Prosecution Nearly Ready To Rest In The Trayvon Martin Trial

By | July 5, 2013

The prosecutors are said to be calling their final witnesses which include members of Trayvon Martin’s family and the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy. Bernie

Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, testified briefly July 5th to verify that the screams for help on the 911 tape were her son’s.

When asked by the prosecutor “Who do you recognize that to be?” She replied, “Trayvon Benjamin Martin.”

Trayvon Martin’s brother, Jahvaris Fulton, acknowledged that when he first heard the screams for help on the 911 tape, he was not certain that it was his brother. He testified that when he first heard the tape, he was “clouded by shock and sadness in denial.”

The Medical Examiner

The medical examiner, Dr. Bao, testified on direct that Trayvon Martin was 5’11” and weighed 158 pounds at autopsy.

Dr. Bao also testified that Trayvon Martin was still alive after being shot. It is his opinion that he suffered and was in pain.

Dr. Bao told the jury that Trayvon Martin was alive for one to 10 minutes after he was shot. By that he meant that his brain was still alive and he was conscious but his body was unable to move.

Dr. Bao had “no opinion” on the position of Trayvon Martin’s body at the time of the shooting. He thought that the bullet trajectory was “straight into the heart.”

Dr. Bao explained to the jury that a laceration found on Trayvon Martin’s hand could have happened two hours before the shooting, during the shooting or even after he fell to the ground.

On cross-examination later in the day, Dr. Bao testified that Trayvon Martin may have been able to move after being shot but he is not sure how much and for how long. Dr. Bao had previously believed that Trayvon Martin had lived for one to three minutes but he later changed his opinion to one to 10 minutes based on a case he reviewed three weeks ago. The case involved a young boy who was shot in his heart by his father and who lived for 10 minutes after the shooting. It was determined that the young boy was in pain and suffered before he died.

 Testimony Before The Holiday Break

Before the July 4th holiday break, the jury heard about George Zimmerman’s criminal justice course work from two of his former professors.

Mr. Zimmerman had taken an online course called Criminal Investigations. Professor Scott Pleasants testified via Skype that much of the coursework for the class involved online discussions with the professor and other students. He testified that Mr. Zimmerman had aspirations to become a prosecutor.

According to Professor Alexis Carter, who testified in-person, Mr. Zimmerman was one of his better students. He earned an “A” in a 2011 criminal litigation course, which covered elements of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

Mr. Zimmerman had previously stated that he had never heard of the “Stand Your Ground” law until after the shooting.

The jury also heard about Mr. Zimmerman’s interest in police work. A witness testified that Mr. Zimmerman applied for a job with the Prince William County, Virginia Police Department in 2009. Lieut. Scott Kerns testified that Mr. Zimmerman’s application was rejected because of poor financial credit.

Testimony was also heard from DNA expert Anthony Gorgone. Mr. Gorgone told the court that Martin’s DNA was not found on George Zimmerman’s gun or holster. George Zimmerman’s DNA was not found under Trayvon Martin’s fingernails.

A law enforcement analyst testified that the tearing and residue found on Trayvon Martin’s clothing indicated that the gun was directly against his body when it was fired.

Prosecutors have charged George Zimmerman with second-degree murder.

26 thoughts on “Prosecution Nearly Ready To Rest In The Trayvon Martin Trial

  1. Penny

    If Trayvon was on top of Zimmerman gun would be against Trayvon’s body. But why no blood found on Zimmerman? Hope some one can answer me? I did miss a couple of daysMaybe this was when that testimony took place.

    1. Penny

      Think Dr Boa confused this case even more. He says something one time then decides later something else.
      As far as Trayvon’s mother saying that scream was her son and a voice expert could not tell who’s scream that was how could she? Most parents never have heard life threating scream from their child and it would be very different from a normal scream. As a mom I’m not sure I would know 100%.

      1. Maria Cristina Santana, JD

        Penny, I agree with you on both points. I don’t think either mother can know for sure if that was their son. Both mothers are under the influence of intense emotions and could be telling the truth of their perceptions without it being objectively accurate that it was their son.

