Thorner & Ingold: The Zimmerman Jury Got It Right – Part 2
August 8, 2013
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
What were the statement or the actions described during the trial testimony that made the jury’s decision the correct one and the only one possible under the circumstances:
- Zimmerman identified Martin as a suspicious person and called 911. When asked to describe the person by the 911 operator, he identified Martin as “black.” He did not volunteer this information, as implied by the tape as edited by CBS News.
- When Martin ran between buildings, Zimmerman left his car to see where he had gone and to identify the location to police. He did not defy the 911 operator in leaving his car, as implied by the prosecution and news media. That conversation occurred 15 seconds after leaving the car, at which point the 911 operator (not a policeman) asked if he (Zimmerman) was following the subject. When Zimmerman responded in the affirmative, the operator said, “We don’t need you to do that,” Zimmerman responded “Okay,” walked to the far end of the cross walk, and started to return to his car, a distance of about 100 yards. The gunshot, recorded on another 911 call, occurred approximately 1:17 after Zimmerman ended his last 911 call.
- According to friend on the phone with Martin at the time, Rachel Jeantel, Martin had reached his home, which is about 212 yards from where the confrontation occurred near the “T” intersection of walkways. If that testimony was correct, then Martin had to travel that distance to confront Zimmerman. We know that’s where he struck Zimmerman, because Zimmerman’s keys (which he had in his hand) and other objects were found near that that intersection. In other words, Martin left a place of safety in order to confront Zimmerman. He had a phone but did not use it to call for help, rather took the law into his own hands.
- Was Martin justified in attacking Zimmerman? Perhaps, if Zimmerman had struck or threatened Martin. However, there is no evidence that Zimmerman struck Martin and ample evidence that Martin delivered many blows. It is more likely that Martin was angry that he had been followed and set out to avenge this disrespect. Oddly, that’s the justification given by the prosecution, the Martin family attorneys, and several celebrities, most recently by “gangsta” rapper, Jay-Z
- If Zimmerman had displayed his gun, as implied by the prosecution, it is unlikely Martin would have struck him in the face and wrestled him to the ground. *The first priority would be to take control of the weapon. According to Zimmerman, that happened much later, when Martin reached for the gun after it was exposed when Zimmerman’s jacket slipped up while he was being beaten on the ground.
The absence of contact DNA on the slide is not evidence that Martin did not try to grab it. Nor was there contact DNA on the slide from Zimmerman, or the officer who took it from him. We know both touched it, because that’s how you load or clear a pistol. Zimmerman testified that Martin “reached” for the gun. Mark Osterman, the only person to say Martin actually grabbed the gun, based his testimony on recollection three months after the event when writing a book about it. This speaks of dramatic “embellishment.” The manner in which the DNA evidence was preserved and collected borders on malfeasance.
- Sanford medical examiner, Dr. Shiping Bao, refused to testify on the nature of the gunshot wound except in overly broad terms. He did not test Martins hands for Zimmerman’s DNA, despite the knowledge that a fight preceded the gunshot. Dr. Bao also put Martin’s clothing in a plastic bag while still wet, leading to extensive decomposition and degradation. There was no coordination between the medical examiner and the investigators, and examination of the clothing and other physical evidence.
- Did Zimmerman have a reasonable basis for fearing death or serious bodily injury? Jacksonville’s medical examiner, Dr. Valerie Rao, testified that Zimmerman’s head wounds were not life-threatening nor as numerous as described by Zimmerman. Dr. Vincent Di Maio, the defense expert, put many of these matters to rest. Significant to the defense, Dr. Di Maio testified that brain trauma can cause death without any external wounds at all, and the presence of these wounds confirms that a concussion had occurred. A mild concussion (not causing brain hemorrhage) will cause pain and confusion, described in common terms as “ringing your chimes,” and the effects tend to be cumulative in the short term.
- There is a question of who was on top doing the beating. All physical evidence indicates Martin was on top during the struggle, as well as eye witness, Jonathan Good. Martins pants had grass stains on the knees, whereas Zimmerman’s pants and jacket were stained on the back. According to Dr. Di Maio, the fact that the gun was in contact with Martin’s sweatshirt when fired, but 2-4 inches from his chest (per powder residue pattern) indicates that Martin was leaning over Zimmerman when the gun was fired, causing his sweatshirt to hang free.
It should be noted that forensic pathology requires a different skill set than medical autopsies. Textbooks on the subject, including those written by Dr. Di Maio, cover gunshot wounds and head trauma extensively, not to mention the collection and preservation of related evidence. Mark Furman, a retired LA homicide detective, said on Fox News that he had a copy of Di Maio’s book on his desk, and referred to it regularly. Furman also remarked that the person on top would have no reason to scream for help in such a desperate manner and that the grass stains clearly indicated who was on top.
- The prosecution questioned how Zimmerman could have drawn his gun and fired while Martin was holding him down. First of all, a holster like that used by Zimmerman is worn just behind the hip socket, not in the middle of the back like the prosecutor demonstrated. In the walk-through, Zimmerman demonstrated the correct placement. Secondly, it is not hard to lift your hips off the ground even with someone sitting on you, using your legs and possibly rolling to one side. It’s much harder to get your shoulders off the ground, as any wrestler could testify.
- Why would Zimmerman re-holster his gun? First of all, this has no bearing on the prosecution nor the defense. Once the threat is stopped, you stop shooting. Zimmerman testified that he thought Martin had given up, not that he was mortally wounded (note his surprise when Officer Delores Singleton told him Martin had passed). He knew police were on the way and didn’t want to be standing over a downed man with a drawn weapon. That’s a good way to get shot by police. You need to retain control of the weapon, rather than throw it to the ground (unless ordered to do so by the police). These are all basics, covered in training for the CCW license.
- Why did Zimmerman have a round in the chamber and the magazine topped off? Again, that’s what you are trained to do for self defense. Television cops (and bad guys) rack the slide just before engaging, because that makes scary sounds for the viewers’ appreciation.
- Although the judge’s instructions to the jury included a reference to the “Stand Your Ground” (776.013, section 3), Zimmerman’s defense was based solely on 776.013, sections 1 and 2, “Use of deadly force…” There is no reason to claim “Use of force by the aggressor” (776.041), since there was no evidence or testimony that Zimmerman was the aggressor. Reporting suspicious activity to the police does not rise to the level of aggression, even if Zimmerman left his car to see where Martin had gone or if that action infuriated Martin.
The Zimmerman/Martin trial should never have occurred. In that it was turned into a profoundly racial case with the help of President Obama with his remark, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” makes the happening a national tragedy. If the President expresses no confidence in the justice system and a completely public trial, although sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, why should his followers? What’s the alternative – a lynch mob?
When campaigning to be president and upon being elected, many presumed that America’s racial divide would finally be a thing of the past and that Obama would unite us all. Instead this nation was ripped apart by the Zimmerman decision with no hope that the racial division created by the Zimmerman/Martin verdict will disappear any time soon. The DOJ is threatening to prosecute Zimmerman under the Federal Civil Rights law, but seems to be in no hurry to do so, and has little (if any) evidence to support such a charge. The threat is intended to mollify demands from civil rights activists, but the delay merely provokes more racial unrest and division.
All seems to point toward a conclusion that the Obama administration intends to use the Zimmerman trial to further his own agenda of division and dependency.
Part 1: The Zimmerman Jury Got It Right by Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold