George Zimmerman : State of the Evidence
I'm still working through the discovery in the George Zimmerman case. I have a long post I'm writing on Witnesses #6 and #13, who I think may be the most important witnesses to the criminal case.
One thing that stikes me is that police are no better than lay people as eyewitnesses. For example, in describing Trayvon Martin's clothes the night of the shooting:
- Ofc. Ricardo Ayala, Page 14: 2/27/12, 2:28 am: Trayvon is lying in the grass, wearing a black sweater, blue jeans, white/red tennis shoes.
- Officer Joseph Santiago, Page 16: 3/2/12: describing his participation on 2/26: Got to the scene, Trayvon was on his back, had gray sweatshirt, light colored shorts, white tennis shoes.
Trayvon had on a light grey Nike sweatshirt (ME-8) and a dark grey Fruit of the Loom hooded sweatshirt (ME-12.) (Report here. Curiously, the police reports list the sweatshirt as ME-12 and the hoodie as ME-8.) He was wearing tan pants, as is evident in the 7-11 video. [More...]
I've seen some questions in comments about the first 911 caller. She called in before the shot and keeps referring to "Jeremy", telling him to get down. Transcript and audio here and audio below).
I believe her handwritten statement from the night of the shooting is on p. 87 or on p. 103. She and "Jeremy" were both re-interviewed on March 2. Since recordings of their March 2 interviews are 12 minutes apart, I assume they went together.
She seems to be the witness Serino is referring to on page 41, who describes Zimmerman as "laid back" and says he was passionate about the watch program. I think she served on the Homeowner's Association board and that's how she knows of his activities in the watch program. (No link for that, it's based on my digging, not just the discovery.)
Bottom line is this witness and "Jeremy" didn't see anything at the time, they just heard stuff and called 911. But they were very close to the shooting site (which you can tell from the 911 call with the gunshot and yells.)
I haven't yet seen a map with the house numbers, so I made one. I'm not that great with adding text in Photoshop so the placements are approximate and not perfectly aligned. Since we don't want to use the names of witnesses who have not publicly come forward, it may be helpful to place witnesses by their number (W-6, W-13) by their location. I'll do that in a future map.
One item needs to be clarified. No one filed a capias the night of the shooting asking that Zimmerman be arrested. The capias request by Chris Serino is dated March 13, 2012. In his 13 page report dated the same day, Serino says he spoke to Asst State’s atty Kelly Jo Hines at 23:45 on 2/26 “and apprised her of circumstances.” There's no mention of anyone having an opinion Zimmerman should have been arrested or was not to be believed. I don't trust any of the media reports using unnamed police sources who may say differently.
Also, Serino says in his March 13, 2012 report that "the case was presented to" the state's attorney's office on March 8 at a meeting with Assistant State's Attorney James Carter that took place at the Sanford Police Department. (See p. 42 of 183.)That may be the earliest anyone with the Sanford Police had an opportunity to voice an opinion to the State's Attorney's office, other than in personal conversations.
Also on page 42, Serino says he received Zimmerman's medical records confirming his fractured nose on March 9. (So unbeknownst to O'Mara, they had them long before the bail hearing and the records made no difference to their charging decision.)
There's lots of questions about what was in Trayvon's pockets and the varied descriptions of the placement of the Arizona iced tea can, the skittles, the headphones, the lighter and the cell phone. I may do a separate post on that.
Witnesses who I don't think will play a big role: The confused older lady, Mary Cutcher and her roommate Selma, and 13 year old Austin Brown. The confused lady is too....confused and the roommates' stories have changed and evolved so much since their initial versions they will have no credibility.
As to Austin Brown, he only saw one person on the ground, thought he may have fallen and broken his leg, didn't get a look at him except to see he had a red shirt, could not discern his race, and he didn't see a fight or the gunshot.
The witnesses' recorded interviews are far more revealing than the 183 pages of discovery. They also take a lot of time to listen to and are not transcribed.
Who screamed may be a dead issue. As I'll explain in my next post, W-6 is no longer certain, Tracy Martin initially said it wasn't Trayvon's voice, and the FBI says it's impossible to tell. I think the FBI report will cancel out any other voice-expert who says differently. (W-6 still maintains Trayvon was on top during the physical struggle, he's just no longer sure he heard the scream coming from Zimmerman, as opposed to assumed it did because he was on the bottom.)
Nor do I think DeeDee will play a big role. She wasn't there, she is fairly inarticulate, she has a bias, she didn't come forward until Team Crump talked her into it, and her story has inconsistencies. She mainly can testify about George Zimmerman's following Trayvon, but that's not relevant to his self-defense claim, no matter how much the state wants it to be.
The state is left with: George made a bad judgment call by getting out of his car to look for Trayvon instead of waiting for the police. That's not a crime, and it's not provocation, let alone contemporaneous provocation, for Trayvon Martin's use of force against him. Even if it was, the state has no witness who said on the night of the shooting that George had an opportunity to extricate himself and avoid using deadly force.
The state has no witness from the night of the shooting to refute that Trayvon broke George's nose and banged his head into concrete (whether the cement manhole cover or the sidewalk) or was crying out for help. Opinions witnesses formed later that it was Trayvon or a child screaming won't carry much weight.
Any reasonable person in George's situation, on the ground, with a broken nose and having his head banged against cement, would fear serious bodily injury.
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