CNN article promotes racist description of Trayvon Martin case

February 27, 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Thanks to all who participated in yesterday’s memorial to Trayvon Martin.

I write today to express disgust and dismay regarding this excuse for journalism by Steve Almasy of CNN, Zimmerman’s lawyer works to dispel racial overtones in Trayvon Martin case.

The focus of the piece is Mark O’Mara’s “struggle” to get people to pay attention to the evidence instead of racism.

Whatever the outcome of the Trayvon Martin case, it will be viewed less as a determination of the shooter’s guilt or innocence and more as a victory or loss for civil rights, George Zimmerman’s lawyer fears.

Mark O’Mara said he has been busy trying to dispel the racial overtones in the case by getting out more evidence about his client.

Thereafter, we get the usual he-said-she-said description of the case interspersed with O’Mara’s unchallenged mischaracterizations of the evidence followed up with this description of Benjamin Crump as a rabble rousing troublemaker pushing the race card.

O’Mara indicated at trial he will dissect the recording of Zimmerman’s 911 call and point to evidence of the wounds Zimmerman said he suffered that night.

“I believe, you know, again, the evidence is what it is and that’s for a jury to determine,” O’Mara said. “But a close reading or looking at that tape and all the evidence that followed, particularly George’s injuries and Trayvon’s lack of injuries but for the fatal gunshot, suggest that George did not begin the fight, did not continue the fight and actually was the victim of the attack rather than the other way around.”

But a lawyer for the Martins said the fight against “senseless gun violence” will continue.

“He went home and slept in his bed the night he killed Trayvon,” attorney Benjamin Crump said. “And that wasn’t equal justice.”

Crump then led a chant of “Hoodies up! Hoodies up!” at the vigil.

This false concoction is presented with a cherry on top in the form of the optically distorted and likely photoshopped digital photo of the defendant seated in the back seat of a patrol vehicle with a bump on his nose and blood on his mustache. CNN has no excuse for not knowing that the photo presents a false picture because the police photos taken at the station house a few hours later with a much better camera under good lighting show a barely visible injury with little or no swelling or distortion to the shape of the nose.

As all of us know, despite conceding that his client was the aggressor, O’Mara has been shoving his demonstrably false “bloody” photograph in front of every camera he can find in pursuit of his easy-to-disprove false narrative that the peaceful and nonviolent Trayvon for no apparent reason attacked and attempted to kill the defendant with his bare hands in the middle of his phone conversation with his girlfriend after successfully running away from the defendant who had been stalking him in a vehicle and then on foot contrary to a police dispatcher’s warning.

The simple truth is this defendant has no defense and the only mystery in this case is why anyone believes that the he did not hunt, confront, and murder Trayvon Martin for the heinous crime of walking while Black in the rain with his hoodie up.

I said long ago and I will repeat it today:

Anyone who believes the defendant is innocent is a racist and anyone who contributes money to his defense is a stupid racist.

Let there be no mistake: Although he claims otherwise, Mark O’Mara and his client are deliberately appealing to racial hatred and fear of young Black males to literally get away with murder.

That is what this case is all about and shame on CNN for not reporting the truth.


Featuring: LLMPapa Video paying his respects to Officer Mike Wagner

January 5, 2013

Here’s LLMPapa with a new video paying his respects to Officer Mike Wagner of the Sanford Police Department.

Yikes!


The Two Photographs of the Defendant’s Head Damage the Defense

December 17, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

After reviewing and considering the remarks by Zhickel, Grbsb, Jun and Whonoze (AKA: Treeslaw), I am going to put on my judge’s robe and issue the following ruling:

I find that neither photograph was altered and, therefore, both photographs are authentic and admissible at trial.

This is not a bad result for the State, as you will soon see.

In effect and by design, because I set it up this way, we have had our own internet version of a battle-of-experts pretrial hearing regarding the admissibility of the two digital photographs taken at the scene of the homicide by Officer Wagner (face) and the neighbor named Jon (back of the head).

The legal issue was whether the photos were authentic (i.e., originals or authentic reproductions) or fraudulent reproductions (i.e., altered).

Zhickle (nice to see your fonts again) and Grbsb in effect testified as experts for the defense while Jun and Whonoze testified as experts for the State.

There has to be a winner and on balance I decided for the defense because giving them what they want on this issue does not hurt the State’s case and I did not want to give them an appellate issue that might result in reversing the defendant’s conviction.

In other words, I am thinking strategically, or big picture, rather than focusing on the relative merits of each argument.

I predict Judge Nelson will reach the same conclusion for the same reason.

Just as I would do, I predict she will permit the prosecution to use their experts to acknowledge the distortions in the photos and explain why they are present, just as our four experts did. Such factors will go to the weight, or value of the evidence, rather than its admissibility.

The jury will decide how much weight to give to those photos. The greater the distortion, the less weight they are likely to be given.

The photos taken at the station house also will be admitted. Those photos together with expert testimony from one or more trauma surgeons should establish to a reasonable medical certainty that the defendant’s injuries, including his claimed but unverified “broken nose” were minor and inconsistent with the defendant’s narrative claiming how he got them.

The absence of any detectable trace of blood on the cuffs and lower sleeves of Trayvon Martin’s two sweatshirts and the absence of the defendant’s DNA in Trayvon Martin’s fingernail clippings also do not support the defendant’s narrative, as one would expect detectable amounts of the defendant’s blood and DNA in both areas. That is, despite the rain, detectable amounts of blood and DNA would have been present, if the defendant’s narrative were true.

