Will George Zimmerman be Tried for the Murder of Trayvon Martin?
- Copy of Sanford Police report with charges of Homicide/Negligent Manslaughter/Unnecessary Killing to Prevent Unlawful Act
On the evening of February 26, 2012, 28 year old George Zimmerman, on a self appointed neighborhood patrol, pursued and killed 17 year old Trayvon Martin as he attempted to return to his father’s home to watch the end of the NBA All Stars game. He was returning from a neighborhood convenience store after purchasing a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles candy in the small city of Sanford, Florida, population less than 54,000. Sanford is a suburb of Orlando, Florida, approximately 20 miles away.
When Sanford police arrived, George Zimmerman told them he had killed Trayvon Martin in self defense. George Zimmerman is reported to have said he shot Trayvon Martin in the chest. Trayvon Martin is lying face down in the grass. From that point on, the actions of Sanford police, under the leadership of Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, have been called into question.
When Sanford police arrived, Trayvon Martin is lying face down in the grass, dead from a gunshot wound. Acting solely on George Zimmerman’s word that he had a squeaky clean record with police, a claim that was not investigated by the police and later found to be untrue, after a brief detention, Sanford police authorities sent George Zimmerman on his way with his licensed 9mm murder weapon and his permit to carry a concealed weapon still in his possession.
Drug and alcohol tests were performed on the body of Trayvon Martin. However, no drug or alcohol tests were performed on George Zimmerman nor were any forensics tests run on the weapon or George Zimmerman in relation to the murder of Trayvon Martin.
In addition to the can of iced tea and Skittles in Trayvon Martin’s possession at the time of his murder was his cell phone, which he had used minutes before his death. Sanford police did not make use of his cell phone to attempt to contact anyone upon their discovery of Trayvon's body nor after Sanford city morgue personnel took possession of Trayvon Martin’s body. Not until Trayvon’s father Tracy Martin contacted Sanford police regarding his missing son did he receive a visit from them more than twelve hours later. Prior to Sanford police responding to Tracy Martin's inquiry, Trayvon Martin lay in the morgue, tagged as a John Doe, for three days.
The recent release of 911 tapes from the night of Trayvon’s murder, including a tape of the call George Zimmerman made to a 911 dispatcher, reveal the dispatcher advising George Zimmerman not to follow Trayvon. The tapes also reveal that George Zimmerman proclaims, while talking to the dispatcher and pursuing Trayvon that “these assholes” always get away.
The apparent pursuit of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman tends to not support a claim of self defense. The 911 tapes of neighbors' calls, as well as George Zimmerman's call to the dispatcher that evening, were released only after Trayvon Martin's parents sued for their release.
The local community and the entire nation have been outraged that nearly a month after the murder of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, who has not been seen at his house in the community for some time, has not been held accountable for his actions. As a result of coverage on the internet and social media sites, international interest in the murder of Trayvon Martin is increasing.
The internet website Change.org has been hosting a petition on behalf of Trayvon Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, meant to aid them in their efforts to obtain justice for their son by calling for the arrest and trial of George Zimmerman. To date, the petition has collected over 2 1/4 million signatures.
A statement issued by Change.org notes ....
"People worldwide are shocked by Trayvon's killing, and they're turning to social media like Change.org and Twitter to turn that outrage into action," the statement said.
From the first report of this tragedy, Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee has proclaimed that due to what many consider an expansion of the Castle Doctrine, the Stand Your Ground law, with Florida being the first to adopt this controversial law in 2005, he did not have authority to arrest George Zimmerman on probable cause.
Both of the Florida legislators that authored and successfully guided the statute through the legislature have recently stated they believe the statute, in the case of the murder of Trayvon Martin, has been misapplied. Former Florida State Senator Durell Peaden stated that because George Zimmerman ignored the 911 operator’s advice not to follow Trayvon Martin, his action ....
.... disqualifies him from claiming self-defense under the law.
Rep. Dennis Baxley, Peaden's co-sponsor in the Florida House, agrees with his former colleague, telling the newspaper that the law does not license neighborhood watch or others who feel "like they have the authority to pursue and confront people. That is aggravating an incident right there."
It is worth noting that since this statute was instituted seven years ago, cases of individuals killing a second individual, with no eye witnesses to the altercation and the shooter claiming self defense, have tripled.
An unexpected effect of this law's implementation has been that ....
.... many Orlando-area cops reportedly have given up investigating "self-defense" cases as a result, referring them to the overloaded state Attorney's Office for action.
On March 21, 2012, a Sanford city commission vote resulted in a vote of no confidence in Chief Bill Lee for his handling of the investigation, or lack thereof, into the murder of Trayvon Martin. The vote is without authority for the commission to remove Chief Lee from office. Chief Lee could be removed from office by the Sanford City Manager’s office, an option that the city manager, Norton Bonaparte Jr., has stated is on the table.
