Did Zimmerman Confess When He Said, “I Took my Gun Aimed it at him and Fired?”

June 29, 2012

Sometimes what you are searching for during an investigation is located in plain view right in front of your face, but for one reason or another, you don’t see it. I have been chastising myself for not seeing Zimmerman’s confession, even though it was obscured by a fog of inconsistencies and lies. Nevertheless, I should have seen it.

When Investigator Chris Serino was interviewing Zimmerman on February 29th, three days after the shooting, Zimmerman said,

“I didn’t want him to keep slamming my head on the concrete so I kind of shifted. But when I shifted my jacket came up…and it exposed my firearm. That’s when he said you are going to die tonight. He took one hand off my mouth, and slid it down my chest. I took my gun aimed it at him and fired.”

The key word “aimed.”

Notice that he did not say, “I took my gun and fired.”

Because of the ongoing struggle he was describing, I pictured him freeing his gun from his holster while lying in a supine position and firing it at point blank range into Trayvon Martin’s torso.

Given his description of the struggle between the two of them, he could not have extended his arm and hand holding the gun because there was not enough room between the two of them. Not only that, according to him, he succeeded in grabbing the gun because he pinned Martin’s left hand against the side of his chest using his right upper arm and that prevented Martin from grabbing it.

Do y’all see the problem? How can he possibly extend his elbow and aim the gun with Martin lying on top of him while pinning Martin’s left hand to his chest with his right upper arm.

If he accurately described their relative positions and what they were doing when he fired the fatal shot, the entry wound should have been a contact wound in Martin’s left side or possibly his back traversing Martin’s body sideways from left to right probably with a downward trajectory.

With Martin’s torso in the way, I do not see any way, he could have extended his arm and aimed his gun firing the fatal shot from intermediate range into Martin’s torso creating an entry wound 1 inch to the left of the midline and 1/2 inch below the left nipple with the trajectory of the bullet going mstraight through from front to back without deviating up or down or left or right.

I also do not see him him saying that he aimed his gun when he did not aim his gun.

Instead, like a Freudian slip, it appeared to slip out during his narrative of the circumstances leading up to the shooting.

If this is what happened, he did not shoot Martin in self-defense because he had already separated from Martin with his gun in his hand aimed at Martin and was no longer in imminent danger of being killed or suffering grievous bodily injury.


Five Zimmerman Re-enactment Videos

June 27, 2012

note- I did not create these videos. They were uploaded to YouTube by LLMPapa. (h/t to Tzar at Firedoglake for letting me know about these videos)

Note the position of Trayvon Martin’s body, which is under a yellow tarp in one of the videos. His body is perpendicular to the sidewalk and 10 or more feet away. Can’t tell if his head or feet are closer to the sidewalk because his body is concealed.

Bottom Line: his body is not only more than 60 feet from the T intersection, it appears to be more than 10 feet from the sidewalk that runs between the two rows of townhouses.

The position of the body not only puts the lie to Zimmerman’s claim that he was not following Martin and was walking toward his vehicle on the sidewalk that runs through the cut-through connecting Twin Trees Lane and Retreat View Circle when Martin confronted him, it also puts the lie to the Martin-was-banging-my-head-against-the-sidewalk story.

Give the videos a look and share your thoughts.






Is George Zimmerman About to be Charged with Perjury?

June 26, 2012

We have a bond hearing coming up on Friday, but I do not believe Zimmerman has a realistic chance to get bail. The recorded jailhouse telephone calls leave no doubt that he and his wife conspired to conceal the $155,000 that they had at their disposal when they were claiming indigency. She actually lied under oath in court and there is little doubt her husband put her up to it.

Then there is the troubling matter of the passport . . .

She cannot testify because she is charged with perjury and her lawyer will advise her not to testify because anything she might say can and most assuredly will be used against her.

He is in the same position, even though he is not charged with perjury, yet.

That’s right, folks.

Just because he has not been charged with perjury, does not mean that he won’t be charged.

