Here’s LLMPapa with a new video paying his respects to Officer Mike Wagner of the Sanford Police Department.
Here’s LLMPapa with a new video paying his respects to Officer Mike Wagner of the Sanford Police Department.
We need to focus today on the information available to us regarding the fatal shot in order to determine as best we can the respective positions of Zimmerman and Martin when Zimmerman fired the fatal shot.
As we do so, we have to keep in mind that there are two bloodstains on Martin’s shirt, which he was wearing under the hooded sweatshirt. DNA analyst Anthony Gorgogne has identified Zimmerman as the source of Stain A. He also concluded that Stain D is a mixed sample of Zimmerman and Martin.
In yesterday’s article on the DNA results, I mentioned that those are the only bloodstains on Martin’s clothing that contain Zimmerman’s DNA. Depending on their location, I concluded that the bloodstains may be the result of dripped blood from Zimmerman’s head as he leaned forward over Martin’s body while he was dead or alive, or transferred blood from his hands as he touched Martin’s shirt.
Note that if we assume the fingers and palms of Zimmerman’s hands were bloody with his own blood, we would expect to see his blood on Martin’s hooded sweatshirt, if he grabbed Martin’s two sweatshirts together with his left hand and pulled them down and slightly to his left as he fired the fatal shot.
Gorgogne did not find Zimmerman’s blood or DNA on the hooded sweatshirt. That probably means he did not have any blood on the underside of his left hand and fingers when he gripped the shirt and sweatshirt or, if he did, he did not transfer it to the sweatshirt.
It also may mean that he did not grip the sweatshirts, although I still believe he did.
Recall that Gorgogne did not detect any of Zimmerman’s blood on Martin’s sweatshirt. Witnesses Mary Cutcher and her friend Selma saw him straddling Martin’s back and leaning forward touching his back and neck with his hands after the shot. Therefore, I do not believe he had any blood on his hands.
No blood is visible on his hands in the photographs taken by police at the station house after the shooting.
That does not mean that blood was not on his hands earlier, however, because the police incredibly permitted Zimmerman to wash up in the washroom at the station house before the photographs were taken. That is inexcusable. It is what it is, however, and we cannot change it.
We do know that Gorgogne identified Zimmerman’s blood on the grip of his Kel Tec 9 semiautomatic handgun. Could that bloodstain have been already present before the incident that resulted in Martin’s death?
For example, DNA preserves indefinitely in a dried bloodstain, so Zimmerman might have deposited his blood via transfer to the grip sometime before the incident with Martin on February 26th. He might not have known it was there. I do not recall seeing any blood on the grip of his gun in the photographs that were recently released. Given PCR’s exquisite sensitivity, not much blood would have to have been present to yield a complete DNA profile.
Now let us take a look at Amy Siewert’s lab report. She is a firearms expert and her report was in the first document dump. She described the locations of the two holes in the sweatshirts and I compared what she wrote to Dr. Bao’s description in the autopsy report regarding the location of the entry wound.
Siewert said the holes in the sweatshirts aligned with each other and were 7 inches below the shoulder/neck seam.
Dr. Bao said the entry wound was 1 inch to the left of the midline and 1/2 inch below the nipple.
I am 1-inch taller and the same weight as Trayvon. I placed a mark on my chest corresponding to the location of the entry wound and then I took one of my white tee-shirts and placed a mark 7 inches below the shoulder/neck seam. I put on the tee-shirt and, using the marl on my chest, I marked the location of the entry wound on the tee-shirt.
I took off the tee-shirt and measured the distance between the two marks.
The two marks are a little over 3 and 1/2 inches apart. The mark representing the hole in the sweatshirts is above and slightly displaced toward the left shoulder.
To perform this comparison with precision, one would need to place the sweatshirts on Trayvon’s body and precisely measure the distance between the holes and the entry wound and determine the angle of their displacement from the vertical.
I could not do that, so I approximated the distance at 3 inches with a displacement toward the left shoulder.
Could my conclusion have been mistaken? I do not think so, but I have to admit that it is certainly possible. Fabrics stretch and there was only so much that I could do to reproduce the state of the State’s evidence.
I hope someone on the prosecution team followed up with Siewert and Dr. Bao to nail down this point as well as the apparent discrepancy between her characterization of the hole as having been caused by the muzzle of the gun in contact with the fabric and his characterization of the shot having been fired from an intermediate range (i.e., 0.5 centimeters to 1 meter).
