Trayvon Martin Autopsy Shows Injuries to Knuckles

Trayvon Martin's autopsy shows injuries to his knuckles, which bolsters George Zimmerman's claim that there was a fight, a Florida television station reports.

Trayvon Martin’s autopsy shows injuries to his knuckles, which bolsters George Zimmerman’s claim that there was a fight, a Florida television station reports.

WFTV-9 (“Autopsy results show Trayvon Martin had injuries to his knuckles“):

WFTV has confirmed that autopsy results show 17-year-old Trayvon Martin had injuries to his knuckles when he died. The information could support George Zimmerman’s claim that Martin beat him up before Zimmerman shot and killed him.

[…]

WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said it’s better for the defense than it is for the prosecution.

WFTV has learned that the medical examiner found two injuries on Martin’s body: The fatal gunshot wound and broken skin on his knuckles.

When you compare Trayvon’s non-fatal injury with Zimmerman’s bloody head wounds, the autopsy evidence is better for the defense, Sheaffer said. “It goes along with Zimmerman’s story that he acted in self-defense, because he was getting beaten up by Trayvon Martin,” Sheaffer said. The injury to Martin’s knuckle also fits with Zimmerman’s story that before he shot and killed Martin, Martin had broken his nose and knocked him to the ground, slamming his head on the sidewalk.

But Sheaffer said there could be another explanation for Martin’s knuckle injury. “It could be consistent with Trayvon either trying to get away or defend himself,” Sheaffer said.

For that matter, given that Martin seemingly posed zero threat to Zimmerman prior to his decision to get out of his truck and pursue him on foot with his gun drawn, Martin’s injuries could fairly be attributed to self-defense. But, given that the burden of proof is on the state, that there are no surviving witnesses other than the defendant, and a Florida law which gives enormous latitude to use deadly force if one fears for one’s safety, this would seem to make it more likely Zimmerman will be acquitted.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Quick Takes, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Chad S says:

    Zimmerman still has to explain why Martin was screaming for help right before he was shot. Zimmerman’s voice doesn’t match the voice who was screaming for help on the 9-11 tapes.

  2. Rob in CT says:

    Yeah, the reality is that it’s going to be quite difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman wasn’t acting in self-defense. I think what he did was crappy. I’m entirely unsure about whether it was murder 2 or even manslaughter, because we simply do not know what happened between the time he hung up with the 9-1-1 dispatcher and the gunshot.

    We already knew there had been a physical confrontation. How that started and developed is, at least as of now, anybody’s guess.

  3. Michael Demmons says:

    But, given that the burden of proof is on the state, that there are no surviving witnesses other than the defendant, and a Florida law which gives enormous latitude to use deadly force if one fears for one’s safety, this would seem to make it more likely Zimmerman will be acquitted.

    Or, it could bolster the State’s case. Zimmerman was told not to follow and he still did and, therefore, was the direct cause of the confrontation that lead to Martin’s death. The bloody knuckles were, the State could say, those of a teenager fighting for his life against a man wielding a gun.

    I find it astonishing, but not surprising if it happens, that a jury could acquit Zimmerman. He is the direct cause of all the events that lead to the death of Trayvon Martin. He ignored the 911 dispatcher’s instruction not to follow. By ignoring those instructions, he showed that he intended to confront this kid regardless of what the 911 person said. So, if Trayvon swung at him and got bloody knuckles, then Martin was most likely (in my opinion) defending himself against someone determined to confront him.

    An acquittal here would tell Floridians that it’s not a problem to kill someone, as long as you don’t leave witnesses. And who cares how a 911 dispatcher told you to handle the situation? You won’t even be held accountable for failing to follow their instructions anyway!

    What a f’d up state.

  4. Rob in CT says:

    By the way, I can’t tell from the article: does anyone know when this autopsy was done?

    Remember, the really big ruckus over this case was about the way the police (and DA) treated it.

  5. Michael Demmons says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Yeah, the reality is that it’s going to be quite difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman wasn’t acting in self-defense.

    No it won’t. The 911 dispatch TOLD HIM how to act in self-defense – STOP FOLLOWING HIM.

    “We don’t need you to do that.”

    Zimmerman ignored them. And that is the State’s case, in my opinion. He the direct cause of all the events that happened.

  6. Chad S says:

    @Rob in CT: We do have some idea from Martin’s galpal and the audio from the 2nd 911 call from a neighbor. Someone screams for help(Zimmerman claims it was him, but his voice doesn’t match it), then there’s a gunshot.

  7. @Michael Demmons:

    Or, it could bolster the State’s case. Zimmerman was told not to follow and he still did and, therefore, was the direct cause of the confrontation that lead to Martin’s death.

