2005-02-01

Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman affair

@Wikipedia:
Shooting of Trayvon Martin
and
State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman

Some websites that support George Zimmerman:
http://www.gzlegalcase.com/ [operated by Mark O’Mara, George Zimmerman’s attorney]
http://therealgeorgezimmerman.com/ [evidently Zimmerman's personal website]


(This post was started on the evening (EDT) of Monday, 2012-04-16.)

This document is currently divided into two parts:
Three scenarios for what happened and
Articles (mainly from newspapers) and reports







Scenarios for what happened

There has been a vast amount of reporting on details of what happened,
and much speculation on how it all fit together.
Here is my attempt to organize that speculation into three basic scenarios.

  1. The scenario offered by the Zimmerman defense team at Zimmerman's Florida trial.
    I think this scenario is entirely possible and quite plausible.
    It is what Zimmerman claims happened, and
    it fits with the forensic evidence and much of the testimony,
    in particular the eyewitness testimony of the nearest neighbor
    and the expert testimony of the expert on forensic evidence.
    It conflicts totally with the testimony of the woman, Rachel Jeantel,
    who was speaking with Martin just before he died,
    and somewhat with what one of the neighbors claims to have seen.
  2. The scenario offered by the prosecution at Zimmerman's Florida trial.
    I rate this as highly improbable.
    Here are some objections:
    If Zimmerman intended to harm Martin from the beginning,
    why did he call the police before acting?
    If Zimmerman initiated physical contact with Martin,
    just what was Zimmerman hoping to accomplish?
    Give him a beating to teach him a lesson,
    and then have the police arrive and hear Martin's side of the story,
    not to mention the possibility that
    some of the neighbors might have seen these events
    and backed Martin's story?
    And what if Martin in fact was the stronger person
    (as evidently was the case),
    and the fight that Zimmerman had initiated
    went the way the confrontation actually did,
    with Zimmerman being the one who was being physically punished?
    Why on earth would Zimmerman initiate physical conflict
    with those outcomes highly possible?
    You would have to believe Zimmerman was either really stupid or somewhat crazy.
    Now I know that is no objection to many in the black community,
    who are willing to believe anything that justifies their actions
    and puts all the blame on whites,
    but I think there is no particular reason for believing that
    Zimmerman would be so foolish.
  3. Then there is a third scenario,
    intermediate between the prosecution and defense scenarios,
    which I think is highly plausible, although not certain.

    This is that Zimmerman did indeed make an effort to follow Martin,
    not with the intention of harming him, but rather so that
    when the police (whom Zimmerman had already called
    and who he knew were on the way) arrived,
    he could inform them what had happened to
    the person about whom his call had been placed—
    whether they had entered a house, loitered in the area, or left the area.

    If that is what Zimmerman did,
    I do not see why Martin should view this as a threat.
    After all, all pedestrians in an urban area spend part of their time
    either following others or being followed,
    simply by virtue of the density of pedestrian traffic.
    How can we view when such following constitutes a threat?

    This theory is consistent with at least part of
    the story of Martin's cellphone contact, Rachel Jeantel,
    who said that Martin had told her he was being followed.

    But even if Martin did have the perception of being followed,
    why did he describe Zimmerman as a “creepy-ass cracker”?
    What makes a white person “creepy-ass”?
    Zimmerman, even in the mug shot taken the night in question,
    looks perfectly normal to me.
    Is not taking Zimmerman to be a threat more than a little paranoid?
    (Remember, Zimmerman only shot Martin after Martin had wounded Zimmerman.)

    And in any case,
    even if Martin was unsure about the intent of the person following him,
    why did he not just run home, to which he was so close?

    Now, you can answer all those questions by assuming that Zimmerman really intended to harm Martin,
    but that runs into the problem of why, then, would Zimmerman first call the police?
    It strongly seems to me that to believe the prosecution theory requires
    some rather unlikely assumptions about Zimmerman and his psychology.









Articles and Reports


2012-02-26-Initial-Police-Report
Twin-Lakes-Shooting-Initial-Report.pdf

[This report includes the following from Officer Timothy Smith
(the emphasis is added):]


While I (Officer Smith) was in such close contact with Zimmerman,
I could observe that
his back appeared to be wet and was covered in grass,
as if he had been lying on his back on the ground.
Zimmerman was also bleeding from the nose and back of his head.


...

Zimmerman was placed in the rear
of my (Officer Smith’s) police vehicle
and was given first aid by the SFD.
While the SFD was attending to Zimmerman,
I overheard him state
“I was yelling for someone to help me,
but no one would help me.”




2012-03-17-Miami-Herald-trayvon-martin-shooter-a-habitual
Shooter of Trayvon Martin a habitual caller to cops
By Frances Robles
Miami Herald, 2013-03-17

...

[Police records] show that 50 suspicious-person reports were called in to police
in the past year at Twin Lakes. There were eight burglaries,
nine thefts and one other shooting
in the year prior to Trayvon’s death.

In all,
police had been called to the 260-unit complex 402 times
from Jan. 1, 2011 to Feb. 26, 2012.


“He once caught a thief and an arrest was made,”
said Cynthia Wibker, secretary of the homeowners association.
“He helped solve a lot of crimes.”

Zimmerman told neighbors about stolen laptops and unsavory characters.
Ibrahim Rashada, a 25-year-old African American who works at U.S. Airways,
once spotted young men cutting through the woods entering the complex on foot,
and later learned items were stolen those days.

“It’s a gated community, but you can walk in and steal whatever you want,”
Rashada’s wife, Quianna, said.

They discussed the topic [having a gun] with Zimmerman
when the watch captain knocked on their door late last year.
Zimmerman seemed friendly, helpful, and a “pretty cool dude,”
Ibrahim Rashada said.

...

Problems in the 6-year-old community started during the recession,
when foreclosures forced owners to rent out to “low-lifes and gangsters,”
said Frank Taaffe, a former neighborhood block captain.

“Just two weeks before this shooting,
George called me at my girlfriend’s house to say
he saw some black guy doing surveillance at my house,
because I had a left a window open,” Taaffe said.
“He thwarted a potential burglary of my house.”

...






2012-03-20-WP-Somashekhar-shooting-of-florida-youth-prompts-calls-for-federal-investigation
Trayvon Martin’s death to be subject of federal investigation by Justice Department and FBI
By Sandhya Somashekhar
Washington Post, 2012-03-20

...

According to the tapes, Zimmerman called 911 from his car after spotting Martin walking through the neighborhood. “We’ve had some break-ins in the neighborhood, and there’s this real suspicious guy,” he told the dispatcher. “This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.”

Later in the call, Zimmerman said the teenager was running away. The dispatcher advised Zimmerman not to follow and said that an officer was on the way. Minutes later, Martin was killed by a bullet to the chest, which Zimmerman said he discharged in self-defense.

Last week, Zimmerman’s father released a statement to the Orlando Sentinel saying that his son did not try to pursue or confront Martin. And he disputed allegations that his son targeted Martin because he was black.

“George is a Spanish-speaking minority with many black family members and friends,” Robert Zimmerman wrote. “He would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever.”




2012-03-22-WP-trayvon-martins-killing-galvanizes-florida-community-civil-rights-groups
Fla. shooting stirs memories of civil rights era
By Wil Haygood, Brady Dennis and Sari Horwitz
Washington Post, 2012-03-20

...

Zimmerman’s family has said he is not a racist and that he has black friends to prove it. Zimmerman, 28, who grew up in Manassas, in Northern Virginia, has gone into seclusion. But others are speaking up for him. One of them is Frank Taaffe. Taaffe, 55, moved to Zimmerman’s Sanford neighborhood in 2006.

He said it has changed drastically in the years since the housing crisis hit. Prices have fallen. Renters have replaced owners. Neighbors don’t know one another as well as they used to. A rash of burglaries had put everyone on edge in the months before Martin was shot.

“We had the perfect storm,” Taaffe said. “Everybody was on high alert.”

Taaffe said he certainly doesn’t condone Martin’s shooting, but he insisted that the demonization of Zimmerman is its own tragedy. He said Zimmerman had helped to prevent burglaries and looked out for his neighbors as much as anyone.

“George is a good dude. He’s a good guy. He cares about this community. He’s not a vigilante out looking for trouble. . . . He’s not a Bernhard Goetz,” Taaffe said, referring to the New York “subway vigilante” of the 1980s. “He’s more like Mr. Peepers.”



2012-03-23-daily-beast-did-trayvon-shooter-abuse-911
Did Trayvon Shooter Abuse 911?
by Matthew DeLuca
Daily Beast, 2012-03-22

Was George Zimmerman just a vigilant neighbor, or something more perilous?
Matthew DeLuca examines the dozens of calls to police Zimmerman made
in the years before he shot Trayvon Martin.







2012-03-24-Blaze-witness-claims-trayvon-martin-attacked-george-zimmerman
Witness Says Trayvon Martin Attacked George Zimmerman
theblaze.com, 2012-03-24

[Cf. http://www.myfoxtampabay.com/dpp/news/state/witness-martin-attacked-zimmerman-03232012]

[Emphasis has been added to the following.]

“The guy on the bottom who had a red sweater on was yelling to me:
‘help, help…and I told him to stop and I was calling 911,”

[a witness] said.

Trayvon Martin was in a hoodie;
Zimmerman was in red.

...

“When I got upstairs and looked down,
the guy who was on top beating up the other guy,
was the one laying in the grass,
and I believe he was dead at that point,”

[the witness] said.



[It is going to be interesting indeed
to hear why Angela Corey was so sure that such testimony was false,
and that George Zimmerman was in fact indisputably guilty of second-degree murder.]



2012-03-29-thegrio-trayvon-martin-case-frank-taaffe
Trayvon Martin case: Frank Taaffe justified racial profiling that may have killed Trayvon Martin
By Alexis Garrett Stodghill
thegrio.com, 2012-03-29



2012-03-29-thegrio-trayvon-martins-funeral-director-no-signs-of-fight
Trayvon Martin's funeral director: No signs of fight
thegrio.com, 2012-03-29

MIAMI (AP) -- The funeral director who oversaw slain U.S. teenager Trayvon Martin's burial says he saw no signs of a fight on the body.

Richard Kurtz says he prepared the body for interment and saw no marks on Martin's hands, face or body other than the gunshot wound that killed him.

The 17-year-old Martin was killed Feb. 26 by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the Florida city of Sanford, where Martin was visiting. Zimmerman has claimed self-defense and says Martin attacked and beat him.

The results of an autopsy have not been released while the death remains under investigation by state and federal authorities.

...

[Various eye witnesses to whatever happened
say they saw one person beating another.
Now, if Zimmerman had been beating Martin,
wouldn't that have left some marks on Martin's body?
On the other hand, if Martin had been beating Zimmerman,
why would that leave any marks on Martin's body?
In other words,
the statement above is entirely consistent with Martin beating Zimmerman,
while strongly suggests that Zimmerman did not beat Martin.
Further, Martin's mother claims she recognized her son's voice as the one crying "Help" in the 911 tapes.
Note well in the audio at Wikipedia
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9f/Trayvon_Martin_Shooting_Call3.ogg
how long and impassioned the cries, whatever they are, are.
If someone is yelling with that degree of intensity,
wouldn't you expect that some marks would be on the person's body
as a result of whatever caused the person to make those cries?]



2012-03-29-WP-Capehart-george-zimmermans-crumbling-story
George Zimmerman’s crumbling story, part 1: the video
By Jonathan Capehart
Washington Post, 2012-03-29

The killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman —
the case where nothing makes sense, nothing —
gained greater clarity in the last couple days.
The story put forth by the Sanford Police Department
and by Zimmerman “friend” Joe Oliver
is starting to crumble.

Let’s go to the videotape.

The leaked police report of Zimmerman’s account
of what happened the early evening of Feb. 26
said that Trayvon punched the neighborhood watch volunteer in the face.
Trayvon then “got on top of him and began slamming his head into the sidewalk,”
Zimmerman told police.
“Zimmerman then shot Trayvon once in the chest at very close range,
according to authorities.
When police arrived less than two minutes later,
Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose,
had a swollen lip
and had bloody lacerations to the back of his head.”

But a copy of the video of Zimmerman’s arrival at the police department
aired by ABC News on Wednesday
shows something different.

[The original story has an embed of the video here.]

Look how tidy Zimmerman looks.
Where is the blood, either his or Trayvon’s?
Where’s the swollen lip,
the bloody lacerations to the back of his head?
Where are the bandages?
Where are the signs of struggle?
For a man who shot and killed an unarmed teenager,
who was described as screaming for help and fighting for his life,
Zimmerman looks awfully presentable.


2012-03-30-Newsbusters-Trayvon-Martin-George-Zimmerman-MSNBC-edit
MSNBC Fixes False Report Which Made Zimmerman Look Racist, Doesn't Acknowledge Error
By Randy Hall
newsbusters.org, 2012-03-30

Following in line with their broadcast television colleagues
who deliberately edited the audio of a 9-1-1 call of George Zimmerman,
the Florida community watch volunteer who shot teenager Trayvon Martin,
to falsely impute racist motives to him,
MSNBC.com, in an unbylined piece did the exact same thing in text form,
stripping out vital information which made Zimmerman
appear to be racially motivated against Martin, who is black.

After being criticized, MSNBC.com restored the proper context
but never posted a retraction, correction notice, or an apology for doing so.
...

[What is most significant about this, in my opinion,
is that at least some of the views
of those who presume to impute racial motives to Zimmerman
appear, by their comments, to be basing their opinions
on the edited, incomplete transcript.
The correction seems to have received far less attention in the media
than the original incorrect version.]




2012-03-31-Miami-Herald-what-is-known-what-isnt-about
What is known, what isn’t about Trayvon Martin’s death
By Frances Robles
Miami Herald, 2012-03-31

...

Zimmerman spent almost two more minutes offering directions to the [police] operator.
He said he’d meet police by the mailboxes
and then, just before hanging up, apparently thought better of it.
“Actually, could you have him call me, and I’ll tell him where I’m at?”
he said three minutes and 50 seconds into the call.
At 7:15, he hung up .

Lawyers for Trayvon’s family say Zimmerman’s decision
not to wait for police by the mailboxes
and instead be reached by phone
proves he planned to keep looking for the teen
instead of simply waiting for a patrol car.

[Actually, it proves only that
he was no longer sure of where he wanted to meet the police.]


The two met up along a dark paved path that runs between the back of two rows of townhouses.

...



2012-03-31-WP-Wemple-Trayvon-Martin-George-Zimmerman-NBC-edit
NBC to do ‘internal investigation’ on Zimmerman segment
By Erik Wemple
Washington Post Blog, 2012-03-31

[The critical part of this report is:]

As exposed by Fox News and media watchdog site NewsBusters,
the “Today” segment took this approach to a key part of the dispatcher call:
Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.

Here’s how the actual conversation went down:
Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

The difference between what “Today” put on its air and the actual tape?
Complete:
In the “Today” version,
Zimmerman volunteered that this person “looks black,” a sequence of events
that would more readily paint Zimmerman as a racial profiler.
In reality’s version,
Zimmerman simply answered a question about the race of the person
whom he was reporting to the police.
Nothing prejudicial at all in responding to such an inquiry.



2012-04-01-NYT-Overview-of-the-case-to-date
Race, Tragedy and Outrage Collide After a Shot in Florida
By DAN BARRY, SERGE F. KOVALESKI, CAMPBELL ROBERTSON and LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2012-04-01

This is a fairly massive overview of the case up until April 1.
It includes the graphic
The Events Leading to the Shooting of Trayvon Martin.




2012-04-04-Hannity-george-zimmermans-father-defends-son
George Zimmerman's father defends son in Trayvon Martin shooting
Interview by Sean Hannity
foxnews.com, 2012-04-04

...

HANNITY:
Here to give us his son's side of the story
is George Zimmerman's father, Robert,
and his attorney, Craig Sooner and Hal Uhrig is with us.

Thank you all for being here.
Mr. Zimmerman, I know obviously you don't want to be on camera
and there is a reason for it. Can you tell our audience why?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S FATHER: Well, we received numerous death threats.

HANNITY: OK. One of the things that's come out of this case is there has been a bounty that has been put on your son's head. You know that famous Hollywood star Spike Lee, Roseanne Barr have tweeted out, at least in the case of Spike Lee what he thought was your son's address.

What has this meant, in that sense, how difficult has that been for your family and do you think this has been a rush to judgment by the media?

ZIMMERMAN: It's absolutely been a rush to judgment.

HANNITY: Yes. Why don't you walk us through because you obviously have spoken to your son. Tell us his side of this story on this night. Tell us what happened.

ZIMMERMAN: Well, it's customary on Sunday night for George to go and do grocery shopping. He had been texting his sister and told her that he was going to go and do grocery shopping. He got in his vehicle to leave the community.
He saw somebody that did not live in the community walking behind some townhomes.
That small gated community has had a lot of problems with burglaries and people coming into that community to commit crimes.
So he thought that it was suspicious.


HANNITY: OK. So and I understand it was raining that night, and when you say that he saw Trayvon Martin walking behind townhomes. Are you saying that he was up-close to where the homes were? Is that why he was suspicious?

ZIMMERMAN: I -- I don't know exactly where Trayvon Martin was walking. I'm not real sure of that.

HANNITY: There have been implications of that been made. One was that on the 911 tape that we just played, that he might have used a racial slur. That has been countered by other people.

Two stories that I recently read, and one is that is it true that your son would tutor African-American and minority children on the weekend. And is it also true that there was a case involving the Sanford police in which a son after police officer hid an African-American homeless man and he spoke out against the policeman. Is that true, too, sir?

ZIMMERMAN: It is true. Concerning the assault on the homeless man, he went around to churches and put flyers on people's cars. He just felt sorry for this homeless man not having anyone to support him. And he --

HANNITY: Has he ever used any racial slur that you know of, sir?

ZIMMERMAN: None whatsoever.

HANNITY: Let me ask you, when the dispatcher said to him on that 911 tape, we don't need you to do that, meaning because he said, yes, I'm following Trayvon Martin.

Did he follow him? Did you ask him if he followed him at that point? And what happened from that point forward? Tell us the rest of the story.

ZIMMERMAN: From where George's vehicle was, there's a sidewalk that goes to the next street over.

HANNITY: OK.

ZIMMERMAN: Off of that sidewalk there's another sidewalk that goes between two rows of townhomes. It's my understanding that Trayvon went between the two rows of townhomes, and George was walking down the main sidewalk to see if he could see where Trayvon was going.

He continued walking down that sidewalk to the next street. He wanted an address. All he could see was the back of the townhomes and he could not see an address. So he asked the dispatcher to have the responding unit call him, and he could tell him the address. So he walked down to the end of the street -- I'm sorry, to the end of the sidewalk to the next street to get an address. He did not know at that time where Trayvon Martin had gone.

As he was walking back to his vehicle,
there was a sidewalk that goes to his left
and Trayvon came from that area where the sidewalks meet.
He asked my son if he had a problem,
and George said, no, I don't have a problem.
Trayvon said, well, you do now.
He punched him in the face, broke his nose,
knocked him to the sidewalk,
and got on him and started beating him.



HANNITY: So he was walking back to the car, is what you are saying.
Trayvon confronted him.
He reached for his cell phone and Trayvon, this is confirmed --
his nose was broken.
Is it true he had lacerations and injuries to the back his head, sir?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes, sir. He did.

HANNITY: OK,
and his nose was broken that night,
but he denied medical care
although he was treated at the scene.
Is that true too?

ZIMMERMAN: I believe the medics cleaned him up at the scene.
Following that the police took him to the police station for several hours.

HANNITY: All right, walk us through it.
First of all, did he stop when the dispatcher said, "stop"
and how did we get to the point where the shot was fired.
Explain that part of that because that is obviously the key moment in this thing.

ZIMMERMAN: When the dispatcher said we know longer need you to do that, and George acknowledged OK.
He no longer knew where Trayvon was.
So he continued walking down the sidewalk directly in front of him to the next street to get an address. He got an address.
He was walking back to his vehicle.
Trayvon came from his left side, asked him did he have a problem.
George said no. At that point Trayvon said well you do now.
He punched him in the nose,
knocked him to the concrete,
and started beating him.

George was there yelling for help for at least 40 seconds.
It's clearly him on the tape.
There's absolutely no doubt about who it is.

A neighbor came, saw what was happening.
Saw George being beaten.
Heard George yelling for help and the neighbors said he was calling 911.
That's what he went inside and did.

HANNITY: How do you know, sir, that that was your son on the 911 tape?
I know there's been conflicting reports about this.

ZIMMERMAN: Well, when I first heard --
first, I heard the Martin family say that that was their son,
and I thought, well, they are a grieving family
and maybe the tapes were not too good.
But then when I heard the actual recording,
me, my family, friends, everybody knows absolutely
that's George.



[Am I the only one wondering
why Angela Corey's office chose to believe, with such certitude,
the claims of Martin's mother over
those of Zimmerman's father?]


HANNITY: We continue with George Zimmerman's father, Robert, his attorneys, Craig Sooner and Hal Uhrig is with us.

Mr. Zimmerman, let me go back. Obviously, you are telling the story of your son and none of us were there and I know people are trying to put this together. But I would argue there's been a rush to judgment.

By that the president has weighed into this. We know that members of Congress have used terms like Trayvon was hunted like a rabid dog, racial profiling was involved in the case, that was Bobby Rush. Reverend Jesse Jackson, he killed an unarmed 17-year-old kid and then, quote, "walks away." This is racial profiling and lies. You know, so many things have been said that he was executed for WWBGC, walking while black in a gated community.

What do you say to the president? What do you say to these members of Congress? What do you say to all these activists and people who have, quote, "rushed to judgment" here?

ZIMMERMAN: I just believe it's very sad that
so many people are not telling the truth on purpose for their own agenda.
I really thought that we had gotten past a lot of racial problems.

HANNITY: You said about the president, you didn't see so much hate. You didn't expect or foresaw so much hate coming from the president or members of Congress. What did you mean by that, sir?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, immediately the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, I don't know how many agencies and organizations were calling for the arrest of George.

HANNITY: They are still calling for it.

ZIMMERMAN: And 95 percent of the facts -- yes and 95 percent of the facts of that been verified by Sanford, the city of Sanford, they said that George's story is consistent with every eyewitness account and every piece of evidence they have.

[Well, Angela Corey and her team certainly have a different view.
One really has to wonder why they are so sure
the story told above by George Zimmerman's father
is not the accurate one.

The rest of the interview is with the two men, Craig Sooner and Hal Uhrig,
who were at that time George Zimmerman's lawyers.]




2012-04-11-Corey-Transcript-Prosecutor-Angela-Corey-announces-murder-charges-against-George-Zimmerman
Transcript-Prosecutor-Angela-Corey-announces-murder-charges-against-George-Zimmerman
by Angela B. Corey, State Attorney for Florida
2012-04-11

[In which she says:]

Let me emphasize that we do not prosecute by pressure or petition.

[But let us recall the circumstances by which
her predecessor as state attorney handling the case was forced to withdraw
(reported, e.g. by the Huffington Post;
emphasis added):]


SANFORD, Fla. --

Seminole County State Attorney Norman R. Wolfinger Thursday night
removed himself from the case of Trayvon Martin,
an unarmed teenager whose killing by a town watch volunteer last month
sparked national outrage.