So let’s take a look at the subject of accomplice liability for criminal behavior.

Section 2.06(3) of the Model Penal Code defines an accomplice:

A person is an accomplice of another person in the commission of a crime if:

(a) with the purpose of promoting or facilitating the commission of the offense, he

(i) solicits such other person to commit it; or

(ii) aids or agrees or attempts to aid such other person in planning or committing it; or

(iii) having a legal duty to prevent the commission of the offense, fails to make proper effort so to do; or

(b) his conduct is expressly declared by law to establish his complicity.

By now, I think most of us have listened to the recorded jailhouse conversations between GZ and SZ. Although I do not recall a conversation in which GZ and SZ specifically discussed a strategy to use in court to conceal the $155,000 he had received in donations to his PayPal account, there is no question that, pursuant to his instructions, she moved all of that money around in amounts less than $10,000 each time between three accounts (theirs and his sister’s) during the four-day period before the bond hearing.

When she was questioned at the bond hearing regarding whether she could estimate how much money was in the PayPal account, she responded that she had no idea. That response is the basis for the perjury charge.

The issue is whether GZ acted as her accomplice. If he did, he also committed perjury and is just as responsible as his wife under the law, even though he is not the one who lied in court.

To successfully prosecute GZ for perjury, the prosecution must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that, for the purpose of concealing the $155,000 asset from the court in order to be found indigent at the bond hearing, he solicited or aided SZ to deny the existence of that asset while testifying as a witness under oath at the bond hearing.

The unusual machinations with the money by themselves demonstrate an effort to conceal the money, albeit an unsophisticated one. For example, bank to bank transfers do not meet the definition of currency. Therefore, there is no legal requirement imposed on a bank or credit union to report transactions exceeding $10,000 to the IRS. If SZ had transferred the entire $155,000 in one transaction, the credit union would not have generated a Currency Transaction Report to the IRS.

By structuring the transaction in amounts less than $10,000 however, the credit union would have generated a Suspicious Activity Report to the IRS, which likely will investigate what happened.

The final ironic twist is that the $155,000 is a non-taxable gift to GZ.

They went to all of that trouble to conceal the money and only succeeded in drawing unnecessary attention to themselves.

The question is, did they go to all that trouble to conceal the money from the IRS or did they do it to conceal the money from the court, or both?

Moving the money around coupled with the lie in court indicates both.

I think the prosecution needs SZ’s cooperation to prosecute GZ for perjury, so I believe it will be willing to play let’s make a deal with her to nail him by providing the evidence that proves the shared intent element of accomplice liability.

That brings me back to the two passports.

Were they planning a quick trip out of the country with the money, if the case started to go sideways? For example, were they planning to to wait and see how the SYG hearing went and if GZ lost, were they going split?

Then again, maybe they were just attempting to conceal the money from the lawyer, who was being an incredibly nice guy for taking the case on a pro bono basis because he liked GZ and believed they did not have any money.

Do you think SZ decided on her own to lie to the court?

Will she snitch to avoid a felony conviction and a likely prison sentence?

If she flips, do you think the deal might come together before the bond hearing?

I imagine the prosecution certainly would love to flip her before the hearing this Friday because it would guarantee that Judge Lester would deny GZ’s motion for bond and enormously complicate his already shaky defense against the murder charge.


Practicum: Do You Have a Reasonable Doubt that George Zimmerman Killed in Self-Defense? UPDATED BELOW

June 25, 2012

Good morning, everyone. Yesterday was my birthday, so I took a little time off from blogging and did not post a new article or do a very good job of responding to many of your excellent comments. Y’all have a great discussion going on.

Commenter JD has asked what effect will all of GZ’s inconsistent statements and lies have on a jury, assuming this case goes to trial?

Put another way, just because he’s a liar, does that also mean he’s a murderer?

In this article, I propose that the answer to the question is, it depends on what he lied about and why he lied he about it.

Okay, for the sake of argument, let us suppose that y’all are members of the jury that will decide this case.

Let’s keep it simple today and just focus on GZ’s self-defense claim.

