As each day goes by, another piece of evidence pops up that tears into George Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense in the killing of Trayvon Martin. As we have already detailed, Zimmerman has already failed the test of “self-defense”, even if you believe every word of his story.
But this morning (what is it with Sundays), another troll comes into the fray to claim that none of the evidence that is mounting against Zimmerman’s story is true, that it is all made up. So, I thought it might be prudent to put it all together in one place.
UPDATE 4/10/12 2:11 pm: Zimmerman’s lawyer’s have withdrawn themselves from representing him. More importantly, they have not had contact with Zimmerman in days, and never, at any time, did they meet Zimmerman. Any conversations they had were strictly remote conversations, either by phone, email, or text.
Another disturbing fact from their withdrawal is that they say Zimmerman is not in Florida. This differs from their previous statements that Zimmerman had never left Florida. They also state that Zimmerman had communication with Fox’s Sean Hannity, but they he would not tell them what was discussed.
As to the website Zimmerman has launched for contributions to his defense, they say that Zimmerman’s father was putting up such a website when they found out Zimmerman had already done so himself. This does beg the question: If he has no current legal representation, where are those funds going?
911 Call From Zimmerman
In his 911 call from his truck, Zimmerman, describes Trayvon Martin as suspicious, possibly on drugs. He says he walks toward him, then away, then runs. Zimmerman states in his 911 call “These assholes. They always get away.” When asked if he is pursuing, he says he is. 911 dispatcher tells me they don’t need him to do that. Zimmerman says he lost sight of Martin. Zimmerman ends the call, telling police to call him when they arrive.
To give some context to the incident, it is important to see the scene:
Neighborhood where Trayvon Martin was staying. There are exactly three streets.
The first important thing to note is that in the neighborhood where Zimmerman was acting as a “neighborhood watch captain”, there are exactly three streets. And only three. There are two entrances, one to the north, and one on the east. These facts come into play when reviewing the information that Zimmerman has given regarding the incident.
The first to note is that by the description Zimmerman gives of where Martin was and which direction he was going, there is only one possible path Martin could have traveled. He would have come in from the north traveled past the clubhouse (there is no sidewalk here), crossed the street, and headed between the houses to where he was eventually killed.
Why do the street names matter? Because Zimmerman, the “neighborhood watch captain”, says he had gotten out of his truck to look at a street sign to see where he was, and that Trayvon Martin attacked him from behind. Which begs the question – if there are only three streets, and the street he was on does not change names, why was he looking at a sign? If you have been neighborhood watch captain in this neighborhood for any period of time, would you not know what street you were on, especially since there are only three streets?
Let’s take a closer look.
Closer look at the area of the incident
This is a closer look at where the incident took place. The red arrow indicates the direction Martin was walking, again from the description on the 911 call. The green area is where Zimmerman’s truck would have been parked. We do not have an exact location, but again, we can determine this from Zimmerman’s description of events in his 911 call. The small red circle is the area where Trayvon Martin lay dead.
Zimmerman’s first information to 911 is that he lost sight of Martin. This would make sense if Martin went around the homes to walk down the central path, headed back to the house where his father and brother waited. Here is where Zimmerman’s testimony gets confused. He says he was returning to his car, to look at a street sign when he was “jumped”. The street sign would have necessarily been on the street. Again, why would he need to look at the sign? But let’s assume he did. If he lost sight of Martin, it would mean that Martin would have had to go around the corner, then come back. But that would have put the altercation to the north of the row of houses, not between the two rows. For Zimmerman’s story to fit, he would have had to been between the two rows of houses.
But where would Martin have been hidden? This is a wide open area. How did he hide from Zimmerman enough that he could not be seen, yet be able to sneak up on him? The description of the events does not match the lay of the land. To believe the story, you would have to believe that Martin turned the corner (after running around it, per the 911 call), then lay in wait until Zimmerman came around the corner, then waited until Zimmerman turned around to leave, before springing out to attack.
UPDATE 4/3/12 9:01 PM: Zimmerman’s father went on the Sean Hannity show along with lawyers to give yet another version of the story…
This version of the story needs a little more detail. Zimmerman’s father says his son exited his truck (#1) while on the 911 call. and had been following Martin when he disappeared around the corner. He continued along the east/west path but had lost sight of Martin and headed down the path to get a street number as a location (#2). He then turned around and was approached by Martin at the intersection of the paths (#3). from there, they scuffled, and the story goes on with his head being bashed into the ground. Zimmerman’s father says they scuffled for about 40 seconds (this can be heard on the 911 tapes).
As with the previous story, the timeline is a problem. From the time Zimmerman hangs up with 911, to the time we know Trayvon Martin was shot, it’s only 2 minutes. 120 seconds. Per this new story, the last 40 seconds of that were spent fighting. That leaves a scant 80 seconds for Zimmerman to have left his vehicle, walked all the way down the path, returned and been confronted by Martin. As we have previously noted, the distance from the car to the place where Martin was left dead was about 200 ft. To add the additional walking distance as described by Zimmerman’s father would have been another 100 ft. That’s a good distance to go. But it also ignores a detail – that in this version, Zimmerman would have walked past that path intersection twice. How did he not see a 6’1″ tall Martin, dressed in a light colored hoodie, not once, but twice? To believe this story, we have to believe that somehow, Trayvon Martin disappeared from view and then returned just to confront Martin. Where did he hide? The area between the homes is about 50 feet wide, with few areas to hide in.