Will George Zimmerman be charged and tried for the murder of Trayvon Martin or will this ultimately be prosecuted as a case where Trayvon Martin was denied his civil rights, not the prosecution for murder merited in this case?
In an interview on Saturday, March 24, 2012, Daryl Parks, the lead attorney at the firm representing the family of murdered teen Trayvon Martin ....
.... told a group of journalists that after meeting with federal authorities, he doubts the killing will be charged as a federal hate crime.
However, he said he's encouraged that the state's investigation of the shooting will lead to criminal charges filed against the gunman, George Zimmerman.
- A Florida grand jury had been scheduled to be impaneled on April 10, 2012 by State Attorney Prosecutor Norman Wolfinger of Seminole County prior to recusing himself from the investigation of Trayvon Martin's death
The Florida State Attorney's Office has prepared a subpoena for Trayvon Martin's girlfriend, who was on the phone with him in the moments before the unarmed African American teen was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, to appear in front a grand jury that will be impaneled on April 10 ....
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is also investigating the circumstances surrounding the killing of Trayvon Martin. The inquiry is being headed by Assistant Attorney General for civil rights Thomas Perez. The DOJ's focus is on the shooting of Trayvon Martin but, requests have been made to expand their inquiry.
.... as questions continue to emerge about the Sanford police department's handling of this and other racially-charged cases, civil rights leaders have urged the feds to broaden the inquiry to include a civil investigation into possible police wrongdoing.
Appearing at a press conference with Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr., Chief Bill Lee has announced he will be stepping aside "temporarily" as the investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin continues.
The police chief at the center of a fatal neighborhood watch shooting says he is stepping down temporarily because he has become a distraction.
Governor Rick Scott of Florida has appointed a special prosecutor, State Attorney Angela Corey of Jacksonville, Florida, to investigate the murder of Trayvon Martin. His action is in response to State Attorney Norman Wolfinger of Seminole County, the jurisdictional location for Sanford, Florida, and his decision to remove himself from the process of grand jury selection, with the grand jury scheduled to convene on April 10, 2012.
The appointment came the same day Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee temporarily stepped down amid outrage over his failure to charge George Zimmerman with any crime in the Feb. 26 shooting. Wolfinger said in a letter to Scott he was stepping aside “in the interest of public safety” and to “avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.”
Staffers for State Attorney Angela Corey told a Florida media affiliate that a grand jury may not be used in this case, with lead prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda saying they would get at the truth, "one way or another."
Jacksonville-based (State Attorney Angela) Corey replaced local prosecutor Norm Wolfinger in the case and WFTV said several sources had confirmed that police had originally recommended manslaughter charges against Zimmerman, but that Wolfinger had not acted on their advice.
Lead prosecutor De la Rionda would not confirm or deny the information provided by WFTV regarding former lead prosecutor Wolfinger's refusal to bring charges in the murder of Trayvon Martin.
While introducing his choice to head the World Bank, Dartmouth President Kim Jim, in the Rose Garden on March 23, 2012, President Obama was asked to comment on the death of Trayvon Martin. During his response, he remarked ....
"I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen," said Obama. "And that means we examine the laws and the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the incident."
On March 27, 2012, ABC News has reported, citing multiple sources, that the lead investigator on the night of the killing of Trayvon Martin, Investigator Chris Serino, on February 26, 2012, gave a sworn affidavit stating he did not believe George Zimmerman's version of the events surrounding the killing of Trayvon Martin. Investigator Serino wanted to charge George Zimmerman with homicide/negligent manslaughter. He was advised by Seminole County Prosecutor Norman Wolfinger not to do so.
While George Zimmerman was in Sanford police custody, ....
Police did not administer a drug and alcohol test or an immediate background check on Zimmerman, although they did both on Martin.
The next day, detectives re-enacted the shooting with Zimmerman at the scene. They also discovered Zimmerman had two prior arrests: one for assaulting a cop, the other for domestic abuse.
For the next two weeks, lead investigator Chris Serino pursued a manslaughter charge against Zimmerman.
How could state attorney and county prosecutor Norman Wolfinger possibly make the determination that there was not enough evidence to lead to a conviction of George Zimmerman before law enforcement had collected physical evidence or, even more disturbing, without law enforcement collecting physical evidence from George Zimmerman? Forensics tests were not conducted on George Zimmerman nor was his clothing collected to be examined for any physical evidence.
The decision to disregard the recommendation of the lead in investigator at the scene of the Trayvon Martin murder, Chris Serino, was a collaboration, in person, between Captain Robert O'Connell, at the time of Trayvon Martin's murder, the lead investigations supervisor, who is currently serving as the acting Sanford chief of police, the former Chief of Police Bill Lee, who has temporarily stepped down from his position as head of the Sanford police department and State Attorney Norman Wolfinger, who earlier recused himself, he stated, to avoid any appearance of impropriety.
