As George Zimmerman’s trial begins, the stories of two very different shooters show the inequality behind the law
A man in Florida shoots a man he finds having sex with his wife, killing him. A woman in Florida shoots the wall to scare off an abusive husband, harming nobody. Guess which one was acquitted? Guess which one was convicted?
On March 10 of this year, around midnight, Ralph Wald, 70, of Brandon, Fla., got out of bed to get a drink and found Walter Conley, 32, having sex with his wife, Johanna Lynn Flores, 41, in the living room. He immediately went back into his bedroom, grabbed his gun and shot Conley three times. Conley died. Wald claims that he thought Conley was a stranger who had broken in and was raping his wife – despite the fact that Conley lived next door, had been his wife’s roommate and lover, and had his wife’s name tattooed onto his neck and arm. During a 911 call, when the dispatcher asked Wald if the man he shot was dead, Wald responded, “I hope so!” Wald never used the word “rape” in later reports to police, opting instead for “fornicate.” And while the fact that the two were lovers doesn’t imply consent, Flores has never accused Conley of rape — nor do prosecutors buy that that’s what Wald actually thought was happening. They say that Wald, who suffers from erectile dysfunction, killed Conley in a jealous rage. Flores admits that she and Conley had sex regularly before and after her marriage to Wald. While testifying, Wald explained that his erectile dysfunction and his wife’s reluctance to have sex with him made them compatible: “In fact, she would joke a lot with me … that we were a perfect couple … She didn’t want to do it, and I couldn’t do it.” On May 30, after deliberating for two hours, a jury found Wald not guilty. After the verdict was announced, Wald continued to show no remorse: “If the same thing happened again, I would do the same thing.”