I note for the record that Dr. Bao described the entry wound as 3/8 inch in diameter with a 2 X 2 area of stippling around the wound.
Stippling is caused by unburned gun powder that enbeds in the wound and its periphery. The farther away the muzzle of the gun, the larger the area of stippling. With handguns there is no stippling apparent when the muzzle of the gun exceeds 1 meter from the entry wound at the time the shot is fired..
Contact wounds characteristically cause the skin to tear. This condition is called starring and it’s caused by the expanding gasses released by the burning gunpowder.
Siewert observed torn fabric that spread out from the holes caused by the shot. She prepared some cutouts using fabric from the two sweatshirts (actually the interior one has been redesignated as a shirt by the DNA analyst) and test fired Zimmerman’s gun using the same ammo from several different distances, including a contact shot. The tearing in the result from the experimental contact shot matched the tearing in the hole in the sweatshirt and that is why she concluded that it was a contact shot.
Dr. Bao did not note any tearing or starring around the entry wound.
D. Vincent di Maio, a respected forensic pathologist and the former Medical Examiner for Bexar County, Texas (San Antonio) reviewed Dr. Bao’s autopsy Report and estimated the muzzle of the gun was 2 to 4 inches from the entry wound when Zimmerman fired the fatal shot.
Dr. Bao characterized the fatal shot as “Directly, front to back.”
That is all the evidence we have.
Consider these questions:
(1) Did Zimmerman grip Martin’s sweatshirt and shirt with his left hand?
(2) If he did not (or even if he did) how did he immobilize Martin so that he could aim and squeeze off the perfect shot to the heart, or was it just a lucky shot?
(3) How and when did Zimmerman sustain the injuries to his nose and the back of his head?
(4) Do you believe the injury to his nose was caused by the recoil of his gun when he fired the fatal shot?
(5) What do you believe explains the presence of Zimmerman’s blood on Martin’s shirt?
(6) What do you believe explains the presence of Zimmerman’s blood on the grip of his gun?
As I said, I hope the prosecution has figured out the significance of the evidence as it is important to the outcome of the case.
I still believe that the agonizing shriek that abruptly ended with the shot and the interrogation and begging that preceded it establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman was not in imminent danger of being killed or suffering serious bodily injury when he shot and killed an unarmed Martin “evincing a depraved indifference to human life.”
Let us say that you are a prosecutor representing the State of Florida in State vs. George Zimmerman. You have been added to the trial team and you are going to be in charge of forensics and expert witnesses. Angela Corey wants to meet with you tomorrow morning at 7 am sharp. What do you do?
(a) Announce you are opting for early retirement to spend more time with your family;
(b) Look up the word forensics to see what it means before you announce that you are opting for early retirement to spend more time with your family;
(c) Call the Director of the Crime Lab and ask for help; or
(d) Make sure you know how to spell forensics and then pretend you know everything there is to know about the subject.
The correct answer, as it is in all cases where you know that you are not an authority on a subject, is to contact someone who is an authority and ask for help.
Prosecutors are fortunate because they can contact the director of their state crime laboratory.
Defense counsel who know little about science and even less about forensic science need to call someone like me who can review the case, spot forensic issues, and steer the lawyer in the right direction toward knowledgeable and respected experts in the various areas of forensic science that are relevant to their case.
I used to do that when I was a co-chair of the Forensics Committee of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. All calls from member lawyers west of the Mississippi River were referred to me and I spent many hours helping people out.
Let’s take a look at the rules of evidence and see what they have to say about expert witnesses. Evidence Rule 702 provides:
Testimony By Experts
If scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if
(1) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data,
(2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and
(3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.
Most of the witnesses who testify in trials are fact witnesses. They testify about something that they perceived through their five senses that is relevant to determine the outcome of a lawsuit. They are called fact witnesses because, with few exceptions, they are not permitted to express their opinions about facts they observed or infer the existence of facts that they did not actually observe.
Lawyers must be ever vigilant to spot and object to a fact witness expressing their opinion by representing it as a fact they observed.
If that happens, the lawyer should stand and say,
“Your Honor, I object because this witness is impermissibly expressing her personal opinion as fact. May I briefly voir dire the witness to lay the foundation for my objection.”
The judge will allow you to break in to opposing counsel’s examination.
Then you look the witness in the eye and ask,
Q: Ms. Witness, You just testified that my client stuffed a crocodile under the back seat of your patrol car, didn’t you.