First, let’s start with some standard jury instructions.

The defendant has admitted to killing TM so that is an established fact.

The defendant claims he killed TM in self-defense and you are to presume that he did unless you are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that he did not kill in self-defense.

The defendant has no burden to prove he acted in self-defense. Since you must presume that he acted in self-defense, he has no burden to produce any evidence.

A reasonable doubt is a doubt for which a reason exists and it may arise from the evidence or lack of evidence. It is such a doubt as would exist in the mind of a reasonable person after fully and carefully considering all of the evidence or lack of evidence.

Evidence may be direct or circumstantial. Direct evidence is evidence that is perceived through the senses. Circumstantial evidence is evidence of a chain of circumstances that, according to knowledge and common experience, lead to a conclusion. One is not necessarily better or more reliable than the other. As members of the jury, it is for you to decide how much weight to give to any evidence admitted in this case.

A person may use deadly force in self-defense, if he reasonably believes that

a. he is imminent danger of being killed or suffering grievous bodily injury and

b. the amount of force he uses to defend himself is reasonably necessary to prevent being killed or suffering grievous bodily injury.

An aggressor cannot claim self-defense.

Okay, now some evidence with which to work.

The prosecution will be able to introduce during it’s case in chief some, none or all of the statements GZ made. This means that before he ever takes the stand, assuming he chooses to testify on his own behalf, the prosecution will have introduced all of his statements to the police, including his conversation with the dispatcher.

Recall that the dispatcher told him not to follow TM and, as a student in his last semester of Criminology, he was taught that an aggressor cannot claim self-defense.

The prosecution also will have introduced evidence that he had been advised that a neighborhood watch person is limited to watching the neighborhood and calling the police to report crimes and suspicious activity. He was specifically instructed not to contact or attempt to detain a suspect because that is a job for the police to handle.

Assume the autopsy report has been admitted and the Assistant ME who performed it testified that the muzzle of the gun was 2 to 4 inches away from TM when GZ fired the fatal shot. The bullet entered TM’s chest 1″ to the left of the midline and 1/4 inch below the nipple and penetrated the chest cavity proceeding straight through from front to back destroying the right ventricle of the heart, the lower lobe of the right lung, and collapsed both lungs.

Assume the rest of the evidence that has been released and y’all have discussed has been admitted.

The prosecution will argue that, given the nature of what he knew at the time and the lies he told, there is no question that he lied to conceal that he followed TM with intent to find him after he lost sight of him and detain him, using force if necessary, until the police arrived.

“These assholes, they always get away,” likely will repeated over and over at every opportunity by the prosecution, particularly in closing argument.

The defense will argue that there is a reasonable doubt in this case, given the nature of GZ’s injuries that show TM was the aggressor, not GZ.

Now assume you are a juror. Are you going to have a reasonable doubt (i.e., a doubt for which a reason exists) that he killed in self-defense?

Come on in, the water is fine.

By the way, please suggest any topics on this case that you would like me to write about.

UPDATE:

The prosecution released this afternoon a 29-page investigation report by Investigator Chris Serino in which he said the shooting was avoidable and George Zimmerman passed up two opportunities to defuse the situation by speaking to Trayvon Martin. An additional short video also was released.

Investigator Serino wrote that Trayvon Martin did not use deadly force and:

Investigative findings show the physical injuries displayed by George Michael Zimmerman were marginally consistent with a life-threatening episode as described by him,”

The Orlando Sentinel has the cover story and the video.

Go to MSNBC to access the 29-page report, which is here.


Could Trayvon Martin’s Cellphone be the Key to Solving the Zimmerman Case?

June 23, 2012

I have suspected all along that Trayvon Martin’s cell phone would turn out to be the smoking gun in the Zimmerman case and I offer the following evidence for consideration and comment.

