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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in At TMV | 12 comments

Trayvon Martin Versus George Zimmerman, Defense Versus Prosecution

WASHINGTON – It’s only the beginning, with defense hacks making a lot of noise, writing the Trayvon Martin autopsy “showed bloody knuckles,” while burying or ignoring the lede offered by NBC’s report that this wasn’t the case after their review of the actual autopsy report. This reveals the problem with being for one side without at least making a good faith attempt at putting emotion and bias aside.

Florida teenager Trayvon Martin died from a single gunshot wound to the chest fired from “intermediate range,” according to an autopsy report reviewed Wednesday by NBC News. The official report, prepared by the medical examiner in Volusia County, Fla., also found that the 17-year-old Martin had one other fresh injury – a small abrasion, no more than a quarter-inch in size – on his left ring finger below the knuckle.Trayvon Martin killed by single gunshot fired from ‘intermediate range,’ autopsy shows

If you’re looking for the defense view, Jeralyn Merritt would be your best source. For the prosecution, I’d stick with The Grio team.

In Wednesday’s column, citing an earlier report that George Zimmerman “called 911 dozens of times in the months that led to the fatal shooting,” the time line was over a period of several years, Zimmerman making 46 calls from 2004 to 2011.

From a New York Times correction:

An earlier version of this article misstated the time period in which Mr. Zimmerman made 46 calls to 911. The calls were made over the course of about eight years, not 14 months.

This could be seen as equally damning from the prosecution’s angle, because it goes to George Zimmerman’s state of mind. It could aid Corey’s office when coupled with Zimmerman’s medical report compiled by the family physician, which reveals he’d been prescribed medication “prior to shooting” Trayvon Martin dead.

According to the report, prior to the shooting Zimmerman had been prescribed Adderall and Temazepam, medications that can cause side effects such as agitation and mood swings, but in fewer than 10 percent of patients.

“Prior to the shooting” needs further defining, but the reasons for the prescriptions could weigh heavily on Zimmerman’s behavior patterns before the night of the shooting.

Merritt described the drugs briefly, while defense hacks blew right over their presence in Zimmerman’s report.

The report also lists medication he was using. He took a medication that is routinely prescribed for children and young adults with attention-deficit disorder and a sleep medication.

We’ll have to wait to see what “prior to the shooting” means, but the medications are a window into Zimmerman’s state of mind, his challenges navigating in life, which we all have, but which also brings up questions about his judgment in discerning what connotes an actual threat versus his overactive mind, something that defense attorneys in general, not speaking of Merritt but specially about Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s attorney, would want to play down for good reasons.

According to the National Institute of Health, Temazepam is used to treat insomnia. Adderall is a Class II drug used in cases of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). According to Web MD, one of the possible reactions is “aggressive behavior,” something the prosecution is sure to mine.

The New York Times today reviews, defense advocates would say rehashes, what remains a primary issue in this case, which is the Sanford Police Dept.’s shoddy work when the case first happened.

In interviews over several weeks, law enforcement authorities, witnesses and local elected officials identified problems with the initial investigation:

¶ On the night of the shooting, door-to-door canvassing was not exhaustive enough, said a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation. If officers had been more thorough, they might have determined that Mr. Martin, 17, was a guest — as opposed to an intruder — at a gated community called the Retreat at Twin Lakes. That would have been an important part of the subjective analysis that night by officers sizing up Mr. Zimmerman’s story. Investigators found no witnesses who saw the fight start. Others saw parts of a struggle they could not clearly observe or hear. One witness, though, provided information to the police that corroborated Mr. Zimmerman’s account of the struggle, according to a law enforcement official.

¶ The police took only one photo at the scene of any of Mr. Zimmerman’s injuries — a full-face picture of him that showed a bloodied nose — before paramedics tended to him. It was shot on a department cellphone camera and was not downloaded for a few days, an oversight by the officer who took it.

¶ The vehicle that Mr. Zimmerman was driving when he first spotted Mr. Martin was mistakenly not secured by officers as part of the crime scene. The vehicle was an important link in the fatal encounter because it was where Mr. Zimmerman called the police to report a suspicious teenager in a hooded sweatshirt roaming through the Retreat. Mr. Zimmerman also said he was walking back to the vehicle when he was confronted by Mr. Martin, who was unarmed, before shooting him.

¶ The police were not able to cover the crime scene to shield evidence from the rain, and any blood from cuts that Mr. Zimmerman suffered when he said Mr. Martin pounded his head into a sidewalk may have been washed away.

¶ The police did not test Mr. Zimmerman for alcohol or drug use that night, and one witness said the lead investigator quickly jumped to a conclusion that it was Mr. Zimmerman, and not Mr. Martin, who cried for help during the struggle.

