Zimmerman Atty: Don’t Judge By “Piecemeal” Evidence
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NEW YORK (CBSMiami/CBS News) — The defense lawyer for George Zimmerman has warned against judging his client just on the partial evidence released so far in the February shooting death of Trayvon Martin, saying that “looking at it piecemeal is what has caused some of the problems in the past with the case.”
Appearing Friday on “CBS This Morning,” attorney Mark O’Mara said the evidence released this week marks the beginning of his work on the case, helping focus him and his team on completing depositions and planning on appropriate pretrial motions, but also that part of the discovery evidence is still to be released.
In the nearly 200 evidence documents released on Thursday, crime scene photos show the immediate aftermath, including Zimmerman’s facial injuries – a broken nose, two black eyes, gashes in the back of his head. Sanford police, however, said Zimmerman refused three times to go to the hospital.
Paramedics found Martin lying on his stomach, the can of iced tea, still cold, in his sweatshirt pocket. They flipped over his body and attempted CPR for six minutes.
Martin’s autopsy showed he was shot through the heart. Gunpowder burns around his chest wound, called “stippling,” suggest Zimmerman shot him no more than 18 inches away. The gun shot’s trajectory was horizontal.
Diagrams also note Martin was hurt in the fight: blood on his head, a bruise around his eye, scarring on both hands.
In addition, medical examiners found evidence of marijuana in Trayvon’s system.
O’Mara, on ‘CBS This Morning’ said it’s important for everyone to wait until all the evidence is out.
“I’d rather not comment on partial evidence. Let’s deal with it all once we have it, and deal with it in the courtroom,” he said.
When asked if he agreed with a police report’s statement that the shooting was avoidable, had Zimmerman followed instructions to not pursue Martin – O’Mara replied, “They’re entitled to their opinion.”
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 attorney’s days before it was released to the media.
Also in the package is a photo of suspect George Zimmerman with a bloody nose, and lacerations on his head, 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.
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 investigator Christopher 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 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 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.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)