A: Yes, I did.
Q: This was on the way to the jail, correct?
Q: You were driving correct?
Q: Watching the road ahead of you, right?
A: I reviewed your report, but I didn’t see you mention anything about seeing a crocodile in your rear view mirror, correct?
A: Yes, but
Q: And my client was handcuffed with her wrists behind her back, right?
A: But, but she had to have done it because . . .
Your Honor, this witness expressed an opinion, which is improper. Therefore, I move to strike her testimony when she said my client hid the crocodile under the back seat.
I also ask you to instruct the ladies and gentlemen of the jury to disregard that testimony.
The judge should comply with your request. Then you thank him and sit down.
Now opposing counsel gets to resume questioning the witness.
This type of interruption can throw opposing counsel off stride, but an experienced lawyer will just smile and remind the witness to stick to the facts they observed.
Another way to accomplish the same result is to wait and do it during cross examination.
Expert witnesses, unlike fact witnesses, can express their opinions. Depending on the complexity of the case you have, there may be any number of areas where you want to put an expert witness on the stand to express an opinion regarding a matter and this is where science enters the courtroom to establish facts and resolve disputed issues of fact. We call this forensics.
Under Rule 702 an expert witness may testify in a case whenever a jury is likely to need assistance to understand or to determine a fact in issue in a trial.
There are many disputed questions of fact in the Zimmerman case that cannot be resolved by ordinary fact witnesses,
In fact, very few disputed issues of fact in this case can be resolved by the fact witnesses who are all over the place with conflicting and confusing statements about what they saw or heard.
Only one fact witness, George Zimmerman, knows what happened because he killed the other witness, Trayvon Martin.
The case would be open and shut, if there were no forensic evidence and George Zimmerman’s statements were consistent with each other and consistent with the forensic evidence. As we have seen, however that is not the case.
To solve this case, we have to put aside our fear of science, roll up our sleeves and grapple with science.
Okay, now pick a side, either defense or prosecution and pretend you have to meet with Mark O’Mara or Angela Corey tomorrow morning and tell them in which areas of science they need to retain experts.
We already know some areas from the reports we have read: DNA, blood spatter, pathology, toxicology, firearm identification, trace evidence analysis, audiology, voice stress voice comparison analysis.
What other areas of science do you think should be investigated?
Another thought to consider is that our legal system is an adversarial system where each side hires its own experts to fight it out in front of a jury that knows little about science.
Would it be better to have the court appoint independent experts to to examine the evidence and testify subject to cross examination by both sides?
Should the Court or the jury decide disputed issues that can only be resolved by scientific analysis?
What about the problem of junk science?
Because there are no eyewitnesses to the shooting except George Zimmerman, who claims he shot and killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense, the prosecution will have to rely on circumstantial evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman did not kill Trayvon Martin in self-defense.
Unfortunately, Florida does not define circumstantial evidence other than to call it “indirect” evidence. See Wadman v. State, 750 So.2nd 655 (FL 1999).
Washington State, where I practiced law for many years, defines direct and circumstantial evidence as follows:
Direct evidence is that given by a witness who testifies concerning facts which he or she has directly observed or perceived through the senses.
Circumstantial evidence consists of proof of facts or circumstances which, according to common experience permit a reasonable inference that other facts existed or did not exist.
The law makes no distinction between the weight to be given to either direct or circumstantial evidence. One is not necessarily more or less valuable than the other.
A popular misconception is that circumstantial evidence is less valid or less important than direct evidence. This is only partly true: direct evidence is popularly, but mistakenly, considered more powerful. Many successful criminal prosecutions rely largely or entirely on circumstantial evidence, and civil charges are frequently based on circumstantial or indirect evidence. Much of the evidence against convicted American bomber Timothy McVeigh was circumstantial, for example. Speaking about McVeigh’s trial, University of Michigan law professor Robert Precht said, “Circumstantial evidence can be, and often is much more powerful than direct evidence”. The 2004 murder trial of Scott Peterson was another high-profile conviction based heavily on circumstantial evidence.
Indeed, the common metaphor for the strongest possible evidence in any case—the “smoking gun”—is an example of proof based on circumstantial evidence. Similarly, fingerprint evidence, videotapes, sound recordings, photographs, and many other examples of physical evidence that support the drawing of an inference, i.e., circumstantial evidence, are considered very strong possible evidence.