UPDATE 4/5/12 4:18 PM - Adding a new image by Dave Weigel, who writes for Slate and MSNBC:
Scene of Trayvon Martin's Death - Image Dave Weigel
This is the area between the homes where Trayvon Martin was shot. The intersection of the two paths near the right of the picture is the one described by Zimmerman’s father.
In the most recent version of the story, Zimmerman was at this intersection twice. The first time after he lost sight of Trayvon Martin, and continued on to the right of this picture to get a house number. The second time is allegedly when Trayvon Marton approached him and the scuffle began – Zimmerman would have been traveling from right to left.
For his story to flesh out, Martin would have to have been hiding his 6’1″ frame somewhere here in such a way that Zimmerman missed him not once, but twice, and that he would not have seen Martin approach him from the nearest possible hiding spot. To come out from hiding, and go near the intersection would have exposed him for at least a few seconds. But if the new story is to be believed, the scuffle would have had to move all the way back to this location from the intersection of the paths. Two houses down. Again, given the timeline, that the fight was only 40 seconds long, and that it started up near the intersection of paths, this seems implausible.
The time between 911 calls, from the time Zimmerman hangs up to the 911 calls that capture the gunshot, are very compressed. Zimmerman’s initial call to 911 ended at 7:15 pm. Cell phone records confirm that Martin was on the phone with his girlfriend, and by her account, he said he was being pursued. She says she heard an exchange between the two, and the phone went dead at 7:16 pm. By the time police arrived at 7:17pm, Martin was dead. So, if Zimmerman’s story is to be believed, he lost sight of Martin, hung up his phone, and in the next 120 seconds, Martin – while on the phone with his girlfriend – made the choice to turn around and head back to approach Zimmerman, hitting him, knocking him down, getting on top of him, struggling for Zimmerman’s gun, and ending with being shot.
But again, let’s look at the lay of the land. Zimmerman, by his own testimony, was parked near “the mailboxes”. If you look closely at the image, you’ll see the location of those mailboxes were at least 2-3 houses from the bend in the road. In other words, in the short time span between 7:15 and 7:17, Zimmerman somehow went from his truck, 2-3 houses down, north to the end of the row, around the corner, around a second corner, and was contacted by Martin after turning around to go back to his truck. And in the fight that ensued, had his head bashed on concrete, struggled for a gun, and shot Martin. All in 120 seconds.
From where the truck was parked to the location of the shooting is approximately 200 ft. of walking distance. Bear with me while a get a bit nerdy…
Average walking speed is about 3 MPH. That’s about 15,840 ft. per hour. Or 264 ft. per minute. So, at an average walking speed, it would have taken almost half of those 120 seconds for Zimmerman to reach the location of the shooting. This means the whole altercation, including not seeing Martin, turning around to go back to his truck, being “jumped” or attacked, the fight, everything, happened in a space of 60 seconds.
Unless – Zimmerman wasn’t walking. But then, this changes the dynamic. If you’re a young kid, walking home, and a guy starts following you, perhaps even running to catch you, aren’t you the one who has the right to stand your ground?
But perhaps the most important element of the timing is the whole discussion of whether Zimmerman had ended his pursuit. And this timing shows that if Zimmerman had ended his pursuit, it happened less than a minute before Martin was shot dead. So even if Zimmerman considers he had ended the pursuit, it’s possible Martin did not feel that was the case and confronted him. But if he had ended the pursuit earlier, the altercation would not have happened where it did, and would more likely have been at the end of the row of houses, or nearer the street.
The Injuries… Or Lack Thereof…
According to Zimmerman’s story, Martin had gotten the upper hand in their altercation and was on top of him, beating his head into the concrete. Zimmerman’s father, a former VA magistrate, says he was severely beaten, with a broken nose and gash to the head. Zimmerman’s attorney says that his client had a gash big enough that it nearly needed stitches. And his brother says that he fired his gun before he lost consciousness from one more blow to the head.
Sounds pretty serious, except these stories also do not fit what we have seen released. In particular, a full video showing Zimmerman arriving at the Sanford Police Department, exiting the police cruiser and walking to an interview room. In none of these shots, is there any visible evidence of a broken nose. No bruising, no blood. There is also no visible evidence of a gash sufficient to require stitches. In fact, no evidence of any real injury at all.
UPDATE 4/2/12 11:52 am – ABC News has released an “enhanced” version of the surveillance video that shows marks on the back of Zimmerman’s head. It is unclear what the marks are, but may be cuts. But there is still no evidence of a broken nose and no visible blood anywhere.
