Discovery Documents Released In State Vs. George Zimmerman
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SANFORD (CBS4/AP) – Nearly two hundred documents were released Thursday by the Jacksonville State Attorney’s Office in the case of a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot an unarmed teen in a gated Sanford community in late February.
Included in those documents was the autopsy report of 17 year old Trayvon Martin. Medical examiners found evidence of marijuana in Trayvon Martin’s system after he was fatally shot by George Zimmerman.
According to the report, examiners found THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, when they tested Martin’s blood and urine. A police report shows Martin had been shot once in the left side of his chest and had been pronounced dead at the scene.
Also included in a massive release of evidence was an investigator’s recommendation to prosecutors that Zimmerman be arrested on manslaughter charges. The investigator, who was on the scene after the shooting, wrote on March 13 that the confrontation should have been avoided. That report came nearly a month before Zimmerman was arrested.
The package of documents, photos and video was turned over by prosecutors to defense attorneys days before it was released to the media.
Also in the package is a photo of suspect George Zimmerman with a bloody nose taken the night of the fight. A paramedic report says Zimmerman had a 1-inch laceration on his head and forehead abrasion.
“Bleeding tenderness to his nose, and a small laceration to the back of his head. All injuries have minor bleeding,” paramedic Michael Brandy wrote about Zimmerman’s injuries in the report.
Zimmerman told a police officer that he did not have any other bruises or cuts but his back hurt, according to a police report.
Whether Zimmerman was injured in the Feb. 26 altercation with Martin has been a key question. Zimmerman has claimed self-defense and said he only fired because the unarmed teenager attacked him.
Zimmerman is awaiting trial on a second-degree murder charge. He has pleaded not guilty.
Investigator Christopher Serino, who recommended that Zimmerman be charged, told prosecutors in March that the fight could have been avoided if Zimmerman had remained in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement. He said Zimmerman, after leaving his vehicle, could have identified himself to Martin as a concerned citizen and talked to him instead of confronting him.
He said there is no evidence Martin was involved in any criminal activity.
A separate report written by Serino at the crime scene says Martin had $40.15, Skittles candy, a red lighter, headphones and a photo pin in his pocket. He had been shot once in the chest and had been pronounced dead at the scene.
The release of evidence did little to clear up whose voice is screaming for help in the background of several 911 calls made during the fight.
Since first hearing the calls in early March, Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, has been unequivocal in saying that it was her son’s voice on the tapes.
But Serino wrote in a report that he played a 911 call for Martin’s father, Tracy, in which the screams are heard multiple times.
“I asked Mr. Martin if the voice calling for help was that of his son,” the officer wrote. “Mr. Martin, clearly emotionally impacted by the recording, quietly responded ‘no.’”
Zimmerman’s father also told investigators that it was his son yelling for help on March 19.
“That is absolutely positively George Zimmerman,” Robert Zimmerman said. “He was not just yelling, he sounded like he was screaming for his life.”
Investigators sent all the recordings to the FBI for analysis. They were asked to determine who was screaming, and also if Zimmerman might have used an expletive in describing Martin. Prosecutors said in their charging documents that Zimmerman said “(expletive) punks” in describing Martin as he walked in the neighborhood.
But the analyst who examined the recordings determined the sound quality is too poor to decipher what Zimmerman uttered. In regards to the screams during the altercation, there also wasn’t enough clarity to determine who it is “due to extreme stress and unsuitable audio quality.”
The trajectory of the bullet — straight through Martin’s body — doesn’t shed light on whether Zimmerman and Martin were standing or on the ground, Kobilinsky said.
Kobilinsky added he thought the evidence diminished prosecutors’ case for second-degree murder.
The case has become a national racial flashpoint because the Martin family and supporters contend Zimmerman singled Martin out because he was black. Zimmerman has a Peruvian mother and a white father.
Two acquaintances painted an unflattering picture of Zimmerman in police interviews.
A distraught woman told an investigator that she stays away from Zimmerman because he’s racist and because of things he’s done to her in the past, but she didn’t elaborate on what happened between them.
“I don’t at all know who this kid was or anything else. But I know George, and I know that he does not like black people. He would start something. He’s very confrontational. It’s in his blood. We’ll just say that,” the unidentified woman says in an audio recording.
A man whose name was deleted from the audio told investigators said he worked with Zimmerman in 2008 for a few months. It wasn’t clear which company it was.
The man, who described his heritage as “Middle Eastern,” said that when he first started, many employees didn’t like him. Zimmerman seized on this, the employee said, and bullied him.
Zimmerman wanted to “get in” with the clique at work so he exaggerated a Middle Eastern accent when talking about the employee, the man said. The employee told investigators that Zimmerman made reference to terrorists and bombings when talking about him.
“It was so immature,” said the employee, who ended up writing a letter to management about Zimmerman.
Zimmerman’s parents say he wasn’t racist. They say he had mentored black students and had a black relative.
In a police interview, Zimmerman’s father, Robert, described the toll the case had taken on family members who also are in hiding because of safety concerns.
“It just seems like it’s an avalanche and I’m standing at the bottom of it,” Robert Zimmerman said.
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