In practice, circumstantial evidence can have an advantage over direct evidence in that it can come from multiple sources that check and reinforce each other. Eyewitness testimony can be inaccurate at times, and many persons have been convicted on the basis of perjured or otherwise mistaken testimony. Thus strong circumstantial evidence can be a more reliable basis on which to determine a verdict.
In response to a Zimmerman supporter who posted recently here that circumstantial evidence can support conflicting conclusions, I said,
Anything is theoretically possible and the nature of circumstantial evidence is such that each individual circumstance in a chain of circumstances might indicate more than one possibility. However, when examined as a totality of circumstances, they add up to only one possibility.
Put another way, the more splainin’ that Zimmerman has to do by resorting to ridiculous extremes like, I was walking in the same direction as Martin but not following him because I was looking for a street name and an address to give the dispatcher, the more unlikely his story becomes. Especially when he has lived in the neighborhood for three years, patrolled it as the neighborhood watchman on a regular basis for months, and he walked right past townhouses on TTL with the addresses on them in plain view, ignored them, and never provided the dispatcher with an address. It doesn’t take any intelligence to figure out that he was never looking for an address.
Step by inexorable step he lies and lies and lies.
What is he concealing?
He wasn’t out there exercising in the rain.
He was hunting.
The answer is obvious to anyone with a functioning brain cell.
The burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, not beyond all theoretical doubt.
I am not going to detail every lie that we have revealed and discussed at length because I want to go macro on y’all and look at the big picture.
Is there a discernible pattern to his lies that reveals his intent or are his lies mere random occurrences that happen due to chance?
Consider, for example, his stubborn insistence that Trayvon Martin suddenly came out of the bushes next to a townhouse or materialized out of the gloom on the N/S sidewalk a few feet south of the intersection and confronted him as he was on the sidewalk cut-through between TTL and RVC supposedly minding his own business returning to his vehicle parked on TTL.
Some who post here and at other internet sites contend that we must take GZ at his word and cannot look at other evidence (i.e., the circumstantial evidence) to determine if he is telling the truth and, if not, discern his intent.
Sorry, but that is not how trials work.
GZ claims that TM sucker punched him knocking him to the ground and then he jumped on him and started beating his head into the sidewalk and punching him repeatedly in the face.
Aside from the lack of physical injuries that would be consistent with such a claim, the location of the fight is inconsistent with the location of TM’s body. That is, if GZ is telling the truth, the body and the location of the fight should be in the same place, but they are not and he has no explanation for that other than he kind of sort of stumbled after TM hit him. Yet, that explanation only gets him a little less than halfway to the location of the body and various items found within a few feet of it, such as his phone, the earbuds, the can of iced tea, the Skittles, and the spent casing.
We have to ask ourselves what does the circumstantial evidence tell us regarding the fight that ended with TM’s death? That is, what can we reasonably infer from the evidence at the scene.
The initial conclusion is GZ lied about the nature and extent of Martin’s attack because his injuries do not support his story and his conflicting claim regarding where and how Martin confronted him tells us he changed his story during the walk-through video the next day when he realized there were no bushes at the scene behind which Martin could have been hiding.
What do these lies suggest?
They suggest GZ went looking for Martin in the area between the two rows of townhouses and found him where the shooting occurred.
If that is what happened, why would he lie about it?
The obvious conclusion is that he did not want to admit that he went hunting for Martin and found him.
Why is that a problem?
Maybe it has something to do with his statement, “These assholes, they always get away, fuckin’ coons.”
Hmmnn. That sounds like GZ was determined to make sure this “asshole” did not get away.
Why would GZ lie about Martin jumping him?
Could it be because he knew an aggressor cannot claim self-defense?
A pattern is apparent in these lies. They all appear to be motivated by a desire to cover up that he was the aggressor who hunted down TM and attempted to detain him, but TM did not submit to his authority willingly. A struggle ensued in which GZ sustained some minor injuries and he shot and killed TM without legal justification.
This is the incredible power of circumstantial evidence because, ultimately, the explanations GZ offers for each item of evidence become increasingly strained until they degenerate into irrelevant and irritating whining.
As I have said before, he is his own worst enemy and his conviction of the crime of Murder in the Second Degree will materialize out of his own lyin’ mouth and the abundant circumstantial evidence.
I recently listened again to the terrified scream that ended with a gunshot and, for the following reasons, I am now even more certain that TM was screaming.
