Matt Knight.

All needless deaths are tragic. Both the Martin and Babe families had to bury their sons, which it is why it is important for parents, teachers, police officers, and religious leaders, to stress the value of making sound judgments. When a person stumbles into a garage that isn’t theirs or goes looking for a confrontation with someone they could have avoided, the end result might be their last day on earth or their fate in the hands of a jury.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.


If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

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