“In the interest of the public safety of the citizens of Seminole County and to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest,
I would respectfully request the executive assignment
of another state attorney
for the investigation and any prosecution arising from
the circumstances surrounding the death of Trayvon B. Martin,”
Wolfinger said in a statement released about 9:15 p.m.
“This request is being made in light of the public good
with the intent of toning down the rhetoric
and preserving the integrity of this investigation.”

[I don't know if I have much standing to challenge what a state attorney says,
but even so,
if by "we" she means the Florida justice system and not just herself,
her claim is proved false by Wolfinger's statement.
That doesn't exactly build confidence
in her representing the whole truth,
not just whatever justifies the outcome she seems to desire
(that "precious" Trayvon Martin is the victim).]



2012-04-12-NYT-zimmerman-to-be-charged-in-trayvon-martin-shooting
Prosecutor Files Charge of 2nd-Degree Murder in Shooting of Martin
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ and MICHAEL COOPER
New York Times, 2012-04-12

[This article is an incredible example of media PC bias.
It does not mention in any way, shape, or form
that Zimmerman has consistently claimed that
the shooting was an example of self-defense
until paragraph 12.
And even then, that paragraph does not say that Zimmerman is claiming self-defense,
but only that it is a possibility:

[12]
The case drew attention to Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, which was enacted seven years ago after lobbying by the National Rifle Association, over the objections of many law enforcement officials. The law gives the benefit of the doubt to people who claim self-defense, even if they are not in their homes; it says that people who feel that they are in danger do not need to retreat, even if it would seem reasonable to do so.
Then in paragraph 20 the self-defense idea appears again:
[20]
The Sanford police came under heavy criticism when they did not arrest Mr. Zimmerman, saying that they had no evidence to dispute his claim of self-defense. The police chief, Bill Lee, eventually stepped down from his post. The state appointed a special prosecutor. And the Justice Department announced that it would open a federal civil rights investigation.
By burying Zimmerman's claim of self-defense in this fashion,
in late paragraphs that appear long after the jump into the inside pages,
i.e., not on the front page,
those who are not closely reading the story
get a totally one-sided view of the case,
only the side which presents a black person as the victim of a crime by a white.]




2012-04-12-Affidavit-of-Probable-Cause-Second-Degree-Murder
Affidavit of Probable Cause - Second Degree Murder
T. C. O’Steen and Dale Gilbreath, Florida State Attorney's Office
2012-04-12

[This document includes the following:]

Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher
and continued to follow Martin
who was trying to return home.

Zimmerman confronted Martin and a struggle ensued.
Witnesses heard people arguing and what sounded like a struggle.
During this time period witnesses heard numerous calls for help
and some of these were recorded in 911 calls to police.
Trayvon Martin’s mother has reviewed the 911 calls
and identified the voice calling for help
as Trayvon Martin’s voice.

[If a struggle ensued, rather than a case of simple assault,
why were there only injuries to Zimmerman and none to Martin?]



2012-04-13-WP-Fahri-Julison-trayvon-martin-story-found-the-media
Trayvon Martin story found the media
By Paul Farhi
Washington Post, 2012-04-13

...

It’s likely that Martin’s death, which resulted in the arrest and indictment Wednesday of confessed shooter George Zimmerman, would never have crowded into the national consciousness had it not been for Martin’s family, its lawyers and an enterprising PR man.

For the most part, the Martin story found the media, rather than vice versa. Outraged by the lack of an arrest, the Martin camp lobbied news outlets to examine what had happened that night in Sanford. Eventually, the media did, and the story moved like a fast-burning fuse, leaping from traditional news sources to the blogosphere and social media.

A pivotal, if little-known, figure in the Martin story’s development was Ryan Julison, an Orlando public relations executive who began working with the Martin family at the behest of its attorneys, Benjamin Crump and Natalie Jackson.

With the story fading, Julison began trying to revive interest in it, emphasizing a storyline of an unarmed teenager, a neighborhood watchman with a gun and the lack of an arrest. He got few takers.

“There just wasn’t a lot of interest in this out of the gate,” he said in an interview Thursday. “Oftentimes, it seems like the media likes to follow instead of going first. They want to wait and see someone else do the story and then they get in line. But we were at zero. We had to keep going from scratch.”

...



2012-04-18-Harbaugh-Florida-authories-are-biased
This is an original comment by the author of this blog, KHarbaugh.

I believe both Florida Governor Rick Scott and State Attorney Angela Corey
have indicated, by their own words,
bias regarding the prosecution of George Zimmerman.

Corey, in her 2012-04-11 statement, said
it is the search for justice for Trayvon that has brought us to this night
[when George Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder].”

Why just justice for Trayvon?
How about the search for justice, period.
How about justice for all parties involved.

It seems to me that “searching for justice for Trayvon”
puts Trayvon in a privileged position vis-à-vis George Zimmerman.
It seems an exception to the fundamental concept that “justice is blind”.
Why justice for one and not for the other?


Governor Scott made a similar statement:
Scott told the crowd at the Palm Beach County Convention Center that he had met with Martin's parents and "my commitment to them was that justice will prevail."

He told the group that a task force headed by Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll will review Stand Your Ground and other laws. And Scott voiced confidence in special prosecutor Angela Corey of Jacksonville.

"She believes the same way I do.
We've got to have justice for Trayvon's family
and due process for George Zimmerman,"

Scott said.
"We're doing the right thing, and justice will prevail."

Again, why demand “justice for Trayvon's family” rather than
“justice for all parties involved”?
Why have justice for one, and merely due process
(possibly rubber-stamping a pre-determined politically-demanded outcome)
for the other?


I suspect the reason both Governor Scott and Attorney Corey
use that phraseology is because it is the phraseology used by black activists.
They have been demanding "Justice for Trayvon."
But why should those authorities supposedly representing all the people
single out one specific person who needs justice?
How about justice for all?


As to how Governor Scott's remarks will be interpreted:
I have never worked for law enforcement nor in the justice system,
so I do not know if they have a special way of interpreting those remarks,
but based on my general knowledge of how remarks are interpreted
it seems to me that Governor Scott is clearly signaling the outcome he desires.
His language is exactly the same as that of the black activists,
and we know they explicitly want a conviction of George Zimmerman.
Further, the state attorney's office and officers all work for Governor Scott.
In other words, this is the boss telling his subordinates the outcome he wants.
In the military this is called "command influence,"
and in itself is sufficient to throw out a conviction.

Why did Governor Scott say what he said?
Well, let me speculate.
The assertion has already been made
that if the justice system fails to convict George Zimmerman,
that there will be a replay of what happened
after the assailant of Rodney King was not convicted
(i.e. riots).
So the governor thinks:
Riots!
OMG, we don't want that.
Give the blacks what they want.
Am I wrong in thinking that was his motivation?
We will see when we see what kind of case his justice system can pull together
against Mr. Zimmerman.




2012-04-25-Reuters-some-background-information-on-Zimmerman
George Zimmerman: Prelude to a shooting
By Chris Francescani
reuters.com, 2012-04-25

...

During the time Zimmerman was in hiding,
his detractors defined him as a vigilante
who had decided Martin was suspicious
merely because he was black.
After Zimmerman was finally arrested on a charge of second-degree murder
more than six weeks after the shooting,
prosecutors portrayed him as a violent and angry man
who disregarded authority by pursuing the 17-year-old.


But a more nuanced portrait of Zimmerman has emerged
from a Reuters investigation into Zimmerman's past
and a series of incidents in the community
in the months preceding the Martin shooting.

Based on extensive interviews with
relatives, friends, neighbors, schoolmates and co-workers of Zimmerman in two states,
law enforcement officials, and reviews of court documents and police reports,
the story sheds new light on the man at the center of
one of the most controversial homicide cases in America.

The 28-year-old insurance-fraud investigator
comes from a deeply Catholic background
and was taught in his early years to do right by those less fortunate.
He was raised in a racially integrated household
and himself has black roots through an Afro-Peruvian great-grandfather -
the father of the maternal grandmother who helped raise him.

A criminal justice student who aspired to become a judge,
Zimmerman also concerned himself with the safety of his neighbors
after a series of break-ins committed by young African-American men.

Though civil rights demonstrators have argued Zimmerman
should not have prejudged Martin,
one black neighbor of the Zimmermans
said recent history should be taken into account.

“Let's talk about the elephant in the room.
I'm black, OK?”
the woman said,
declining to be identified
because she anticipated backlash due to her race.

She leaned in to look a reporter directly in the eyes.
“There were black boys robbing houses in this neighborhood,” she said.
“That's why George was suspicious of Trayvon Martin.”

...

A NEIGHBORHOOD IN FEAR

By the summer of 2011,
Twin Lakes was experiencing a rash of burglaries and break-ins.
Previously a family-friendly, first-time homeowner community,
it was devastated by the recession that hit the Florida housing market,
and transient renters began to occupy some of the 263 town houses in the complex.
Vandalism and occasional drug activity were reported,
and home values plunged.
One resident who bought his home in 2006 for $250,000
said it was worth $80,000 today.

At least eight burglaries were reported within Twin Lakes
in the 14 months prior to the Trayvon Martin shooting,
according to the Sanford Police Department.
Yet in a series of interviews,
Twin Lakes residents said dozens of reports of attempted break-ins
and would-be burglars casing homes
had created an atmosphere of growing fear in the neighborhood.

In several of the incidents,
witnesses identified the suspects to police as young black men.

Twin Lakes is about 50 percent white,
with an African-American and Hispanic population of about 20 percent each,
roughly similar to the surrounding city of Sanford,
according to U.S. Census data.

One morning in July 2011,
a black teenager walked up to Zimmerman’s front porch and stole a bicycle,
neighbors told Reuters.
A police report was taken, though the bicycle was not recovered.

But it was the August incursion into the home of Olivia Bertalan
that really troubled the neighborhood,
particularly Zimmerman.
Shellie [Zimmerman’s wife] was home most days,
taking online courses towards certification as a registered nurse.

On August 3, Bertalan was at home with her infant son while her husband, Michael, was at work.
She watched from a downstairs window, she said,
as two black men repeatedly rang her doorbell
and then entered through a sliding door at the back of the house.
She ran upstairs, locked herself inside the boy’s bedroom,
and called a police dispatcher, whispering frantically.

“I said, ‘What am I supposed to do?
I hear them coming up the stairs!’ ”
she told Reuters.
Bertalan tried to coo her crying child into silence
and armed herself with a pair of rusty scissors.

Police arrived just as the burglars -
who had been trying to disconnect the couple’s television -
fled out a back door.
Shellie Zimmerman saw a black male teen running through her backyard
and reported it to police.

After police left Bertalan,
George Zimmerman arrived at the front door in a shirt and tie, she said.
He gave her his contact numbers on an index card
and invited her to visit his wife if she ever felt unsafe.
He returned later and gave her a stronger lock
to bolster the sliding door that had been forced open.

“He was so mellow and calm, very helpful and very, very sweet,”
she said last week.
“We didn’t really know George at first,
but after the break-in we talked to him on a daily basis.
People were freaked out.
It wasn’t just George calling police ... we were calling police at least once a week.”

In September, a group of neighbors including Zimmerman
approached the homeowners association with their concerns, she said.
Zimmerman was asked to head up a new neighborhood watch. He agreed.

...

“PLEASE CONTACT OUR CAPTAIN”

Police had advised Bertalan to get a dog.
She and her husband decided to move out instead,
and left two days before the shooting.
Zimmerman took the advice.

“He’d already had a mutt that he walked around the neighborhood every night -
man, he loved that dog -
but after that home invasion he also got a Rottweiler,”
said Jorge Rodriguez, a friend and neighbor of the Zimmermans.

Around the same time, Zimmerman also gave Rodriguez and his wife, Audria,
his contact information, so they could reach him day or night.
Rodriguez showed the index card to Reuters.
In neat cursive was a list of George and Shellie’s home number and cell phones,
as well as their emails.

Less than two weeks later, another Twin Lakes home was burglarized,
police reports show.
Two weeks after that, a home under construction was vandalized.

The Retreat at Twin Lakes e-newsletter for February 2012 noted:
“The Sanford PD has announced an increased patrol within our neighborhood ...
during peak crime hours.

“If you’ve been a victim of a crime in the community,
after calling police, please contact our captain, George Zimmerman.”

EMMANUEL BURGESS - SETTING THE STAGE

On February 2, 2012, Zimmerman placed a call to Sanford police
after spotting a young black man he recognized
peering into the windows of a neighbor’s empty home,
according to several friends and neighbors.

“I don’t know what he’s doing. I don’t want to approach him, personally,”
Zimmerman said in the call, which was recorded.
The dispatcher advised him that a patrol car was on the way.
By the time police arrived, according to the dispatch report,
the suspect had fled.

On February 6, the home of another Twin Lakes resident, Tatiana Demeacis,
was burglarized.
Two roofers working directly across the street said
they saw two African-American men lingering in the yard at the time of the break-in.
A new laptop and some gold jewelry were stolen.
One of the roofers called police the next day after spotting one of the suspects
among a group of male teenagers, three black and one white, on bicycles.

Police found Demeacis’s laptop in the backpack of 18-year-old Emmanuel Burgess, police reports show,
and charged him with dealing in stolen property.
Burgess was the same man Zimmerman had spotted on February 2.

Burgess had committed a series of burglaries on the other side of town in 2008 and 2009,
pleaded guilty to several, and spent all of 2010 incarcerated in a juvenile facility, his attorney said.
He is now in jail on parole violations.

Three days after Burgess was arrested,
Zimmerman’s grandmother was hospitalized for an infection,
and the following week his father was also admitted for a heart condition.
Zimmerman spent a number of those nights on a hospital room couch.

Ten days after his father was hospitalized,
Zimmerman noticed another young man in the neighborhood,
acting in a way he found familiar,
so he made another call to police.

“We’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there’s a real suspicious guy,”
Zimmerman said, as Trayvon Martin returned home from the store.

The last time Zimmerman had called police, to report Burgess,
he followed protocol and waited for police to arrive.
They were too late, and Burgess got away.

This time, Zimmerman was not so patient,
and he disregarded police advice against pursuing Martin.

“These assholes,” he muttered in an aside, “they always get away.”

After the phone call ended, several minutes passed
when the movements of Zimmerman and Martin remain a mystery.

Moments later, Martin lay dead with a bullet in his chest.

[End of the Reuters report.]






2012-05-15-ABCNews-Zimmermans-injuries
ABC News Exclusive:
Zimmerman Medical Report Shows Broken Nose, Lacerations
After Trayvon Martin Shooting

By MATT GUTMAN (@mattgutmanABC) and SENI TIENABESO (@seniABC)
ABC New, 2012-05-15

A medical report compiled by the family physician of Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman
and obtained exclusively by ABC News found that Zimmerman was diagnosed with
a "closed fracture" of his nose,
a pair of black eyes,
two lacerations to the back of his head and a minor back injury
the day after he fatally shot Martin during an alleged altercation.

...

The record shows that
Zimmerman also suffered bruising in the upper lip and cheek
and lower back pain.
The two lacerations on the back of his head,
one of them nearly an inch long,
the other about a quarter-inch long,
were first revealed in photos obtained exclusively by ABC News last month.

...


2012-05-16-WP-zimmerman-had-2-black-eyes-nose-fracture
Court records: Zimmerman had 2 black eyes, nose fracture after Trayvon Martin’s fatal shooting
Associated Press, republished in Washington Post, 2012-05-16

Court records show George Zimmerman had
a pair of black eyes,
a nose fracture and
two cuts to the back of his head
after the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

ABC news reports that the medical records
were part of evidence released Tuesday that prosecutors have
in the second-degree murder case against Zimmerman.
He has entered a plea of not guilty and claims self-defense in the Feb. 26 shooting.
A message left Tuesday evening with Zimmerman’s attorney was not immediately returned.

[The above news story, as shown above in its entirety,
appeared on page A5 of the Wednesday, 2012-05-16 Washington Post,
as part of a section entitled "Digest".
As of 2012-05-20, using Google search using the search criteria
trayvon martin nose fracture site:washingtonpost.com
it appears the other news story at washingtonpost.com
hardly mention this crucial information.
Not at all in a very large article on Friday, 05-18,
and once in a giant article on Sunday 05-20.
Talk about only pushing the information
which supports only one side of the story!

As to why the Post had, in my opinion, a moral and ethical obligation
to highlight this report in a much more prominent way,
consider its earlier article
2012-03-29-WP-Capehart-george-zimmermans-crumbling-story.
Here a prominent (on its editorial board) Post commentator
highlighted claims that Zimmerman showed no signs of injury after the confrontation.
Well, Capehart based his 03-29 claim on the evidence he had available at the time,
and cannot be faulted if that evidence was not complete.
But surely many readers of the Post read Capehart's misleading claims
and remember them.
Does the Post not owe an obligation to correct those claims
in an equally prominent position?]




2012-05-17-NYT-trayvon-martin-case-shadowed-by-police-missteps.html
Trayvon Martin Case Shadowed by Series of Police Missteps
By SERGE F. KOVALESKI
New York Times, 2012-05-17

[The above headline is that of the Web version of the story, as of 2012-05-17.
The Washington print edition of the NYT
runs the story across four (of six) columns below the fold on the front page,
with the headline shown below:]


In Martin Case, Police Missteps Add to Challenges to Find Truth


[Here are some excerpts from the story:]

Given Mr. Zimmerman’s assertion that he was acting in self-defense,
and lacking enough evidence to the contrary,
the original prosecutor in the case, Norm Wolfinger,
whose jurisdiction includes Sanford,
filed no charges against him.

That decision resulted in an increasingly strident public outcry.

After Gov. Rick Scott of Florida contacted Mr. Wolfinger
and had a conversation with him in late March,
the prosecutor recused himself,
citing, among other things, an unspecified conflict of interest.


[I.e., a seemingly clear case of political interference in the justice system.]

...

As for the officer at the scene
who took the single full-face photo of Mr. Zimmerman —
he suffered a nose fracture and other injuries during the struggle —
he called an investigator “in a panic” over his failure to download it sooner,
according to a person familiar with the case.

[That is the only mention of the fact that
Zimmerman did indeed have a broken nose, as his father claimed,
which, combined with the lack of physical trauma to the body of Martin,
certainly provides strong support to Zimmerman's claim that he acted in self-defense,
and it appears in paragraph 27 of the story!

As to the NYT article,
it looks to me like an example of excessive police bashing,
due to frustration that the case against Zimmerman is so weak,
if it exists at all,
outside of the minds of the delusional left,
who are always dreaming up ways to portray blacks as victims.
(For example,
even if the initial investigators had known about Martin's actual status,
how would that have affected their investigation?
And what would "securing Zimmerman's vehicle" have accomplished?
Also, given that Zimmerman's bloody wounds were well-documented
both by contemporaneous photos and the report of the medic who treated him,
what further would finding blood on the sidewalk have added?)]


2012-05-17-Orlando-Sentinel-george-zimmerman-evidence-released
Encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin 'avoidable,'
cops said in report

By Jeff Weiner and Rene Stutzman
Orlando Sentinel, 2012-05-17

...

One resident told the investigator that
he heard a commotion and
"witnessed a black male, wearing a dark colored 'hoodie'
on top of a white or Hispanic male who was yelling for help."
He said
the black male was on the white or Hispanic male
and throwing punches "MMA [mixed martial arts] style."
He then heard a "pop" and saw
the black male wearing the hoodie laid out on the grass.

...


2012-05-17-HuffingtonPost-trayvon-martin-autopsy-report
Trayvon Martin Autopsy Report
by Benjamin Hart
Huffington Post, 2012-05-17

[This includes a link to a PDF file photo reproduction of
the original seven page autopsy report on Trayvon Martin.
In that report, the section titled "Evidence of Injury"
has a subtitle "Penetrating Gunshot Wound of the Chest",
then proceeds with a clinical description of the gunshot wound.
That section closes with the following line:]


Other injuries: There is a 1/4 by 1/8 inch small abrasion on the left fourth finger.

[That's it.
No other injuries reported by the medical examiner.
A question then for the prosecutor:
If it was Trayvon Martin who was making "excruciating" (as one witness put it) yells for help,
just what was it that was causing him to make those calls?
Was Zimmerman tickling him to death?
Or does the prosecution just avoid that sort of question,
while they try to change the subject to the allegation of racial profiling?]




2012-05-18-Orlando-Sentinel-george-zimmerman-evidence-released
Key witness in Trayvon Martin shooting:
I'm no longer sure Zimmerman was crying for help

By Rene Stutzman
Orlando Sentinel, 2012-05-18

One of the most important eye-witnesses to the Trayvon Martin shooting,
a neighbor who told police
Trayvon was straddling George Zimmerman, pinning him to the ground,
changed his story once prosecutors took control of the case.

The man, identified in prosecution documents as "Witness 6,"
originally said Zimmerman was the person screaming for help
as he fought with the unarmed 17-year-old from Miami Gardens.

But a few weeks later, on March 20,
while sitting for a follow-up interview
by a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigator
the witness said he was no longer sure who was calling for help.

"At first, I thought it was the person on the ground,
just because, you know, me thinking rationally,
if someone was on top, the person on the bottom would be yelling,"
he said.

Now, though, he said,
"I truly can't tell who, after thinking about it, was yelling for help
just because it was so dark out on that sidewalk.
You can't see a mouth …"

The witness did not, however, change his account that
Trayvon was the one on top
as he and Zimmerman fought.

He identified both combatants by skin color
and by the color of their clothes,
although he described Zimmerman's orange jacket as red,
and Trayvon's dark gray hoodie as black.

"The black guy was on top,"
he told FDLE Investigator John Batchelor.
"The guy that was on the ground, under him at that point, wrestling,
was definitely a lighter color."


It was dark outside, he said, and at first,
he thought he was witnessing a dog fight.
When he stepped to the door,
he realized it was two people on the ground wrestling.

The person on top
was either hitting or pinning the other to the ground,

he said.
The person on the bottom
was struggling to get up.


He yelled at them to stop, he said, "Hey, cut it out,"
and thought they would, but they didn't,
so he stepped inside and headed upstairs to call 911.

He heard a loud pop, "like a rock hitting a window," he said.

It was the gunshot.

When he looked again, the person who had been on top,
he said,
was "in the grass not moving
while the other gentleman has his hands in the air …
The one guy that was on the bottom said,
'I shot the other guy in self-defense. The gun is on the ground.' "


[It is telling that this witness account,
the most detailed, clear, and specific that I have yet seen,
did not appear, so far as I have observed,
in either the Washington Post or the New York Times
up to the date I write this, 2012-05-22.]




2012-05-18-NYT-new-details-are-released-in-shooting-of-teenager
New Details Are Released in Shooting of Trayvon Martin
By SERGE F. KOVALESKI and CAMPBELL ROBERTSON
New York Times, 2012-05-18

...

Mr. Zimmerman has said that he acted in self-defense the night of the shooting.
But with no witness who saw the entire encounter,
and with Mr. Martin dead,
there has been much debate about whether the evidence supported such a claim.

[But where is the evidence that refutes that claim?

