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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Medical examiners found that Trayvon had THC, the euphoria-inducing compound found in marijuana, in his blood – a potentially salient fact given that Zimmerman told a dispatcher he thought the man he had spotted “was on drugs or something.”Skip to next paragraph
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Trayvon, who lived in Miami, was in Sanford with his dad to serve out a 10-day school suspension for possessing a baggie with marijuana residue. He was returning from buying an iced tea and some Skittles from a local convenience store when Zimmerman spotted him, called a nonemergency police dispatcher, and then followed him on foot.
Forensics also found that Trayvon was shot at extremely close range with a single shot, which entered his chest and perforated his heart.
The report also revealed the FBI findings from one of the most controversial tenets of the case: whether a voice that can be heard screaming for help during a 911 recording was Trayvon or Zimmerman. The FBI was unable to conclusively determine whom the voice belonged to, and was also unable to corroborate suggestions that, at one point, Zimmerman uttered a racial slur.
According to police, Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s dad, said he didn’t believe the voice crying for help belonged to his son. When asked, Officer Chris Serino wrote: "Mr. Martin, clearly emotionally impacted by the recording, quietly responded 'no.' "
The stakes in the case are high. It set off national introspection over so-called Stand Your Ground laws, which critics call “shoot first” laws. Zimmerman is likely to argue his use of that law in a special “mini-trial” to precede a jury trial, in which a judge can dismiss the case outright and shield Zimmerman from civil liability.
Others, meanwhile, worry what impact an acquittal or hung jury could have, sparking columnist Mansfield Frazier at the Daily Beast to suggest that the legal system has a responsibility to help avoid a “large scale racial calamity.”
Corey, the prosecutor, has said that public pressure in the case did not influence her decision to charge Zimmerman with murder.
Both prosecutors and defense attorneys pleaded with Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester to allow redaction of witness names in the discovery file, because some of them have feared for their safety.
The redactions are unusual under Florida’s progressive “sunshine” law that constitutionally guarantees the public’s right to inspect prosecutorial evidence against citizens.
“We’re a nation that doesn’t like secret witnesses bringing cases against defendants,” says Charles Davis, a government transparency expert at the University of Missouri. “We wag our fingers at other countries that allow that."
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