Spooner's lawyers argued that their client suffers from mental illness, saying "He didn't appreciate the wrongfulness of what he was doing" as he railed about his property. The court did not buy it, and Spooner was convicted.
But so many other matters of self or property defense involve difficult, complicated questions.
Was the defendant previously assaulted and thereby living in a state of heightened alarm? Was he or she a naturally excitable or nervous type? Did something else happen near the same time or in close proximity to the final incident that might have spurred an excessive reaction?
"We have to defend ourselves if someone is truly coming after us," NeJame says. "The last thing anyone wants to do is put themselves, their home or their family at risk. On the other hand, we need to make it so that we don't have a trigger-happy society."
All of that means in the end, as much as people may want to find a perfect parallel to the Zimmerman case; a "gotcha" verdict from some other place in which a black man is convicted for doing just what Zimmerman did, it is unlikely.
Because self-defense cases that look alike from a distance on a dark evening, may be substantially different when the details and defendants are dragged into the light of day.