    Zimmerman’s version is that he obeyed the operator and started returning to his car, at which point he was attack by Martin. I happen to think that Zimmerman is lying, but as others have pointed out it’s going to be hard to prove that.

    Personally I think Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter, but that he’s going to get away with it because it can’t be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

  8. Gustopher says:

    If Zimmerman is acquitted, how long will it take someone to confront him, feel threatened by him, and shoot him in cold blood?

    Because, apparently, that is legal in Florida.

  9. John Burgess says:

    @Chad S: I don’t think we know — or will ever know — with any scientific accuracy just whose voice it is. The preeminent voice expert quoted in the FL paper contradicts his own writing about minimal sampling needed to make an identification. If he tries to claim otherwise, he’s going to be impeached by the defense. I’m betting that the call for help never makes it into the trial as it’s too ambiguous.

  10. @John Burgess:

    Frankly, I think “forensice voice analysis” is pseudo-science BS anyways.

  11. rodney dill says:

    In a lot of possible scenario’s I can believe that Zimmerman could get off with a self-defense plea, except for his essentially acting as an armed vigilante. He did not need to leave his vehicle, he did not need to start to approach Martin, even if in the end he retreated and was attacked.

    Given the way the law is written and possibly interpreted he (Zimmerman) still may get off, but in that case I believe the law is either written badly, or being interpreted poorly.

  12. Chad S says:

    @John Burgess: Thats why we have trials. The voice prints will go to experts for comparison.

    Just on the face of it, Zimmerman’s claim that he was screaming for help loudly, then shot Martin dead in self defense doesn’t make much sense. If Martin is beating him up, why scream for help if you have a gun in your hand already?

  13. rodney dill says:

    @Gustopher:

    If Zimmerman is acquitted, how long will it take someone to confront him, feel threatened by him, and shoot him in cold blood?

    Because, apparently, that is legal in Florida.

    Not too likely that the scenario you describe would be considered legal. The attacker would need to establish that he/she could “reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself” as per the Florida statute. The first part states.

    Fla. Stat. § 776.012. Use of force in defense of person

    A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

    (1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or

    Just vaguely feeling threatened, doesn’t seem to carry much weight.

  14. @rodney dill:

    In a lot of possible scenario’s I can believe that Zimmerman could get off with a self-defense plea, except for his essentially acting as an armed vigilante. He did not need to leave his vehicle, he did not need to start to approach Martin, even if in the end he retreated and was attacked.

    I agree, but don’t forget “He did not need to take a gun on neighborhood watch.”

  15. Jenos Idanian says:

    Good lord, so much here is so wrong.

    For that matter, given that Martin seemingly posed zero threat to Zimmerman prior to his decision to get out of his truck and pursue him on foot with his gun drawn, Martin’s injuries could fairly be attributed to self-defense.

    There is NO evidence that Zimmerman ever had his gun drawn prior to the struggle. Zimmerman said he didn’t have his gun drawn. And common sense would lend one to think that the two would not have gotten into a physical struggle if Zimmerman had had his gun drawn. Where the hell did “with his gun drawn” come from?

    Zimmerman still has to explain why Martin was screaming for help right before he was shot. Zimmerman’s voice doesn’t match the voice who was screaming for help on the 9-11 tapes.

    There is NOTHING conclusive about who was screaming for help. Zimmerman says it was him.

    Zimmerman was told not to follow and he still did and, therefore, was the direct cause of the confrontation that lead to Martin’s death.

    The 911 tapes actually indicate that Zimmerman did NOT pursue Martin after the 911 operator said “we don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman was panting slightly when he called, which made the operator ask if he was following Martin. After she said “we don’t need you to do that,” his breathing returned to normal and he gave his location — both things that strongly indicate he had stopped pursuing Martin.

    Setting aside race for a moment (I realize that’s almost impossible for some folks), here’s what we have: Zimmerman spotted an unknown person who fit the description of suspects in several breakins in his neighborhood, acting in what Zimmerman thought was a suspicious manner. Following the “if you see something, say something” principle, he called 911 and followed the suspect at a distance. When the operator (who has no legal authority to issue any kinds of orders to Zimmerman, and didn’t give him an explicit order anyway) said “we don’t need you to do that,” Zimmerman stopped where he was. Over a minute and a half later, Martin and Zimmerman got into a physical scuffle. (Since Zimmerman had stopped in place, the only way the two could have encountered each other was if Martin had sought out Zimmerman.)

    During the struggle, Martin’s knuckles got skinned, while Zimmerman suffered two black eyes, a broken nose, back injuries, and lacerations to the back of his head. This is entirely consistent with his story — Martin struck first, knocked him down, and started bashing his head against the pavement. At that point, fearing for his life, Zimmerman drew his gun and fired a single shot, which killed Martin.

