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Latest evidence in Trayvon Martin case: Does it help George Zimmerman? (+video)

A trove of evidence from the Trayvon Martin shooting released Thursday may buttress George Zimmerman's claims of self-defense, some analysts say. But one finding undergirds the prosecution: The shooter could have avoided the situation.

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“The police concluded that none of this would have happened if George Zimmerman hadn't gotten out of his car," Martin family attorney Ben Crump told the Associated Press on Thursday. "If George Zimmerman hadn't gotten out of his car, they say it was completely avoidable. That is the headline."

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An anonymous police tipster, meanwhile, suggested that Zimmerman could be confrontational, especially against black people. Zimmerman, who is part-Hispanic, has been described by family members as a social activist who cared about minorities and the downtrodden.

"I don't at all know who this kid was or anything else,” the unnamed caller called told police shortly after the shooting. “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.”

Moreover, one woman told police she heard no fighting before the gun shot rang out. At that point, she went outside and saw a man, Zimmerman, standing over Martin’s prone, face-down body. “Just call the police,” Zimmerman said, according to the witness.

Another witness told a different tale. According to the report, “He witnessed a black male, wearing a dark colored 'hoodie' on top of a white or Hispanic male who was yelling for help. He elaborated by stating the black male was mounted on the white or Hispanic male and throwing punches 'MMA [mixed martial arts] style.' He stated he yelled out to the two individuals that he was going to call the police. He then heard a 'pop.' He stated that after hearing the 'pop,' he observed the person he had previously observed on top of the other person (the black male wearing the 'hoodie') laid out on the grass."

“Based on this description, it doesn’t appear that Zimmerman ‘executed’ Martin, as some of the inflammatory rhetoric claims,” writes law professor William Jacobson at the Legal Insurrection blog. “It’s legally irrelevant that the encounter could have been avoided.”

After the shooting, Sanford police recommended that Zimmerman be charged with negligent manslaughter, but a state prosecutor instead accepted Zimmerman’s invocation of the state’s Stand Your Ground law, which allows a person to defend himself with deadly force in public areas, if he believes his life is in danger.

The failure to charge Zimmerman led to protests in Sanford and around the country, the stepping down of the local police chief, and allegations of racial injustice, causing Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) to appoint a special prosecutor to take another look at the case.

In April, six weeks after the shooting, that prosecutor, Ms. Corey, reversed the earlier decision, charging Zimmerman with second-degree murder. He’s currently out on a $150,000 bond and in hiding.

While many of the details of the shooting have already been publicized, the evidence released Thursday revealed new details likely to shade the as-yet-unscheduled trial.


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