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Trayvon Martin case’s mystery man: George Zimmerman’s cop connection

New evidence shows that George Zimmerman, the defendant in the Trayvon Martin murder case, counts a law enforcement officer – a federal agent – as a close adviser.

By Patrik JonssonStaff writer / July 14, 2012

George Zimmerman and attorney Don West appear before Circuit Judge Kenneth R. Lester, Jr. during a bond hearing at the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center in Sanford, Fla., June 29.

Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/AP



It’s been perhaps the biggest mystery of the Trayvon Martin murder case saga: George Zimmerman’s cop connections.

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An aspiring police officer, Mr. Zimmerman has been accused by prosecutors of play-acting as a police officer the night he pursued, shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. after pegging him as a suspicious young black man roving the neighborhood. The case turned national when police initially chose to believe the neighborhood watchman’s self-defense claims, leaving a special state prosecutor to instead level murder charges 44 days later.

But questions about whether Zimmerman had actual connections with police or justice system higher-ups that may have influenced the early decision to not charge him were piqued this week with the release of new evidence in the closely-watched case, including an observation by one detective that Zimmerman’s take on the shooting seemed “scripted.”

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Documents from the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement suggest indirectly that Zimmerman’s closest adviser in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting has been a federal agent – a US air marshal and former Seminole County sheriff’s deputy identified by the Miami Herald as a man named Mark Osterman.

Mr. Osterman was at Zimmerman’s side as he returned to the scene of the crime the day after the shooting to go over what happened with detectives.

The Herald also reported that Zimmerman and Osterman were shooting buddies and that, as the Trayvon Martin story broke and the whole country was talking about what George Zimmerman and the Sanford police had done, the neighborhood watch captain took refuge for six weeks at Osterman’s house in Lake Mary.

Throughout the investigation, Trayvon’s family have wondered whether Zimmerman had an inside adviser. Some had pointed fingers at Seminole State Attorney Norm Wolfinger, because of his decision to let Zimmerman go. Mr. Wolfinger stepped aside when Gov. Rick Scott sought to appoint a special prosecutor to the case. That role eventually fell to Duval County state prosecutor Angela Corey.

And then there was speculation that Zimmerman’s father, Robert Zimmerman, a retired magistrate judge from Virginia, was somehow helping his son through the justice system.


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