    Here’s something that needs to be said explicitly: bashing someone’s head against the pavement repeatedly is almost guaranteed to severely injure or kill them. If Zimmerman’s account is accurate, and the medical reports back it up, then he had genuine cause to fear for his life.

    The only circumstance I can imagine where Martin would be justified in such actions is if Zimmerman had approached him, gun drawn, and made threats (verbal or otherwise) to Martin’s safety. At that point, Martin would be justified in doing whatever he could to disable or disarm Martin, as fleeing would be a dangerous option. (Old self-defense rule — run from a knife, rush a gun.)

    But there is NO evidence that Zimmerman was pursuing Martin at the time of the confrontation, NO evidence that Zimmerman started the physical confrontation, and NO evidence that he ever laid a hand on Martin.

    The Martin defenders are putting forward a truly novel argument: that if someone is following me around, I have the right to confront them and demand they stop. And if they respond in anything other than utter submission (and apologize), I have the right to physically attack and attempt to kill the follower for the offense of following me.

    If the parties are of the right races, apparently.

    If I’m misstating things, then I expect to be corrected.

  16. rodney dill says:

    @john personna: Kind of what I was inferring when I called him an armed vigilante.

    The possible scenario’s I was referring to are more hypothetical. If he had just been strolling through the neighborhood and got jumped, self-defense would apply. Since we know from phone records and his own statements he was on and armed neighborhood watch, and left the vehicle to follow/approach Martin of his own accord we know the hypothetical scenario did not occur.

  17. rodney dill says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    I have the right to physically attack and attempt to kill the follower for the offense of following me.

    I’ve seen people claim Martin had the right to defend himself (which is still debatable, that he was defending himself or not). I haven’t seen any one claim Martin had the right as an agressor to attack Zimmerman. This would be assault and battery on Martins part. I haven’t seen anything definitive to establish who started the actual physical part of the altercation. As far as the “Attempt to kill the follower,” I’ll use your logic, There’s NO evidence he was attempting to kill Zimmerman, cause him harm, yes, but we don’t know his intent.

    Even accepting your scenario that Zimmerman was acting honorably, and Martin was an aggressor, Zimmerman placed himself into this incident as an armed vigilante/neighborhood watchman. For this reason I think Zimmerman should be held to manslaughter. I haven’t seen anything else to convince me otherwise as yet.

  18. Jenos Idanian says:

    @rodney dill: What I’m trying to say, Rodney, is that the evidence indicates that Martin initiated the confrontation — Zimmerman had stopped following him. Martin chose to initiate the confrontation, Martin apparently struck the only blows (at least, that left any marks).

    There is no evidence that Zimmerman did anything illegal. And it’s even debatable if he did anything unwise. He spotted someone acting suspiciously, and he followed from a distance while he called the police. When the 911 operator suggested he didn’t need to continue following from a distance, he stopped doing so.

    The one questionable part is how he conducted himself when Martin confronted him. If he shoved Martin or in some way acted overly aggressively, then he is clearly in the wrong. But if Martin — who was the “aggressor” in initiating the confrontation — made the first threat or struck the first blow, then Zimmerman should be in the clear.

    OK, there’s a second questionable possibility. If Zimmerman was brandishing his gun, then he was doing wrong. But if Martin knew Zimmerman was armed, why would he return to confront him physically? If I’m irritated with some guy who’s carrying a gun and I get out of his sight, the last thing I’m going to do is go back and get in his face.

  19. Brian says:

    Two dudes couldn’t answer two questions, “Why are you following me?” and “What are you doing around here?” without resorting to violence is the reason we are here. Doesn’t matter what happened to put these two people in the situation, the fact they couldn’t be civilized and just talk to each other left one dead and another’s life in tatters. Complete shame all around.

  20. @Jenos Idanian:

    What I’m trying to say, Rodney, is that the evidence indicates that Martin initiated the confrontation — Zimmerman had stopped following him.

    No it doesn’t. There’s no evidence either way as to whether Zimmerman had actually stopped following Martin or who initiated the confrontation. We only have Zimmerman’s word as to either.

  21. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Let me repeat myself:

    The 911 tapes actually indicate that Zimmerman did NOT pursue Martin after the 911 operator said “we don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman was panting slightly when he called, which made the operator ask if he was following Martin. After she said “we don’t need you to do that,” his breathing returned to normal and he gave his location — both things that strongly indicate he had stopped pursuing Martin.

    OK, I should have said “911 tape.”

    Proof? Absolutely not. But evidence? Definitely.