At the 4:47 mark during Detective Serino’s interview of George Zimmerman, after Zimmerman admits that he shot Trayvon Martin with a hollow point bullet, Zimmerman suddenly volunteers,

When he was hitting me, I don’t know what he was hitting me with. I thought he had something in his hands, so I grabbed his hands when I was on top of him and I spread his hands away from his body because he was still talking and I was on top of him. And that’s when somebody came and they had a flashlight too and I thought it was a police officer, so I got off him.

In addition to claiming that Trayvon had banged his head against pavement, Zimmerman also told the EMT at the crime scene, when the EMT was cleaning his wounds with peroxide, that he had been struck with an unknown blunt instrument.

The report concludes:

Cause of injury: Struck by blunt/thrown object (9640) Mechanism of Injury: Blunt.

We know that Trayvon Martin was not armed and the police recovered only one thing near Trayvon’s body that could have served as a blunt instrument: His cell phone, which was lying in the grass next to his body.

The cell phone is Exhibit DMS 7.

The police submitted Exhibit DMS 7 to the Crime Lab with a request for a latent print examination. See Lab Report dated March 12, 2012 (see page 119)

The results:

No latent print examinations were performed per information received from Special Agent Supervisor David Lee.

Exhibit DMS-7 was returned to the agency.

The use of fingerprint powder to dust an object for possible prints (the fine powder adheres to the oil ridges left by the print making it possible to see the print and “lift” it from the object using special tape) can interfere with a DNA analysis and make it impossible to obtain a result. For this reason, one must always do a DNA analysis first.

According to Trayvon’s girlfriend, just before the connection terminated, she heard Trayvon ask,

Why are you following me?

Then she heard a male voice respond,

What are you doing here?

Then she heard what sounded like Trayvon’s headset being yanked out of the phone.

She tried calling him back, but he never answered.

I suspect the phone was resubmitted to the DNA lab for analysis, and if it was not submitted, it should be because it may have George Zimmerman’s DNA on it.

I don’t know about y’all, but I do not believe Trayvon would have confronted George Zimmerman while he was talking to his girlfriend and suddenly started wailing on Zimmerman with his cell phone.

I can easily imagine, however, Trayvon hitting Zimmerman in self-defense with the cell phone because he had it in his hand and it was the only thing he had to use as a weapon when Zimmerman attacked him.

Do y’all think that the prosecutors know they have the trump card and they have not released the lab report to prove it because they want to hold it back as long as possible?

I want to see that report.


Zimmerman Video Reenactment Contradicts Statement and Crime Scene Evidence: UPDATED BELOW

June 21, 2012

George Zimmerman

By Donkey Hotey

Creative Commons

Late yesterday the prosecution released the Sanford Police Department video reenactment of the shooting, starring George Zimmerman. They shot the video the day after the shooting.

Go here to see the video.

The first thing I noticed was two giant butterfly bandages attached to the back of Zimmerman’s head. A couple of flaps and he would have been airborne, if they had been actual butterfly wings. Just what he needed to cover a couple of scratches that did not require any stitches, right?

The next thing I noticed was that the location where he claimed the confrontation took place is approximately 20 feet or more away from the location where Trayvon’s body was found and yet more distant evidence, such as Trayvon’s cell phone.

The third thing I noticed is that his description of the confrontation makes absolutely no sense because he claims that after Trayvon punched him in the nose knocking him down, Trayvon got on top of him and was using both hands to cover his mouth and nose to prevent Zimmerman from shouting for help. Yet, even with both of his hands free, Zimmerman claimed only to have attempted to wiggle and slide his body farther underneath Trayvon and away from the concrete sidewalk, thereby inadvertently exposing the gun he was carrying in his waistband hoster. That’s when Trayvon supposedly declared,

One of us is going to die tonight.

Unfortunately for Zimmerman, however, no blood was detected on Trayvon’s hands or in his fingernail scrapings, which is odd since Zimmerman’s nose was bleeding.

Zimmerman said he felt Trayvon’s hand sliding down the right side of his chest toward the gun, but Zimmerman somehow beat him to it, pulled it out of the holster, and shot Trayvon once in the torso as Trayvon was straddling him and leaning over.