Also: note the photo below of the wounds to the back of Zimmerman's head:
]



2012-05-18-WP-trayvon-martin-autospy-report-indicates-struggle
Trayvon Martin documents reveal new details in shooting
By Sari Horwitz and Stephanie McCrummen
Washington Post, 2012-05-18

[The above reflects the information in the web version of the story,
as of Sunday, 2012-05-20.
The Washington print edition, edition M2, contained a different headline.
It featured the story on the top right of the front page, in only the right-most column,
with the headline:]


Martin was shot at close range


[The story continues inside on page A6, where the inside headline is:]

Report: Zimmerman shot Martin from close range


[The lead paragraph of the story is:]

Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman
shot Trayvon Martin from a very close range,
according to documents a Florida prosecutor released Thursday that indicate
a hand-to-hand struggle occurred before the teenager was killed.

[That is either ignorant or a deliberate lie by the reporters.
The reports, described below, do not indicate that Zimmerman laid a hand on Martin
before he fired the fatal shot.
Again:
There is no indication whatsoever that Zimmerman laid a hand on Martin.
Thus to describe what is supported by the forensic evidence as a struggle
is simply untrue.
What the forensic evidence
(an abrasion on Martin's finger,
bloody wounds to the front and back of Zimmerman's head)
do substantiate is that
Martin assaulted Zimmerman.
But both this story and Sunday's story by the same two reporters
never mention that salient observation.

Back to the WP story, paragraph 6 (inside the paper):]


Martin’s autopsy report shows that
he had a small abrasion on his left ring finger,
which might support
Zimmerman’s account that Martin was punching him
or
the idea that Martin was fighting for his life.
A photo of Zimmerman shows he had a bloody nose on the night of the clash;
a paramedic reported that he had
a one-inch laceration on his head and a forehead abrasion.
The injuries, said the paramedic, produced “minor bleeding.”

[My comment above applies also to this.
The "abrasion on his left ring finger" supports the idea that Martin was punching Zimmerman.
It does nothing whatsoever to address the issue of why Martin would have done that.

As to the photo just mentioned in the story,
and also the photo of the back of Zimmerman's head (not mentioned, but available),
this article, important enough to the editors to be the lead story for the day,
does not include those photos
even though they are directly relevant to the story!
On the other hand, many stories in the Post have included
a childhood picture of Martin, obviously much younger than 17 years of age.
Why was it necessary to show Martin as a child?
Are there no pictures of him closer to the age at which this event transpired?
The most obvious answer to the above questions is that
the Post wants to present Martin in the most sympathetic way possible,
as a smiling child.
Who would think such a child could threaten him?
Who would kill such a child?
Is there a reason, other than presenting Martin in the most appealing way,
for making that photo be the public image of Martin?]



2012-05-19-NYT-trayvon-martins-friend-tells-what-she-heard-on-phone
Martin Spoke of ‘Crazy and Creepy’ Man Following Him, Friend Says
By SERGE F. KOVALESKI
New York Times, 2012-05-19


2012-05-20-WP-911-call-two-experts-reach-two-much-different-conclusions
Trayvon Martin case 911 call: Two experts reach two very different conclusions
By Stephanie McCrummen and Sari Horwitz
Washington Post, 2012-05-20

...

The analysis does not discount the possibility that
there was a physical struggle between Martin,
who had an abrasion on his left ring finger,
and Zimmerman, who had
a one-inch laceration in the back of his head,
an abrasion on his forehead and
a bloody, fractured nose,
according to newly released photos and police and medical reports.

[Yet again,
given that that abrasion is the only reported wound on Martin beside the fatal bullet hole,
that does not support the idea of a struggle between the two men,
but rather that Martin assaulted Zimmerman,
while Zimmerman's only action was to shoot Martin,
a shot fired only after Martin had assaulted Zimmerman.

But let's take a closer look at the statement
"the possibility that
there was a physical struggle between Martin ... and Zimmerman".
The article two days earlier by these same two reporters,
Stephanie McCrummen and Sari Horwitz,
contained the sentence:]

Toxicology reports also found
blood under Martin’s fingernails,
Zimmerman’s blood on Martin’s sweatshirt and
Martin’s blood on Zimmerman’s red jacket.
[So, these same two reporters just two days earlier
reported that there was
"Zimmerman’s blood on Martin’s sweatshirt".
How did blood of Zimmerman get on Martin’s sweatshirt?
Is there any way other than that
Martin wounded Zimmerman,
resulting in Zimmerman’s blood getting on Martin’s sweatshirt?
Given that (it seems to me) indisputable, unavoidable inference,
how in the name of heaven can Post reporters Sari Horwitz and Stephanie McCrummen
only assert that there was "the possibility that there was a physical struggle ...".
If that isn't cooking their story to avoid
the appropriate, justified, and necessary (to properly ascribe responsibility) inference,
what is?

As to the rest of this story,
it seems to be an attempt by the Post to distract from the clear forensic evidence.]




2012-06-18-WP-Capehart-george-zimmermans-callous-hoodie-comment
George Zimmerman’s callous ‘hoodie’ comment
By Jonathan Capehart
Washington Post, 2012-06-18

...

When Shellie [Zimmerman’s wife]
advises that he “could always lay down or something”
to hide from onlookers, Zimmerman said,
“Yeah, exactly. Well, I have my hoodie.”
And then you hear what sounds like an exhaled laugh.
You can hear the exchange starting at
about 12 minutes and 35 seconds into the call.

Words cannot even express how disgusting this is.
An unarmed Trayvon was wearing a hoodie
when he was shot and killed by Zimmerman on Feb. 26.
That the neighborhood watch volunteer could even say “hoodie”
is beyond callous.


[Huh?
That makes no sense whatsoever.
What an absolute nutjob Capehart is,
looking for any way to declare members of his identity group a victim.
(Capehart is black, and also, to double his PC level, a homosexual.)
How can one take seriously, or even respect,
people who go to such lengths to play the victim card?

It is important to note also that Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board,
indicating both that the Post ownership, the Graham/Waymouth family,
enables such extreme victimization notions
in their attempt to influence national opinion,
and that such extreme victimization notions may well underlie
the editorials of the Post.
Beware!]


But I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.
From the very beginning of this tragedy Zimmerman has shown poor judgment.
He followed Trayvon even though he was told not to by a police dispatcher.
He plotted with his wife to hide how much money they really had —
while talking on phone lines they knew were being recorded by the police.
This resulted in Zimmerman’s bail being revoked
and his wife being arrested for perjury.
And it was during one of these scheming phone calls
that Zimmerman invoked his “hoodie” levity.
Shooting from the lip is never a good idea when you’re accused of murder.










2012-10-24-NYT-castle-law-at-issue-after-fatal-montana-shooting
Unarmed and Gunned Down by Homeowner in His ‘Castle’
By JACK HEALY
New York Times, 2012-10-24

[This article is primarily about
a self-defense defense in a shooting death in Montana.
However,
the NYT article does bring up the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman situation,
in a way that damages fair play:]


The shooting raises similar questions
about armed citizens and their right to self-defense
to those raised after the February shooting of Trayvon Martin, 17, in Florida,
with the critical difference that Mr. Martin was shot outside.

[Wait a minute.
According to the article, in the Montana shooting
the shooter suffered no injuries from the man who was shot.
In the Martin/Zimmerman situation,
Zimmerman suffered well-documented injuries at the hands of Martin.
Is this not a critical difference?

The NYT, along with much of the rest of the media, shoves
the real, physical, documented injuries suffered by Zimmerman at the hands of Martin
right down George Orwell’s memory hole.
(For several other examples of ignoring that crucial part of the story,
see several 2013 articles by Lizette Alvarez discussed on this page below.)
Big Brother would be proud of the Sulzberger/Abramson ignore-the-crucial-fact gang.]

















[The black community has conspicuously ignored or mocked the self-defense plea of Zimmerman.
Here are articles from the Washington Post discussing a case
where a self-defense plea was accepted by a jury,
even when eye-witnesses specifically contradicted the claims of the defendant.]


Prosecutors, defense offer starkly different accounts in Bowie State murder trial
Witness: Deadly slashing during roommate fight could have been accident
Bowie State student Alexis Simpson ‘not guilty’ in deadly stabbing of roommate



















2013

2013-04-06-NYT-trayvon-martins-parents-settle-wrongful-death-suit
Settlement Is Reached With Family in Slaying
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2013-04-06

[I am reproducing this item in full from the NYT web page
because I want to make a point about what information was and was not mentioned in this story.]


MIAMI —

The parents of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed teenager who was shot by George Zimmerman last year,
have settled a wrongful-death lawsuit against the homeowners’ association in the gated community where he was killed.

At the time of the shooting, Mr. Zimmerman was the neighborhood watch captain at the development, the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Fla., where he lived with his wife. A homeowners’ association newsletter sent to residents in February 2012, the same month as the shooting, cited Mr. Zimmerman as the person to contact for neighborhood watch issues. The newsletter suggested that if concerns arose, they first call the police and then alert Mr. Zimmerman.

After Mr. Martin’s death, his parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, sued the association for wrongful death. The amount of the settlement was not revealed. As is customary in such settlements, the association admitted no guilt in Mr. Martin’s death and all parties are bound to confidentiality. The Orlando Sentinel obtained the portion of the settlement that was made public Friday at the Seminole County courthouse.

The Martin family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, has said he planned to file a separate lawsuit against Mr. Zimmerman at a later date.

The Martin family and the association tried to settle the lawsuit through mediation earlier in the year but talks fell apart after Mr. Martin’s parents rejected a $1 million offer, said Mark O’Mara, Mr. Zimmerman’s criminal lawyer. Negotiations later resumed and the two sides ultimately reached an agreement. The Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America is the association’s insurer.

Mr. Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Mr. Martin, is scheduled to go on trial in June. Mr. Zimmerman has said that he shot Mr. Martin, 17, in self-defense.

On Feb. 26, 2012,
Mr. Zimmerman saw Mr. Martin walking inside the Retreat at Twin Lakes,
with a hoodie pulled over his head to ward off rain.
Mr. Zimmerman called the police and described Mr. Martin as suspicious,
adding that it looked like “he was up to no good.”
The police told him to stay put, but Mr. Zimmerman got out of his S.U.V.
and followed Mr. Martin as the teenager walked toward his father’s girlfriend’s house,
where he was staying.

Soon after, Mr. Martin tackled him and started to punch him
and slam his head against the sidewalk, Mr. Zimmerman told the police.
Mr. Zimmerman reached for his gun and shot Mr. Martin in the chest,
killing him with one bullet.
Mr. Martin did not have a gun.

[How can it be relevant to tell readers that Mr. Martin did not have a gun,
which is factually true,
but not tell readers that Mr. Zimmerman indeed suffered wounds
to both his face and the back of his head,
while Mr. Martin suffered no wounds other than the fatal (and ultimate) bullet,
which is also factually true and corroborates Mr. Zimmerman's story,
making it more than just a "he said" item?
It seems to me that this selectivity, disclosing really irrelevant information
(how many people have been beaten to death with bare hands?
A highly nontrivial number.
Not having a gun is no guarantee of innocence.),
while withholding information which proves that
Mr. Martin indeed had injured Mr. Zimmerman,
is all too typical of the effort of the media to demonize Mr. Zimmerman.
Give Ms. Alvarez and the New York Times the "Master of Irrelevant Detail" award.

For another example of this selectivity,
the Washington Express, a publication of the Washington Post,
published its year-end roundup of the newsworthy events of 2012,
it had a brief item on the black protests concerning
the lack of charges against Zimmerman,
which in its few words found room to mention that
Martin had been carrying a bag of candy when the incident happened,
but did not mention that Zimmerman had been wounded.
Do you see a media pattern here?]





2013-05-01-NYT-george-zimmerman-waives-right-to-pretrial-hearing
Zimmerman Forgoes Pretrial Hearing, Taking Issue of Immunity to a Jury
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2013-05-01


[I am reproducing this item in full from the NYT web page
because I want to make a point about what information was and was not mentioned in this story.]


MIAMI —

With a softly spoken, “Yes, Your Honor,” George Zimmerman officially waived his right to a pretrial “Stand Your Ground” immunity hearing on Tuesday, choosing instead to lay out his self-defense case before a jury.

But Mr. Zimmerman, and Judge Debra S. Nelson of the Seminole County Circuit Court in Sanford, Fla., left open the possibility of conducting the hearing during the trial, a rare occurrence. The case is set to start with jury selection on June 10 in Sanford, where Mr. Zimmerman faces a second-degree murder charge in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, 17.

Mr. Zimmerman’s decision to skip a pretrial hearing was made for strategic and practical reasons, legal experts said. During a self-defense immunity hearing, the defendant, not the prosecutor, bears the burden of proof. A pretrial hearing also would provide prosecutors with a preview of how Mark O’Mara, Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyer, plans to present his case.

Because a judge, not a jury, decides whether to dismiss a case in an immunity hearing, a dismissal — a finding that Mr. Zimmerman acted lawfully and in self-defense — would most likely provoke a strong public reaction in the highly charged case.

“Criminal immunity is going to be granted to George by the jury, and that is what we are looking towards,” Mr. O’Mara said at a news conference. “So in that context, talking about immunity when we know we’re going to have a jury trial is irrelevant. It truly is.”

[The next paragraph seems to be the reporter’s summary of the back-story.]

Mr. Zimmerman, 29, a neighborhood watch volunteer,
is accused of the February 2012 killing of Mr. Martin,
an unarmed high school student from Miami Gardens.
Mr. Zimmerman told the police that
he shot Mr. Martin after the teenager attacked him.
The shooting provoked outrage
from those who believed that Mr. Zimmerman, who is Hispanic,
was guilty of racial profiling in pursuing Mr. Martin, who was black.
The police and the prosecutor
initially did not bring charges against Mr. Zimmerman,
further inflaming the situation.

[First, a question.
What is the criteria the media uses for reporting that
the victim of a shooting was unarmed?
In particular,
I have seen a number of newspaper accounts of wives who have shot their husband,
and when put on trial claim that they were acting in self-defense.
I do not recall them mentioning that the slain husband was unarmed.
If that is indeed the customary newspaper reporting standard,
why is there one standard for
reporting the slaying of husbands by wives who claim self-defense as the justification,
but a different one in the slaying of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman,
where again self-defense is claimed as the justification?

Secondly, and far more importantly,
note once again how America’s “newspaper of record” omits
the salient fact buttressing Zimmerman’s self-defense argument, namely that
Zimmerman actually was injured by Martin,
whereas Martin suffered no evident wounds other than the final, fatal bullet.

The NYT notes that “the shooting provoked outrage”.
I would point out that a key reason for that outrage is
the itself outrageous failure of the media
to report systematically the key fact of the injuries to Zimmerman.

Let’s switch gears.
Suppose a wife was battered by her husband,
suffering bloody facial injury and bloody wounds to the back of her head,
and then shot and killed her husband.
Do you think for a minute that every time the media reported this story,
they would not describe the wife as a battered wife?
Well, Zimmerman was battered.
That’s what caused the scalp wounds on the back of his head,
being battered by Martin against the concrete pavement.

The NYT, in systematically failing to note that Zimmerman was injured in the attack,
is playing the Orwellian role of a “Ministry of Truth”,
sending the facts that do not support its desired conclusion
down the memory hole.
(See the article on a Montana slaying for another example.)
If Zimmerman is acquitted (possibly by a hung jury)
and protests from the black community erupt,
I think a large part of the responsibility for those protests will be
the systematic failure of the media to report
the real, physical, documented injuries to Zimmerman.]


In a move that appeared to take Mr. O’Mara by surprise, Judge Nelson said she needed to question Mr. Zimmerman to make sure he understood that no pretrial hearing would take place. Mr. O’Mara balked, but once he learned that there would be no substantive questions about the case, he allowed Mr. Zimmerman to assure the judge that he was waiving his right to the hearing.

“After consultation with my counsel, yes, Your Honor,” Mr. Zimmerman said, in answer to her question about his rights.

Tuesday’s three-hour hearing also served to spotlight the tension between the prosecutor, Bernie de la Rionda, and Mr. Zimmerman’s defense team. The two sides have been battling over requests for documents and the pace of discovery.

The atmosphere grew so heated that the judge scolded both sides, saying the court would not tolerate their sniping.

The bitterness spilled over into legal documents recently, when Mr. de la Rionda called Mr. O’Mara guilty of “craven conduct” and said that he showboated in front of the news media.

Mr. O’Mara has long wrangled with Mr. de la Rionda over information, including a statement from a key witness, that Mr. O’Mara said had been withheld from the defense and turned over only after a protracted fight. In March, Mr. O’Mara filed a motion, which was heard on Tuesday, accusing the state of “discovery violations.” He also requested $4,555 in financial sanctions, stemming from lost time.

“When do we start playing fair?” Mr. O’Mara asked the court.

Judge Nelson ruled Tuesday that prosecutors did not violate discovery rules, but she said she would take up any possible financial compensation after the trial.

During the hearing, Mr. de la Rionda acknowledged that he learned in August that so-called Witness 8, a young woman who was speaking with Mr. Martin on the phone shortly before he was killed, had lied to law enforcement officials. Earlier last year, the young woman said she had skipped Mr. Martin’s funeral because stress had sent her to the hospital. After no hospital records turned up, she told Mr. de la Rionda that she had lied.

Despite requests over several months for information about the hospital visit, Mr. O’Mara said, prosecutors did not tell him about the lie until March, one day before a scheduled hearing to discuss the issue. Mr. O’Mara said the lie spoke to the witness’s credibility.

“She did say she had lied about that,” Mr. de la Rionda told the court. “I did not inform them because I forgot about it.”

Mr. O’Mara said that prosecutors also stalled on handing over images of Mr. Zimmerman’s injuries and that they enhanced audio files of the conversation between Witness 8 and the Martin family lawyer. In addition, he pointed out that Mr. Martin’s mother was sitting next to Witness 8 as the young woman recounted her final phone conversation with Mr. Martin.

In court, Mr. de la Rionda said that he had done nothing wrong and that the information had been turned over, as requested.


2013-05-24-NYT-Alvarez-zimmermans-lawyers-release-text-messages-of-trayvon-martin
Defense in Trayvon Martin Case Raises Questions About the Victim’s Character
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2013-05-24

MIAMI —

Intending to draw a fuller, perhaps more negative portrait of Trayvon Martin,
the unarmed teenager who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in early 2012,
a lawyer for Mr. Zimmerman released new material on Thursday
that depicted Mr. Martin as troubled at school
and enamored of a “gangsta” culture.

In a series of text messages from November 2011 to February 2012,
Mr. Martin wrote that he had been suspended from school for cutting classes.
In the messages, he said
his mother had “kicked” him out of the house
and told him to move in with his father.

In one message, Mr. Martin described himself as “gangsta.”
Other text messages refer to his involvement in fights
and reveal an interest in guns,
including an exchange about possibly buying one,
referring to it as a .380.

Earlier, in a separate text, he asked whether a friend had a gun.

“U gotta gun?” he asked the friend on Feb. 18, 2012.
His friend replied, “It my mommy but she buy for me.”

“She let u hold it?” Mr. Martin asked.
“Yea,” the friend replied.
“But she keep it,” Mr. Martin said.
“Yea,” the friend texted back.

Mr. Martin, 17, also texted that he smoked marijuana,
which was revealed in toxicology reports.
At one point, he mentioned that he had it wrapped up
for the bus ride from Miami, where he lived,
to Orlando, where he was going to stay with his father for a while
during his suspension from school in February 2012.

In one text, he riffed on his suspension shortly before he was killed on Feb. 26.
Mr. Martin was suspended for 10 days
after school officials found in his backpack a baggie
that contained traces of marijuana.

Mark O’Mara, Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyer,
appeared to be offering prospective jurors in the Zimmerman case,
which is to start in June,
another version of Mr. Martin’s life.
The evidence would presumably counter
any attempt by prosecutors to portray Mr. Martin, who had no criminal record,
as a victim with an unblemished personal life.
Although gangsta rap and gangsta culture can portray a violent lifestyle,
their following is wide and their proponents say
they are meant to describe the reality of the streets, not promote it.

Mr. Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder, has said he shot Mr. Martin in self-defense after Mr. Martin attacked him. Mr. Martin was inside a gated community, walking to his father’s girlfriend’s home in Sanford, Fla., when Mr. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, spotted him. He reported Mr. Martin to the police as a suspicious person and got out of the car to follow him, prosecutors said.

Mr. Zimmerman told the police Mr. Martin then knocked him to the ground, punched him and slammed his head into the concrete. Mr. Zimmerman fired one shot into Mr. Martin’s chest.

On Tuesday, the judge in the case, Debra S. Nelson of Seminole County Circuit Court in Sanford, Fla., will decide whether to allow the jury to see Mr. Martin’s text messages and unflattering photographs of him, and learn of his marijuana use and his suspension. The prosecutor, Bernie de la Rionda, has urged her to keep them out of the trial. The judge also will decide whether to sequester the jury in the case.

Benjamin Crump, the Martin family lawyer, said the evidence released on Thursday was “irrelevant” to the case. Whether Mr. Martin once wore gold teeth, or used an obscene gesture in a photograph, has nothing to do with his death, he said.

“The pretrial release of these irrelevant red herrings is a desperate and pathetic attempt by the defense to pollute and sway the jury pool,” Mr. Crump said in a statement.



2013-05-29-NYT-Alvarez-judge-in-trayvon-martin-case-puts-limits-on-defense
Judge in Trayvon Martin Case Puts Limits on Defense
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2013-05-29

Lawyers for George Zimmerman,
who is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin,
will be barred from mentioning
Mr. Martin’s marijuana use, history of fights or high school suspension
during opening statements in Mr. Zimmerman’s trial, which begins June 10.

At a hearing Tuesday in a Seminole County court,
Circuit Judge Debra Steinberg Nelson denied a string of defense motions
concerning evidence that was intended to portray Mr. Martin as a troubled teenager
with a propensity for fighting and an interest in guns.
Prosecutors argued that such evidence had nothing to do with Mr. Martin’s death.

Mr. Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, was killed in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26, 2012,
by Mr. Zimmerman, who said he shot him in self-defense.

Mark O’Mara, Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyer,
argued that Mr. Martin’s drug use could have made him aggressive and paranoid,
which the defense said might have prompted him to attack Mr. Zimmerman, 29,
a neighborhood watch volunteer.

“All of that fits in squarely to what the defense is going to present:
that George Zimmerman was put in the position that he had to act in self-defense,”
Mr. O’Mara said.
“How could you keep us from arguing that?”

Judge Nelson replied, “The rules of evidence keep you from doing it.”

The judge left open the possibility that
some of the information, including Facebook postings and text messages,
might come up at trial,
but she set a high hurdle for the defense.
Mr. O’Mara called the decision a victory, saying that
it would force prosecutors to be careful in how they portray Mr. Zimmerman.

“You get ready for whatever battle they may throw at you,
with the hope that most of your weapons stay in your quiver,”
Mr. O’Mara said at a news conference after the hearing.

Mr. O’Mara, as he has in the past, asked that Judge Nelson delay the trial
because the defense is still taking depositions and reviewing material
that was turned over by prosecutors only recently.
That request was denied.