(1) The scream abruptly stops with the gunshot, which is exactly what one would expect to happen, if TM were screaming. Since the bullet destroyed his right ventricle and collapsed both lungs, he would have lost consciousness almost immediately and would not have been able to push any air past his vocal cords to make a sound.
(2) If GZ were screaming, I do not believe he would have stopped screaming at the exact instant he fired the gun because he would not have known if his life was still in danger and he needed help.
(3) Indeed, according to GZ, he thought his life was still in danger and he kept calling for help. He said he did not know if the shot hit TM and did not find out that he killed TM until an hour and a half after he arrived at the police station. He said TM sat up and said something like, “You got it or you got me.” Then TM fell over or GZ pushed him aside and quickly straddled TM’s body, which was face down. He grabbed TM’s hands and spread them apart so that TM was in a Y-position and he could prevent him from getting up or reaching his gun. He said TM was struggling to get away and kept swearing at him. GZ added that when the neighbor showed up and asked if he should call 911, he told him “No. I need help controlling this guy. Help me, please.” If that story were true, and absolutely none of it is, he would not have stopped screaming or calling for help. Consider, for example, that TM’s body was face down in the grass with his hands under his chest.
(3) There are no audible screams or calls for help after the shot and the scream that ends abruptly with the shot is not a scream for help.
(4) The person is screaming, “No!”
(5) People seeking help do not scream “No.”
(6) We know GZ was lying because it would have been physically impossible for TM to have done any of the things GZ said he did after he fired the fatal shot.
(7) GZ would have realized that no one would believe he killed TM in self-defense, if TM were the person screaming. Therefore, he had to claim that he was the person screaming and he had to tell a story that would support his claim. Depicting TM as still struggling and swearing after the shot was part of that false narrative.
(8) Unfortunately for GZ, he got carried away with supplying false details to support his false narrative. He failed to realize that he would not have had any reason to stop screaming after the shot, if the details he provided about TM being still alive and struggling to get his gun were true and, of course, he did not know that the gunshot wound would prove that all of the unnecessary and inconsistent after-the-shot details he provided were false.
Of course, I have other reasons I have mentioned in previous articles and comments explaining why I believe TM was screaming for help. Briefly,
(9) GZ was an ex-bouncer who had worked security at raves and he was over 40 pounds heavier than TM. He was armed with a loaded gun and TM was unarmed. He would have had a significant physical advantage in a wrestling type encounter with TM.
(10) GZ’s injuries were superficial and no reasonable person would believe he was in imminent danger of being killed or seriously injured. For example, the photographs taken at the police station do not support his claim that he had a broken nose and there are no X-rays to support his claim. The two small cuts to the back of his head do not support his claim that his head was repeatedly banged against a sidewalk and the pattern of the blood flow is not consistent with GZ lying on his back. It is consistent, however, with GZ’s head being upright and leaning forward. The absence of significant abrasions and swelling also are inconsistent with his claim.
(11) As mataharley pointed out yesterday, the debris field commencing with GZ’s small flashlight and key chain next to the N/S sidewalk a few feet south of the T intersection and extending south and a little beyond TM’s body indicates a struggle headed S/B toward the place where TM was staying. This is consistent with TM screaming and attempting to flee toward the place where he was staying with GZ in hot pursuit attempting to prevent him from getting away and inconsistent with GZ’s claim that TM assaulted and attempted to kill him with his bare hands up near the T intersection.
(12) The trajectory of the entry wound directly from front to back, the stippling around the wound, and the alignment of the two holes in the garments he was wearing with the wound indicate the sweatshirts were gripped together and pulled down when GZ fired the fatal shot with the muzzle of the gun in contact with the garment and 2-4 inches from the entry wound. This is not consistent with GZ’s claim of self-defense, but it is consistent with TM attempting to pull away and screaming “No” when GZ fired the fatal shot.
(13) The absence of any of GZ’s blood on the sleeves and cuffs of TM’s sweatshirts and the presence of only TM’s DNA on his fingernail scrapings is inconsistent with GZ’s claim that TM was hitting him repeatedly in the face, gripping and slamming his bloody head repeatedly into the concrete, and gripping his nose while attempting to close his mouth to suffocate him and prevent him from screaming.
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After 32 years, Elizabeth Morris, an Australian coroner, has finally corrected a terrible injustice to Lindy Chamberlain and her former husband Michael in the world famous dingo baby case by issuing a new death certificate in which she found that their baby, Azaria Chamberlain, was killed by a dingo that snatched her from the family tent in the Uluru campground near Ayer’s Rock on August 17, 1980.