Zimmerman did not explain how Trayvon would have been able to see his gun from his position straddling Zimmerman’s body. Apparently, Trayvon was such a vicious and superhuman thug that he could see through Zimmerman’s clothes and legs.

Unfortunately for Zimmerman, however, the bullet must have changed course somehow in the 2 to 4 inch distance between the muzzle of his gun and Trayvon’s chest because it entered Trayvon’s chest 1 inch to the left of the midline and 1/4 inch below the left nipple. It traveled straight through from front to back without deviating up or down, left or right and exploded the right ventricle of the heart and right lower lobe of the lung, collapsing both of his lungs (See page 125).

Odd too that no high velocity blood spatter blowback from the shot impacted Zimmerman’s jacket front or sleeves, according to the crime lab.

Trayvon then sits up and says, “You got me,” like he just lost a poker hand instead of having his right ventricle and the right lower lobe of his lung exploded by a bullet. Odd that Trayvon was able to push air through his vocal cords when both of his lungs were collapsed.

Trayvon then either slumps forward or Zimmerman pushes him aside — he does not recall which — so that Trayvon ends up lying face down. Zimmerman climbs on top of him, straddling him. Then he grabs both of Trayvon’s hands and stretches them out, so that Trayvon is in a Y-position. Meanwhile, his gun is just out of reach beyond Trayvon’s grasp, so he keeps restraining Trayvon — because that’s what you have to do to dead people — as he continues to call out for help.

Unfortunately for Zimmerman, however, no neighbors reported hearing any screams or calls for help after the shot.

A neighbor suddenly appears holding a flashlight and says he’s going to call 911, but Zimmerman tells him not to bother because he already called 911 and the police are on the way. He tells the neighbor he needs his assistance to restrain Trayvon, who, of course, is still dead.

Zimmerman then holsters his gun just before the cop arrives.

I am pleased to report that he did not claim to have blown his breath across the muzzle of the gun to dissipate any remaining gun smoke in the air before emphatically slamming it into the friendly confines of his holster.

Unfortunately for Zimmerman, Trayvon was found with both of his hands under his body, not stretched out in a Y position.

Given the location of Trayvon’s body and his phone, there is no doubt that the initial confrontation took place somewhere down the sidewalk, which runs between two rows of townhouses, in the direction of the home where Trayvon and his father were staying. That sidewalk forms a T-intersection with the sidewalk that provides a cut-through between two streets.

Zimmerman claimed that, after Trayvon ran, he got out of his vehicle and walked down that cut-through sidewalk toward the next street over attempting to find an address that he could provide to the police dispatcher. When he was unable to find one, he retraced his steps intending to return to his vehicle, but Trayvon emerged out of the darkness and approached him from the intersecting sidewalk that runs between the two rows of townhouses.

That story is not true.

Since we know the confrontation took place along the sidewalk that runs between the two rows of townhouses, we have to ask ourselves, why did Zimmerman tell a different story?

Does anyone think he lied to conceal that he followed Trayvon down that sidewalk between the townhouses and he does not want anyone to know that?

Why conceal that, unless he ignored the dispatcher’s request not to follow Trayvon, he followed him, and he confronted him?

Does anyone really think George Zimmerman did not know the names of the streets and the addresses in his own neighborhood, the neighborhood he patrolled as a volunteer neighborhood watch captain?

I think Zimmerman either followed Trayvon down that sidewalk between the two rows of townhouses or he walked down the street beyond the two rows of townhouses in the direction of the back entrance to the neighborhood, which is where he told the dispatcher Trayvon was headed towards, and when he did not find him, he looped back to the other end of the sidewalk between the two rows of townhouses and started up that sidewalk toward the T intersection.

I think he intended to find Trayvon, confront him, and restrain him until the police arrived. I think Trayvon ran from him again when Zimmerman found him while he was talking to his girlfriend DeeDee on his cell phone.

I think he tackled Trayvon up near the T intersection and probably hit the back of his head during the take down.