Judge Nelson denied a request
that jurors be allowed to visit the gated townhouse complex where Mr. Martin was shot,
calling it a “logistical nightmare.”

Mr. O’Mara said he wanted jurors to get a feel
for the shadowy path between two rows of town houses where Mr. Martin was shot.

[According to Google maps, from the Sanford County Courthouse to the location of the shooting is 5.6 miles and about 13 minutes.
One might estimate that the party needing to see the site of the shooting
might consist of around 10 in the jury pool (6 jurors, 4 alternates)
and about 10 others, lawyers and security.
How hard can it be to transport around 20 people 6 miles?
A key issue will be what the actual sight lines and distances were
between the witnesses and the site of the shooting.
There is no better way to understand that than to see the site itself.
The fact that the judge will not allow that on-site inspection to take place is, I think,
prima facie evidence of his bias against the defense.]


The judge also denied a request that defense lawyers and prosecutors
be prevented from talking publicly about the case,
and she refused to sequester the jury pool, which could number 500 people,
during the selection process.
Prosecutors said it would be too expensive and unwieldy to sequester that many people.
The judge has not ruled on whether the jurors who are selected should be sequestered.

Defense lawyers and prosecutors both said they would agree to the jury’s being sequestered,
given the trial’s high-profile nature.

Mr. O’Mara said the Zimmerman case
was so weighed down by “social and community pressure”
that a jury could fear the consequences of acquitting Mr. Zimmerman.

“We have to do everything possible to keep this jury from infection,”
Mr. O’Mara said in court.

There is little other agreement between defense lawyers and prosecutors.
Mr. O’Mara has repeatedly accused prosecutors of dragging their feet in turning over evidence,
a charge that they have disputed.

Mr. O’Mara took that accusation one step further on Tuesday
and told the judge he had evidence that prosecutors had concealed information.
He said that Wesley White, a lawyer who worked for Angela Corey,
the state attorney in Jacksonville, Fla., whose office is prosecuting the case,
had told him that prosecutors had received a report
with information about photos taken on Mr. Martin’s cellphone.
Mr. O’Mara said he never received the report or information about the photos,
which were said to have included images of drugs and a gun in someone’s hand.

The photos’ content is not as important
as the charge that Bernie de la Rionda, the lead prosecutor,
did not turn them over to the defense.
Mr. O’Mara wants the court to penalize the state,
and Judge Nelson will conduct a hearing on the matter a week from Thursday.

After the hearing, Benjamin Crump, the Martin family’s lawyer,
said that Mr. O’Mara was wrong to portray Mr. Martin as a drug-using, brawl-happy, gun-loving teenager.
He said the judge was justified in ruling that another set of photos and text messages were inadmissible.
He also accused Mr. O’Mara of releasing information about the photos and messages last week
to “sway and pollute and influence the jury.”

“Trayvon Martin did not have a gun,” Mr. Crump said,
as Mr. Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, stood next to him.
“Trayvon Martin did not get out of the car to chase anybody.
Trayvon Martin did not shoot and kill anybody.
Trayvon Martin is not on trial.”


"2013-06-24-FoxNews-prosecutors-defense-set-to-make-opening-statements-in-george-zimmerman-trial
Jurors hear F-bomb, knock-knock joke as George Zimmerman murder trial begins
foxnews.com, 2013-06-24


2013-06-25-NYT-zimmerman-trial-day-one
Clash of Styles in Court Opens Trial in Trayvon Martin’s Death
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2013-06-25

SANFORD, Fla. — Using George Zimmerman’s own words, prosecutors on Monday opened the case against him by portraying Mr. Zimmerman as a gun-toting vigilante who “profiled” Trayvon Martin as someone who was “up to no good” and, with a gun in his waistband, set out to stop him.

“Punks,” a prosecutor, John Guy, quoted Mr. Zimmerman as saying, adding the expletives that Mr. Zimmerman used as he spoke to a police dispatcher on the phone. “They always get away. ”

“The truth about the murder of Trayvon Martin is going to come directly from his mouth,” Mr. Guy told the six-woman jury. “From those hate-filled words that he used to describe a perfect stranger and from the lies that he told to the police to try to justify his actions.”

But the defense, choosing evidence over passion in its opening statement, chipped away at the prosecution’s narrative. After a halting start, Don West, one of Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyers, plunged into a chronological account, heavy on maps and audio recordings, that sought to paint his client as a level-headed man who shot Mr. Martin, not out of malice, but out of fear for his life.

“Trayvon Martin armed himself with the concrete sidewalk and used it to smash George Zimmerman’s head; it’s no different than if he picked up a brick or bashed it against a wall,” Mr. West said, “and the law is very specific as to when you can defend yourself if the other person has a deadly weapon.”

Mr. Zimmerman, 29, who was the coordinator for his Sanford neighborhood watch association, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Mr. Martin, 17, an unarmed black high school student from Miami. Mr. Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, told the police that he shot Mr. Martin in self-defense after the teenager attacked him. The shooting, and the fact that Mr. Zimmerman was not charged for six weeks — and only after Gov. Rick Scott appointed a special prosecutor — revived calls for racial justice and prompted protest marches here and around the country.

In an opening statement that was heavy on emotion, Mr. Guy portrayed Mr. Zimmerman as a man overly eager to play the role of police officer and too ready to nab a suspect. Rather than stay in his car, Mr. Zimmerman, who was on the phone with a police dispatcher, chose to pursue Mr. Martin, his gun at the ready, said Mr. Guy, who spoke to the Seminole County Court jury for a little over 30 minutes.

The night of the encounter — Feb. 26, 2012 — was dark and rainy, and Mr. Martin, he said, was doing nothing more than ambling home from a 7-Eleven store “armed” with a soft drink and Skittles. He chatted with a young woman from Miami on his cellphone. The woman heard Mr. Martin say, “What are you following me for?” Mr. Guy said. “Then Trayvon Martin’s phone went dead. And then Trayvon Martin was dead.”

As Mr. Guy described the teenager’s death, Mr. Martin’s parents dabbed at their eyes. Mr. Zimmerman looked on stone-faced. His parents were not allowed in the courtroom because they are on the defense team’s witness list. The parents of a victim are exempt from the witness rule.

Mr. Guy dismissed Mr. Zimmerman’s injuries as negligible
and picked apart his numerous statements to the police,
pointing out a number of inconsistencies.
Mr. Zimmerman voluntarily spoke to the police
in the hours and days after the shooting, and
“that is when he began to spin that tangled web of lies,”
Mr. Guy said.

Mr. Martin, he said,
did not punch Mr. Zimmerman after the defendant hung up with the dispatch officer,
did not circle Mr. Zimmerman’s car,
did not reach for Mr. Zimmerman’s gun and
did not cover Mr. Zimmerman’s nose and mouth with his hand.
Mr. Martin’s hands had no bruises or blood, he said.
In fact, none of Mr. Zimmerman’s DNA was found on Mr. Martin,
Mr. Guy said.

“The only blood of George Zimmerman’s
was on the waistband of one of Trayvon Martin’s shirts,”
Mr. Guy said.

[Wait a minute.
Some questions:
How does the prosecution "know" that Martin did not punch Zimmerman?
In the theory of the prosecution,
what gave Zimmerman the bleeding wounds,
both on his face and on the back of his head?
Did Zimmerman punch himself in the face?
How did Zimmerman's blood come to be on Martin's clothes?

I think the most plausible, indeed the only reasonable, answer to those questions
is in the story that Zimmerman told.
If the prosecution doesn't like that story,
they need to come up with some other explanation for the forensic evidence.
Ignoring it may work with an emotion-controlled female jury,
but it doesn't seem to address the key issue,
that Martin indeed was committing battery against Zimmerman.]



With a flourish, Mr. Guy closed by telling the jury that Mr. Martin’s killing was not an act of self-defense. He placed the barrel of his gun to Mr. Martin’s chest and pulled the trigger, he added.

“We are confident at the end of this trial
you will know in your head, in your heart and your stomach
that
George Zimmerman did not shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to,”
Mr. Guy said.
“He shot him for the worst of all reasons: because he wanted to.”

[That really is a key assertion of the prosecution.
So the prosecution believes it is capable of reading Zimmerman’s mind, to determine his motives.
Let’s look closely at what is both implicit and explicit in that assertion.
First, let’s note that we all both have desires (wants) and make decisions.
For example, I may want to eat dinner for an extended period of time, then finally make the decision to actually eat dinner.
In the case of George Zimmerman, if he wanted to shoot Martin, as the prosecutor asserted,
why didn’t he shoot him right away, without calling the police?
And after calling the police, if he wanted to shoot Martin,
why didn’t he do so before
he and Martin became sufficiently close, however that happened,
so that Martin could cause direct physical damage to Zimmerman?
For comparison, we read in the newspapers many accounts of shootings, both fatal and non-fatal, on the streets of our major cities such as Washington.
Also, we read accounts of deliberate, pre-planned, cold-blooded, professional hits by various professional gangsters, whether the Mafia or drug-dealers.
These do not allow the person who is shot to attack the person who shot him.
Indeed, such an attack seems quite inconsistent with
the Florida prosecutor's claim that Zimmerman shot Martin because "he wanted to."

Beyond what Zimmerman supposedly wanted,
consider when Zimmerman made the decision to shoot Martin.
If he made that decision before he called the police,
then why did he call the police?
If he made that decision before Martin caused Zimmerman's injuries,
then those injuries would never have occurred.
He would have shot him and that would have been the end of it.

And by the way, about those claims that
Zimmerman pursued Martin in the period immediately after calling the police:
How does the state reconcile that assertion with
the fact that Martin was shot in the chest, not in the back?
Could the somewhat out-of-shape 5'7" 185 pound
(Body Mass Index of 29.0, near the top of the "Overweight" BMI category)
29-year-old Zimmerman
really have caught up to
a fleet-footed 5'11" 158 pound (per autopsy report)
(BMI of 22.0, right in the middle of the "Normal" range)
17-year-old black if the black youth wanted to escape?]



Hoping to drain the courtroom of emotion, the defense took the opposite tack and unleashed an avalanche of evidence, but not before Mr. West tried to lighten the mood by opening with a knock-knock joke about Mr. Zimmerman that fell flat.

Stumbling at times through the details, Mr. West presented his case like a college professor in an attempt to support Mr. Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense.

Mr. West presented Mr. Zimmerman’s taped conversations with the police dispatcher for the nonemergency line in an effort to provide context for his crude words about the teenager. The neighborhood had experienced burglaries, even a home invasion and attempted rape, and Mr. Martin, who was unknown to Mr. Zimmerman, was walking in an area not often used by residents, Mr. West said.

He displayed aerial photos of the neighborhood of town houses, the Retreat at Twin Lakes, pointing out distances and explaining that Mr. Zimmerman could not keep an eye on Mr. Martin by car because the teenager was behind the homes. There is no evidence, he said, that Mr. Zimmerman was not returning to his car when told by the dispatcher that he did not have to follow Mr. Martin.

Although most residents heard only cries, Mr. West said that one witness, John Good, stepped outside and saw someone wearing black straddling and beating someone wearing red. The man in red was pleading for help, Mr. West said. Mr. Zimmerman wore a red jacket that evening.

It was a “ground and pound” fight, Mr. West quoted Mr. Good as saying.

To drive home the point, Mr. West displayed oversize photos of Mr. Zimmerman’s injuries. Blood could be seen dripping from the back of his head, where he had cuts, and a bloody nose was shown.

“It is still glistening,” Mr. West said of the blood in the photo, which was taken shortly after the shooting.

He also underscored that Mr. Zimmerman spoke to police repeatedly, for days, without a lawyer present.

Mr. Zimmerman told the police that he shot Mr. Martin after the teenager knocked him down, punched him and slammed his head repeatedly into the concrete. Fearing for his life and thinking that Mr. Martin was going to grab his gun, Mr. Zimmerman told the police that he slipped the weapon out of its holster and shot him, Mr. West said. The bullet pierced Mr. Martin’s heart, although Mr. West disputed that the gun was pressed to Mr. Martin’s chest.

As for the screams heard on the 911 calls, Mr. West said that experts regarded the quality as too poor to distinguish who was crying for help. But he told the jury that Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin’s father, was asked by the police two days after the shooting whether his son was the one screaming on the recording.

“Mr. Martin lowered his head and said, ‘No. It’s not my son,’ ” Mr. West said, a position Tracy Martin later reversed.

Testimony in the trial began by midafternoon.

Sean Noffke, the police dispatcher who spoke with Mr. Zimmerman on the night of the shooting, was called to the stand.

Mark O’Mara, Mr. Zimmerman’s lead lawyer, walked him through the audio recording of his conversation with the defendant. Mr. Noffke testified that it appeared to be a routine call at the time.

Mr. O’Mara asked whether the defendant seemed angry or upset when he called Mr. Martin a punk and used expletives.

“Did you hear hostility in that conversation?” Mr. O’Mara asked.

“No, sir,” Mr. Noffke said.


2013-06-26-NYT-zimmerman-trial-day-2-witness-portrays-zimmerman-as-neighborhoods-eyes-and-ears
Running, a Fight and Then a Shot, a Witness Testifies in Zimmerman’s Trial
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2013-06-26

...

Prosecutors have said he was not simply watching Mr. Martin, but pursuing him,
and provoked a confrontation.

[Where's the evidence to support that theory?]


2013-06-27-NYT-zimmerman-trial-day-3-residents-of-housing-complex-testify-in-zimmerman-trial
At Zimmerman Trial, a Tale of Pursuit and Attack
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2013-06-27


SANFORD, Fla. — One of the prosecution’s star witnesses, the young woman who spoke on the phone with Trayvon Martin moments before he was killed, told the jury in the George Zimmerman trial on Wednesday that Mr. Martin was being followed and tried to get away from the man pursuing him.

As spectators and jurors looked on rapt, the witness, Rachel Jeantel, 19, a high school senior from Miami and a friend of Mr. Martin’s, told her story quietly, sometimes haltingly, sometimes with irritation, at times dabbing her eyes with a tissue. Asked by a prosecutor to talk about her final conversation with Mr. Martin, Ms. Jeantel drove home the state’s contention: as Mr. Martin was trying to avoid Mr. Zimmerman, he was accosted and wound up dead.

But her turn on the witness stand, which will continue Thursday, was not without its problems. Don West, a lawyer for Mr. Zimmerman, attacked her credibility during cross-examination by pointing out inconsistencies with her past statements.

He also got her to acknowledge that she rushed through an interview last year with Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Martin family, in which she first spoke about her phone call with Mr. Martin, and that she had sacrificed accuracy in the process. ABC News, which had been invited by Mr. Crump to listen in on the conversation, later broadcast portions of it. Still, her account on Wednesday of that final call captivated the courtroom.

“He say, ‘Why are you following me for?’ ” Ms. Jeantel recounted, quoting Mr. Martin. “I heard him, a hard-breathing man, saying, ‘What you doing around here?’ ”

Then she said she heard a bump — the headset — and “the sound of wet grass.” “I calling, ‘Trayvon, Trayvon,’ ” Ms. Jeantel said. “I kind of heard Trayvon saying, ‘Get off, get off.’ Suddenly the phone hung up, shut off.”

As she told her story, Ms. Jeantel said that Mr. Martin told her repeatedly that he was being followed as he walked inside the housing complex where Mr. Zimmerman lived and Mr. Martin was staying. It was raining, she said, and Mr. Martin was headed home.

“I asked him how the man looked like,” Ms. Jeantel said. “He just told me the man looked like a creepy-ass cracker.”

...

More problematic was the defense’s ability to pick away at her credibility. Ms. Jeantel acknowledged that she had lied twice: once about her age — she pretended to be 16, a minor — and then about why she did not attend Mr. Martin’s wake. She did not miss the wake because she was in the hospital, as she said at first, but because she did not want to see Mr. Martin’s body.

“You don’t know how it felt,” she told Mr. West. “You think I really want to see the body after I just talked to him?”

Ms. Jeantel said she did not realize Mr. Martin had died until two days later when friends at school told her. She did not call the police then because she expected the police to call her, the way they do on “The First 48,” a reality police show.

The young woman also said she dreaded talking to Sybrina Fulton, Mr. Martin’s mother, and hoped to give her a letter she wrote. But she relented in the end and spoke with her. Only after Ms. Jeantel’s mother arranged for her — against her wishes, she said — to talk to Mr. Crump, did she agree to do so.

Ms. Jeantel said she knew that March 2012 phone call with Mr. Crump was being recorded but she did not know that an ABC reporter was there and that her words would be broadcast.

As for her interview with Mr. Crump, Ms. Jeantel played down its importance and any inconsistencies. She said she was “rushing” her conversation, partly because she was talking from a closet in her home.

“You think I want to be in the closet that long,” she said. She clarified, “I did not want to do an interview with Crump. I hurry up with Crump. I did not want to talk about a delicate situation, talking about death.”

The judge allowed prosecutors to play the jury several of Mr. Zimmerman’s earlier calls to a police nonemergency line reporting suspicious people in his complex. Several of the people were black, allowing prosecutors to argue that he was profiling.


2013-06-28-NYT-zimmerman-trial-day-4-at-zimmerman-trial-victims-friend-is-pressed-on-her-story
At Zimmerman Trial, Victim’s Friend Is Pressed on Her Story
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2013-06-28

SANFORD, Fla. — Rachel Jeantel, the young woman who spoke to Trayvon Martin moments before his death, came under bruising cross-examination again on Thursday as defense lawyers raised questions about the accuracy of her story and the setting in which she was first interviewed by the chief prosecutor in the case.

In her second day on the witness stand, Ms. Jeantel told jurors that
the first time she was interviewed under oath by law enforcement authorities
was in the presence of a teary-eyed Sybrina Fulton, Mr. Martin’s mother, on April 2, 2012.
The interview took place in Ms. Fulton’s living room,
with Ms. Fulton sitting by her side, she said.
Ms. Fulton also rode in the car with her
as she was being taken to the house for the interview, she added.


[Huh????
Is that any way to get unbiased testimony from the witness?
Isn't the presence of the alleged victims mother
going to affect the testimony of the witness?]


“I never thought the interview would be at the mother’s house with the mother,”
said Ms. Jeantel, 19, of Miami, one of the prosecution’s star witnesses.

Asked by the defense if her desire to be helpful and spare the mother any uncomfortable feelings
prompted her to soften her statements, Ms. Jeantel said yes.
Ms. Jeantel also said that she only cleaned up the language,
including Mr. Martin’s statement describing George Zimmerman as a “creepy-ass cracker.”
She used just “creepy” instead.

“You wanted to be helpful because you wanted to help the prosecution arrest George Zimmerman,”
Don West, one of Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyers, asked Ms. Jeantel.

“I never thought I was a serious witness at the time,” Ms. Jeantel replied.

[Huh???
Surely she realized that the death of her friend was a serious matter, one would hope.
And it is hare to believe that she did not realize that her version of Martin's last words to anyone besides Zimmerman would not be of great interest to those trying to make sense of how he died.]


Did that shape what she said? Mr. West asked her.

“Yes,” she replied.

Mr. Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting death of Mr. Martin, an unarmed, 17-year-old African-American from Miami. Mr. Martin was on the phone with Ms. Jeantel as he walked across the housing complex where he was staying as a guest. Mr. Zimmerman, who was a neighborhood watch volunteer there, told the police that Mr. Martin jumped him, punched him and slammed his head on the concrete. Mr. Zimmerman said he shot him in self-defense.

Looking more subdued on her second day, Ms. Jeantel was careful to punctuate her answers to Mr. West with “yes, sir” or “no, sir.” On Wednesday, Ms. Jeantel proved to be a less-than-stellar prosecution witness, showing flashes of irritation.

As the jury looked on, Ms. Jeantel reiterated what Mr. Martin told her that night as he walked home, an account that bolstered the prosecution’s assertion that Mr. Zimmerman was the aggressor and had instigated the confrontation.



Later that afternoon, defense lawyers opened the door for the jury to learn that Mr. Zimmerman had a history of confrontation. With the jurors out of the courtroom, prosecutors brought out the fact that his former girlfriend was granted a domestic violence restraining order against him and that Mr. Zimmerman had been charged with battery of a law enforcement official.

But Mr. O’Mara quickly countered that Mr. Zimmerman also was granted a restraining order against his former girlfriend and that those charges were later dismissed. He clarified that the battery charge was reduced and eventually dismissed.

Later in the afternoon, jurors also watched Selma Mora, a resident of the complex, re-enact how she heard a loud sound, ran from her kitchen, peered out from her porch and saw the silhouette of two figures on the ground.

One was on top, astride a person on the bottom. The figure on the top got up, placed his hand on his head and paced.

She asked him three times what was going on, Ms. Mora said in Spanish through an interpreter. On the third time, the man responded, “Just go call the police,” she said.

It was too dark to see faces, she added. It took four days for the police to interview her, she said.



But it was Ms. Jeantel’s testimony that most captivated the courtroom. Quoting Mr. Martin, she recounted to jurors that a white man in a car was following him. Growing concerned, he ran toward home. Shortly after, Mr. Martin saw the man and asked him, “What you following me for?” she said. And the “hard-breathing man” replied, “What are you doing around here?”

She heard a thump, she said, which sounded like Mr. Martin’s headset falling away and wet grass. She testified for the first time that the wet-grass noise could have been people rolling around.

“What I heard was, ‘Get off, get off,’ and I started calling, ‘Trayvon, Trayvon,' ” Ms. Jeantel said. “It sounded like his voice,” she said, adding that it was difficult to hear. The phone went dead.

Ms. Jeantel said that she assumed a fight had taken place and thought nothing of it. She did not know Mr. Martin had died until two days later.

But under cross-examination, Ms. Jeantel acknowledged that she had never mentioned “get off” until she was interviewed on April 2, 2012, by the chief prosecutor, Bernie de la Rionda. She had not mentioned “get off” in her March 2012 letter to Ms. Fulton, in subsequent conversations with Ms. Fulton or in her initial remarks to the Martin family lawyer, a conversation that was recorded, at least in parts.

Ms. Jeantel said she was reluctant to get involved in the case because it was so emotional. This is why she initially lied about her name and said she was 16, a minor, she said.

During his cross-examination, Mr. West tried to suggest that Ms. Jeantel was being prompted to answer a certain way in the sworn statement she gave Mr. de la Rionda on April 2, adding new layers to her story.

But on Thursday Ms. Jeantel stood firm and said that she heard Mr. Martin say “get off.” When Mr. West suggested that perhaps it was Mr. Martin who approached and confronted Mr. Zimmerman, Ms. Jeantel did not take the bait.

“If he was going to confront the man, he would have told me,” Ms. Jeantel said. “He did not tell me that. He just told me that he trying to get home, sir, but the man was still following him, sir.”


2013-06-29-NYT-zimmerman-trial-day-5-neighbor-describes-glimpse-of-fight-in-zimmerman-case
Neighbor Describes Witnessing Confrontation in Florida Murder Case
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2013-06-29

[I have switched the order of two parts of this article,
to make the accounts of witness John Good and Officer Timothy Smith continuous.]