Lindy saw a dingo leave the tent and when she checked on the baby she found her missing. Despite objective evidence that a dingo had taken her baby (campers heard a growl just before she cried out for help, paw prints in the doorway to the tent, dragmarks in the sand and canine hairs in the tent), most Australians did not believe her claim that a dingo had taken her baby.
In November, 1982 a jury convicted her of murder and her husband Michael of being an accessory to murder after the fact. She was sentenced to life in prison and he was sentenced to probation. They later divorced.
The critical evidence in the case was testimony by James Cameron from the UK and Australian forensic biologist, Joy Kuhl. They testified that infant blood was discovered in the Chamberlain’s car on the dashboard, in a camera bag, on a pair of scissors, and a bloody handprint on Azaria’s jumpsuit. This evidence appeared overwhelming and most Australians applauded the verdict.
Later on, however, forensic serologists reviewing the evidence determined that there was no human blood inside the vehicle or on any of the items examined by Cameron and Kuhl. Instead, they only found red paint.
Kuhl admitted that she had only conducted a presumptive test for blood. She assumed it was human blood without conducting a necessary confirmatory test. Turned out that she had obtained a false positive for human blood due to the presence of copper oxide in the stains, which is ubiquitous to the area where the Chamerlands lived.
Cameron eventually admitted to a royal commission reviewing the case that he merely assumed the handprint contained human blood; he never actually tested it.
The commission exonerated the Chamberlains in 1987 and they were pardoned and compensated.
Nevertheless, despite multiple efforts since then to persuade the coroner to amend Azaria’s death certificate, they were unsuccessful.
Finally, they succeeded after Elizabeth Morris became the coroner.
When coroner Elizabeth Morris ruled that a dingo had taken baby Azaria Chamberlain from her cot in the Australian outback 32 years ago, there were smiles, tears of relief and loud applause from the packed gallery at Darwin magistrates court. But there were no surprises.
There had always been a sense of unreality in the conviction of Lindy Chamberlain, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor’s wife and respected member of the community, for cutting the throat of her nine-week-old baby. To this day, nobody has ever advanced a plausible motive.
After Chamberlain’s conviction, there were other instances of dingo attacks on children – including the fatal mauling of nine-year-old Clinton Gage on Queensland’s Bribie Island in 2001 – and they provided the critical circumstantial evidence needed to end the Azaria mystery.
Chamberlain, though remarried, embraced her former husband Michael. They had both suffered the tragedy of Azaria’s death and knew they would probably still be together had it not occurred.
Lindy embraced her son, Aidan, who was six on the night of 17 August 1980 at the Uluru campsite when Lindy let out the chilling cry: “A dingo’s got my baby!” The two wept in each other’s arms. Even Morris could barely stifle a sob when she said: “Mr and Mrs Chamberlain, please accept my sincere sympathy for the death of your special and loved daughter and sister.”
It was the end of a case that had brought international attention over three decades and had been dramatised for television, film and stage. It had even been turned into an opera.
Summary of DNA and GSR Evidence*
1. Trayvon Martin’s shirt (ME-8)
Four stains tested positive for blood. Trayvon Martin is the source of two stains. George Zimmerman is the source for another and the fourth stain is a mixed sample containing DNA from both individuals.
2. Trayvon Martin’s hoodie (ME 12)
Two stains test positive for blood. Trayvon is the source of one and no DNA result on the other.
No DNA results foreign to Trayvon Martin are found on both lower sleeves.
Two holes were discovered in the area of the “upper left chest” (one in each item of clothing) that exhibited characteristics consistent with a contact gunshot.
3. My thoughts
Given the lack of George Zimmerman’s DNA on the hoodie, the presence of blood contributed by George Zimmerman on the shirt that he was wearing underneath the hoodie indicates the hoodie was not covering the portion of the shirt where the bloodstain was located. Difficult to draw any additional conclusions without knowing the location of the bloodstains on the shirt (e.g., whether the hoodie was pulled up exposing the shirt or the shirt was extended below the hoodie or how this could have happened)
No DNA results foreign to Trayvon Martin are found on both lower sleeves suggesting that Trayvon was not beating Zimmerman.
The two holes obviously came from the same shot and there is a potential conflict between the location of the wound (1 inch left of the midline and 1/2 inch below the nipple) and the location of the two holes (upper chest area).