        However, this brings me to what I think was false testimony on the part of George’s uncle. His testimony seemed completely false, contrived, exaggerated in its delivery. First, he claimed that he was in another room on his computer, didn’t even know what was on tv or what had happened with George, when he heard screams on the tv, recognized it immediately as his nephew George and went into the other room to investigate. Then he emphasized that George was screaming in fear for his life, emphasizing the elements of his mental state that would get him off–testifying as to the mental state he recognized in the voice. And to top it off he emphasized how ethical he is as a law enforcement officer himself.

        I’m disgusted. Even a mother would not have recognized her son sitting at the computer in another room unaware of what’s on tv from those screams. I’m disgusted because this is the mentality I think George was raised with, that you can fabricate and lie at every turn, and that being in law enforcement imbues you with authority and the presumption of correctness.

        Of all who testified, this is the one witness I believe deliberately lied.

  2. Chris Larson

    This entire case is huge tragedy. Trayvon’s family will never know what really happened and that makes the pain
    hurt even more. It could be that George is telling the entire truth, or not. George wanted to be a police officer or a lawyer
    and if those are the professions that interested him,why did he not have the ability to communicate with Trayvon.
    Why was he unable to roll down the window and say ” Hey, I’m the neighborhood watch coordinator”.
    Scratch being a cop or a lawyer if you’re unable to verbally confront someone. This all could have been avoided.
    I have watched the trial and believe that he will be found not guilty.
    I don’t believe the state has proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

    1. stacey

      you can’t be a lawyer or a cop if you’re financially irresponsible. The fact that GZ was and remains financially irresponsible is very telling to me; either it was just fantasy, or he believes he’s different than everybody else and the rules don’t apply to him.

      The communication problem, not to mention misunderstanding the 911 operator telling him to stop what he was doing is just more of the same. It’s too bad that a young man had to die because GZ didn’t think such things apply to him.

      1. Maria Cristina Santana, JD

        It’s interesting that they never even reviewed the rest of the application. The credit report is cheap so just looking at that saved the department the money required for the rest of the background check. I guarantee the rest of the background check would have disqualified him further as police cannot take on the liability of hiring someone who in the past had a domestic violence arrest and protective order. (A Seattle police officer with a similar protective order once ended up killing his wife and it almost took down the entire police department.) Nor someone who was originally charged with felonies for assaulting a police officer, then allowed into a diversion program where charges were dismissed after completion.

        These are warning signs of being violent, territorial, lacking impulse control and having poor judgment. They screen these people out at the door. His chances of being a police officer were zero. I’ve always said this is why he was resume-padding, creating his neighborhood watch making himself the leader, wanting to drive around with police, mentoring black kids. None of this was service to the community. It was because he is a deliberate, self serving person, coached by others on how to show rehabilitation and a history of service hoping it would counter the negatives in his history so he could get in.

        I find it so disturbing that many of the people he surrounded himself with have extreme ideas about law enforcement too. That friend of his whose a former officer and testified that everyone whose not a felon should carry a gun is insane. He’s the one who helped Zimmerman get the gun, and also took him to the police station and helped him prepare for his “interrogation.”

        Also his friend Frank Tafee whose on Nancy Grace screaming all the time is the other person involved with him in the neighborhood watch. Listening carefully, the whole incident with Trayvon started because of the combination of these two pathological minds. George saw Trayvon passing in front of Frank Tafee’s house, possibly walking on the grass, and George immediately went into territorial mode. He falsely claimed he was looking into his friend’s house. (First said looking around at house, later looking into that house and others.)

        Like when a primitive predatory animal encounters another in their territory, George could not continue his trip to the grocery store once he saw this kid on his co-neighborhood-watch vigilante’s lawn. It stinks to high heaven.

  3. Uppity

    Let’s face it. It’s rare that I am speechless. But that Medical Examiner’s testimony did it for me

    Oh. My. Gawd.