In addition, the pattern of blood flow as depicted in the photo taken at the scene, before an EMT cleaned his head, shows blood flowing in a downward direction toward and curling around the lower end of his ears, which does not support the defendant’s claim that he was lying on his back. Instead, it shows that his head was upright and leaning forward, which is consistent with the defendant straddling Trayvon Martin, as several witnesses described him doing (Selma and the teacher).

These photos do not help the defense case. Considered together with the physical evidence, they appear to not only rule out the possibility that the defendant was reasonably in fear of imminent death or serious bodily injury, they also appear to rule out Trayvon Martin as the person who caused those wounds.

Given some minor scratches to his face, it appears more likely that the defendant ran into a tree branch in the dark bumping his nose and fell down bumping his head on some object, possibly a sprinkler head or cover, or possibly the edge of the cement sidewalk or a sign. Whatever caused them, it was not likely to have been Trayvon because there is no evidence that Trayvon Martin hit the defendant.

Even if he did hit him, I think the jury will find that he was legally justified to do so in self-defense because the defendant followed him first in his vehicle and then on foot into a dark area where he confronted and attempted to detain him without ever identifying himself, contrary to the police dispatcher’s admonition and the Neighborhood Watch rules.

I hope this exercise was helpful to a better understanding of hearings on motions in limine, battles between experts and the strategic considerations that inform judicial thinking.

Thanks to all of you for participating and please give me some feedback regarding whether this worked for you as a learning experience.


Admissibility of Photographs Exhibiting Defendant’s Claimed Injuries in Trayvon Martin Murder

December 16, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

We have reason to believe that the digital color photo of the defendant’s face, publicized by the defense last week and exhibited below, was altered to create the appearance of an injury to his nose. We also know from the discovery provided by the State of Florida that SPD Officer Wagner, the man who took the photograph of the defendant sitting sideways in the back seat of an SPD cruiser with the back door open and his feet on the ground, deleted his original photograph from his iPhone after he downloaded a copy to his laptop. He claims to have forgotten that he had the photograph for about three weeks before he finally remembered it and gave the copy to SPD Investigator Serino. We saw this photo in the first evidence dump last May when the State released a black and white version produced by a copy machine.

Bloody nose Photo

We also have reason to believe that the digital color photo exhibited below of the back of the defendant’s head taken by a neighbor moments before the first officer arrived at the scene of the shooting also has been altered to add fake blood trails to increase the significance of two minor capillary-type injuries to the back of his head.

Back of the Head

The defense claims that these photographs prove that Trayvon Martin attacked the defendant at the T intersection without provocation as he was walking back to his truck, broke his nose stunning and knocking him to the ground, straddled him and rained down vicious punch after vicious punch to his face MMA-style, and then grabbed the sides of his head and savagely bashed the back of it against a concrete sidewalk until he thought his head would explode. Claiming that the defendant was at death’s door, the defense argues that he was reasonably in imminent fear of death or serious bodily injury when he killed Trayvon Martin.

I do not agree.

Compare these photographs to the high definition close-up photographs taken at the police station a few hours after the shooting and draw your own conclusions.

Defendant’s Face and Back of Head

Despite legitimate doubts regarding their provenance defense attorney, Mark O’Mara, flashed the two photographs in front of television cameras as he casually strolled to the podium to address the court at a motions hearing on Tuesday, December 11, 2012. Since he claims they establish the defendant’s innocence, I believe we can reasonably conclude that the defense will attempt to introduce those two photographs at the trial.

QUESTION: Are these photographs admissible at trial?

ANSWER: No, not if they have been altered.

ANALYSIS:

The defense wants the photographs admitted to support the defendant’s claim that he killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense. Specifically, that they accurately depict physical injuries inflicted by Trayvon Martin that caused the defendant to reasonably fear imminent death or serious bodily injury, such that he was legally justified in using deadly force against Martin to defend himself.

Assuming each photograph accurately depicts the defendant’s physical injuries when the photographs were taken, I believe Judge Nelson will admit them as relevant and probative evidence of the nature and extent of his physical injuries and whether he reasonably feared imminent death or serious bodily injury when he used deadly force.

Note the big assumption at the beginning of that sentence, however, and therein lies the rub.

Let us begin our analysis by taking a look at the best evidence rule. The purpose of this rule is to assure that only authentic documents and photographs are admitted into evidence.

This rule provides that an original photograph is generally required when proving the contents of a photograph, unless it is unavailable through no fault of the party offering a copy of the original. If that condition is satisfied, a copy of the original may be admitted in its place if the copy is an authentic and accurate reproduction of the original. See Evidence Rule 1003.

The original photograph of the defendant’s face is not available because Officer Wagner deleted it from his iPhone. Since he was not part of the defense team, the copy is admissible, provided it is an authentic and accurate reproduction. I imagine that the prosecution will argue that it is not because it can prove that the photograph was altered from its original state.

Look for the State to move in limine to exclude the photograph from evidence on the ground that it is not an accurate and authentic copy of the lost original and that, in any event, it has been altered and would mislead the jury, if admitted.

The original photograph of the back of the defendant’s head may be available, but like the photograph of his face, it appears to have been altered. Therefore, I expect the State will also move in limine to exclude this photograph from evidence.

The outcome of the motions will depend on whether the State’s experts can persuade Judge Nelson that the photographs have been altered and do not accurately depict the defendant’s appearance when they were taken.

If she grants the prosecution motion regarding both photographs, which is what I expect her to do, then the defense will be prohibited from mentioning the photos and the jury will never see them.


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