  22. rodney dill says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    There is no evidence that Zimmerman did anything illegal.

    You mean, except for the dead body…

    Sorry about that, and I know that doesn’t ‘prove’ he did anything illegal either.

    If Zimmerman had been in neighborhood for other reasons, delivering a pizza?, flowers? visiting a girl friend or relative? and a similar event occurred I actually would find self-defense a more suitable defense. But as Zimmerman was acting as an armed vigilante/neighborhood watchman, in this circumstance, I don’t think he should be absolved from all responsibility, even if Martin was the aggressor. There may be no actual legal grounds to support my belief, but that is the way I see it.

  23. Moderate Mom says:

    As someone else asked above, where the heck did the “with gun drawn” assertion come from? I’ve never seen anything like that in any of the accounts of this tragedy that I’ve read. Rather, what has been in quite a few is that during the physical altercation that occurred between Martin and Zimmerman, Zimmerman says that Martin was trying to get the gun out of Zimmerman’s waist band. That’s a whole lot different take on events than Zimmerman chasing Martin through the neighborhood with his gun drawn. It also doesn’t make sense. Who would be crazy enough to confront someone pointing a gun at them? If it was me, and that was the situation, I’d be running as fast as I could in the opposite direction.

    None of us was there that night. None of us know what happened. It might be best to keep from making conclusions based on what has seemed to be rapidly changing evidence. Trials have a purpose, and it is to determine guilt or innocence by a jury. Public opinion doesn’t matter a whit.

  24. rodney dill says:

    @Brian: Well said.

  25. Jenos Idanian says:

    Mr. Joyner:

    For that matter, given that Martin seemingly posed zero threat to Zimmerman prior to his decision to get out of his truck and pursue him on foot with his gun drawn, Martin’s injuries could fairly be attributed to self-defense.

    It kind of got lost, but Moderate Mom brought it back up: where the dickens did you get the “drawn gun” factoid?

  26. Moderate Mom says:

    A correction to myself: I shouldn’t have used the word “evidence”. “Public information” would have been more accurate.

  27. @Jenos Idanian:

    The 911 tapes actually indicate that Zimmerman did NOT pursue Martin after the 911 operator said “we don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman was panting slightly when he called, which made the operator ask if he was following Martin. After she said “we don’t need you to do that,” his breathing returned to normal and he gave his location — both things that strongly indicate he had stopped pursuing Martin.

    Or that he just lost sight of Martin and slowed down. My breathing rate does not really correlate strongly with how far I’m standing from my car.

  28. PD Shaw says:

    @Michael Demmons: “He ignored the 911 dispatcher’s instruction not to follow.”

    At the bond hearing, the investigator testified that they have no evidence to contradict Zimmerman’s claim that he walked back to the car after this “instruction.”

  29. James Joyner says:

    @Moderate Mom: @Moderate Mom: Zimmerman is a cop wannabe who pees his pants at the sight of black teenagers. He was packing a gun when he left his vehicle and ultimately shot Martin with said guy. It’s inconceivable that someone like that, carrying a gun, left it in his waistband when initiating a confrontation and only later pulled it out.

  30. Good post, James.

  31. John Burgess says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I agree.

  32. John Burgess says:

    @James Joyner: James, you’re assuming a lot of stuff that isn’t in evidence yet.

  33. Camilla Plummer says:

    For all those who think and believe Zimmerman’s story that he was walking back to his truck when he was attacked by Trayvon. This can’t be true, because he was still on the phone with the dispatcher at least another minute after he was told not to follow Trayvon. When did Trayvon attack him? After the phone call? Zimmerman had enough time to get back in his truck if he had stiopped following Trayvon like the dispatcher told him. Did George check for addresses after he was off the phone with dispatchers and that’s when Trayvon attacked him? if George was attacked while he was returning to his truck, then he would have to had to make 2 trips. There is no information that leads me to believe that he got back to his truck during the 911 call. If he only followed for a short period of time, then he should have been back at his truck almost immediatlely. Also one more thing. The state does not have to prove that Trayvon was fighting for his life. The defense has to prove that George shot Trayvon in self defense. Now we all know that Zimmerman has injuries from Trayvon (Trayvon fighting to do whatever he can to maybe get the gun from George or do whatever he can to prevent himself from getting shot). Where does it show that Zimmerman was fighting for his life? Where are the injuries to Trayvon? a punch? a scratch? anything that shows that George tried to stop Trayvon from attacking him without using deadly force. How come it looks like George’s only way of defending himself was to use deadly force. Not his knuckles, not even a kick to the groin, no scratches, no headlock, no nothing except pulling his gun. I don’t see where George tried to use something else besides deadly force. I hope the outcome is in favor of Trayvon.