    1. Chris Larson

      The prosecutors either did not prepare their witness or this Dr. just wanted to do it his way.
      It was such a Hot Mess!
      He had to totally confuse the jury. He gets an “F”.

  4. Babs

    Sadly I agree that there is still too much room for reasonable doubt. Personally I still think George Zimmerman is guilty as sin, he clearly profiled Travon Martin and chased him down despite being told by the 911 operator not to do that. However because the forensics evidence wasn’t conclusive in laying out the absolute facts and details and due to the effectiveness of defense counsel, I think George will get away with needlessly killing a young man just because he felt a need to prove he was a wanna be police officer. Don’t know if the jury will be allowed to come back with guilty of a lesser charge such as manslaughter.

    Is it possible that Travon and George were in a two way skuffle? Of course it is but non of this would have happened if George hadn’t strapped on his locked and loaded pistol and headed out looking to score a “bust”. Although he may not be found guilty I suspect he will be like Casey Anthony and not ever really be allowed to move on. Sounds fair to me…Travon can’t move on either and all he was doing was minding his own business.

    1. Maria Cristina Santana, JD

      I think this is the most incriminating evidence of George Zimmerman’s mental state. Just months before killing Trayvon he wrote this for a homework assignment: “The reason I want to be a law enforcement officer is [that] I want to ‘hunt fugitives’ and make sure they won’t get away,”

      He then tells the 911 operator these assholes always get away and went hunting for him. You can’t go hunting fugitives on the streets and then claim “justifiable homicide” when the kid turns on you to protect himself from your pursuit.

      http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/155532-george-zimmerman-wanted-to-hunt-fugitives-prosecution-says-in-trial/

  5. lizzie

    I’m not sure the reason for the lack of TM’s blood on GZ was addressed directly, Penny, although I have missed some testimony also. But I think the testimony suggested 1) most of the bleeding was internal into the chest cavity, not outward 2) much of the bleeding that was external was absorbed by the two heavy sweatshirts TM wore.

    It is GZ’s story also that he got out from under TM quickly so, if true, that would have minimized transfer from the bleeding wound. Finally, while we’d like to think that crime labs always find all trace evidence that is present, we must know that’s not true. (Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.) It sounds like also that GZ would have been in the rain for a period of time right before/right after the police arrived so some evidence could wash off, especially if the lab wasn’t careful enough when looking for microscopic blood and/or the wet clothes weren’t handled correctly by the police. It’s also odd, no matter who was on top, that none of the blood from GZ’s broken nose was found on TM. I think it’s quite a stretch to decide that means TM did not cause that injury. And really, GZ couldn’t have broken his own nose AFTER he shot TM as there were witnesses on the scene by then. And even if we propose a wild plot in which GZ did it to himself BEFORE he accosted TM to set the stage for self-defense, why didn’t he bleed on TM during the fight? The defense suggested that the lack of GZ’s blood on TM shows GZ was on his back because the blood from his broken nose would have gone down his throat (like it does if lying down during an ordinary nosebleed) and only when he stood up did it flow outward and down his face, but it’s still odd.

    1. Chris Larson

      Lizzie,
      I also thought that the lack of blood on Trayvon’s hands was suspicious, and no marks on Trayvon’s hands. I would imagine there would have been some swelling or something to indicate a fight as described by GZ. It just doesn’t pass my smell test. Personally I feel that the fight was not that serious and GZ panicked. He took a few punches and settled the fight with his gun. Will GZ continue to carry a fully loaded gun if found not guilty? YES.

      1. lizzie

        I agree @Chris L it was odd there were not more scrapes on TM’s hands no matter who started it as we do know there was a physical fight of some sort. But to assume because forensic evidence was not reported it did not exist, is difficult for me with that ME. He said he had no memory of doing the autopsy (and no memory when deposed in 2012), he didn’t check behind his technician who did some of the “hand work”, and when asked about his own examination of TM’s hands, about all he could say was he couldn’t remember looking at them, but there must not have been anything more to note or he would have noted it in the report. Since he had no independent memory of TM’s autopsy, that was sort of like his saying the autopsy must have been done correctly because his own report didn’t say it wasn’t! Eventually, during cross, he decided there were no photos taken of the palms because hands curl up after death. (And it appears the autopsy was done around 10:30 AM on Feb 27—about 15 hrs after death when full rigor mortis would be expected to be present. So it likely would have been hard to open the hands.) But even the justification about the lack of palm photos seemed to be reached on the fly while on the stand. Not exactly confidence-inspiring medical testimony either way.