There also is a potential conflict created by the medical examiner’s conclusion that the muzzle of the gun was 2 to 4 inches away (an intermediate distance) when the fatal shot was fired compared the firearm’s analyst who concluded that the muzzle of the gun was in contact with the clothing.
Marilyn, who comments at my law blog, suggested Zimmerman was restraining Martin by gripping his clothing with one hand and fired the gun with the other as Martin was attempting to get away. This could explain how the upper part of both items of clothing could have been pulled down as well as a few inches away from Martin’s chest when Zimmerman fired the fatal shot. It also might explain how Zimmerman’s blood might have gotten on the shirt, but not the hoodie.
I think we lack sufficient evidence to draw that conclusion at this point, but it’s certainly possible. Might also explain how the shot went straight in without angling up or down, left or right.
Of course, if it happened this way, the shooting definitely was not in self-defense.
4. George Zimmerman’s shirt (DMS-16) and jacket (DMS-19).
Gunshot Residue (GSR) was found on the jacket in the form of 1 particle of lead found on the upper back portion of the right sleeve.
Twelve bloodstains on the shirt were contributed by George Zimmerman, according to DNA analysis.
Thirteen bloodstains on the jacket contain Zimmerman’s DNA. Trayvon Martin’s DNA is present in four of them (mixed samples) and his DNA was detected in one mixed sample where the other contributor could not be identifies.
5. My thoughts
We do not know the size of any of these bloodstains. but I imagine some are quite small because they probably were deposited by high velocity blood spatter from the gunshot, which resembles a fine spray.
The pattern of blood spatter may establish where the wound was in relation to the jacket when the fatal shot was fired and help to establish the relative positions of the two individuals.
The only conclusion one can draw regarding the presence of GSR is that the object in question was in a shooting environment at some time.
GSR can be wiped or washed off, and one cannot tell how long it has been present, so we probably cannot reliably draw any conclusions from the presence of the single particle of lead on the upper back portion of the right sleeve of his jacket.
*The information in this article comes from the lab reports in the document dump.
1. Lab Report March 26, 2012 (p. 104)
2. Supplementary Lab Report May 9, 2012 (p. 110)
3. Lab Report March 22, 2012 (p. 122)
4. Lab Report March 28, 2012 (p. 124)
We already know that two independent forensic audiologists have examined a recording of a 911 call by a woman who reported a struggle going on behind her residence. A long high-pitched scream for help that is audible in the background terminates abruptly with what sounds like a single shot.
Using different analytical methods the two experts have compared the scream to a police recording of George Zimmerman’s voice when he called a police non-emergency number approximately 10 to 15 minutes before the shooting to report a suspicious person in his neighborhood.
We now know that person was Trayvon Martin, who was walking back to his father’s girlfriend’s residence, whom he was visiting with his father, after walking to a nearby 711 store to purchase some Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea.
Both experts excluded George Zimmerman as the person screaming in the background to a reasonable scientific certainty. They have not compared the scream to a recording of Trayvon Martin’s voice, presumably because they do not have a recording of his voice.
Trayvon Martin’s mother has identified her son as the person screaming.
Since there is a witness who claims to have seen the struggle between Zimmerman and Martin with Martin on top and Zimmerman lying on his back in the grass yelling for help, there is an apparent conflict in the evidence between the eyewitness’s statement and the two expert opinions. I say “apparent conflict” because the witness did not observe the fatal shot. He locked his door, went upstairs, and when he looked out the window, he saw Martin lying face down in the grass and not moving.
Because the witness did not observe who initiated the physical confrontation or the fatal shot, he cannot tell us who was the aggressor or where Martin and Zimmerman were positioned and what Martin was doing when Zimmerman fired the fatal shot. This missing information is important because, under Florida law, Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense must be rejected, if he was the aggressor, or if he was not in danger of being killed or suffering serious bodily injury when he fired the fatal shot.
For example, during the time period while the witness was in transit between locking his door, going upstairs, and looking out the window, Zimmerman, who outweighed Martin by 40 pounds, according to Wikipedia, might have locked his arms and legs around Martin, rolled over on top straddling him, and then pulled his gun out of the holster and fired the fatal shot. He might even have separated from Martin and fired the fatal shot. Neither scenario would justify using deadly force in self-defense.
Let us now consider what other forensic evidence to see what it might tell us about the relative positions of Zimmerman and Martin when Zimmerman drew his gun and fired.