SANFORD, Fla. — A prosecution witness who saw portions of the altercation between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin on Feb, 26, 2012, took the stand on Friday, bolstering the defense’s contention that Mr. Zimmerman was on the ground being beaten by Mr. Martin when the fatal shot was fired.

Using the term “ground and pound,” John Good,
who lived at the housing complex where Mr. Martin was killed,
testified that he walked out to his back porch
and saw, about 20 to 30 feet away,
someone in dark clothes “straddling” someone wearing white or red who was lying on the ground.
(Mr. Zimmerman was wearing a red jacket that night.)

The person on top, he said, was using “arm motions going down, not just once but multiple times.”

Mr. Good said he asked, “What’s going on?”

“No one answered,” he said. “At some point I said, ‘Cut it out’ and ‘I’m calling 911,’ when I thought it was getting really serious.”

It sounded to him, he said, that the person on the bottom was crying out for help — a conclusion he said he reached using common sense and gauging the direction of the voice. But, Mr. Good added, he could not be “100 percent sure.”

Mr. Zimmerman, 29, the coordinator for the neighborhood watch program at the housing complex, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Mr. Martin, an unarmed black teenager. Mr. Zimmerman told the police that he shot Mr. Martin in self-defense after the 17-year-old pushed him to the ground, punched him and repeatedly slammed his head into concrete.

The prosecution contends that Mr. Zimmerman pursued Mr. Martin and was the aggressor.

Mr. Good’s testimony on Friday is different from the recollection of two other witnesses who have already testified. They said that they saw the person on the top stand up and walk away.

To counter the discrepancy, the defense is likely to argue that by then Mr. Zimmerman had already shot Mr. Martin once in the chest and then flipped him onto his back, as he told the police. Mr. Zimmerman has told the police he then straddled Mr. Martin and held his arms down.

Mr. Good and other witnesses, though, have told jurors that the body on the ground was lying face down.

Taking great care to be precise, Mr. Good told jurors in Seminole County Court that he did not see actual punches or strikes during the altercation but saw repeated arm motions moving downward. He used the term “ground and pound” to describe what he saw because it reminded him of a mixed martial arts move, he said.

“That’s what it looked like, yes,” he said. “The person on top being able to punch the person on the bottom, but the person on the bottom also has a chance to get out and punch the person on the top.”

...

Mr. Good, though, proved the strongest witness for the defense. While knowing his words would probably not help their case, prosecutors called him to testify first, presumably to soften the effect of his testimony by managing his initial appearance on the stand. Mr. Good’s testimony was helpful to the defense for several reasons. His statements throughout, beginning with the written one he gave to the police that night, have been consistent. Any changes he has made in subsequent interviews with the police have been to better elaborate, he told the jury.

“I believe the groundwork stayed the same,” Mr. Good said.

He also was unequivocal about the color of the clothing he saw: dark clothes on top, red or white on the bottom. That never changed, he said. And, he added, “I could tell the person on the bottom had lighter skin color.” Mr. Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, is fair-skinned.



Later in the afternoon, as police officers, an emergency medical technician and a physician’s assistant took the stand, the prosecution was able to underscore its contention that Mr. Zimmerman’s injuries were far from life-threatening. Mr. Zimmerman had a bloody nose, scrapes, lumps and two bloody cuts to his head — as photographs show.

But he did not lose consciousness, have trouble walking or seem confused, allowing prosecutors to say the injuries appeared inconsistent with a head being repeatedly slammed into concrete.

Officer Timothy Smith of the Sanford Police Department, the first officer on the scene, testified that Mr. Zimmerman, although he complained of dizziness, ultimately declined to be taken to the hospital.
...
Mr. Smith described Mr. Zimmerman’s clothes as wetter in the back, with bits of grass. He also said that Mr. Zimmerman twice told him that night that he had been yelling for help but nobody would help.

[This reiterates what Officer Smith wrote in his initial written report,
linked to at the top of this document.]



2013-06-30-NYT-zimmerman-trial-week-1-summary
In Zimmerman Trial, Prosecution Witnesses Bolster Self-Defense Claims
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2013-06-30 (Sunday)

...

The prosecution is also expected to call Chris Serino,
the Sanford police officer who was the lead investigator in the case.
Mr. Serino, who said Mr. Zimmerman had a “little hero complex”
and felt his statements sounded “scripted,”
recommended a manslaughter charge.

But that testimony could get complicated.
Mr. Serino later told the F.B.I. that
he had been pressured to make an arrest.
[By whom?]
He told the federal agents that
he did not think there was enough evidence for a manslaughter charge.

High-ranking officials in the Sanford Police Department
and the original state attorney in the case agreed:
they decided not to arrest or charge Mr. Zimmerman in February and March
because they felt they lacked enough evidence to rebut self-defense.

Mr. Zimmerman was arrested six weeks after the shooting,
and only after a special prosecutor from Jacksonville was appointed by the governor.
By then, the shooting had set off protests
and turned into a civil rights issue.

...


2013-07-02-NYT-zimmerman-trial-day-6-jurors-hear-zimmermans-taped-police-interview
Jurors Hear Zimmerman’s Taped Police Interview
By CARA BUCKLEY
New York Times, 2013-07-02

[What follows immediately, down to the horizontal line,
is the first part of the preliminary web version of the story,
time-dated around 2 pm on Monday, July 1,
which discuss police officer Doris Singleton's interview with Zimmerman.
Evidently Officer Serino testified in the afternoon,
and the report on his testimony appears
in the version on the web on Tuesday, July 2, not in the preliminary version.
I have kept the preliminary version in this document
because it seems to contain some details
that did not make it into the final version.
Below the horizontal line is the version of the story
as of July 2 (presumably the final version).]


SANFORD, Fla. — For the first time, the jury in the trial of George Zimmerman on Monday heard the defendant, in a taped police interview, give his version of events the night he fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, in a townhouse complex here 16 months ago.

In a calm, unhurried voice, Mr. Zimmerman, who at the time was bleeding from his nose and the back of his head, told the interviewing officer that he followed Mr. Martin after he aroused his suspicion, and that he was then attacked by the teenager and ended up shooting him in a struggle.

Mr. Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder but has claimed self-defense, while prosecutors charge that he profiled the young man, who was black, and hunted him down. Mr. Martin lived in Miami and was staying with his father and his father’s girlfriend in the same complex where Mr. Zimmerman, who is half Peruvian, lived. The case ignited a national furor because Mr. Zimmerman was not arrested in Mr. Martin’s death for six weeks.

The audio recording of the initial interviews had previously been made public during the discovery phase of the trial, and they were replayed in Seminole County Court on Monday, in the second week of the trial, while the officer who conducted the interviews, Doris Singleton, was on the stand.

In the recording, Mr. Zimmerman waived his right to a lawyer and said that his concern was piqued that night by the sight of Mr. Martin walking in the rain. Burglaries had been rampant in the neighborhood, he said, prompting him to start a Neighborhood Watch.

“These guys always get away,” he told Officer Singleton, a statement that prosecutors would later seize upon. “It was raining out, and he was leisurely walking, taking his time, looking at all the houses. When I drove by he stopped and looked at me.”

In the recording, Mr. Zimmerman went on to say that he followed Mr. Martin, despite a police dispatcher’s telling him that he need not do so. He also said that Mr. Martin circled his car, and that after he got out of his car in pursuit, Mr. Martin then re-emerged from the darkness from behind some bushes and punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground. Mr. Zimmerman said that Mr. Martin got on top of him and repeatedly punched him, covering his nose and mouth, and that he cried for help “maybe 50 times” as Mr. Martin grabbed his head and banged it against the concrete, saying, “You’re going to die tonight.”

When Mr. Zimmerman tried to wriggle away, he said, he felt Mr. Martin reaching toward his gun, whereupon he grabbed it himself and shot Mr. Martin in the chest.

“'All right, you got it, you got it,'” Mr. Zimmerman recalled Mr. Martin saying, before he fell off him and died shortly thereafter.

...



SANFORD, Fla. — For the first time, the jury in the trial of George Zimmerman on Monday heard the defendant, in taped police interviews, give his version of events the night he fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, in a townhouse complex here 16 months ago.

They also heard from a Sanford police officer who had once been clearly skeptical of Mr. Zimmerman’s account, saying Mr. Zimmerman seemed overly eager “to catch the bad guy,” but who in court on Monday said it had seemed that the defendant had been telling the truth.

The audio and video recordings of the interviews had been made public during the discovery phase of the case and were replayed in Seminole County Court on Monday, in the second week of testimony, while the officers who had conducted the interviews, Doris Singleton and later Chris Serino, were on the stand.

Mr. Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder but has claimed self-defense, while prosecutors charge that he profiled Mr. Martin, who was black, and hunted him down. Mr. Martin, who lived in Miami, had been returning from buying snacks and was staying with his father and his father’s girlfriend in the complex where Mr. Zimmerman, who is half Peruvian, lived. The case ignited a national furor because Mr. Zimmerman was not arrested in Mr. Martin’s death for six weeks.

Officer Serino, a much anticipated witness, had initially suggested that Mr. Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter even as the Sanford Police Department said publicly that it did not have probable cause to do so. Later, however, Officer Serino also said he had felt pressure from some people in the department and did not believe there was enough evidence to press charges.

In the audio and video recordings of the police interviews, Mr. Zimmerman appeared and sounded calm, compliant and earnest. He had waived his right to a lawyer and said his suspicions had been raised by the sight of Mr. Martin walking in the rain on the night of Feb. 26, 2012. Burglaries had been rampant in the neighborhood, he said, prompting him to start a neighborhood watch program.

“Something was off” about Mr. Martin, he told the police. He said he had begun following Mr. Martin in his car and then on foot.

After Mr. Zimmerman got out of his car, he said, Mr. Martin soon emerged from the darkness and punched him, knocking him to the ground, suffocating him and then repeatedly bashing his head onto concrete while menacing him with the words “You’re going to die tonight.” Mr. Zimmerman said he had cried for help dozens of times and then had fatally shot Mr. Martin after it seemed the teenager was reaching for Mr. Zimmerman’s gun.

In his interviews with Mr. Zimmerman, Officer Serino dug into Mr. Zimmerman’s account. If the attack was as vicious as Mr. Zimmerman claimed, why weren’t his wounds — bumps and scrapes on his head, face and nose — worse? Why in his call to the police did Mr. Zimmerman describe Mr. Martin as a “real suspicious guy”? Why did he say it seemed that Mr. Martin was “on drugs or something”?

Mr. Zimmerman said it had been because Mr. Martin had been walking casually in the rain, looking into houses, and because he had not recognized him.

“Did it ever occur to you to ask this person what he was doing out there?” Officer Serino asked in the recording.

“No, sir,” Mr. Zimmerman replied.

“Do you think he was scared — do you think he thought you were trying to hurt him?” another officer asked. “Can you see how this might frighten him?” Mr. Zimmerman fell silent. “I didn’t have the opportunity,” he eventually said.

Officer Serino also upbraided Mr. Zimmerman for following Mr. Martin after a police operator had told him he did not need to.

Yet queried on Monday by Mr. Zimmerman’s lead defense lawyer, Mark O’Mara, Officer Serino said of the defendant, “In this case, he could have been considered the victim also.” Regarding Mr. Zimmerman’s wounds, Mr. O’Mara also noted that injuries were not criteria for legally valid claims of self-defense; rather, belief of impending death or great harm was enough.

Mr. O’Mara also asked Officer Serino
what he thought about Mr. Zimmerman’s comment saying
he wished that the altercation had been videotaped.

“Either he was telling the truth or he was a complete pathological liar,”
Officer Serino replied.
In this case, Mr. O’Mara asked,
did he believe Mr. Zimmerman was telling the truth,
given all the evidence?
“Yes,” the officer replied.


[That is interesting not only for its intrinsic interest
but also because the next day prosecutors successfully asked
that that comment by Officer Serino be disregarded by the jury.]


The court then recessed for the day.

Earlier on Monday, jurors got another glimpse into Mr. Zimmerman’s comportment the night of the killing. Officer Singleton testified that Mr. Zimmerman had expressed dismay after first learning that Mr. Martin had died. “In the Catholic religion, it’s always wrong to kill somebody,” he told her, after noticing Officer Singleton was wearing a cross around her neck. She recalled replying: “If what you’re telling me is true, that’s not what God meant. It doesn’t mean you can’t save your own life.”

In his cross-examination of Officer Singleton, Mr. O’Mara asked if she had perceived in Mr. Zimmerman any ill will, hatred or spite. “If he had it, he didn’t show it,” she said.

The prosecution also noted Mr. Zimmerman’s written statement describing Mr. Martin as “the suspect,” which the prosecution has said shows that he took himself to be a law enforcer of sorts, overstepping his role as a volunteer neighborhood watchman.

Also on Monday, the state called to the stand Hirotaka Nakasone, an expert in voice recognition with the Federal Bureau of Investigation who said a snippet of an audio recording from that night of a man screaming was too short to identify. In pretrial hearings, Dr. Nakasone testified on behalf of the defense to discredit audio experts for the state who had said the voice screaming quite likely belonged to Mr. Martin. Yet in a police interview played in court on Monday, Mr. Zimmerman said of the screams, “That doesn’t even sound like me.”


2013-07-03-NYT-zimmerman-trial-day-7-prosecutors-in-zimmerman-trial-ask-jury-to-disregard-comments
State’s Witnesses in Zimmerman Trial Put the Prosecution on the Defensive
By CARA BUCKLEY
New York Times, 2013-07-03

2013-07-04-NYT-zimmerman-trial-day-8-witnesses-tell-of-zimmermans-interest-in-law-enforcement
Witnesses Tell of Zimmerman’s Interest in Law Enforcement
By CARA BUCKLEY
New York Times, 2013-07-04

2013-07-06-NYT-zimmerman-trial-day-9-martins-hands-were-almost-free-of-wounds-medical-examiner-says
Martin’s Hands Were Almost Free of Wounds, Medical Examiner Says
By CARA BUCKLEY
New York Times, 2013-07-06

[The obvious retort to that is that the most damaging actions Zimmerman claims
Martin performed against him,
grabbing him by the body and slamming his head against the pavement,
would indeed have left no wounds on Martin's hands.
On the other hand, Zimmerman's nose suffered some sort of trauma.
Punching someone in the nose needn't leave a wound on the puncher's hands.
In other words, the medical examiner's account seems to fail to contradict Zimmerman's story.

The above headline is the one that was on the NYT website on the afternoon of Friday, July 5.
The final published story has the headline
“2 Mothers Testify, Each Saying That Screams on the Phone Were Her Son’s”,
but the same URL.
That article contains the following:]


Before the state rested, much of the afternoon was consumed by extended arguments from Mr. Zimmerman’s lead defense lawyer, Mark O’Mara, who said the case should be dismissed because the evidence was circumstantial, with the state failing to prove that Mr. Zimmerman had shown any ill will, malice or hatred.

Mirroring the defense, a lawyer for the state extensively cited case law, and argued that there were no grounds for acquittal, reiterating the position that Mr. Zimmerman shot Mr. Martin out of malice and then lied about it. “Shooting someone in the heart is on its face evidence of ill will,” said Richard Mantei, an assistant prosecutor. “There are two people involved here. One of them is dead, and the other is a liar.”

Judge Debra S. Nelson denied the defense’s motion for acquittal, and Mrs. Zimmerman was called to the stand.

[Here is the full text of that days report:]

2 Mothers Testify, Each Saying That Screams on the Phone Were Her Son’s
By CARA BUCKLEY

SANFORD, Fla. — George Zimmerman’s mother testified on Friday that it was her son who was overheard crying for help in a 911 call made the night he fatally shot Trayvon Martin.

Gladys Zimmerman was the first witness to testify for the defense in the second-degree murder trial of her son, and took the stand immediately after the prosecution rested its case, after nine days of testimony from some three dozen witnesses.

“What I’m sure is that it’s George’s voice,” Mrs. Zimmerman said. Moments later, her brother, Jorge Meza, a deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, testified that he first heard the screams on a television news program, and before knowing what the segment was about, instantly knew that they belonged to his nephew, who was then a neighborhood watch volunteer.

“The voice came, and it hit me,” he said. “I felt it inside my heart. I knew it was George.”

Mr. Zimmerman, now 29, has claimed he shot Mr. Martin, who was 17, in self-defense on a rainy night 16 months ago after the teenager attacked him, knocked him to the ground, straddled him and repeatedly pummeled him and banged his head against pavement. Prosecutors claim that Mr. Zimmerman criminally profiled and pursued Mr. Martin, who was black, resulting in his death, on Feb. 26, 2012. Mr. Zimmerman was not arrested until six weeks after the shooting, setting off protests and cries of racial injustice.

On Friday morning, Mr. Martin’s mother and brother testified in Seminole County Court that it was Mr. Martin who was screaming in the 911 call.

Before the state rested, much of the afternoon was consumed by extended arguments from Mr. Zimmerman’s lead defense lawyer, Mark O’Mara, who said the case should be dismissed because the evidence was circumstantial, with the state failing to prove that Mr. Zimmerman had shown any ill will, malice or hatred.

Mirroring the defense, a lawyer for the state extensively cited case law, and argued that there were no grounds for acquittal, reiterating the position that Mr. Zimmerman shot Mr. Martin out of malice and then lied about it. “Shooting someone in the heart is on its face evidence of ill will,” said Richard Mantei, an assistant prosecutor. “There are two people involved here. One of them is dead, and the other is a liar.”

Judge Debra S. Nelson denied the defense’s motion for acquittal, and Mrs. Zimmerman was called to the stand.

The final witness for the prosecution, Shiping Bao, a medical examiner, testified earlier in the day that Mr. Martin had been shot through the heart, adding: “There is no chance he could survive. Zero.” He also said Mr. Martin’s hands bore virtually no wounds aside from small scrapes on two of his left knuckles.

On Wednesday, a crime lab analyst told jurors that he found no DNA from Mr. Zimmerman in scrapings taken from Mr. Martin’s fingernails, nor did he find DNA from Mr. Martin on Mr. Zimmerman’s gun. Last week, a friend of Mr. Zimmerman’s testified that he recalled the defendant telling him that Mr. Martin had grabbed his gun.

However, Dr. Bao said that the knees of Mr. Martin’s pants were stained, and a police officer has testified that Mr. Zimmerman’s back was wet and flecked with grass. Under cross-examination, Dr. Bao testified that no bags had been placed on Mr. Martin’s hands to preserve evidence.

Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, took the stand early Friday, bringing a rare element of emotion to the trial — “He’s in heaven,” she said of her son — which until now has focused on Mr. Zimmerman’s actions and possible motives. After testifying that her son was right-handed, she insisted it was he who was crying for help in the 911 recording, which was taken from a neighbor’s call the night of the shooting. Although an audio expert had previously testified that it was impossible to determine who the screamer was, Ms. Fulton held firm.

Cross-examining her, Mr. O’Mara suggested it was only natural for her to hope the screams were not coming from Mr. Zimmerman.

“You certainly would hope that your son Trayvon Martin did nothing that led to his death, correct?” Mr. O’Mara asked.

“What I would hope was that this would have never happened and he would still be here,” Ms. Fulton replied. “That is my hope.”

Mr. Martin’s brother, Jahvaris Fulton, 22, a senior at Florida International University, also testified that he believed it was his brother screaming, having heard him yell before. But in his cross-examination, Mr. O’Mara noted that previously Mr. Fulton had said in an interview that he was not sure who it was.

“I did not want to believe it was him,” Mr. Fulton replied. “I guess listening to it was clouded by shock and denial and sadness.”

After being shot, Mr. Martin most likely remained alive from one to 10 minutes longer, according to Dr. Bao, an associate medical examiner for Volusia and Seminole Counties.

“His heart was still beating,” Dr. Bao said. “He was still alive, still in pain, still suffering.”

One of Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyers then objected, saying his comments reflected emotion. The judge sustained the objection. However, in a previous deposition Dr. Bao wrote that Mr. Martin most likely lived from one to three minutes after the shot.

On Friday, with jurors out of the courtroom, Dr. Bao said that he found that Mr. Martin had traces of marijuana in his system, and that that amount could have had an impairing affect. But in his deposition last November, Dr. Bao said the amount was so low as to most likely have no physical or emotional effect. The defense seized on both discrepancies. The judge ruled Friday that the defense could not ask Dr. Bao about the presence of marijuana in front of the jury.

Jurors were also shown autopsy photos of Mr. Martin as his father, Tracy Martin, watched with reddened eyes. Mr. Martin’s mother had left the courtroom. The defense will resume its case Monday. After the court recessed on Friday, Mr. O’Mara said it had not been decided whether Mr. Zimmerman would take the stand.




2013-07-08-NYT-zimmerman-trial-zimmerman-case-has-race-as-a-backdrop-but-you-wont-hear-it-in-court
Zimmerman Case Has Race as a Backdrop, but You Won’t Hear It in Court
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2013-07-08

SANFORD, Fla. —

From the very beginning,
there was no more powerful theme in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin
than the issue of race.
But in the courtroom where George Zimmerman is on trial for second-degree murder,
race lingers awkwardly on the sidelines,
scarcely mentioned but impossible to ignore.

For African-Americans here and across the country,
the killing of Mr. Martin, 17, black and unarmed,
[There she goes again.
She just can't resist making the fact that Martin was 17, black and unarmed
practically the lead fact in her article,
while the hard evidence supporting Zimmerman's claim of self-defense
is, so far as I can see, nowhere in this article.
Can you find any mention of that evidence?
Just as in her previous articles she simply ignores that crucial aspect of the case.
See my post in my "Media Watch" blog,
“All the News That Fits Their Agenda”.
Apparently her brain is too steeped in the ideology that blacks are always victims
to mention those crucial facts supporting Zimmerman.]

was resonant with a back story steeped in layers of American history
and the abiding conviction that justice serves only some of the people.

Had Mr. Martin shot and killed Mr. Zimmerman under similar circumstances,
black leaders say, the case would have barreled down a different path:
Mr. Martin would have been quickly arrested by the Sanford Police Department
and charged in the killing, without the benefit of the doubt.

Instead, there was no arrest for six weeks.
And only after sharp criticism from civil rights leaders and demonstrations here and elsewhere
did the Florida governor transfer the case to a special prosecutor from another county.

...

In the past two weeks,
defense lawyers have chipped away at the prosecution’s case, legal analysts said,
raising the possibility of an acquittal.
The law in Florida allows for the use of force if someone fears great bodily harm,
and prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt
that Mr. Zimmerman did not act in self-defense.

The twists and turns of the case — its weaknesses and legal complications —
were not a factor for many supporters of the Martin family, until recently.

“We thought this was an open-and-shut case,”
said Mr. Jackson, the pastor in Richmond Heights.

[And the New York Times overall,
and the author of this article, Lizette Alvarez, in particular,
contributed greatly to that misapprehension
by, in their many stories over the last year on this case,
invariably describing, correctly, Trayvon Martin as an unarmed teenager,
but failing to note in balance that George Zimmerman had been indisputably injured,
and with little question that
the cause of his injuries was none other than Trayvon Martin
,
while in contrast Martin had no injuries other than that of the final, fatal bullet.
In other words,
if many in the black community have been surprised since the trial began
at the strength of the defense's case,
a significant cause of that surprise has been the failure of much of the media,
in particular the New York Times,
to point out the strength of that case over the last year.