It is being reported that State Attorney Norman Wolfinger was either at the scene of the Trayvon Martin murder or Sanford police station, it being said that if he were at either location, that act ....
.... would be unusual, according to the source. On a typical case, police contact the state attorney's office and speak with an on duty assistant state attorney; they either discuss the matter by phone or the on duty assistant state attorney comes to the crime scene - but rarely the state attorney him or herself.
Had Mr. Wolfinger not removed himself from the investigation, knowing that he had been at the scene on the night of Trayvon Martin's murder, collaborating and directing the local Sanford police on the scene not to charge George Zimmerman, the appearance of impropriety could not be avoided.
March 28, 2012 - ABC News has obtained exclusive footage of Sanford police surveillance tape of George Zimmerman being escorted by Sanford police into the police station on February 26, 2012, the evening of the murder of Trayvon Martin.
In the video an officer is seen pausing to look at the back of Zimmerman's head, but no abrasions or blood can be seen in the video and he did not check into the emergency room following the police questioning.
There is no blood on George Zimmerman's nose or head visible on the police surveillance tape. Zimmerman is wearing a light colored shirt. There is no visible blood on his shirt that would support the claims of George Zimmerman attorney's that his client was savagely beaten by Trayvon Martin.
March 29, 2012 - During an interview with Washington Post staffers, Tracy Martin, father of slain Trayvon Martin, recalled the night lead investigator Chris Serino came to his home to inform him of the death of his son. Mr. Martin recounted his recollection of the story Mr. Serino relayed as the story George Zimmerman told Sanford police the night Trayvon was murdered.
According to Zimmerman, he had two encounters with Trayvon, the second encounter ending in Trayvon's death. Zimmerman stated that during his first encounter with Trayvon, Trayvon approached his vehicle, asking Zimmerman if he was following him, which Zimmerman denied, rolling up his window. Trayvon is alleged to have walked away.
Sometime after the first exchange, Zimmerman gets out of his truck. As he is walking past a building, the second encounter occurs. Trayvon is alleged to step out from behind a building, asking, "What's you're problem, homie?" Zimmerman responds he doesn't have a problem, to which it is said Trayvon responded, "You do now."
Mr. Martin describes how the detective told him Zimmerman states that after he is hit in the nose and knocked to the ground, Trayvon pins his arms with his knees, begins beating him with one hand, while reaching for Zimmerman's gun with his other hand, which is tucked in his pants waistband.
This account of the second encounter ends when ....
During the beating, Zimmerman pulled his gun and fired one shot at close range into Martin’s chest. “You got me,” the teenager said, falling backward.
If, according to the account of events attributed to Zimmerman, after Zimmerman shot Trayvon, Trayvon fell backward, why was Trayvon's body found lying face down in the grass when Sanford police arrived?
The Sanford Police Department said in a statement Wednesday that it will no longer answer questions from the news media.
With no official comment from Sanford police planned for now, only time will reveal if unnamed police sources will cease leaking information.
Mr. Martin said he was told by Mr. Serino he did not believe Zimmerman's claim of self defense. Mr. Serino gave a sworn affidavit to that effect the night of Trayvon Martin's death, February 26, 2012.
Several of the attorneys representing the parents of Trayvon Martin have stated that the story that has been alleged to be Zimmerman's story conflicts with the time sequence of the 911 call he made to Sanford police, as well as the phone logs of the cell phone call Trayvon was on with his friend identified only as Dee Dee.
Part time Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett has been speaking out on the media maelstrom in which he has found himself after the Trayvon Martin murder brought national focus on his town. He has discussed his struggle with Sanford police over the 911 tapes of the night of Trayvon's murder, with the police being inclined not to make them public. Mayor Triplett said he wanted the parents of Trayvon Martin to hear what had happened on the night their son was killed.
(Mayor) Triplett said he and (Sanford City Manager) Bonaparte became "joined at the hip" at City Hall trying to ascertain the facts surrounding Martin's death and look into accusations about police conduct.
"My question immediately was the same as everybody else's," Triplett said. "How is there somebody that has been killed, and we can't make an arrest or we didn't make an arrest?"
Triplett had difficulty getting a handle on the case. Information would be relayed only to be corrected, he said, and police were generally reluctant to reveal too much about the investigation.
March 30, 2012 - Family members of George Zimmerman, his brother Robert Zimmerman Jr. and most notably his father, Robert Zimmerman, have begun coming forward, articulating and expanding upon the story that has been attributed to Zimmerman, essentially very similar to the basic information that has been leaked by unofficial police sources.
Robert Zimmerman Jr. appeared on CNN in an interview with Piers Morgan, offering, in the most graphic detail to date, another retelling of George Zimmerman's account of his version of what happened the night of Trayvon Martin's death.