Some Sanford officers were skeptical from the beginning about certain details of Mr. Zimmerman’s account. For instance, he told the police that Mr. Martin had punched him over and over again, but they questioned whether his injuries were consistent with the number of blows he claimed he received. They also suspected that some of the threatening and dramatic language that Mr. Zimmerman said Mr. Martin uttered during the struggle — like “You are going to die tonight” — sounded contrived.

Was Trayvon Martin a life threat to George Zimmerman, who had been repeatedly called 911 over many years, 46 times, or simply seen as threatening from the view of an hyperactive mind due to Zimmerman’s Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? Even if Zimmerman felt threatened, why did he feel his life was in danger enough to shoot an unarmed teen?

Did a suspension for graffiti, then being found with “an empty bag with traces of marijuana,” mean more than a teen possibly experimenting with the drug? A police investigator said he saw Martin on school surveillance “hiding and being suspicious” and also stated he witnessed Martin carve “WTF” in a school door. When his belongings were searched for tagging equipment, “a screwdriver that he described as a ‘burglary tool'” was found. From a previous report from the Miami Herald:

Trayvon’s backpack contained 12 pieces of jewelry, in addition to a watch and a large flathead screwdriver, according to the report, which described silver wedding bands and earrings with diamonds.

Trayvon was asked if the jewelry belonged to his family or a girlfriend.

“Martin replied it’s not mine. A friend gave it to me,” he responded, according to the report. Trayvon declined to name the friend.

Trayvon was not disciplined because of the discovery, but was instead suspended for graffiti, according to the report.

As for Trayvon Martin being killed from an “intermediate range,” this from a defense attorney group, with a firearm expert in resident:

Determining the Distance of the Shooter from the Victim

Examination of the gunshot wound can help determine many factors involved in the shooting, including the distance of the shooter from the victim. Gunshot wounds can be classified based on the range from the muzzle of the gun to the target. These classifications include contact, near-contact, intermediate, and distant wounds.

I would also question analysis from people on whether they or someone close to them owns a firearm and has one in their house, and if they themselves are ready to use a firearm for protection. It matters, because unless you’ve had a loaded weapon in your hand, fired it and understand the gravity of that power, let alone what carrying a concealed weapon means, you can’t possibly know what it takes to pull a loaded weapon in open territory, not your home where you have been threatened, to kill an unarmed civilian.

Why did George Zimmerman fear for his life when Martin was unarmed? He’s got a gun and might been able to warn the teen off with that announcement alone. Martin’s “a quarter-inch in size” knuckle abrasion hardly illustrates a dire life threat.

My husband was shot at close range years before I met him and almost died, which I’ve written about before. Two young, black thugs –the assessment at the time after the crime– came out of nowhere in the projects he was servicing as a senior gas technician at night to shoot him for no reason at all. Except for a Cook County surgeon who happened to be visiting a friend at the hospital where Mark was taken on that very night, we would never have met. So I have seen first-hand the reaction of a good man to young African American teens gone wrong and sympathize with reactions toward Zimmerman, up to a point.

Mark’s reality is a long way from where George Zimmerman sat the night he shot and killed Trayvon Martin. Even my husband scoffs at the notion George Zimmerman had the right to fire on an unarmed Trayvon Martin.

The racial angle exists and is embedded in this case, because there had reportedly been burglaries in the area by African Americans, with Zimmerman’s own words at times inflammatory, compounded by the uproar from the Sanford community that precipitated a special prosecutor taking over the case. Ignoring the racial angle is irresponsible wishful thinking and transporting America to a Shangri-La unreality.

The girlfriend’s call with Trayvon Martin was said at the time to have been the community tipping point and Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Martin’s family, certainly thought so, too.

“He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man,” Martin’s friend said. “I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run, but he said he was not going to run.”

Eventually, he would run, said the girl, thinking that he’d managed to escape. But suddenly the strange man was back, cornering Martin.

“Trayvon said, ‘What are you following me for,’ and the man said, ‘What are you doing here.’ Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again, and he didn’t answer the phone.”

Guns don’t kill, people with guns kill. So making sure guns are in the hands of people who are responsible is important, with people having concealed carry rights and permits expected to be even more vigilant.

As I’ve written before, I encouraged my husband to get a concealed carry for his work in the Las Vegas desert, where he was out at night late and alone. So, I’m not afraid of weaponry, having fired semi-automatics myself, my gun expert husband having had several weapons at one time.

Whether George Zimmerman was a man who should have been carrying a concealed weapon may be beyond the Trayvon Martin case, but it is something worthy of open discussion, because a concealed carry is a very serious right to wield.

It’s important to add gun owners rights do not exceed the rights of citizens without guns to feel safe.

That George Zimmerman chose to fire on an unarmed civilian should inspire challenges to Stand Your Ground laws, of which I remain deeply skeptical, and alarm every person who supports gun rights of individuals, which I do.

Taylor Marsh, a veteran political analyst and former Huffington Post contributor, is the author of The Hillary Effect, available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. Her new-media blog covers national politics, women and power.

video via The Grio

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