        So far as the absence of swelling on TM’s hands, if there had been an injury, I am not sure that there would have been time for swelling to develop since all evidence suggests TM died very quickly after the fight began (which obviously is not the case in every homicide). I’m NOT a medical expert, but I think some signs we associate with minor traumatic injury may not develop once the body is deceased. When we do see defensive/offensive wounds to hands during autopsy, if a knife was involved (Travis A) we will see cuts and depending on the condition of the body, a competent ME may be able to tell if those were inflicted before or after death. Sometimes there are broken fingers that will show on x-ray, but I’m not sure the visible swelling/edema associated with a broken digit in a live person would always occur in a corpse if the break occurred minutes before death. (I know when I broke one of my toes, it did not begin to look swollen until about 4 hrs later. I remember because it seemed so odd the toe could look normal for so long and yet hurt so much.)

        I know the moment a person dies, not all of his/her cells die instantly, but when someone “bleeds out” as it appears TM did into his chest cavity, given the effect hypovolemic shock has on capillary refill, I’m not sure there would be sufficient peripheral fluid/plasma present to produce easily noticeable post-mortem traumatic edema even if there HAD been a hand injury. (We know this ME said he could not obtain peripheral blood.) It also may be that the CPR administered on the scene actually increased the speed of the bleeding into the chest and away from the periphery. (That’s not to say CPR should not have been done, of course.) But I’m not a medical expert. Perhaps someone here is?

    2. Penny

      Lizzie I agree with all the points you made. 911 was very confusing. First telling him not to follow then wanting to know an address and TM location. This all could have been perveted had GZ not got out and followed or TM had just gone home. I believe TM came back started the fight and was on top of GZ. If someone was pounding my head on cement I would do what ever it takes to stop that person. Not one person can know when the next blow to the head could be the one that causes death. I think both were quilty to some degree but I do think it was self defese that could have been avoided.

  6. lizzie

    “You can’t go hunting fugitives on the streets and then claim “justifiable homicide” when the kid turns on you to protect himself from your pursuit.” (@Maria, July 6, 5:06)

    I know you are an attorney, Maria, and I am not, but I don’t see how your statement gives a legally defensible basis for finding GZ guilty. Your post may explain exactly what happened that night though.

    I agree it would not have been sensible to keep following TM after calling the PD. And I suspect TM would not have liked being followed. That would be true for any of us and we are not young Black males who frequently attract undue negative attention. RJ’s testimony also suggested TM did not like being followed by this particular “creepy ass cracker.”

    But it seems there is plenty of room for reasonable doubt as to whether GZ continued to follow TM. We’ve heard the recording saying “we don’t need for you to follow him” and GZ said “OK.” That instruction is likely given to protect callers from harm from potential criminal elements. It’s not given because following someone is remotely illegal. And in fact, during the state’s case we heard about the successful apprehension of a thief in that very neighborhood after the “stucco guys” followed a suspicious person and alerted the police to his exact location. That crew received praise for their actions from the PD.

    We’ve also heard the later part of the same recording where GZ was told to keep dispatch posted on what TM was doing. And we heard PD testimony stating it was not unreasonable for GZ to interpret that instruction to mean that while he should not “follow,” he should try to keep TM in sight—a notion consistent with neighborhood watchers as the “eyes and ears” of the police. The PD also asked GZ several times for the exact street address/house number where TM was. In order to provide an exact location, it is logical GZ would need to keep TM in sight. (I do hope the Sanford PD has revised instructions dispatch is allowed to give to callers since this incident.)

