New Discovery in George Zimmerman Case

The state released some of its 6th and 7th round of discovery in the George Zimmerman case to the media today. The material was released about a month ago to the defense. Not everything released to the defense is included.

Of interest to those following the timeline of events the night of the shooting is the release of the event reports with times of the 911 calls. The primary one is here.

The conclusions in the DNA reports of the gun, holster, trigger and slide are pretty much a retread of previously released reports. Contrary to what some news outlets are reporting, they don't hurt Zimmerman's case since Zimmerman never said Trayvon Martin grabbed or even touched his holster or gun. He said he sensed or felt Trayvon reaching towards his gun after it became exposed while they were struggling on the ground, and that he grabbed Trayvon's hand to prevent him from getting to his gun. Obviously, Martin's DNA would not be on the holster or gun if Zimmerman stopped his hand from reaching them. [More...]

One of the drawings included appears to be that of Witness 6 (John), from his March 20 interview. The drawing is consistent with what he has said all along -- that he saw two males wrestling on the grass and then on the sidewalk. At both points, the male with the black shirt (Trayvon Martin) was on top. It appeared to him the man on the bottom (George) was struggling to get up.

The released material does not include cell phone records, which the state claims are exempt. The state obtained records on three phones: Zimmermans; Trayvons (belonging to Tracy Martin); and Witness 8 (Trayvon's phone friend Dee Dee.) It obtained Dee Dee's records by subpoena. George brought his phone to the police when requested in late March, and signed a consent to search. His February records were most likely obtained by a faxed supboena. A search warrant was issued for one of the phones, and most likely it was for Trayvon/Tracy Martin's phone. (The search warrant, return, and Tracy Martin's phone records from 1/1/12 to 3/1/12 were released together to the defense several months ago.) On March 5, police had asked Tracy Martin for the pin number to the phone and he declined to provide it, saying he would have to first consult with his lawyer. It seems they got a search warrant for the records instead. Why not a subpoena? Probably because they can't get "content" with a subpoena, and they didn't just want call records, but any text messages, photos, voice-mails, etc. stored on the phone.

The state has previously said it would not be publicly releasing Trayvon/Tracy's phone records, due to an exemption in Florida's public records law. Since the records contain Tracy's subscriber information, that seems to fit the exemption. But it's not clear to me that why the records for Witness #8 (Dee Dee) were not released. The state has previously released a report stating they subpoenaed records for 786-419-3726 on April 2, belonging to Witness #8 (Dee Dee) and had received an Excel spreadsheet of calls to and from her phone number between 2/26/12 and 4/2/12 and 9 pages of documentation.

The state says the records are exempt under Florida public record law 119.071(5)(d), which provides:

(d) All records supplied by a telecommunications company, as defined by s. 364.02, to an agency which contain the name, address, and telephone number of subscribers are confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution. (my emphasis.)

The phone records for this number do not contain a subscriber's name or address. According to the state's disclosed report, it is a Simple Mobile pre-paid phone account with no subscriber information. It seems to me the state should release the records, and at most, redact the last four digits of anyone else's phone number they think should be protected for privacy reasons. Whether intentionally or not, the state has already released her phone number.

The statute seems to provide protection to the subscriber of the phone, not to those who call or are called by the subscriber. While the state also maintained disclosure would reveal Witness 8's identity and the identity of Trayvon's parents, that's not quite accurate and it's not a good excuse. The records do not contain her identity, her phone number has already been disclosed by the state, we know the identity of Trayvon's parents, and in their interviews with police, they both disclosed separately contacting Witness 8 (Dee Dee.) See here and here.)

If the state wants to protect Trayvon's parents' phone numbers, they could do so by redacting the last four digits of their phone numbers. When Trayvon's parents first contacted Dee Dee is relevant to the issues in the case. The state has listed her as a Category A witness and relied on her phone calls with Trayvon in its affidavit for probable cause and at Zimmerman's bond hearing. Yet she didn't come forward for almost five weeks after the shooting, and when she did, she didn't go to the police, but to the Martins' lawyers. She is probably more identifiable by her voice than her phone number, which is already known, and she agreed to allow the Martins' lawyers to play portions of their taped interview with her for the media and public back in March. The Martins' lawyer at the time referred to their interview with her as an "oral affidavit."

At a minimum, the dates and times she placed and received calls should be made public. As should any GPS or cell tower information received which could show where Trayvon was at various points when he was speaking to her. The location records could support Zimmerman's version of events and impact the credibility of Dee Dee's recollection. Who can bring this to the court's attention? The Florida media. (The defense already has the information.)