What Can Forensics Add To This Investigation?
I would want to review the autopsy report and interview the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy to find out whether he noticed any injuries other than the fatal gunshot. For example, did Martin have any abrasions on his hands and fingers.
I would have a lot of questions for the medical examiner regarding the nature of the gunshot wound and Martin’s clothing.
For example, the weapon was a black Kel Tek 9 mm PF9 semiautomatic. The bullet would have been discharged when Zimmerman pulled the trigger causing the hammer to strike the primer igniting the smokeless powder in the casing producing rapidly expanding gas (consisting of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide and other gases) that ejects the bullet, burning and unburned gunpowder (the burn always is incomplete), and trace amounts of the primer that contains heavy metals, including lead, antimony, and bismuth. Depending on the nature of the wound and the presence of all, some, or none of these materials, a qualified forensic firearms expert can determine how far away the gun barrel was when the shot was fired.
The gases, including the heavy metals, and some smoke from unburned but gaseous carbon, are projected only a few inches. The effects of the gas produce what are called contact or near-contact wounds that are characterized by variable skin lacerations or tears from the expanding gases that rip the skin apart and stippling, which is blackening skin from the unburned smokeless gunpowder that is propelled out the barrel of the gun with the bullet by the rapidly expanding gas.
As the distance of the gun barrel to the skin increases, the effect of the gas diminishes and only the unburned powder and bullet are capable of penetrating the skin. Stippling is present when the gun barrel is 0.5 centimeter to 1 meter from the wound. The pattern gets larger as the distance increases. So-called distant wounds do not cause tearing or stippling.
Based on Zimmerman’s statement, I would expect Martin to have had a contact or near contact wound with skin laceration or tearing caused by the explosive gases entering the wound expanding and tearing the skin. I also would expect to see some stippling or unburned smokeless powder. If I did not see evidence of either in the wound or clothing fibers, I would conclude that the gun barrel was more than a meter away, which is at odds with Zimmerman’s statement in which he claimed that he shot Martin as Martin was on top and hitting him.
Given Zimmerman’s statement, I also would expect to see high velocity blood spatter (mist-like spray of blood drops about 1 mm in diameter) or blowback on the barrel of Zimmerman’s gun, his shooting hand, and the sleeve of his jacket.
Absence of skin tearing, stippling, and high velocity blowback or blood spatter would seriously undermine a claim of self-defense.
Jason Ditz at Antiwar.com has a report this morning linking to an AP article in The Australian that U.S. soldiers lined up against a wall all of the adult males in the village of Mokhoyan after an IED blew up a tank injuring American soldiers at a location near the village.
According to the report, the villagers said the Americans told them they knew they were responsible for the IED and they were going to kill at least 20 villagers, including children, to avenge the attack.
According to the villagers, the incident occurred on March 8th. Mokhoyan is in the vicinity of the two villages (Balandi and Alkozai) where Staff Sergeant Robert Bales allegedly murdered 16 civilians, including 9 children, setting some of the bodies on fire during the predawn hours of March 11th.
Jason Ditz also reports today that Bales’s attorney, John Henry Browne, said his client has no memory of the incident and he denies drinking more than a sip or two alcohol that night.
Mr. Browne also said that Bales told him that a friend lost a leg in an IED explosion while on a patrol on March 9th.
The U.S. military has neither confirmed nor denied that the IED explosion reported by the villagers of Mokhoyan is the same incident that Staff Sergeant Bales mentioned to his attorney.
The villagers in Balandi and Alkozai claim that a group of U.S. soldiers committed the murders. The military insists that Staff Sergeant Bales was the only soldier involved.
Appears that the bodies may have been buried before autopsies could be performed to determine specific facts, such as,
(1) the time of death for each victim;
(2) whether more than weapon was involved;
(3) whether the fatal shot or shots were fired from close range;
(4) what was the trajectory of bullet or bullets;
(5) whether there were any exit wounds;
(6) whether there was any evidence (i.e., ligature marks) that the bodies were bound (e.g., wrists tied behind the back);
(7) whether there were any puncture or slashing type wounds consistent with the use of a sharp piercing or cutting instrument like a knife; and
(8) whether there was any evidence of physical torture prior to death.
We also do not know if the houses in which the murders took place were investigated as crime scenes. For example, were any slugs and casings recovered and, if so, how many weapons and what type were involved. Another question I have is whether any bloody fingerprints or footprints were found. Read the rest of this entry »