I have previously made precisely this point in my post in my "Media Watch" blog,
“All the News That Fits Their Agenda”.]


Mr. Oliver, the Sanford pastor, said he remained optimistic.
“You can feel a little sense that anger is re-emerging,” he said.

...

“We are going to have to have a dialogue in this nation about racial matters,”
Mr. Oliver said.

[If the evidence indeed supports Zimmerman's account,
what grounds do blacks have for complaint?]




013-07-08-CBSNews-Prosecutor-Rionda-wants-to-know-if-defense-witness-has-a-stake-in-the-case
George Zimmerman trial:
"It's Georgie" screaming on 911 call, wife of best friend testifies

By Erin Donaghue
CBS News, 2013-07-08 1105

...

On cross-examination,

prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda asked
[witness for the defense Sondra] Osterman
whether she had a “stake” in the case

because she and her husband wrote a book about Zimmerman.
Osterman said she has “no idea” how many books have been sold
and said the proceeds were being deposited in savings account
to be donated to Zimmerman.

[Now that prosecutor Rionda has shown his interest in
who may be profiting financially from the case,
it is certainly equally relevant to point out how
Martin's parents have already profited financially
from the case being brought against Zimmerman.

The homeowners' association in April 2013 settled out-of-court
a lawsuit brought against them by Martin's parents,

a settlement that surely the association would never have agreed to
if the government had not brought its case against Martin.
In the future, it is not hard to predict that
if the state succeeds in convicting Zimmerman,
that Martin's parents will then try to profit further from their son's death
by bringing a civil suit against Zimmerman,
and probably everyone else who their lawyers can find
who might have some liability.
Indeed, already
“The Martin family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, has said
he planned to file a separate lawsuit against Mr. Zimmerman at a later date.”
[A quotation from the NYT story
about the settlement of the homeowners' association lawsuit.]

So when prosecutor Rionda's witness Sybrina Fulton
tearfully emotes on the witness stand
and claims she is "quite sure" the voice on the tape is her son's,
her testimony and actions are literally self-serving,
as aiding in convicting Zimmerman
opens the door to future financial gains for her and her ex-husband.
There are big potential bucks for Martin's parents at stake in the outcome of this trial.

What right does prosecutor Rionda have to bring up
a potential "stake" in the case by the defense witness
when he fails to point out that his own witness has a financial stake in the case?

And if the defense legal team should try to point this out,
do you think Rionda would fall all over himself with outrage and indignation
at the very idea that someone should make
the honest, correct, and truthful observation
that one of the state's key witnesses has a stake in the outcome,
and that indeed her testimony has the effect of increasing her likelihood to profit?
(Compare this to the conflict-of-interest situations which demand recusal.)

Is that isn't a colossal double standard, what is?]


Leanne Benjamin, a friend of Zimmerman, and former co-worker Geri Russo
also testified Monday
they believed the voice on the call was George Zimmerman's.


[Note these additional supporters of the voice being Zimmerman's
are omitted from the New York Times story (below) on Monday's testimony.]



013-07-08-CBSNews-Prosecutor-Rionda-wants-to-know-if-defense-witness-has-a-stake-in-the-case
"There's absolutely no doubt in my mind"
voice on 911 call is Zimmerman's, friend testifies

By Erin Donaghue
CBS News, 2013-07-08 1249

A man who described himself
as a "close friend" of accused murderer George Zimmerman
wiped away tears as he said
there was no doubt in his mind
that the voice screaming in the background of a disputed 911
is the former neighborhood watch captain.

John Donnelly was the seventh witness to testify for the defense
that the voice on the call,
placed the evening Zimmerman fatally shot Florida teen Trayvon Martin in a Sanford, Fla. gated community,
belonged to Zimmerman.
Donnelly's wife Leanne Benjamin,
former co-worker Geri Russo,
Zimmerman's best friend Mark Osterman
and his wife Sondra Osterman,
and Zimmerman's mother and uncle
have all said the voice belongs to the 29-year-old.


...

"There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that is George Zimmerman,"
Donnelly said, using a tissue to dab at his eyes.

...

2013-07-08-CBSNews-Zimmermans-condition
Trayvon Martin's father said voice on 911 call wasn't his son's, investigators testify
By Erin Donaghue
CBS News, 2013-07-08 1601

...

Also taking the stand Monday was Adam Pollock,
owner of a gym where Zimmerman trained.

Pollock said

Zimmerman didn’t have the physical abilities to be able to box in a ring.
He described him as “physically soft.”

“He was an overweight, large man when he came to us,
a very pleasant, very nice man, but physically soft - predominantly fat,”
Pollock said.
“Not a lot of muscle. Not a lot of strength.”


On cross-examination, Pollock said that Zimmerman
lost between 50 and 80 pounds training at his gym
and trained up to six hours a week.
Prosecutors have argued that Zimmerman profiled Martin as a criminal
and started the confrontation.

Defense attorneys asked Pollock to explain to jurors
the mixed-martial arts fighting method called “ground and pound.”
The defense has said that Martin slammed Zimmerman’s head into the sidewalk
while he was on top of him in what neighbor John Good described
as a “ground and pound” maneuver.

To demonstrate the move, gym owner Adam Pollock
straddled defense attorney Mark O’Mara on the courtroom floor.
[That must have been amusing to watch :-)
Better than straddling Bernie de la Rionda, I guess.]

Pollock testified that Zimmerman trained in the form of fighting known as grappling
but was an unaccomplished fighter.

“He was about a 1,” said Pollock,
when asked to rank Zimmerman’s athletic skill on a scale of 1 to 10.


[Isn't it something that
this testimony on Zimmerman's physical capabilities,
which surely casts doubt on his ability
to overpower the younger and more physically fit Martin
and thus casts doubt on a central part of the case against Zimmerman,
didn't make any appearance
in the New York Times article (below) supposedly covering Monday's testimony?
"All the News That's Fit to Print"? Ha!
All the information that fits their agenda
(in this case, that blacks are victims of white racism).]



2013-07-09-abcnews-judge-walks-out
George Zimmerman Trial: Judge to Rule on Key Evidence as Tension Mounts
By SENI TIENABESO and MATT GUTMAN
ABC News, 2013-07-09

The Florida judge presiding over the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman
walked out of court
as a member of the Zimmerman defense team angrily complained about
the long hours and
lack of time the defense had to go over evidence it said the prosecution withheld.

"I'm not getting into this," said Judge Debra Nelson,
appearing fed up at the building acrimony between both sides.
"Court is in recess."

"Judge, I'm not physically able to keep up this pace much longer,"
responded defense co-counsel Don West as Nelson literally walked out of the courtroom.

...

Tuesday's courtroom tension started to build soon after jurors were dismissed,
with both sides sparring over an animation commissioned by the defense
that defense attorneys wanted to admit as evidence.

The motion-capture animation was a snapshot
of what the defense said happened the night Martin died.
The animation showed Martin walking up to Zimmerman and punching him in the face,
as well as Martin straddling and punching Zimmerman.
It was built using Zimmerman's account of what happened
and estimations of witnesses who called 911 about the altercation the night Martin died.

Prosecutor Rich Mantei questioned the animation's creator, Daniel Schumaker,
over how the clip was created,
calling the animation "speculative and irrelevant evidence."

[Speculative? So are most of the prosecution's assertions.]

"They say they use this for the movies," said Mantei, referring to the technology.
"Great, this is a murder trial."

Judge Nelson seemed to question the accuracy of the animation,
pointing out that certain witnesses did not give precise times
about what happened the night of Martin's death
and that Martin was using his left hand to punch Zimmerman but was right handed.

Following the animation hearing,
the defense moved to submit as evidence text messages made by Martin to his friends
in which he talked about fighting.
The state argued the text messages had no relevance.

[How can Zimmerman's past interest in law enforcement be relevant,
but Martin's real past history of fighting, documented by these text messages,
not be relevant?
So the judge ruled.
If she isn't biased toward the prosecution, I am Napoleon Bonaparte.]


An expert who extracted the texts, Richard Connor, read a few in court.
Among them was one in which
a female friend was telling Martin that he should stop fighting.

Connor testified that he also found images of a gun and naked teen on Martin's phones.
He said he believed the texts and pictures were deleted on purpose.

Defense co-counsel West said the texts and images
were "compelling evidence" of Zimmerman's self-defense claim.

"To deny Mr. Zimmerman the right to present this information
violates both the Florida and United States Constitution," West argued.

The defense alleged that the prosecution withheld knowledge of the text messages and pictures,
and that the defense did not have enough time to review the material.

"I would offer him the opportunity right now to apologize to me
for suggesting that I stood by silently with information that I did not have,"
said prosecutor John Guy during the final minutes of the hearing,
which lasted so long the lights in the courthouse temporarily went off.

Nelson is expected to rule Wednesday morning on the admissibility of both the animation and the text messages.
She is also expected to look into whether or not
the defense violated witness sequestration rules
after it was revealed that
a defense witness sat in the courtroom against court rules.

The acrimonious hearing followed
the testimony of renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Vincent Di Maio,
who seemed to back up Zimmerman's account that Trayvon Martin was on top
and leaning over the former neighborhood watch captain
when Zimmerman shot the teen.

Di Maio, who was paid $400 an hour by the defense,
said that
the pattern of powder burns on Martin's sweatshirt and skin indicated that
his shirt was two to four inches away from Martin's chest
when he was shot,
suggesting, he said, that Martin was hovering or leaning over Zimmerman.

"The medical evidence is consistent with his statement," Di Maio told the Florida court.

Di Maio said that

the pattern of powder burns on Martin's sweatshirt and skin
indicated that
the shirt was two to four inches away from Martin's chest
when he was shot by Zimmerman.

"Mr. Martin was over him, leaning forward," he said.


"If you are lying on your back your clothing is going to be against your chest,"
said Di Maio.
"The clothing is consistent with someone leaning over the person doing the shooting."

Zimmerman maintains that he shot the teenager in self-defense during an altercation
in which the teen had knocked him down, was hovering over him
and banging his head into the concrete sidewalk.

Di Maio, who was put on the stand by Zimmerman's defense attorneys,
contradicted the testimony of the prosecution's expert, Dr. Shiping Bao, on another point.
Bao told the court earlier in the trial
that the bullet pierced Martin's heart and would have instantly incapacitated Martin,
disputing a key assertion from Zimmerman
that the teen sat up and said "You got me" after he was shot.

The prosecution said, at one point, with the jury out of the room,
that Bao's testimony raised questions about Zimmerman's credibility.

Jurors furiously took notes as Di Maio,
who said he reviewed the autopsy, toxicology, and medical records of both men,
said that Martin most likely died within one to three minutes after the shooting.
Bao had told the jury Martin could have lived for a painful 10 minutes after being shot.

Zimmerman's legal team also tried to their bolster contention
that it was Zimmerman on his back during a fight with Martin on top of him.

Di Maio looked at pictures of Zimmerman's injuries and said that
it was possible to receive severe head injuries without visible external injuries.

When asked if the abrasions of the back of Zimmerman's head
could have been caused by concrete, Di Maio responded, "Yes."

Looking through photos of Zimmerman's injuries on his face and head,
Di Maio told the jury, "You have six identifiable injuries."

Earlier Dr. Valerie Rao testified for the prosecution that
Zimmerman was struck as few as three times during the fight with Martin
and that his head slammed on the concrete once.

Rao called Zimmerman's injuries "insignificant" and "non-life-threatening."

[I can't help but wonder if, say, Angela B. Corey had been the person who received those injuries,
if Dr. Rao would have described them as "insignificant."
Or, more generally, if the person who received such injuries was a battered wife,
what would happen to the man who dared to describe the woman's injuries as "insignifcant."
Talk about a double standard wide enough to drive a truck throught!]


One of the last witnesses in Zimmerman's murder trial testified that the screams heard on 911 calls moments before Martin was shot and killed came from Zimmerman.

Zimmerman's lead defense attorney, Mark O'Mara, said that
he expected to rest his case Wednesday.



Before concluding for the day,
he had Eloise Dilligard, an African-American neighbor of Zimmerman,
testify from her home on a large screen in the courtroom.

Dilligard asserted that
the voice screaming for help in the background of 911 tapes was Zimmerman.

Her testimony could be significant in the racially charged case.

...


2013-07-09-NYT-zimmerman-trial-day-10-friends-testify-that-zimmerman-is-the-one-screaming-for-help-on-911-call
Trayvon Martin’s Father Says Screams on 911 Call Were His Son’s
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2013-07-09

...

“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that is George Zimmerman,”
John Donnelly, a friend of Mr. Zimmerman’s
who served as a combat medic in Vietnam
and is now a physician assistant, testified.
Mr. Donnelly’s wife, Leanne Benjamin,
also testified that it was Mr. Zimmerman shouting on the recording.


Mr. Donnelly, who described Mr. Zimmerman as a “very dear friend,”
said he and his wife had donated $3,000 to efforts on his behalf
and had spent $1,700 on a court wardrobe for him.

...


2013-07-10-foxnews-Lott-trayvon-martin-testimony-wouldnt-have-changed-anything
Trayvon Martin’s testimony wouldn’t have changed anything in Zimmerman trial
By John Lott
Fox News, 2013-07-10

In the days since 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by 28-year-old George Zimmerman,
a common claim has been:
“we will never know what happened between Zimmerman and Martin
since the only person who knows the truth and is still alive is Zimmerman.”

But this statement is not accurate.
Zimmerman’s defense rested its case Wednesday.
And the truth is, we know a lot about what happened on that fateful night.
Trayvon Martin’s testimony, could he have spoken, wouldn’t changed anything.

For those who have watched the trial, ask yourself:
is there even one piece of convincing evidence
that Zimmerman did not act to defend himself
from a threat of “imminent death or great bodily harm”?

There is a reason that the local District Attorney
refused to bring the case against Zimmerman
and an outside District Attorney had to be brought in to handle it.
And that the chief of police was also removed from his job
because he refused to charge Zimmerman with a crime.
Also consider that the lead detective on the case told the jury
he believed Zimmerman’s version of the events that happened.

If both Zimmerman and Martin had both been white
or if Zimmerman had been darker skinned,
this case would never have gotten to court.

There was no convincing evidence to support the charges against Zimmerman.

The problem the prosecution faced should have been glaring to anyone familiar with criminal trials.

When I was chief economist at the U.S. Sentencing Commission
I read hundreds of trial transcripts.
Prosecutors consistently put police and their experts on the witness stand early in the trial
because they used them to sketch out the theory of the case.

Things were different in the Zimmerman trial.

Here, prosecutors began with weak testimony from witnesses --
people who either really couldn’t tell what they had seen
or who couldn’t be sure what had happened.

The debate among the forensic experts wasn’t over who suffered injuries.
Everyone agreed that there were wounds on Martin’s hands
and none on Zimmerman’s hands.
Both the front and back of Zimmerman’s head suffered wounds,
while no similar wounds were found on Martin.

The prosecution experts provided no evidence contradicting Zimmerman’s claim
that Martin was on top of him when he was shot.
Zimmerman’s expert, Dr. Vincent Di Miao --
the man whose book the Sanford medical examiner had referenced to
as the authority on the subject --
explained from both the angle of the bullet’s entry into the body
and its distance from the Martin’s body
that Martin was on top of Zimmerman.

The debate between the experts was over how severe Zimmerman’s wounds were.

After examining photos of Zimmerman immediately after the attack,
Jacksonville medical examiner, Valerie Rao,
claimed that they were “insignificant,”
that there was “a chance” that the number of blows Zimmerman suffered
could range from just one to more than a half dozen.
She wouldn’t say what the maximum number could be.

Di Maio pointed out that you can’t judge the severity of blows from photos
and certainly not just the photos taken right at the time of the injury
as patterns of injury can only be revealed based on how bruising changes over time.
Furthermore she [sic - he] said that
“You can have severe head trauma without any marks on the head.”
Di Maio identified six separate blows that were landed on Zimmerman’s face and head.

Witnesses saw the struggle between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.
One witness who had by far the clearest view, Jonathan Good,
was only 15 to 20 feet away immediately before the shot was fired.
His testimony on the color of the men’s clothes and skin confirmed that
Martin was on top of Zimmerman, straddling and pummeling him.

If Martin had been alive today, what could his testimony have added to any of this?
Could he have explained away the angle of the bullet?
What would Martin have said about
why his knuckles and Zimmerman’s head showed signs of bruising?
With Zimmerman’s broken nose and lacerations on the back of his head,
would it have mattered if Martin had told the court
that he really hadn’t hit Zimmerman that hard?

The prosecution never provided any evidence
that Zimmerman continued following Martin
after the 911 operator suggested that he stop doing so.


Suppose Martin could testify that Zimmerman had continued to follow him,
would that have mattered?
No, because even if Martin had indeed been followed,
it wouldn’t have justified Martin punching Zimmerman’s nose,
pinning him down and repeatedly hitting him
and slamming his head into the concrete.

Suppose Martin had claimed -- along with his mother, father and brother --
that he was the one screaming for help.
Would that have really mattered?
Would that have offset the all the witnesses who said that
Zimmerman was the one screaming?
Under cross examination,
how would Martin have explained that he was one calling for help
when he was the one on top of Zimmerman and hitting him?

Tuesday’s testimony from the city manager highlighted
how political considerations interfered with the investigation.
When police had presented that evidence to Martin’s father
they learned that
his father didn’t recognize the screams as coming from his son.
But then
Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte intervened in the police investigation
and kept the police out of the room
when the 911 call with the screams was played for Martin’s mother.

The political and racial angle of this case --
that has been inflamed by President Obama, Al Sharpton and many others --
has left lasting damage to race relations in the U.S.

As Zimmerman’s defense attorney Mark O’Mara remarked this week:
“my client will never be safe
because there are a percentage of the population who are angry,
they’re upset and they may well take it out on him.
So he’ll never be safe.”

Zimmerman’s right to defend himself has already saved his life once.
Unfortunately, with the anger generated by those seeking political gain from the case,
he might unfortunately need to defend himself yet again.

John R. Lott, Jr. is a FoxNews.com contributor.
An economist and former chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission,
he is also a leading expert on guns.
He is the author of several books, including "More Guns, Less Crime."
His latest book is "At the Brink: Will Obama Push Us Over the Edge?


2013-07-10-NYT-zimmerman-trial-day-11-teenager-was-over-zimmerman-as-he-was-shot-expert-says
Martin Was Shot as He Leaned Over Zimmerman, Court Is Told
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2013-07-10

SANFORD, Fla. — With the defense a day away from wrapping up its case, a widely known expert in forensic pathology, Dr. Vincent Di Maio, testified on Tuesday that Trayvon Martin’s injuries suggest he was on top of and leaning over George Zimmerman when Mr. Zimmerman fired his gun last year.

A witness for the defense, Dr. Di Maio said the gun barrel rested against Mr. Martin’s sweatshirt, which hung two to four inches away from Mr. Martin’s chest. The bullet, he said, entered his heart from the front, in a left to right direction, and plunged into one of his lungs.

“This is consistent with Mr. Zimmerman’s account,” said Dr. Di Maio, the retired longtime chief medical examiner for Bexar County, Tex., whose county seat is San Antonio. “That Mr. Martin was over him, leaning forward, at the time that he was shot.”

Dr. Di Maio also said it was possible for Mr. Martin to have moved or talked for at least 10 to 15 seconds after he was shot because of the reservoir of oxygen in the brain. Defense lawyers hoped that this might explain why Mr. Martin was not found on his back with his arms outstretched, as Mr. Zimmerman has described, but face down with his arms under him.

Dr. Di Maio will be one of the defense’s final witnesses. By day’s end, Mark O’Mara, one of Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyers, said he would be finished by Wednesday.

At this juncture, Mr. Zimmerman appears unlikely to testify, a sign of confidence on the part of the defense. Placing a defendant on the stand is always fraught with risk. In this case, Mr. Zimmerman provided so many statements to the police that it may not be necessary, legal experts have said.

On Tuesday, Dr. Di Maio, who wrote a book on gunshot wounds, walked the jury through the science of the bullet’s trajectory and chronicled the injuries of both Mr. Martin and Mr. Zimmerman.

Under cross-examination, Dr. Di Maio said it was possible that Mr. Martin could have been trying to get off Mr. Zimmerman, even if he was leaning. The doctor also told the jury that he had been paid $2,400 so far by the defense to testify at the trial, adding, “This is not exactly a complicated case forensically.”

Mr. Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Mr. Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, on Feb. 26, 2012. He told the police that he shot Mr. Martin in self-defense after the teenager knocked him to the ground, punched him in the nose, straddled him on the ground and repeatedly slammed his head into the pavement. The prosecution maintains that Mr. Zimmerman, the volunteer neighborhood watch coordinator, pursued Mr. Martin and instigated the confrontation that ended in Mr. Martin’s death.

For the defense, the purpose of Dr. Di Maio’s testimony was to document the injuries and the path of the bullet to show that they were consistent with Mr. Zimmerman’s account of the struggle. The prosecution contends that Mr. Zimmerman’s injuries were relatively minor, defying his claim that his head had struck concrete again and again.

On Tuesday, the chief prosecutor, Bernie de la Rionda, suggested to Dr. Di Maio that perhaps a tree branch or rolling on pavement could have caused the cuts and lumps to his head.

Yes, he replied, but “you’d have to have a tree branch there and I didn’t see any,” he said.

Dr. Di Maio testified that Mr. Zimmerman suffered at least six identifiable injuries to his face and head. Among them, he said, were two separate swollen spots on his head, along with rows of red spots, that were consistent with the assault that Mr. Zimmerman had described. A nose injury — most likely a broken nose that was pushed back in place, he said — and markings on his forehead were consistent with punches, he added.

The fact that there were only two small cuts to the back of the head does not mean his head did not strike the concrete, Dr. Di Maio said.

Head injuries do not necessarily cause visible bleeding, he said. The bleeding often occurs inside the skull, which is why CT scans are used on people with head injuries.

“Everyone has fallen and hit their head, and you don’t get lacerations,” Dr. Di Maio said. “You can get severe head trauma actually without any marks on the head. Or you can get marks, lacerations and contusions and have head trauma.”

Intracranial bleeding is often the most worrisome wound resulting from head injury. As the brain crashes into the skull, it can cause concussions, impairment and death, he said. Dr. Di Maio said Mr. Zimmerman’s wounds could have caused him to feel stunned. The injuries did not appear to be life-threatening, he said.

“Concrete doesn’t yield when your head hits concrete,” he said. “Your head yields to the concrete.”

Asked whether the lack of bruising on Mr. Martin’s knuckles was significant, Dr. Di Maio said that knuckles can bruise or not bruise depending on what they hit. Dr. Di Maio also said that bruising can sometimes be found inside the hand, but the doctor who performed the autopsy did not check. The prosecution contends that the near lack of wounds on Mr. Martin’s hands shows he did not punch Mr. Zimmerman repeatedly.

Dr. Di Maio also was critical of crime scene and evidence technicians. Mr. Martin’s wet clothing was sealed in plastic, which led to the accumulation of mold and bacteria. This can degrade DNA, he said. Earlier in the trial a witness testified that when he opened the evidence bag it smelled “pungent,” a sign it had been compromised. The cuffs and sleeves of Mr. Martin’s sweatshirt did not contain Mr. Zimmerman’s DNA, despite the struggle.