  34. bandit says:

    @James Joyner: Wow! Now you’re clairvoyant and know what happened and what Zimmerman thinks. Good to see you’re standing in line with Al Sharpton and every other racebaiter who ‘knows’ what happened.

  35. bandit says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg: Yeah – most excellent – straight to the fantastical racebaiting .

  36. Camilla Plummer says:

    Jenos, What information do you have that shows that Trayvon was the aggressor? What was it about Trayvon’s actions that night determine that he was suspicious? Who said Trayvon stuck the first blow? Can you answer these questions?

  37. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Camilla Plummer: Here’s the information that makes me believe — at this point — that Martin was the aggressor in the confrontation (for the umpteenth time).

    Zimmerman was slightly out of breath while on the phone with the 911 operator. The operator asked if he was following Martin, and he said he was. The operator said “you don’t have to do that,” and Zimmerman’s breath returned to normal. Then he gave his position. A fixed position.

    He did that about 90 seconds after he stopped following Martin. And note that “following” means “behind.”

    Since Zimmerman stopped, Martin had several options: keep moving, return to his father’s girlfriend’s house, stop moving, or turn and confront Zimmerman. As only that last option would put Zimmerman and Martin in close enough proximity to get into a scuffle, I say Martin turned and confronted Martin.

    Zimmerman’s story is that Martin threw the first punch, knocking him down, then got on top of him and beat his head against the pavement. Zimmerman said he never struck Martin in any way, and only drew and fired his gun when he was in fear of his life.

    The medical report backs this up 100%: Martin had skinned knuckles and a single gunshot wound; Zimmerman had a broken nose, two black eyes, a minor back injury, and abrasions to the back of his head.

    Note that Martin had no other bruises, and Zimmerman had no skinned knuckles. Not conclusive, but highly suggestive that Zimmerman threw no punches.

    And that’s why I believe Martin initiated the conflict, and struck the first blow.

    If new information comes to light, I will reconsider. But so far, everything that has come out has supported the above narrative, and nothing has contradicted it.

  38. Jenos Idanian says:

    @James Joyner: So, you’re basing the “with gun drawn” based on your profiling of Zimmerman? Because that’s what he would do, in your stereotyped image of him?

  39. Jenos Idanian says:

    @James Joyner: Zimmerman is a cop wannabe who pees his pants at the sight of black teenagers.

    Man, that must have made it hard for Zimmerman growing up — he is part black, and there were black children in his household. I feel sorry for his parents and their laundry bills…

  40. PD Shaw says:

    @Camilla Plummer: “For all those who think and believe Zimmerman’s story that he was walking back to his truck when he was attacked by Trayvon . . .”

    That would be my take from the police investigator’s testimony:

    O’MARA: My question was do you have any evidence to contradict or that conflicts with his contention given before he knew any of the evidence that would conflict with the fact that he stated I walked back to my car?

    GILBREATH: No.

    O’MARA: Any evidence that conflicts any eyewitnesses, anything that conflicts with the contention that Mr. Martin assaulted first?

    GILBREATH: That contention that was given to us by him, other than filling in the figures being one following or chasing the other one, as to who threw the first blow, no.

    I do not believe the prosecution’s theory was or is what their supporters think it ought to be.

  41. Mot Lelsir says:

    @Michael Demmons:

    Tell me, is the dispatcher’s advice to Zimmerman not to follow martin a lawful order? If not, tell me how far Zimmerman was behind Martin when he lost and began to walk back to his truck? Tell me because I have not read those details anywhere.

  42. PD Shaw says:

    @Mot Lelsir: “is the dispatcher’s advice to Zimmerman not to follow martin a lawful order?”

    According to the City of Sanford, the answer is “no.”

    If Zimmerman was told not to continue to follow Trayvon, can that be considered in this investigation?
    Yes it will; however, the telecommunications call taker asked Zimmerman “are you following him”. Zimmerman replied, “yes”. The call taker stated “you don’t need to do that”. The call taker’s suggestion is not a lawful order that Mr. Zimmerman would be required to follow. Zimmerman’s statement was that he had lost sight of Trayvon and was returning to his truck to meet the police officer when he says he was attacked by Trayvon.

    Given that a week does not seem to go by where the media is not reporting on some stupid or incensitive response from a 911 dispatcher, the notion that callers are compelled to follow their suggestions strikes me as silly and single-minded.

  43. @PD Shaw:

    Even if it’s not a lawful order, it could still be relevant. If the jury decides that Zimmerman’s action were not reasonable, that fact he was doing so after being told it wasn’t necessary could be the difference between recklessness and negligence.