    IF, as you say, TM “turned on” GZ to “protect” himself from being followed, that sounds like it means TM started the fight. It isn’t legal to begin beating on someone who is only following you, something even a 17 yo teenager would know. (In fact, RJ, also a teenager, testified she told TM to run away and just go home.) And IF that’s what happened and TM did begin the fight because he didn’t like being followed, while it is a terrible tragedy that could have been prevented had either TM OR GZ made different choices (and perhaps prevented even if the dispatcher had made different requests–but preventable tragedies usually ARE “perfect storms”), GZ’s actions were likely entirely legal. Self-defense using deadly force could be justified after a fight GZ did not start escalated, if he BELIEVED he was threatened with bodily harm. Whether he should have followed in the first place seems immaterial from a legal perspective although that issue may be persuasive to some jurors (as we know verdicts are not always based on the law/jury instructions but depend instead on the “likeability” of key figures–including the attorneys–in the case.) And, in fact, if that is what happened, the reasoning of blaming GZ seems somewhat akin to “blaming the victim” as some used to do with victims of sexual assault. (She shouldn’t have been in the location where she was attacked, it wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t gone to a bar alone, she brought it on herself by talking to him, etc) Just like “following” (and even like carrying a registered/permitted gun), all those actions are entirely legal. They may or may not appear “sensible” in hindsight, but that’s different from those actions being a legal element of a crime.

    1. Maria Cristina Santana, JD

      Lizzie, I tried to answer this yesterday with some quotes on the self defense law but for some reason the whole reply got erased. The gist of what I was trying to say though is that I won’t be angry if the jury does have reasonable doubt. I hope he’s found guilty but I won’t say the jury did anything wrong if they have reasonable doubt.

      But the law in Florida on self defense does allow Trayvon to respond to being pursued by “starting the fight” as some would say. It is actually legal. That’s the original form of self defense, in response to being pursued, which under the law is called an assault. Assault is not to be touched, but rather circumstances that place you in fear of imminent offensive touching, of having your exit blocked, of being wrongly detained, etc. Fear that this is what is going to happen based on the actions of the other person is all that is required for an assault to have occurred.

      Trayvon punching him under the facts we know is reasonable and justifiable under the law as self defense.

      1. lizzie

        @Maria—Interesting, although I knew assault meant some of those things, I certainly did not know it would be legal for me to hit someone in the face who I’d never seen before if he/she appeared to be following me in a public area or quasi-public area where I was visiting. But I don’t live in FL which is apparently the land of the weird laws. In my state, if someone breaks into your house, you MAY shoot in self-defense, but if someone is simply attempting to gain illegal entry into your house, even at night, it is not legal to shoot in self-defense to prevent entry. (There are lots of jokes about shooting anyway and then dragging the body into the house or making sure the person is more than halfway through the window/door before pulling the trigger.) Obviously state laws vary but I think I’d be more frightened by a stranger trying to climb into my bedroom window than I would by a stranger appearing to follow me (although I’d not want to be followed either as I’ve said before. And I do say “appearing” to follow because regardless of the facts of this particular case, there would always be more ambiguity in the action of ‘following” than there would in the action of climbing in a window/forcing open a locked front door, etc.)

        Regardless, your point certainly has not been made in the State’s case. The implication from much of what was presented by the State appears to have been GZ doesn’t have a valid self-defense claim because even IF there was a fight, and even IF he didn’t start the fight, and even IF his nose was broken/he had some bumps and cuts on his head from the fight, overall he wasn’t hurt that badly so he should not have reacted the way he did. The purpose of calling the female ME from Jacksonville seemed to be only to show GZ’s injuries did not appear life-threatening to her based on the pictures and records she reviewed. The State’s questioning of some other witnesses also went to that point.