While the state's report refers to her being a juvenile, it doesn't seem like there is a blanket protection under the public records law for juvenile witnesses, since the state has previously released two of her audio statements -- one with the state's attorney and one with the Martins' lawyers. (Added: I believe the juvenile reference pertains to Trayvon as the subject of the investigation, not Dee Dee. That disclosure seems to be on most of the reports.)

Nor does today's discovery include the report of Trayvon Martin's toxicology testing by NMS labs. Discovery previously released included the conclusion of the toxicology report, but not the actual tests. I'm not sure why those are exempt under the public records law. They don't depict the victim or the shooting. Here is the Volusia County Medical Examiner's webpage on disclosure of the contents of the autopsy report. Trayvon's autopsy was performed by their office. The state's public records law web page states:

While autopsy reports are public record, autopsy photos are confidential. An agency may not delete information from a public record in the absence of a statute providing for the confidentiality or exemption of such information. Nor may an agency refuse to release an entire record because it may contain some confidential or exempt information; rather the agency is required to redact the exempt material and release the rest of the record.

The medical report says the toxicology report was included with the autopsy and medical examiner's report. So why wasn't it released?

Also released today were a large number of e-mails to Sanford, FL officials, and the audio interview of the 7-11 clerk who said he did not recall Trayvon.

Here is a list I made in August of missing discovery I'd like to see. Very few of those items were supplied today.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Or, the more obvious reason (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Yman on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 07:46:34 AM EST
    There's nothing that the general public would find particularly interesting.

    Of course (none / 0) (#7)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 08:42:05 AM EST

    Of course those news outfits would know the content without looking.  Perhaps if Jeralyn had the same magical mental powers you imply to being held by others she could have saved some cash.

    It's interesting that... (none / 0) (#1)
    by deanno on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 04:15:02 PM EST
    CNN/HLN had nothing of this matter on their news block from 2-4 PM this afternoon.

    several news organizations (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 04:50:50 PM EST
    have missed the payment deadline. CNN missed it for the July discovery, and for today's release, Huffington Post, New  York Times and the Washington Post and a few others others missed it. The only two bloggers  who have purchased this latest release according to a list sent out by the state last week are Talkleft and Axxiom Amnesia. They don't give you much time to get your money in once they tell you how much it is. Usually we've had 2 days to get the payment physically to their office (no credit cards.) This time we had a week, so I'm surprised the they didn't get it in.

    Comment deleted (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 04:45:20 PM EST
    saying search warrant may have been for W-13. it was not as W-13 signed a consent to search his i-Phone the day after he turned over the photos. This was both in the last batch of discovery and the actual consent form was in today's discovery. It's page 5 of this document.

    Toxicology Report (none / 0) (#4)
    by RickyJim on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 05:38:08 PM EST
    Nor does today's discovery include the report of Trayvon Martin's toxicology testing by NMS labs. Discovery previously released included the conclusion of the toxicology report, but not the actual tests.

    The previously released information seems to be a quote from the toxicology report, not the "conclusion".  It was the results of the THC/cannabis testing only.  What else was tested for and what the results were seems to be unknown.

    Ever since Zimmerman's injuries (none / 0) (#9)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 09:13:23 AM EST

    Ever since Zimmerman's injuries became public, that narrative has seen the wheels fall off.  The whole story is now page six stuff.


    Imaginary narratives (none / 0) (#10)
    by Yman on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 09:18:40 AM EST
    It's so hard to make wheels stick to something that never existed.

    Humans are all killing machines. (none / 0) (#15)
    by redwolf on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 05:09:07 PM EST
    We never would have made it this far if our ancestors had failed in being able to kill other humans and animals.  Almost everyone has the natural instinct to kill those who are not part of our families and tribes.  We suppress it it make civilization work.  Drugs, booze, things that alter our brain somewhat can make it easier to overcome our inhibition to kill other human beings. So can fear, pain, and danger.

    Blaming drugs for what happened that night removes the accountability that rests with each person for their own actions.

    I never said that (none / 0) (#16)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 07:34:19 PM EST
    it had anything to do with the shooting or that it was admissible. In fact, I've said his marijuana use is unimportant.

    But a toxicology test was done, and has to be turned over to the defense. Since Florida has an open records law, and I don't see the exception for this, I'd like to see it too.

    In commenting on cases, I like to have the most information I can.

    additional comment by (none / 0) (#17)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 11:45:09 PM EST
    LeaNeder deleted as off-topic and a continual attempt to raise character issues in the case. She will be banned if she continues.