Later on Tuesday, the defense returned to a discussion of the 911 call on the night of the shooting that contained shouts for help.

A witness, Norton N. Bonaparte Jr., Sanford’s city manager, testified that Mr. Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, and a few relatives had been invited to the mayor’s office to hear the call. They asked that law enforcement not be present. After hearing the call, Mr. Martin’s parents concluded it was their son screaming for help. Two police officers testified that Tracy Martin said two days after the shooting that it was not his son.

The fact that they heard the call together, instead of individually, raised concerns among law enforcement officials who said the parents could have influenced one another.

Mr. Bonaparte said he and the mayor were trying to be sensitive to the parents in their anguish.


2013-07-11-WP-judge-rules-against-zimmerman-on-use-of-texts
Zimmerman doesn’t testify at Trayvon Martin shooting trial
By Manuel Roig-Franzia,
Washington Post, 2013-07-11

[The following is taken from the version of the story on the web on 2013-07-10 at 2030 EDT.]

...

Defense attorneys concluded their case
without delving as deeply as they’d hoped into Martin’s past.
Zimmerman’s attorneys have attempted to portray Martin as the aggressor,
in an effort to support their client’s self-defense claim.
They tried vigorously to convince [Seminole County Circuit Court Judge Debra] Nelson that
text messages about guns and fighting found on Martin’s cellphone should be shown to the jury.
During a marathon evidence hearing Tuesday night,
Nelson walked out of the courtroom,
ending the proceedings shortly before 10 p.m.,
while West was still arguing that he needed more time to prepare arguments.

When court reconvened Wednesday morning,
Nelson quickly ruled that the text messages would not be admitted as evidence,
dealing a blow to a defense team that seemed to have a great deal of momentum
after conducting punishing cross-
examinations of several key government witnesses.
The texts might have been used to portray Martin as a skilled and aggressive fighter.
Prosecutors have emphasized that Zimmerman was heavier [Yeah, right.
A lot of good flab (Zimmerman BMI of 29) does in conflict situations.]

than Martin, a slender 17-year-old;
defense attorneys called a local gym owner to testify that Zimmerman was unathletic and “soft.”

In one of the text messages on Martin’s phone, a friend wrote,
“Babe, why you always fighting?,”
according to Richard Connor,
a defense computer forensics expert who testified during the evidence hearing.

Connor testified that Martin wrote about a fight opponent,
“I lost the first round,”
a message that he punctuated with a smiley face.
“I won the second and third.”

“You need to stop fighting, for real,”
the friend texted back, Connor said.

Connor also said Martin’s half brother, Demetrius Martin,
posted a Facebook message asking,
“When you gonna teach me how to fight.”





2013-07-11-NYT-zimmerman-trial-day-12-zimmerman-defense-cant-show-jurors-martins-messages
Lawyers for Zimmerman Rest Their Case Without Calling Him to the Stand
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2013-07-11

[Note that the URL for this story contains "zimmerman-defense-cant-show-jurors-martins-messages",
but the story, as it appears on the web on 2013-07-11 at 1800 EDT,
contains no mention whatsoever of those unmentionable messages!!!!
In other words, earlier drafts of the story contained that critical information about how the Florida judge is cooking the evidence that can be presented to the jurors,
but this presumably final version of the story totally omits that key information.
Those editors at the New York Times are really going out of their way
to ensure their readers do not receive a full account of the case against Martin.
What swine of political correctness they are.]


SANFORD, Fla. —

The defense in the George Zimmerman trial rested its case on Wednesday
after days spent walking the jury through the foundation of his self-defense claim:
his visible injuries,
the mechanics of the fight and
the contention that he was crying for help on a 911 recording.

Mr. Zimmerman,
who is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin,
did not take the witness stand,
a signal that his lawyers are confident that
prosecutors have not overcome reasonable doubt in the case.
Asking a defendant to testify is fraught with risk
and, in this case, is mostly unnecessary.

The jury has already heard from Mr. Zimmerman,
whose many statements to the police about the shooting
were recorded and played in the courtroom,
as was a televised interview that he gave to Sean Hannity.

After the defense’s last witness left the courtroom,
Mr. Zimmerman was asked by Judge Debra S. Nelson
whether he had come to a decision on whether he would take the stand.

“After consulting with counsel,” Mr. Zimmerman said,
his decision was “not to testify, your honor.”

In a news conference after court recessed on Wednesday,
Mark O’Mara, Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyer,
said his client had wanted to take the stand.

“You know,
a big part of him wanted to get in front of the jury and talk to them and say,
‘This is what I’ve done and this is why I did it,’ ”
Mr. O’Mara said.
“It was a very difficult decision for George to make.”

In the end, Mr. O’Mara said, Mr. Zimmerman listened to his lawyers,
who had advised against it.

Under Florida law, prosecutors must prove that Mr. Zimmerman did not shoot Mr. Martin in self-defense on Feb. 26, 2012.
That is a high bar in a case in which the defendant —
the sole survivor of an encounter that no one clearly witnessed —
contends that he feared being killed.

Defense lawyers also chose not to tell the jury about
a toxicology report showing small amounts of marijuana found in Mr. Martin’s body.
Mr. O’Mara said in the news conference that
he decided not to bring up the marijuana
because he has tried to balance defending Mr. Zimmerman
without needlessly tarnishing Mr. Martin’s memory.

“It didn’t seem to be significant enough,”
Mr. O’Mara said of the toxicology report.

With both sides having rested, the judge announced that
the state had called 40 witnesses and the defense had called 19.
The prosecution will present its closing statements Thursday,
with the rest of the statements concluding Friday.

Robert Zimmerman, Mr. Zimmerman’s father,
was the last person to take the stand for the defense on Wednesday.
He recounted that he was asked by the police to listen to a recording of a 911 call
in which a voice could be heard shouting for help during the fight that night.
The police then asked him if he recognized the voice.

“I told them absolutely; it was my son, George,”
Mr. Zimmerman said.




Over four days of testimony, the defense tried to convince the jury that
Mr. Zimmerman shot and killed Mr. Martin
only because Mr. Martin was on top of him, punching him
and slamming his head into concrete.
Mr. Zimmerman told the police that he feared for his life.
Mr. Martin was unarmed
as he walked back to the house in the gated community where he was a guest.

Prosecutors said Mr. Zimmerman, the volunteer neighborhood watch coordinator,
“profiled” Mr. Martin, a black 17-year-old
who was wearing a hoodie and walking in the rain.
They contend that he pursued Mr. Martin
and began the confrontation that ended in the teenager’s death.
Although the issue of race rarely entered the proceedings,
the case was propelled initially by civil rights leaders
who viewed the handling of the case by the police as unjust.

To bolster its case,
defense lawyers called a widely known expert in forensic pathology,
who stated that the trajectory of the bullet and Mr. Zimmerman’s injuries
were consistent with Mr. Zimmerman’s account of how the struggle unfolded.
The lawyers also put on the stand nine people
who identified the voice on the 911 call as Mr. Zimmerman’s.
Relatives of Mr. Martin, however, said it was his voice on the recording.

Tracy Martin, Mr. Martin’s father, also was called to testify.
Two police officers testified that two days after the shooting
Mr. Martin said it was not his son screaming for help.
But on the stand Mr. Martin told the jury that the police were wrong.
Mr. Martin said he told the police that he could not tell whether it was his son’s voice.

About two weeks later,
after he heard the recording of the 911 call again in the Sanford mayor’s office,
where his family had gathered in private to listen to it,
Mr. Martin identified it as his son’s voice.

Despite the fact that the defense called about half as many witnesses as the state,
Mr. Zimmerman may have benefited from the testimony of several prosecution witnesses
who appeared to bolster his self-defense claim.



On Wednesday, the defense also got the chance to remind the jury that
Mr. Zimmerman’s town house development had experienced a rash of crime.
This prompted Mr. Zimmerman to set up the neighborhood watch program, they said.

Olivia Bertalan testified that on Aug. 3, 2011,
she was home with her baby when she saw two young men ringing her doorbell.
[The NYT is too politically correct to identify the race of these "young men."
For that information, and a slightly different account,
see this Reuters story.]

They left and then came back.
She ran upstairs and called the police.
The youths came into her house, and as they rattled the doorknob of her son’s bedroom,
she cowered in the corner, her baby in one hand and a rusty pair of scissors in another,
she said.

One of the youths, a resident, did not enter the room,
but stole her laptop and camera elsewhere in the house, and then left.
He was later arrested and released because he was a minor.
After she moved out, she received a letter saying he had been rearrested.

The day of the home invasion, Mr. Zimmerman came by to see how she was doing.
He later brought her a second lock for her sliding glass door.

“I was very appreciative,” Ms. Bertalan said.


2013-07-12-NYT-zimmerman-trial-day-13-zimmerman-jury-will-be-allowed-to-consider-lesser-manslaughter-charge
In Closing, Zimmerman Prosecutor Focuses on Inconsistencies
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2013-07-12

SANFORD, Fla. — In a murder case of chain reactions, the chief prosecutor, Bernie de la Rionda, began with the very first link when he delivered his closing statement on Thursday in the George Zimmerman trial.

Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager carrying nothing but snacks, died of a gunshot to the heart for one reason, he said: Mr. Zimmerman saw himself as a cop and Mr. Martin as a hoodie-clad criminal.

“He went over the line,” Mr. de la Rionda told the jury. “He assumed things that weren’t true and, instead of waiting for the police to come and do their job, he did not. He, the defendant, wanted to make sure that Trayvon Martin didn’t get out of the neighborhood.”

“In this defendant’s mind he automatically assumed that Trayvon Martin was a criminal,” Mr. de la Rionda added. “And that’s why we’re here.”

Mr. Zimmerman, 29, a neighborhood watch volunteer who said he shot Mr. Martin in self-defense, is charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26, 2012, death of Mr. Martin, who was 17. If convicted, he could face life in prison. On Thursday, the judge, Debra S. Nelson, said the jury would also be able to consider manslaughter as a lesser charge. This charge is typically included in Florida murder cases if either side requests it. Manslaughter with a firearm carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.

On Friday, the defense will present its closing statement, followed by a one-hour rebuttal by the prosecution. The case will then go to the sequestered jury of six women for deliberations.

The shooting, and the six-week delay in Mr. Zimmerman’s arrest, provoked outrage from blacks here and elsewhere as civil rights leaders denounced what they viewed as a justice system historically uncaring of the rights of African-Americans.

In his two-hour closing statement in the Seminole County courthouse, Mr. de la Rionda wielded Mr. Zimmerman’s own words, parsing his statements to the police for discrepancies and inconsistencies. Over and over, he played recordings of Mr. Zimmerman’s account for the jury, stopping to point out what he called exaggerations and lies.

In those statements, Mr. Zimmerman said that Mr. Martin knocked him to the ground, punched him and slammed his head repeatedly against the pavement. Fearing for his life, afraid that Mr. Martin was reaching for his gun, he shot him. He had a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

But prosecutors said that Mr. Zimmerman profiled Mr. Martin as he was headed home in the rain to the house where he was a guest. Mr. Zimmerman got out of the car with a gun concealed in his waistband and chased him so he would not get away. He was the aggressor in the fight, they said.

Contradictions in Mr. Zimmerman’s story abound, they said, citing these assertions from the defendant:

How could Mr. Martin have grabbed for the gun and not left DNA on it?
[Reaching for something and actually touching it are not the same thing.
Zimmerman said he saw Martin reaching for the gun and grabbed it first.]

How could he have even seen that tiny gun in Mr. Zimmerman’s waistband in the dark?
[A news article had a photo of a police officer actually holding the gun.
Is that what you would call tiny?]



Why would Mr. Zimmerman get out of the car and follow Mr. Martin if he was scared of him?
[Zimmerman said that he was looking for a street name when Martin confronted him.]
How could Mr. Martin have been punching Mr. Zimmerman,
covering his mouth and reaching for his gun
at the same time?
[Zimmerman never said those three actions happened at the same time.]
And wouldn’t Mr. Zimmerman have suffered more grievous wounds to his head
if Mr. Martin had slammed it against the pavement 25 times?

“Is he exaggerating what happened?” asked Mr. de la Rionda,
calling the statements lies, a ploy to pad his self-defense case.

But in raising so many questions instead of answering them with evidence,
Mr. de la Rionda also underscored weaknesses in his own case.
There were no eyewitnesses to the shooting,
and only one person is alive to tell the story.
Dozens of witnesses have testified over the course of the three-week trial,
but it is still unclear what happened in the moments leading up to the fight
and during the struggle itself.
[Not so at all.
The events happened directly behind one man's porch, Mr. Good.
He had the best view,
and clearly stated that it was the darker-skinned man on top,
punching the lighter-skinned man below using "ground and pound" punches.]


Prosecutors have a tough burden:
they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt
that Mr. Zimmerman did not shoot in self-defense.
Florida has generous self-defense laws that give the benefit of the doubt
to a gunman who has a reasonable person’s fear of great bodily harm or imminent death.

Second-degree murder is also a high hurdle.
Prosecutors must show that
Mr. Zimmerman murdered Mr. Martin that night with a “depraved mind” —
one that harbored ill will, hatred or spite.

This is why Mr. de la Rionda pounced on Mr. Zimmerman’s remarks about Mr. Martin —
just another criminal coming to burglarize
a neighborhood that had been stung by a string of burglaries.

“Punks,” Mr. Zimmerman muttered to a police dispatcher after he spotted Mr. Martin, using a profanity as well. Later, using another derogatory word to refer to would-be burglars, he said, “They always get away.”

“The defense may say, ‘Oh, he was just angry,’ ” Mr. de la Rionda said.
“Well, you decide. I would decide that’s more than a little angry.
That’s frustration, ill will, hatred.
You’ve made up your mind it’s a criminal, and you’re tired of criminals.”

Mr. de la Rionda emphasized another point:
In his interviews with the police,
Mr. Zimmerman took pains to avoid saying he followed Mr. Martin.
He knew, Mr. de la Rionda said, that that would complicate his self-defense claim.
Instead, Mr. Zimmerman said he got out of the car
to give the police the correct address and walked in Mr. Martin’s direction.

During his presentation,
Mr. de la Rionda mocked Mr. Zimmerman as a “wannabe cop”
who knew the law and used police jargon like “suspect” and “torso”
to ingratiate himself with the police.
[Is the prosecutor so stupid that he does not know those terms are hardly "police jargon" but in fact part of the basic vocabulary?
What an exaggeration.]

He sprinkled in the suggestion that Mr. Zimmerman was so scared
that he might have walked around in the dark with his gun drawn.

[Zimmerman said that the gun was tucked in his waistband,
and that it started to slip out as Martin was raising and lowering his body to batter his head against the concrete.
There is no basis whatsoever for this claim of the prosecutor.
The prosecution criticized the animation the defense wanted to introduce as being "speculation",
but at least it was based on, and aided in visualizing, Zimmerman's statements.
De la Rionda's suggestion is coming out of the clear blue.]


After playing a clip of Mr. Zimmerman’s television interview with Sean Hannity
in which Mr. Zimmerman said that Mr. Martin did not run but was “skipping” away,
Mr. de la Rionda began to skip around the courtroom.

“Use your God-given common sense,”
Mr. de la Rionda said to the jury several times.

The gray foam dummy
that both sides had straddled the previous day to depict the struggle
made a second appearance.
Some jurors stood up to watch as Mr. de la Rionda jumped on the dummy.

Mr. de la Rionda also treaded lightly over witness testimony,
mentioning that different people gave differing accounts
of who was on top during the struggle.
He spoke more in detail of Rachel Jeantel’s testimony.

Ms. Jeantel, 19, a friend of Mr. Martin’s
who spoke to him on the phone moments before he was shot,
had a difficult time on the stand.
She was clearly uncomfortable,
her speech was often indistinct
and she acknowledged that, among other things,
she had lied previously about her age and why she did not attend Mr. Martin’s wake.
Her testimony could be crucial because she said Mr. Martin told her
that he was being followed by a “creepy-ass cracker” and that he was afraid.

“Her use of colorful language doesn’t mean her testimony is less credible
just because she’s not a highly educated individual,”
Mr. de la Rionda said.

But in the end, Mr. de la Rionda hammered away at
the chain of events Mr. Zimmerman set off, he said,
when he profiled Mr. Martin,
got out of his car with a gun and followed him,
despite the advice of the police dispatcher.

“The law doesn’t allow people to take the law into their own hands,”
he said.

Mr. Zimmerman, a gun on his hip,
made the wrong assumptions and the wrong choices, he said.
Because of that, a teenager who was “minding his own business,”
heading to watch a basketball game, wound up dead.

“The law talks about accountability and responsibility for one’s actions,
and that’s what we’re asking for in this case,” he said.
“Hold the defendant responsible for his actions;
hold him accountable for what he did.
Because if the defendant hadn’t assumed that —
then Trayvon Martin would have watched the basketball game,
George Zimmerman would have gone to Target
or done whatever he does on Sunday evenings,
and we wouldn’t be here.”


2013-07-13-NYT-zimmerman-trial-day-14-zimmerman-trial
Zimmerman Case Goes to Jury
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2013-07-13


SANFORD, Fla. —

In his three-hour closing argument on Friday before jurors began deliberating,
George Zimmerman’s lawyer said that his client
was guilty only of protecting his own life when he fatally shot Trayvon Martin,
and he chastised the prosecution for filling jurors’ heads
with guesswork, not evidence.

Mark O’Mara, one of Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyers, told the jury
the prosecution had provided so little evidence of second-degree murder,
the main charge,
that he wished the verdict form contained three choices:
“guilty, not guilty, and completely innocent,
because I would ask you to check that one.”

To back up that claim,
Mr. O’Mara held up his strongest piece of evidence:
photographs of Mr. Zimmerman’s injured head and nose.

He zeroed in on testimony and physical evidence
suggesting that Mr. Martin was on top during the struggle,
which is consistent with Mr. Zimmerman’s account to the police.

Mr. Martin, 17,
a black unarmed teenager
who was walking to a house where he was staying on Feb. 26, 2012,
was shot in the heart by Mr. Zimmerman.
Mr. Zimmerman said Mr. Martin attacked him and, fearing for his life, he shot him.

But, above all, Mr. O’Mara emphasized that a claim of self-defense
does not require any injuries, only a reasonable fear of great bodily harm.

With that, Mr. O’Mara placed on the floor in front of the jury a slab of concrete,
similar to the pavement on which Mr. Martin repeatedly struck Mr. Zimmerman’s head,
he said.

“That is not an unarmed teenager with nothing but Skittles trying to get home,”
he said of Mr. Martin.
Then he added, referring to the slab of concrete,
“The suggestion by the state that that’s not a weapon,
that that can’t hurt somebody, that that can’t cause great bodily harm,
is disgusting.”

It was not Mr. Zimmerman who was the aggressor, he said.
It was Mr. Martin.

“You can’t look at those pictures and say that that
what was visited upon George Zimmerman
was not evidence of ill-will, spite and hatred,”
Mr. O’Mara said, using legal terms that apply
to the second-degree murder charge against Mr. Zimmerman.

Had Mr. Martin survived and been shot through the hip,
Mr. O’Mara said,
“he would have been charged with aggravated battery,
two counts.”




But during the state’s rebuttal argument, a prosecutor, John Guy,
asked jurors to use common sense.
Mr. Zimmerman, who wanted to be police officer, made his choices, he said.
He harbored hatred and ill-will toward Mr. Martin,
a teenager he viewed as just another criminal
who had come to threaten his town house development,
Mr. Guy said.

His choice was to get out of his car with a gun on his hip,
to disregard a police dispatcher’s advice not to follow Mr. Martin
and to chase the teenager as he headed home.

Mr. Guy said the fact that Mr. Zimmerman was able to reach for his gun
was proof that Mr. Martin was not on top of him.

“That child had every right to be where he was,” Mr. Guy said.
“That child had every right to do what he was doing, walking home.
That child had every right to be afraid of a strange man following him,
first in his car and then on foot.
And did that child not have the right to defend himself from that strange man?”

Mr. Guy also underscored, as the chief prosecutor had done the day before,
inconsistencies in Mr. Zimmerman’s statements to the police
and in a television interview with Sean Hannity.
He lied, Mr. Guy said, and exaggerated.
How could Mr. Zimmerman’s skull have hit concrete 25 times, as he said,
and sustain so few injuries?
How could Mr. Martin have grabbed the gun, Mr. Guy asked,
and not left any DNA on it?

“Why did he have to lie if he had done nothing wrong?” Mr. Guy asked.

Then he mocked Mr. Zimmerman for telling Mr. Hannity
that the events had been part of “God’s plan.”

As for the gun,
he asked how Mr. Zimmerman could have grabbed it while being straddled by Mr. Martin
unless Mr. Martin was getting up and trying to get away.



Yet, the prosecution’s case appeared to rely more on emotion than on evidence.
Often, prosecutors raised more questions than answers.
By trial’s end, it remained unclear how the confrontation actually began,
legal experts said.

This is the doubt that Mr. O’Mara tried to capitalize on during his closing argument.

“They are supposed to use words like
‘certainty’ and ‘definite,’
‘without question,’
‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’ ”
Mr. O’Mara said in a professorial tone.
He continued,
“What aren’t good words for prosecutors are
‘maybe’, ‘what if’, ‘I hope so,’ ‘you figure it out.’ ”

Mr. O’Mara urged the jury not to “fill in gaps” or “connect the dots” for the prosecution,
despite their emotions, because Mr. Zimmerman’s freedom was at stake.

“It is a tragedy, truly, but you can’t allow sympathy to feed into it,” Mr. O’Mara said.

To find Mr. Zimmerman guilty of second-degree murder,
jurors must agree that he shot Mr. Martin
out of ill will, hatred, spite or an evil intent, a “depraved mind.”
That charge carries up to a life sentence.

Manslaughter is a lower bar, one that could prove more appealing to a jury
and more worrisome to the defense.
Prosecutors must show only that Mr. Zimmerman killed without lawful justification.
If a weapon is used, it could draw a maximum of 30 years in prison.

The defense believed that it benefited from many prosecution witnesses.
Mr. O’Mara repeatedly reminded the jury
of the “reasonable doubt” defense lawyers raised during the trial
and the assumptions prosecutors made.

There is “not a shred of evidence,” he said,
that Mr. Zimmerman was not returning to his car
after a police dispatcher suggested he not follow Mr. Martin,

Mr. O’Mara said.
The police dispatcher who was on the phone that night with Mr. Zimmerman when he used profanities
testified that nothing the defendant said made him think he was full of hatred.

The neighbor with the closest view of the struggle
said the man with red or light clothing was on the bottom (Mr. Zimmerman wore red).
And a prominent forensic pathologist who is an expert on gunshot wounds
said Mr. Martin was leaning over Mr. Zimmerman when he was shot.

The mere act of following someone, Mr. O’Mara said,
“is not an unlawful activity.”

As for the discrepancies in his client’s statements:
“If you lie, it’s normally with the intent to deceive,” Mr. O’Mara said.
“If George Zimmerman had the intent to deceive, why would he give six statements?”