        So the State’s position, in part, APPEARS to be GZ’s self-defense claim can not be valid because GZ was not hurt to the point of having sustained serious injuries. And, if so, it surely seems counter-intuitive that self-defense on TM’s part could be claimed for being followed. In addition, and perhaps these things are simply trial strategy, the State has gone to great pains with some of the witnesses to ensure they don’t appear to be suggesting it can be known whether TM threw the first punch (an action you say would have been quite legal) and the State has attempted to present any “following” that did occur as “profiling” rather than assault. The latter emphasis may have been chosen simply to ensure racial issues were raised (as the term profiling means race to most people even when used without a modifier), but if what GZ did was illegal because any following he did was assault (or could have been seen by TM that way), it seems odd the race card was preferred over any hint of that argument.

        1. Maria Cristina Santana, JD

          Yep, it is odd, if they didn’t have the evidence to prove racial profiling, why they dropped the ball on the more obvious issue that pursuing him as a suspect in itself created an assault justifying Trayvon defending himself.

          I think most laws are odd, or oddly worded and oddly defined. The law you cite on how its not legal to kill if someone breaks into the house really is intended to make a distinction between killing to protect property and killing to protect oneself. It’s always legal in all states to shot someone inside your house if you have a reasonable fear they are there to physically hurt you rather than just to steal your stuff.

          Many states used to have laws allowing you to kill in defense of your territory or your house, meaning the property itself, that the law finally had to be narrowed because so many people felt justified shooting someone trespassing on the lawn, (Seriously, there was such a case in Lousiana you might find interesting here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoshihiro_Hattori)

          In the land of the vigilante, it became necessary to confuse the rest of us, by passing laws stating its not legal to kill even if the person is in your house if they are not endangering your life/health.

          1. Penny

            Both are quilty. Zimmerman should have stayed in his car and Trayvon should have not circled back. Tragady could have been avoided. I am swayed more towards Zimmerman getting off not because I think he is innocent but he was getting his head beat into cement.

        2. Penny

          If it had been 2 whites or 2 blacks we would have never heard about this trial. It is all about race. Both are quilty for what happened.

      2. Penny

        I think the fear of imminet danger would be zimmerman as he is the one getting his slammed into cement and how many blows does it take to kill you? I know I would fight for my life. But I do think both had their own part in this tragedy.

    1. Penny

      I agree that legally not quilty is not innocent but I do not believe either GZ not TM can bbe found innocent. Both of their actions caused this tragedy.

  7. Don Osborne

    This case all boils down to intent. Was Z’s intention to protect community property as he has claimed, or was he looking to be a hero? Was his intent when he left his vehicle simply to find a street name in order to accurately direct authorities, or was he intending to exert his own authority? What was his intent in carrying a gun in the ready to fire position, if not to use it? And what was the intent of the victim? Was he a ‘suspect’ out ‘casing’ the area as his killer assumed; and did he intend to kill, necessitating Z to use lethal force in order to save his own life? Only one side of the encounter can be given.
    Judging by appearances there are two G Z’s – the fit, aggressive looking macho man who was out looking after the better interests of the community, and the plumper, meek and mild looking innocent that has presented in court.
    Did he eventually find himself in such a situation that only the use of deadly force could save him – and was he justified in using it? His injuries were only superficial, and not indicative that such was the case. Help wasn’t too far away, either. Was the local hero getting so much the worst of the encounter that he suddenly decided he was no hero, and took the coward’s way out? Has there been any sign of regret or misgiving from him over the needless loss of a young life?
    Has the prosecution proved its case for second degree murder? They began with a bang through a dynamic opening address, but ended with a whimper courtesy of the ‘evidence’ of the pathologist. It is difficult to imagine Juan Martinez rounding off his case in such a fashion.

    What can be decided with some certainty is that Z instigated the confrontation – and ended it – through his actions and judgements/misjudgements. Also, the jury may find it difficult to interpret the victim’s actions as anything other than completely justified, if they choose to ignore Z’s self-serving explanations and decide that the indications were that Z was stalking TM, and that he was the one entitled to defend himself.
    Z is a professional do-gooder whose actions had tragic results. It would seem something of an injustice if he is acquitted, and such a decision may well give the green light to others to decide that – having instigated a confrontational situation, and coming off second best – it’s legitimate to claim your victim was up to no good, and you had to use lethal force to save yourself.

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