  44. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Thing is, Stormy, it wasn’t any kind of an order. It wasn’t even a suggestion. It was an inference. And from someone who has no legal authority to issue orders to civilians.

  45. @Jenos Idanian:

    If I say, “careful, that gun’s loaded”, that’s not a lawful order either, but it will have a big impact on what your legal liability is if you pull the trigger.

  46. Moderate Mom says:

    @James Joyner:

    Once again, assuming facts not in evidence. Why is he a “cop wannabe”? Because he was the neighborhood watch captain – which, if information released previously is correct, he was asked to do by his neighborhood association?

    No one is questioning that he had the gun on him when he exited the car. He always did, given the previously reported problems with a loose pit bull in the neighborhood. If reports are true, that is why he obtained the gun in the first place. And no one argues that he didn’t shoot Martin with that gun. He admits that. But you haven’t pointed out the factual basis for your assertion that he had the gun drawn at the time he and Martin met up.

    You state that Zimmerman initiated the confrontation. Where have you obtained this information, since that seems to be the crux of the current case, and you are once again assuming facts not in evidence. If Zimmerman is telling the truth, he was sucker punched, fell to the ground, Martin jumped on top of him and started pounding his head into the pavement and Zimmerman shot Martin when he was going after the gun, which Zimmerman claims was in his waistband. A trial will determine whether or not Zimmerman’s claims are credible, with much more evidence than the public knows being presented at trial.

    You say it’s inconceivable that Zimmerman wasn’t brandishing the gun around at the time the physical altercation occurred. By your reasoning, it would be reasonable for someone to be stupid enough to get into a physical altercation (throwing the first punch (if Zimmerman is being truthful) with someone pointing a gun at them (if Zimmerman is not). That’s the part that I find inconceivable. Like I said, if I was seventeen someone was pointing a gun at me, I’d run away as fast as I could. Kind of like I did in my early twenties, when I was held up at gunpoint and the robbers demanded my wallet. I threw my purse at them and ran away as fast as I could, screaming at the top of my lungs. I guess I just decided that living was a whole lot more important than defending my property, or my right to walk down the street I was on.

    And that’s the problem. Opinions are being based on what people believe to be true, without being privy to the whole story or evidence, or based on what they think might have happened, again without full knowledge, or what they think they would have done in the same situation, without having been in that exact same situation.

    Hopefully, a trial will sort it out and the public will have a better idea of exactly what sequence of events led up to such a tragic ending. If George Zimmerman is found guilty of either second degree murder or manslaughter, he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. But if he is found not guilty, by way of self-defense, he should be able to try to pick up the pieces of his shattered life.

  47. PD Shaw says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “Even if it’s not a lawful order, it could still be relevant.”

    I agree. I think its better to think of the call as from a spouse or a friend: A suggestion that would be expected to give one pause. For example, Zimmerman couldn’t later say it hadn’t occurred to him to walk back to the car.

    Its been oversold though, and probably the jury will get an instruction on what the law is here.

  48. bandit says:

    @Moderate Mom: You’re wasting your time, James is channeling Al Sharpton now.

  49. Camilla-ny says:

    There is evidence that Zimmerman was the aggressor. Trayvon’s girlfriend was on the phone with trayvon when he asked Zimmeman “why are you FOLLOWING me?” That proves that Zimmerman was still following Trayvon. It does not show that Trayvon snuck up behind Zimmerman and suckerpunched him like Zimmerman said happened.

  50. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Camilla-ny: That is evidence, but it doesn’t “prove” anything. And a “sucker punch” isn’t necessarily from the rear, just unexpected — for example, (spoiler alert) Hulk sucker-punching Thor from the side in “Avengers.”(end spoiler) Zimmerman said Martin punched him in the face, knocking him down, then sat astride him and started smashing his head against the pavement.

    Which brings up your earlier questions… in Zimmerman’s account, there was a single, unexpected punch, then he was lying down on the ground with Martin atop him.

    How come it looks like George’s only way of defending himself was to use deadly force. Not his knuckles, not even a kick to the groin, no scratches, no headlock, no nothing except pulling his gun.

    Zimmerman might have had a chance to punch, but couldn’t swing very well because he was lying down. Guys tend not to have nails that can scratch very well. He was in a form of “headlock,” with Martin bashing his head against the pavement. A few more hits and he might be unconscious or dead. The gun was his only practical choice.

    Going on the story presented and the available evidence, of course.

  51. al-Ameda says:

    The lesson here is that Trayvon Martin should have been carrying a weapon, then he could have more adequately defended himself. I think the NRA would would agree with me on this.