As Mr. Zimmerman sat, listening with a blank expression,
Mr. O’Mara made one final request to the jury
as it prepared to deliberate his client’s future.

“Let him go back,” he said of Mr. Zimmerman, “and get back to his life.”



2013-07-14-NYT-zimmerman-trial-day-15-the-verdict-innocence
Zimmerman Is Acquitted in Trayvon Martin Killing
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ and CARA BUCKLEY
New York Times, 2013-07-14

SANFORD, Fla. —

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer
who fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, igniting a national debate on racial profiling and civil rights,
was found not guilty late Saturday night of second-degree murder.
He was also acquitted of manslaughter, a lesser charge.


After three weeks of testimony,
the six-woman jury rejected the prosecution’s contention that
Mr. Zimmerman had deliberately pursued Mr. Martin
because he assumed the hoodie-clad teenager was a criminal
and instigated the fight that led to his death.

Mr. Zimmerman said he shot Mr. Martin on Feb. 26, 2012,
in self-defense after the teenager knocked him to the ground, punched him
and slammed his head repeatedly against the sidewalk.
In finding him not guilty of murder or manslaughter,
the jury agreed that Mr. Zimmerman could have been justified in shooting Mr. Martin
because he feared great bodily harm or death.

The jury, which had been sequestered since June 24,
deliberated 16 hours and 20 minutes over two days.
The six female jurors entered the quiet, tense courtroom,
several looking exhausted, their faces drawn and grim.
After the verdict was read, each assented, one by one, and quietly,
their agreement with the verdict.



The case began in the small city of Sanford as a routine homicide
but soon evolved into a civil rights cause
examining racial profiling and its consequences —
an issue barred from the courtroom —
[So the bigots of PC note that racial profiling was barred from the courtroom,
but fail to even mention that Martin's text messages discussing fighting were also barred.
Yet another example of how the Times has skewed its coverage
to specifically encourage and enable black anger at the verdict.]

and setting off a broad discussion of race relations in America.
Mr. Martin, with his gray hooded sweatshirt and his Skittles —
the candy he was carrying — became its catalyst.
Rea
Even President Obama weighed in a month after the shooting,
expressing sympathy for Mr. Martin’s family and urging a thorough investigation.
“If I had a son,” Mr. Obama said, “he’d look like Trayvon.”



Saturday night when the verdict was read, Mr. Zimmerman, 29, smiled slightly.
His wife, Shellie, and several of his friends wept,
and his parents kissed and embraced.

Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin,
who lost their son a few weeks after his 17th birthday,
were not in the courtroom.

After the verdict, Judge Debra S. Nelson of Seminole County Court,
told Mr. Zimmerman, who has been in hiding and wears a bulletproof vest outside,
that his bond was revoked and his GPS monitor would be cut off.
“You have no further business with the court,” she said.

Outside the courthouse,
perhaps a hundred protesters who had been gathering through the night,
their numbers building as the hours passed,
began pumping their fists in the air, waving placards and chanting “No justice, no peace!”
Sheriff’s deputies lined up inside the courthouse, watching the crowd,
who were chanting peacefully, but intently.

By 11:20, more than an hour after the verdict had been read,
the crowd outside the courtroom had begun to dwindle;
fists were no longer aloft, placards had come down.

Among the last of the protesters to leave the courthouse lawn was Mattie Aikens, 33, of Sanford.
She had been standing outside since noon,
holding a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona watermelon drink,
which Mr. Martin was carrying the night he was shot.
More than an hour after the verdict, she was still shocked.
“He should have went to prison,” she said.
“He should have just got guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty.”

Mark O’Mara, one of Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyers, said,
“George Zimmerman was never guilty of anything except firing the gun in self-defense.”

In a news conference following the verdict,
Angela B. Corey, the state attorney who brought the charges,
rebuffed the suggestion that her office overcharged Mr. Zimmerman.

“We charged what we had based on the facts of the case,” she said.
“We truly believe the mind-set of George Zimmerman
and the reason he was doing what he did
fit the bill for second-degree murder.”

[How does she know "the reason he was doing what he did"?
What an arrogant person.]


Calling it a “very trying time,” Benjamin Crump, a Martin family lawyer,
said he had urged Mr. Martin’s parents to stay out of the courtroom for the verdict.
They were home and planning to attend church on Sunday.
The parents, he said, were grateful for all the support.

Mr. Crump asked the family’s supporters keep the peace
and read a Twitter post by Dr. Bernice King, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter.

“Whatever the Zimmerman verdict is,” Mr. Crump read,
“in the words of my father, we must conduct ourselves
on the higher plane of dignity and discipline.”

Sanford’s new police chief, Cecil E. Smith, was in the courtroom for the verdict,
and said afterward that while many calls were coming in from worried residents,
the downtown was open and neighborhoods were calm.

Still, there was anger over the verdict.
“We are outraged and heartbroken over today’s verdict,”
said Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the N.A.A.C.P.
“We stand with Trayvon’s family and we are called to act.
We will pursue civil rights charges with the Department of Justice,
we will continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground laws in every state,
and we will not rest until racial profiling in all its forms is outlawed.”

[No acknowledgement whatsoever that Martin attacked and injured Zimmerman.
What a combination of ignorance and arrogance.]


Mr. O’Mara disputed the notion that Mr. Zimmerman engaged in racial profiling.
“His history was not as a racist,” he said.

He added that if Mr. Zimmerman was black,
he likely would never have been charged.
“This became a focus for a civil rights event, which is wonderful event to have,”
he said,
“but they decided George Zimmerman was to blame and to use as a civil rights violation.”

And while defense lawyers were elated with the verdict,
they also expressed anger that Mr. Zimmerman spent 16 months filled with fear and trauma
when all he was doing was defending himself.

[Not to mention the very large expense he and his supporters have suffered
to defend him from these unjust and highly inappropriate charges
brought strictly to appease the forces of ignorance and bigotry.]


“The prosecution of George Zimmerman was a disgrace,”
said Don West, one of Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyers.
“I am thrilled that this jury kept this tragedy from become a travesty.”



The shooting brought attention to Florida’s expansive self-defense laws. The laws allow someone with a reasonable fear of great bodily harm or death to use lethal force, even if retreating from danger is an option. In court, the gunman is given the benefit of the doubt.

The outcry began after the police initially decided not to arrest Mr. Zimmerman, who is half-Peruvian, as they investigated the shooting. Mr. Martin, 17, had no criminal record and was on a snack run, returning to the house where he was staying as a guest.

Six weeks later, Mr. Zimmerman was arrested, but only after civil rights leaders championed the case and demonstrators, many wearing hoodies, marched in Sanford, Miami and elsewhere to demand action.

“Justice for Trayvon!” they shouted.

The pressure prompted Gov. Rick Scott of Florida
to remove local prosecutors from the case
and appoint Ms. Corey, from Jacksonville.
She ultimately charged Mr. Zimmerman with second-degree murder.
The tumult also led to the firing of the Sanford police chief.

Through it all, Mr. Martin’s parents said they sought one thing: That Mr. Zimmerman have his day in court.

That day arrived on Saturday.



From the start, prosecutors faced a difficult task in proving second-degree murder.
That charge required Mr. Zimmerman to have evinced a “depraved mind,”
brimming with ill will, hatred, spite or evil intent, when he shot Mr. Martin.

Manslaughter,
which under Florida law is typically added as a lesser charge if either side requests it,
was a lower bar.
Jurors needed to decide only that Mr. Zimmerman put himself in a situation
that culminated in Mr. Martin’s death.

But because of Florida’s laws,
prosecutors had to persuade jurors beyond a reasonable doubt
that Mr. Zimmerman did not act in self-defense.
A shortage of evidence in the case made that a high hurdle, legal experts said.

Even after three weeks of testimony,
the fight between Mr. Martin and Mr. Zimmerman on that rainy night was a muddle,
fodder for reasonable doubt.
It remained unclear who had started it,
who screamed for help,
who threw the first punch
and at what point Mr. Zimmerman drew his gun.
There were no witnesses to the shooting.

The state presented a case that was strong on guesswork and emotion
but weak on evidence and proof, Mr. O’Mara said.

“Don’t connect those dots unless they are connected for you,
beyond a reasonable doubt, by the state,”
he urged the jury.

In the end, prosecutors were left with Mr. Zimmerman’s version of events.

The defense also had one piece of irrefutable evidence,
photographs of Mr. Zimmerman’s injuries —
a bloody nose along with lumps and two cuts on his head.
It indicated that there had been a fight and that Mr. Zimmerman had been harmed,
and the defense showed them to the jury at every opportunity.

[Those photos were available almost from the beginning of this controversy,
but the New York Times pointedly refrained from incorporating them in its stories on the case,
and in fact even refrained from noting the Zimmerman had suffered indisputable injury,
a failure I pointed out several times in the post “All the News That Fits Their Agenda”.
A clear and indisputable case of failing to present to its readers
the evidence which would eventually acquit Zimmerman.]


Prosecutors built their case around Mr. Zimmerman’s persona — a “wannabe cop” —
his wrong assumptions and his words.

Mr. Zimmerman, they said, was so concerned about burglaries in his townhouse complex
that when he spotted Mr. Martin, an unfamiliar face in the rain,
he immediately “profiled” him as a criminal.
He picked up his phone and reported him to the police.

Then he made the first in a string of bad choices, they said.
He got out of the car with a gun on his waist;
he disregarded a police dispatcher’s advice not to follow Mr. Martin and he chased the teenager
[that is disputed],
engaged in a fight [Yeah, right. Lying on his back and being pummeled and battered by the teenager.]
and shot him in the heart.

To stave off an arrest, he lied [Where's the lie, prosecutors?
Sounds to me like the prosecutors are the real punks.
Thinking "suspect" is police jargon.
Are they liars or ignoramuses?]

to the police, prosecutors said,
embellishing his story to try to flesh out his self-defense claim.

“Punks,” Mr. Zimmerman said to the police dispatcher
after he spotted Mr. Martin, adding a profanity.
“They always get away,” he said at another point in the conversation,
a reference to would-be burglars.

On these words, prosecutors hung their case of ill will, hatred and spite toward Mr. Martin.

“This defendant was sick and tired of it,”
Bernie de la Rionda, the chief prosecutor, said in his closing statement.
“He was going to be what he wanted to be — a police officer.”

But no one saw the shooting;
witnesses saw and heard only parts of the struggle,
and provided conflicting accounts.

And there was not a “shred of evidence”
that Mr. Zimmerman was not returning to his car
when Mr. Martin “pounced,” defense lawyers said.

The prosecution’s witnesses did not always help their case.
Rachel Jeantel, the 19-year-old who was talking with Mr. Martin on his cellphone
shortly before he was shot, proved problematic.
Her testimony was critical for the prosecution
because she said that Mr. Martin was being followed by Mr. Zimmerman —
a “creepy-ass cracker,” he called him —
and that he was scared.

But Ms. Jeantel might have
[Might have? On Planet PC evidently documented lying
doesn't necessarily damage credibility.]

damaged her credibility
by acknowledging she had lied about her age and why she did not attend Mr. Martin’s wake.
She also testified that she softened her initial account of her chat with Mr. Martin
for fear of upsetting Ms. Fulton, who sat next to her, weeping,
during Ms. Jeantel’s first interview with prosecutors.

Prosecutors also were not helped by the police and crime scene technicians,
who made some mistakes in the case.
Mr. Martin’s sweatshirt, for example, was improperly bagged,
which might have degraded DNA evidence.

Typically, police testimony boosts the state’s case.
Here, the chief police investigator, Chris Serino, told jurors that he believed Mr. Zimmerman, despite contradictions in his statements.

Still, prosecutors had emotion on their side —
the heart-wrenching narrative of a teenager “minding his own business”
who was gunned down as he walked home with a pocketful of Skittles and a fruit drink.

[Deceive, deceive, deceive.
According to the expert testimony of Dr. Di Maio, Martin was shot as he was leaning over Zimmerman.
But of course facts like that don't matter to TeamPC when they don't fit with the desired narrative of blacks as victims.]


“That child had every right to do what he was doing, walking home,”
said John Guy, a prosecutor in the case.
“That child had every right to be afraid of a strange man following him,
first in his car and then on foot.
And did that child not have the right to defend himself from that strange man?”

Through it all, though, the defense chipped away at the prosecution’s case.
The resident with the best vantage point of the fight described a “ground and pound” fight,
with a person in red or a light color on the bottom.
Mr. Zimmerman wore a reddish jacket.

And a prominent forensic pathologist who is an expert in gunshot wounds
testified that the trajectory of the bullet was consistent with
Mr. Martin leaning over Mr. Zimmerman when the gun was fired.

“Let him go back,” Mr. O’Mara said to the jury,
referring to Mr. Zimmerman, “and get back to his life.”

On Saturday, the jury did just that.




2013-07-16-NYT-zimmerman-juror-discusses-how-verdict-was-reached
Zimmerman Juror Discusses How Verdict Was Reached
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ
New York Times, 2013-07-16

MIAMI —

George Zimmerman was guilty of nothing more than “bad judgment,”
one of six jurors to find the neighborhood watchman not guilty said Monday night.

The juror, the first to share her story publicly, spoke anonymously,
telling Anderson Cooper of CNN that she believed Mr. Zimmerman’s account
that Trayvon Martin attacked him.
Fearing for his life,
Mr. Zimmerman had no choice but to shoot the teenager,
the juror said. Mr. Martin was unarmed.

“I think his heart was in the right place,”
the juror said of Mr. Zimmerman’s eagerness to try to protect the neighborhood.
“It just went terribly wrong.”

She said later,
“It pretty much happened the way George said it happened.”

Juror B37, the number she was assigned for the trial,
also said that when the six jurors first began to deliberate,
they were evenly divided between guilt and innocence.
One voted for second-degree murder and two voted for manslaughter.
B37 said she was one of three who initially voted “not guilty.”

“There was a couple of them in there
that wanted to find him guilty of something,”
the juror said.

But after sorting through the evidence and Mr. Zimmerman’s account,
the three jurors changed their minds.
Second-degree murder was discarded first.
Then, after much confusion over the jury instructions,
manslaughter was also set aside, she said.

The jurors, who gave their verdict Saturday,
concluded that Mr. Zimmerman acted in self-defense, she said.
“I have no doubt George feared for his life,” she said.

Unlike the swirl of anger and passion over the role of race outside the courtroom,
race did not come up during 16 hours and 20 minutes of deliberations, she said.
No juror, she said, viewed the case through the prism of race.

The fact that Mr. Martin was black
did not drive Mr. Zimmerman to suspect and follow him, she said.
It was the overall situation —
he was cutting through the back,
the townhouse complex had been hit by a rash of burglaries,
and Mr. Martin appeared to be walking aimlessly in the rain, looking in houses,
she said.

“I think he just profiled him because he was the neighborhood watch
and he profiled anybody who came in and saw them acting strange,”
she said, regardless of race.

The juror also said that she and most of the other jurors
believed Mr. Zimmerman was the one screaming for help
during the recording of a resident’s 911 call
because he was the one being beaten
An “important” piece of evidence, she called it.

“It was a long cry and scream for help —
whoever was crying for help was in fear for their life,”
she said.

For whatever reason, Mr. Martin, she said,
decided to confront Mr. Zimmerman and threw the first punch.

“Trayvon got mad and attacked him,” she said.

The juror also said that Rachel Jeantel,
Mr. Martin’s friend who spoke to him on the phone moments before he was killed,
was “not a good witness.”
The juror said Ms. Jeantel “clearly didn’t want to be there.”

Clearly sympathetic to Mr. Zimmerman,
the juror, who is married to a lawyer and has two grown children,
referred to him as George.
She said she felt sorry for Mr. Zimmerman and for Mr. Martin,
calling the situation a “tragedy.”
The six women became very emotional, she said,
immediately after they handed their verdict to the bailiff.

“It’s just sad that we all had to come together
and figure out what is going to happen to this man’s life afterwards,”
she said.
“You find him not guilty,
but you are responsible for that not guilty,
and all the people who want him guilty aren’t going to have any closure.”

On Monday it was announced that
the juror had signed with a literary agent with the intent of writing a book.
But by early Tuesday, the agent, Sharlene Martin, had rescinded the offer
and the juror dropped her plans to write a book.
The juror said in a statement that being sequestered
“shielded me from the depth of pain that exists among the general public
over every aspect of this case.”

“The potential book was always intended to be
a respectful observation of the trial from my and my husband’s perspectives solely
and it was to be an observation that our ‘system’ of justice
can get so complicated that it creates a conflict with our ‘spirit’ of justice,”
she said in the statement.
“Now that I am returned to my family and to society in general,
I have realized that the best direction for me to go
is away from writing any sort of book
and return instead to my life as it was before I was called to sit on this jury.”






2013-07-23-WP-poll-on-Zimmerman-verdict
Zimmerman verdict poll: Stark reaction by race
By Jon Cohen and Dan Balz
Washington Post, 2013-07-23

The not-guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman
has produced dramatically different reactions among blacks and whites, with
African Americans overwhelmingly disapproving of the jury’s decision and
a bare majority of whites saying they approve of the outcome,
according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The jury’s decision in the case that involved the killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin
continues to roil the country,
with protests, demonstrations, calls for federal intervention
and a nonstop debate about the degree to which race played a role
in the shooting and in the trial.

The new survey underscores not only the gap between whites and blacks,
but also how passionate many African Americans are about the case.
Among African Americans, 86 percent say they disapprove of the verdict — with almost all of them saying they strongly disapprove — and 87 percent saying the shooting was unjustified.

In contrast, 51 percent of whites say they approve of the verdict while just 31 percent disapprove. There is also a partisan overlay to the reaction among whites: 70 percent of white Republicans but only 30 percent of white Democrats approve of the verdict. Among all whites, one-third say the shooting was unjustified, one-third say it was justified and the other third say they didn’t know enough to have an opinion.

The shooting, which occurred last year in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., drew national attention. Zimmerman claimed he shot Martin in self-defense. Much of the trial was carried live on the major cable news television networks. Ultimately the jury of six women found Zimmerman not guilty of both second-degree murder and manslaughter on July 13.

The verdict prompted renewed discussion about why black and white Americans often see events through separate prisms and whether the country can bridge the racial divisions that continue despite progress on civil rights matters over many decades.

In the Post-ABC News poll, 86 percent of African Americans say blacks and other minorities do not get equal treatment under the law. The number of whites saying so is less than half as large, at 41 percent. A majority of whites, 54 percent, say there is equal treatment for minority groups.

Those differing perspectives highlight a racial gap that prompted President Obama to speak out last week. In his surprise appearance on Friday, the president offered some of the most personal comments of his presidency about racial issues as he sought to explain to white Americans the experiences that have led so many African Americans to feel that the verdict was unfair and unjustified.

Obama said African Americans understand that young black males are sometimes followed when they shop in a department store or hear the locks of car doors click as they walk along a street and said those kinds of experiences “inform” how African Americans interpret the Martin killing. “It’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear,” he said.

He added: “The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws — everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.”

Civil rights leaders have called on Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to file federal charges against Zimmerman. Holder, who last week called for a review of states’ “stand your ground” laws, earlier launched a federal investigation into the shooting, but the legal bar remains high.

Despite that legal hurdle, more than eight in 10 African Americans said Zimmerman should be charged in federal courts with violating Martin’s civil rights. Among whites, just 27 percent hold that view, while 59 percent said he should not be charged.

Some 60 percent of Hispanics say blacks and other minorities do not receive treatment equal to that of whites in the criminal justice system, and by a two-to-one ratio, they disapprove of the verdict in the Zimmerman trial.

Obama said it was time for the nation to do some soul-searching in the wake of the verdict, although he said he was skeptical of calling for a “national conversation” on race. Blacks and whites have different perspectives on the implications of the case as a pretext for continuing to talk about its racial implications.

A Pew Research Center poll released Monday found black and white Americans sharply divided on the question of whether the verdict raises important issues that should be discussed or whether race is receiving too much attention. Almost eight in 10 African Americans said it was useful to have such a discussion, while six in 10 whites said race is getting too much attention.

The Post-ABC poll was conducted July 18 to 21 among a random national sample of 1,002 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. It is 4.5 points for the sample of white respondents and 11 points among African Americans and Hispanics.

Cohen is director of polling at Capital Insight, the independent polling group of Washington Post Media. Capital Insight pollsters Scott Clement and Kimberly N. Hines contributed to this report.


2013-11-19-WP-holder-justice-dept-to-soon-announce-decision-on-zimmerman
Holder: Justice Dept. will soon announce decision on Zimmerman civil rights charges
By Sari Horwitz
Washington Post, 2013-11-19

The Justice Department will soon announce its decision on whether to bring civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black 17-year-old whose death in Florida last year set off a nationwide debate about race, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said.

Holder said that the federal civil rights investigation, which was launched shortly after Martin was shot inside a gated community near Orlando, will be completed “relatively soon” and that the department will issue a report about its deliberations.

“We have to run through the process,” Holder said in an interview with The Washington Post. “We have to examine all the things that are appropriate. [Former assistant attorney general for civil rights] Tom Perez mandated . . . that we put together a report that we can share with the American people, so that we simply don’t make an announcement, whatever it is.”

...

[I am adding this entry to this post on 2014-09-25.
As of this date, to the best of my knowledge, there still is no announcement of what DOJ has decided in this matter.
Clearly Holder's "relatively soon" is not my idea of what "relatively soon" means.]













2014

2014-02-17-CNN-george-zimmerman-speaks-out
Zimmerman: God is 'The Only Judge'
Interview by Chris Cuomo
cnn.com New Day, 2014-02-17


2014-02-17-WP-Capehart-george-zimmerman-is-no-scapegoat
George Zimmerman is no ‘scapegoat’
by Jonathan Capehart
Washington Post Blog, 2014-02-17

[Capehart shows how delusional he is.]

2014-02-17-CNN-george-zimmerman-interview
George Zimmerman: God is 'the only judge that I have to answer to'
By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
cnn.com, 2014-02-17

[I note that the video in this interview bears the headline
"Zimmerman's claims spark outrage".
Really?
By those whose minds are made up that Zimmerman is guilty.
But what about those who think the charges ignore the preponderance of the evidence?
You know, like the jury of five Floridians who actually heard the case presented,
as opposed to what appears in the media.
Are they outraged by the interview?
So, yet again the media presents those who deny the weight of the evidence
as being the typical ones whose opinion is worth reporting,
to the exclusion of others.

As to how dishonest CNN is,
note that their video puts the sentence
"Zimmerman fails on that hope every time he speaks"
as a headline of the Washington Post.
But when I Googled the sentence,
it appeared in the body, specifically as the last line,
of the Jonathan Capehart blog entry.
At least on the web, it was not the headline.
And I doubt very, very much that it would appear in print as a headline,
as its meaning is totally unclear without context.]













As I write this on 2014-08-17,
I can find nothing at google showing
how the Department of Justice investigation of Zimmerman has turned out.
Is DOJ still investigating whether Trayvon Martin's civil rights were violated on 2012-02-16?
I can understand investigations that drag out concerning on-going matters,
but on one that occurred on 2012-02-16?

Labels: , ,