MSNBC is reporting that Craig Sonner, an attorney for George Zimmerman, has stated that Robert Jr., George's brother, has not seen his brother for years and has come forward seeking media attention.
George Zimmerman's father Robert Zimmerman has lashed out at President Obama, the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP, claiming there has been hatred emanating from all those named. All mentioned in Robert Zimmerman's comments, including President Obama, have called for an investigation into the events that happened to bring about Trayvon Martin's untimely death.
Mr. Zimmerman is a retired magistrate, having served in the state of Virginia, now living approximately a 20 minute car ride away from Sanford in the small Florida town Lake Mary.
"Robert J. Zimmerman served as a full-time magistrate from 2000-2006. Please be advised that in Virginia magistrates are judicial officers, but they are not considered "judges" and do not possess trial jurisdiction. More detailed information on the role of the magistrate in Virginia is available on Virginia's Judicial System Website."
A compelling procedural fact was raised on MSNBC's Politics Nation with Al Sharpton by former Florida prosecutor Ken Padowitz, who was a Homicide Prosecutor with the Broward County States Attorneys office for 16 years. He made note that contrary to the current talking points, because Zimmerman was handcuffed, he had been arrested. Mr. Padowitz stated that under Florida law, there is no way to un-arrest someone.
According to the Florida rules of criminal procedure, IF George Zimmerman is not re-arrested within 175 days of when he was first arrest, he can never be charged in connection with the murder of Trayvon Martin.
The Sanford Police Department report, generated on the evening of the murder of Trayvon Martin, with a time of 19:17, lists a charge of Homicide/Negligent Manslaughter/Unnecessary Killing to Prevent Unlawful Act, which affirms George Zimmerman had indeed been placed under arrest and charged.
This raises the crucial question, since George Zimmerman was initially arrested and charged in the death of Trayvon Martin, under what statute or law was George Zimmerman's initial charge handled?
At no time has it been reported that any charges were dropped in relation to George Zimmerman. Whatever procedural activity is responsible for the release of George Zimmerman, it was orchestrated and overseen by all of the higher officials named here previously, former Police Chief Bill Lee, current acting Police Chief Robert O'Donnell and State Attorney Prosecutor Norman Wolfinger.
It is imperative the arrest of George Zimmerman is made before time runs out for him to ever be charged, as he is the self identified shooter of Trayvon Martin.
March 31, 2012 - Forensics experts, after analyzing copies of the 911 tapes from February 26, 2012 that contain screaming, which George Zimmerman and his surrogates have alleged are his screams and not the screams of Trayvon Martin, have concluded that the screams are not the screams of George Zimmerman.
Tom Owen is a forensic consultant for Owen Forensic Services LLC. He is also chair emeritus for the American Board of Recorded Evidence. He used voice recognition software to arrive at his conclusion.
"I took all of the screams and put those together, and cut out everything else," Owen says.
The software compared that audio to Zimmerman's voice. It returned a 48 percent match. Owen said to reach a positive match with audio of this quality, he'd expect higher than 90 percent.
"As a result of that, you can say with reasonable scientific certainty that it's not Zimmerman," Owen says ....
Another forensics expert and audio engineer, Ed Primeau, using human voice enhancement has determined the tone of the voice is of a young man screaming.
April 1, 2012 - The New York Daily News has obtained information that would appear to refute the claims of Robert Zimmerman Jr., the brother of George Zimmerman, who declared during a CNN interview that medical records would support the claims offered by Sanford police by George Zimmerman that he was involved in a life threatening struggle the night he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
On Friday, the Daily News obtained EMS documents suggesting (George) Zimmerman, who an ex-colleague said was fired from a security job for being too aggressive, did not sustain serious injuries in the fatal encounter.
In London, England, hundreds of protestors gathered outside of the U.S. embassy, demonstrating and demanding justice for Trayvon Martin.
The protest, organised by Campaign 4 Justice, Tottenham Defence Campaign, comedienne Ava Vidal, and supported by Defend the Right to Protest, comes alongside similar demonstrations held in Manchester, UK and in towns across around America.
Demonstrators were asked to wear hoodies and bring a packet of skittles, which is what Trayvon Martin was wearing and carrying in his pocket when he was shot.
April 2, 2012 - Attorneys for the family of Trayvon Martin, in a letter written to Roy Austin of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, are asking for an investigation into concerns the attorneys have regarding the impartiality of the Sanford police department during the investigation of the death of Trayvon Martin.
In part, the letter states:
.... "we learned that on the night of February 26, 2012, within hours of the shooting in which Trayvon Martin was killed, Sanford Chief of Police Bill Lee met with State Attorney Norm Wolfinger. We also believe that family members of shooter George Zimmerman were present at the police department."
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States