  52. Jenos Idanian says:

    @al-Ameda: I’m not a member of the NRA, but I think I can speak for them:

    The NRA supports responsible gun ownership, and recommends all people obey all gun laws at all times. Florida forbids persons under the age of 18 from owning or possessing guns. As Mr. Martin was 17 at the time of his death, he could not legally have owned or possessed a gun, and the NRA would not advise any minors to seek to own or possess a gun.

    Nice try being cute, but you overplayed your hand there.

  53. rodney dill says:

    @al-Ameda: Except for the him being a minor part.

  54. Jenos Idanian says:
  55. An Interested Party says:

    Wow! Now you’re clairvoyant and know what happened and what Zimmerman thinks.

    Oh please, spare us the self-righteous indignation…there are plenty of people on both sides of this argument who are making claims with little to no solid evidence to back up those claims…

  56. Scott O. says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    If we outlaw guns for teenagers only outlaw teenagers will have guns.

    /snark

    Then he gave his position. A fixed position.

    I think you’re wrong about this. I’m going on memory but as I recall it Zimmerman said the cops should call his cell phone when they arrive.

    There’s a whole lot we don’t know about this case like who confronted who, was Zimmerman still following Martin, etc. But based on a couple of things Zimmerman says, a-holes always get away, f-ing something, I conclude that he shouldn’t have been a neighborhood watch “captain” and he shouldn’t have been armed.

  57. Chad S says:

    The autopsy report on Martin says that martin died not from the close up gunshot that Zimmerman claimed in his story but from an intermediate range.

  58. Dave E. says:

    @Chad S: Got a link to that?

  59. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Scott O.: I think you’re wrong about this. I’m going on memory but as I recall it Zimmerman said the cops should call his cell phone when they arrive.

    Sigh.. you’re gonna make me actually hunt down a transcript, and not trust my own memory, aren’t you?

    Well, if I’m wrong on the finer details, it won’t be the first time… as plenty would be glad to tell you.

    OK, here’s a transcript… and it uses the Photoshopped Zimmerman photo (making him look pasty white) and the cherubic Martin, so it’s probably not favorable to Zimmerman.

    OK, ZImmerman’s following Martin… Martin turns and closes… then Martin turns again, away, and runs… Zimmerman starts to follow… the operator says her “we don’t need you to do that” line, and Zimmerman says “OK.” Then he talks about where he will meet the officer.

    I still think that it’s pretty clear Zimmerman had given up his following of Martin before the confrontation. And that means Martin — who had successfully lost Zimmerman — chose to return and confront him.

  60. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Dave E.: Apparently it’s from MSNBC, among others. And Google also found a New Republic link that gave a definition of gunshot ranges.

    Some shooting experts say “intermediate” often means 2-5 feet from gun to victim. And that’s still consistent with Zimmerman’s story.

  61. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Correction: “intermediate” is determined by powder residue and blast markers on the victim’s skin and clothing. It can be as close as a few centimeters, or up to five feet.

    Basically, the report eliminates “contact” and “near-contact,” as well as “distant.”

  62. Chad S says:

    @Jenos Idanian: If Martin was “beating him up” with his fists and banging his head into the ground, 1-5 feet distance isn’t consistent with his story. It means that either Zimmerman got away and put some distance between him and Martin, or Martin backed off a few feet from Zimmerman. If Zimmerman was telling the truth, it should be a contact GSW or near contact because the gun would be right up against Martin and Zimmerman would be bathed in blood from the shot(he didn’t appear to be in the police video).

  63. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Chad S: You may wanna break out the Barbie dolls for this one…

    Zimmerman’s story: he’s flat on his back, gun in waistband. Martin is sitting astride him (chest/abdomen), bashing Zimmerman’s head against the pavement. There can easily be a foot or two between the gun and Martin.

    Toss in a potential struggle for the gun, both men’s hands outstretched to the side, and it could be three feet or so.

    Hell, I can hold a TV remote and point it at my own heart with at least two feet of distance.

    As far as “bathed in blood,” sometimes wounds don’t bleed that much. If the bullet went right through Martin’s heart, it would have stopped beating almost instantly — and there goes the pressure for the gushing of blood.

  64. Dave E. says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Thanks for those links.

  65. EngineersLogic says:

    @Camilla Plummer: After George Zimmerman agreed to stop following and lost sight of Treyvon, he was still behind houses and didn’t know the nearest cross streets. He later told the police that he continued forward to the nearest intersection to get the cross street information (walking right past Treyvon’s house). After he had cross street info he doubled back toward his truck (passing Treyvon’s gate again). It was a few houses past Treyvon’s gate, heading back to his vehicle where the altercation took place. It would perfectly fit Zimmerman’s claim that Treyvon approached him from behind if Treyvon say Zimmerman pass his gate a second time and decided to go back out to confront him.

