Grand Jury decision in Michael Brown shooting will be illegitimate

November 13, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2013

Good morning:

St.Louis County prosecuting attorney Bob McCulloch, aided and abetted by a compliant news media, is intentionally violating the public’s First Amendment right to know whether Officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown in self-defense or murdered him.

Since August 9th when Michael Brown died in the street and six eyewitnesses said he had his hands up when he was shot, there has been probable cause to believe the officer murdered him.

In essence, he is defending the officer and concealing what he is doing by trying Michael Brown in a secret grand jury proceeding where he controls what they get to consider while his minions selectively leak evidence that is spun in a manner favorable to the officer.

For example, Mother Jones reports today,

The autopsy, which was leaked to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, revealed Brown had been shot in the hand at close range with Wilson, putting into question whether Brown had had his hands up in the air, as some witnesses claimed.

(emphasis added)

The italicized portion of the statement is false. Dorian Johnson, who was with Brown, stated that Brown received a gunshot wound to his hand fired at close range inside the vehicle while the officer was seated holding Brown with one hand and a gun with other. Johnson’s statement is consistent with the gunshot residue found on Brown’s hand and the bullet wound described in the autopsy report.

The wound to Brown’s hand and the presence of the gunshot residue does not make it more or less likely that Brown’s hands were up when the officer shot and killed him after getting out of his vehicle and chasing Brown down the street recklessly squeezing off shots in a crowded residential neighborhood. To suggest otherwise is at best grossly irresponsible.

Let’s return to basics.

The purpose of the grand jury is not to try this case. The purpose is to decide in secret whether there is probable cause to believe that Wilson murdered Brown. If so, the grand jury should indict him for murder. If indicted, the Sixth Amendment would come into play.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

(emphasis supplied)

Last week the Arizona Court of Appeals reminded Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens about the importance of public trials in the Jodi Arias case, such that despite the defense request to exclude the media and the public from the courtroom, the public has an overriding First Amendment right to know what is going on in her resentencing hearing. That is, the public and the media cannot be excluded.

The public’s right to know what is happening at any given time and what the government is doing is protected by the Freedom of the Press Clause in the First Amendment.

Secret trials are prohibited by the First and Sixth Amendments. Yet, that is exactly what is happening in St.Louis and the news media is aiding and abetting that secret proceeding.

Since the prosecutor determines what evidence to present to the grand jury, the grand jury proceedings are secret, no judge is present, and the rules of evidence do not apply, we do not know what evidence has been presented or the quality of that evidence.

Only a fool would believe the grand jury is getting an objective look at the evidence, given the selective leaks by ‘unnamed officials’ that only favor the officer.

The prosecuting attorney, who has taken an oath to uphold and enforce the law, has violated the public’s right, which is our right to know what is going on.

There is no way that a secret grand jury proceeding can ever substitute for a public trial, ever.

The grand jury’s decision will be illegitimate and not entitled to any deference or respect.


13 Reasons Why Zimmerman Was Not the Person Screaming on the 911 Tape

August 8, 2012

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.


DNA And GSR Update On George Zimmerman Case

May 21, 2012

Summary of DNA and GSR Evidence*

A DNA Double-Helix

Image by Keith Ramsey

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)


Trayvon Martin: What Forensics Can Tell Us

April 10, 2012

Introduction

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.


Disturbing Questions About The Civilian Massacre In Afghanistan: UPDATE

March 21, 2012
Afghanistan Boy (photo: UN Photos/flickr)

Afghanistan Boy (photo: UN Photos/flickr)

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 »


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