UPDATE 4/2/12 5:54 pm – ABC News now reporting that they have asked a medical expert to analyze the enhanced video, and the there are no signs of significant injury or a broken nose that would be consistent with Zimmerman’s claims.
The fact that there does not appear to be blood on his clothing is significant. Remember his story - Zimmerman says Martin was on top of him, they fought for Zimmerman’s gun, Zimmerman pulled the trigger and shot Martin in the chest. The law of gravity says that blood would fall from the wound. And if not, that same law of gravity says that someone, leaning forward to bash your head into concrete, when shot would fall onto you. This would cause transfer, even if just a little, to your clothing. But Martin was found dead on the grass, face down, with his hands beneath him. Again, the story doesn’t make sense. At least one eyewitness has come forward to state that they saw the altercation, and that he saw the two of them on the grass, not the concrete, and that the “larger man” – Zimmerman – was on top.
We also see that the clothes Zimmerman was wearing, including a jacket, came down over his waistband. So, for Martin to have seen the concealed weapon, the jacket would have to have gone up, the pants shifted down the shirt exposed the waistband, and the holster shifted into view. And somehow, Martin would have to have been able to draw the weapon from the holster. We talked about the timeline above. There’s just a whole lot that needs to have happened in a very short period of time for this story to hold true.
Zimmerman’s gun was confiscated and is locked up in an evidence locker at Sanford PD, but he has not had any action against his license to carry, meaning he can buy another gun or if has another in his possession legally, he may carry it without restriction. Given that he has not been charged, this is within the law.
UPDATE 4/6/12 5:56 PM: On CBS’ This Morning program, one of Zimmerman’s lawyers introduced the idea that “Shaken Baby Syndrome” can kill an infant, and that a person can die from repeated blows to the skull. This line of defense is consistent with the description of the fight thus far, and is being used to explain why there was little visible evidence of his heat being beaten. But again, this shows how the story is changing to fit evidence as it comes out. The original story was that his head was beaten severely and that there was a significant gash. Video has been released that calls that story into question. Now, Zimmerman’s defense is using Shaken Baby Syndrome as a means of saying that the lack of visible injury doesn’t matter.
Of course, this doesn’t affect the true issue of this case. If Zimmerman approached Martin, and Martin felt threatened, there3 is no self-defense claim available.
The Audio Analysis
New analysis of the 911 tapes from Zimmerman and from others that captured someone screaming help have come under more scrutiny over the last few days. Zimmerman claims the screaming was him, calling for help. Others who heard the screaming have said the voice sounded more like the younger Martin. But the contradictions make deciphering this part of the story difficult.
In response, the Orlando Sentinel contacted two forensic experts who specialize in audio analysis. Both use significantly different techniques, one through personal observation of the characteristics of the recordings and the other through sophisticated software analysis. In both cases, the analysts agree on two things: First, that they cannot positively identify the screaming voice as that of Treyvon Martin. With no sample of his voice, they have no way to make a determination on that. But more importantly, both said that the voice was not that of George Zimmerman. The analysts both state that the recordings of the screams and of Zimmerman’s 911 call are of an excellent quality for analysis, and are both certain that Zimmerman is not the one calling for help.
So, What Really Happened?
That’s really the question we all want answered. So a caveat: The following theory is based on what is public evidence, as well as some inference from that evidence. However, based on what is publicly known, I believe it is an explanation that fits what we do know.
Zimmerman was parked on the north/south section of Twin Trees Rd., south of the crosswalk. He is far enough north to see Trayvon Martini leave the shelter of the clubhouse building and walk toward the corner. In his 911 call, Zimmerman says “These assholes. they always get away”. He says Martin walks “toward” him, looks at him, then walks away. He says Martin begins to run.
From Martin’s point of view, he’s walking home. It’s is raining so he walks along the front of the clubhouse to shelter himself. He’s talking to his girlfriend. From there, he walks toward the crosswalk to cross the street. He looks down the street and sees Zimmerman exiting his vehicle. Away from shelter he runs across the street and sees Zimmerman following him.
Zimmerman tells dispatchers he is following Martin. By the time he hangs up, he is near the crosswalk and continues to follow Martin, who tells his girlfriend he is being followed. Zimmerman is not going to let this one get away, and having temporarily lost him when Martin went down the walk, he picks up the pace to catch up to him.
Zimmerman has called the police, and wants to detain Martin until the police arrive. He tries to stop Martin. Martin, who has no idea why he is being followed, challenges Zimmerman. They fight. Zimmerman pulls his gun to end the fight, killing Martin.
Can this be proven? Not yet. But it fits the evidence so far more cleanly than Zimmerman’s contradiction-riddled story.
There is one more thing of note. I have not brought the issue of race into this, and the decision not to is deliberate. Race is only an issue in this matter after the determination that Zimmerman did not act in self-defense. Self-defense is the key to Zimmerman’s story. In looking at all the evidence thus far, there is very little to suggest that Zimmerman “broke off the pursuit” and far more to suggest that he got his man – and then devised a story to move the blame away from himself and onto the victim.