I think Trayvon hit him in the nose in self-defense

Trayvon was the person screaming for help and he stopped screaming when Zimmerman shot him, his heart exploded, and both his lungs collapsed.

UPDATE: Commenter JD corrected me regarding the location of Trayvon’s phone. It was found next to his body at the position designated with a 7 on this Google Earth satellite photo of the crime scene that JD prepared. Although we have not yet seen the GPS/total station prepared by the police, I suspect there will be little difference between them.

The bottom line is Trayvon’s body and the debris field is too far down the sidewalk between the two rows of townhomes from the T intersection to support Zimmerman’s claim that Trayvon confronted him and knocked him down up at the T intersection.

Special thanks to JD for correcting my mistake.


Zimmerman Update: Six Recorded Jailhouse Phone Calls Released

June 19, 2012

Yesterday, the prosecution released a copy of the information charging Shellie Zimmerman with perjury, the supporting affidavit of probable cause, and six recorded jailhouse phone calls between George and Shellie Zimmerman.

Go here to review the 69 page document.

I. Shellie Zimmerman’s testimony under oath by telephone at George Zimmerman’s Bail Hearing on April 20, 2012.

A. Direct examination by Mark O’Mara:

After establishing that she and her husband are indigent, he asks

Q: … other major assets that you can liquidate reasonably to assist in coming up with money for a bond?

A: None that I know of.

Q: I have discussed with you the pending motion to have your husband George Zimmerman declared indigent for cost, have I not?

A: Yes, you have.

Q: And is — are you of any financial means where you can assist in those costs?

A: Uhm, not that I am aware of.

Q: I understand that you do have other family members present with you, and I’ll ask some more questions of them, but have you had discussions with them of at least trying to pull together some funds to accomplish a bond?

A: We have discussed that.

Q: Okay

A: — trying to pull together the members of the family to scrape up anything that we can possibly can.

B. Cross examination by Bernardo de la Rionda

Q: And you mentioned also, in terms of the ability of your husband to make a bond amount, that you all had no money, is that correct?

A: To my knowledge, that is correct.

Q: Were you aware of the website that Mr. Zimmerman or somebody on his behalf created?

A: I’m aware of that website.

Q: How much money is in that website right now? How much money as a result of that website was —

A: Currently, I do not know.

Q: Do you have any estimate as to how much money has already been obtained or collected?

A: I do not.

II. Shellie Zimmerman’s money transfers from her account to George Zimmerman’s account from April 16 to April 19, 2012, a four-day period ending the day before the hearing.

$9,990 (X 4) = $39,960

$9,999 (X 2) = $19,998

$7,500 (X 2) = $15,000
_______________________
Total: $74,958

More than $47,000 was transferred from George Zimmerman’s account into his sister’s account during the period April 16 through April 19, 2012.

III. On April 24, 2012 (four days after the hearing), Shellie Zimmerman transferred $85,500 from her account into George Zimmerman’s account. She had previously transferred that money from the Paypal account into her own account.

Total Transferred before and after the hearing: $160,458

IV. Recorded Jailhouse Conversations

The prosecution released six of the 155 recorded telephone conversations. The balance of the recorded conversations have been withheld pending the outcome of a motion by Mark O’Mara, who claims they are not relevant to the case.

The conversations contain coded references to the Paypal account as “Peter Pan” and amounts are referred in a primitive code where dollar amounts are really 10,000 times greater, as you can see below. George Zimmerman gives the orders and Shellie Zimmerman carries them out. For example, he instructs her how to access the accounts, how to make the transfers, and how much to transfer. He also tells her what bills to pay and checks back later to make sure she did it.

April 16, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

GZ: In my account do I have at least $100?

SZ: No

GZ: How close am I?

SZ: There’s like $8. $8.60

GZ: So total everything, how much are we looking at?

SZ: Uhm, like $155

The actual sum on that date was $155,000

V. Conclusion

There is no defense to the perjury charge and I am surprised that the prosecution did not also charge George Zimmerman with perjury as an aider and abettor.