Trayvon Martin case: Three key questions still not answered

In the month since teenager Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., the case has become a national sensation. Daily leaks favorable to one side or another have swung perceptions of the incident back and forth. Given what is currently known, what are the key questions on which Mr. Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence could turn, and which may be eventually answerable by evidence?

1. Was George Zimmerman hurt?

Sanford Police Department / REUTERS
George Zimmerman (c.) is inspected by an officer inside a police station in Sanford, Fla., in this frame grab taken from police video dated Feb. 26.

Mr. Zimmerman’s attorney, Craig Sonner, has said his client’s nose was broken in a fight with Trayvon. The police report of the incident, written up in the squad car that arrived in response, says Zimmerman was bleeding from the back of his head.

Yet police video taken Feb. 26, released to the news media March 29, shows an apparently uninjured Zimmerman arriving at police headquarters, hands cuffed behind his back. There are no bandages, no blood, and no swelling visible.

This question is important because it could help prove or disprove Zimmerman’s account of his encounter with Trayvon. He says Trayvon surprised him after he had returned to his vehicle, floored him with one punch, and then beat his head on the ground, according to the police incident report. A broken nose and cuts on the back of the head would be consistent with this account.

On the other hand, if Zimmerman were unhurt or not seriously injured it would call his truthfulness into question. Mr. Sonner said March 29 on the "Today" show that the video is “grainy,” and that his client could have been cleaned up in the squad car. But Trayvon’s family noted that in the tape Zimmerman does not look like someone who recently was fighting for his life.

“I believe that this video is icing on the cake,” said Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother.

It is likely that at a trial the facts could be established concerning the extent of Zimmerman’s injuries. Responding officers would have to testify about what the neighborhood watch captain looked like when they found him, and whether they offered him aid. As "Today" show host Matt Lauer noted March 29, there should be X-rays or other medical evidence if Zimmerman sought treatment for a broken nose.

1 of 3

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.