    Everything Zimermmerman has claimed checks out so far, and the only two eye witnisses place Zimmerman on the bottom, screaming for help.

    It’s sad that it happened, but this is cut and dry self defence in my opinion. The stand your ground law is irrelevent and not required to protect your own life while pinned down with your head is being smashed into the concrete.

  66. EngineersLogic says:

    @EngineersLogic: Correction to my previous post, I’m not sure if George Zimmerman told the police about his trip to the cross streets, but that’s how Zimmerman’s father relayed the events. See here: http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/hannity/2012/03/30/trayvon-martin-family-attorney-george-zimmerman-vigilante

  67. MarkedMan says:

    To me, and I admit this is personal, it doesn’t matter if Zimmerman went past Martin’s house and came back. It doesn’t even matter if Martin did something stupid. What matters is that we live in a time when gun rights nuts ramp each other up with BS macho stories and then they grab their guns and head out to show who’s who. If Zimmerman hadn’t had a gun and he and Martin both acted, well, like 17 year old kids, there would have been a couple scrapes and a bloody nose or two. Instead, we have this mess.

  68. Jenos Idanian says:

    @MarkedMan: So, to cater to your admittedly personal prejudices, we should just trash a Constitutional right? Because you don’t think some others can handle the responsibilities, everyone should be denied?

  69. MarkedMan says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Take away constitutional rights? Actually no. The fact that I think there has arisen a culture of roid-rage driven
    macho madness in what used to be a fairly responsible community and that the NRA has accumulated incredible political power while being taken over by the worst lunatics of the bunch does’t mean I think gun ownership should be eliminated by law. In fact, I don’t.

  70. Jenos Idanian says:

    @MarkedMan: You know, that makes a lot of sense. In fact, it explains how there have been so many mass shootings at gun clubs, shooting ranges, gun shows, and military bases. You put a whole bunch of people and a whole bunch of guns together in the same place, and carnage is just inevitable.

    Thanks for helping me understand it.

  71. rodney dill says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Don’t expect MarkedMan to back up any of his baseless claims of rage, macho frenzy, gun nut irresponsibility, with any facts supporting his statements.

  72. Jenos Idanian says:

    @rodney dill: Thanks, you may have just saved my life. I was holding my breath waiting for his response.

    His attitude is fairly typical, though. “I have rage issues and can’t be trusted, so no one else can be, either!”

  73. the operator says her “we don’t need you to do that” line, and Zimmerman says “OK.” Then he talks about where he will meet the officer.

    OK can mean just “I understand you” as opposed to “I’m doing that”. The fact he needs the officer to call him back because he won’t know where to meet him until he gets there suggests to me that Zimmerman was going to continue searching.

    We also see from the transcript that Martin’s chief offensive was apparently daring to make eye contact with Zimmerman. I guess Zimmerman showed Martin to respect his authority.

  74. jose says:

    @Michael Demmons: WHAT IT REALLY CONVEYS IS A WARNING TO EVERY THUG THAT ASSAULTS WHAT THEY THINK IS AN UNARMED PERSON THAT YOU MAY END UP ON A SLAB IN THE MORGUE WITH A TAG ON YOUR TOE…

  75. MarkedMan says:

    @jose: Jose, hey those capital letters really help make your point! GOOD JOB! But btw, the person did turn out to be unarmed and the thug walked away while the innocent man ended up on a slab. But other than that, YEAH!

  76. jose says:

    @MarkedMan: THE MILLIONS OF AMERICANS IN THE NRA ARE THE NRA AND THEY DO MORE FOR EVERYONES FREEDOM IN THIS COUNTRY THAN ALL THE OTHER GROUPS PUT TOGETHER…

  77. MarkedMan says:

    Just for the record, here are the types of things I associate with the roid-rage culture of gun nuts:
    – Michigan Militia and all the other tin soldier types dressing up and running around the woods, culminating in…
    – Timothy McVeigh and his gun fair buddies
    – And (I admit I am too lazy here to do a web search) the half dozen or so terrorist gangs that have been arrested by the feds in just the last year or so. There was that especially strange one that highlighted pictures of a wedding with the groom and groomsmen dressed in camp and the kind of wigged out looking bride. There was another one a couple of months ago with a bunch of senior citizens. And wasn’t there another group just this month?
    – All the puffy chested head cases running around the desert with guns (and trying to buy a tank as I recall) trying to track down the illegal immigrants.

    I don’t know, I guess I could go on for a while, but what’s the point.

    And yes, the fact that gun shows don’t erupt in a hail of bullets does show a certain level of civilization still pertains in most people, even if they haven’t moved beyond a thirteen year old’s fascination with dressing up as soldiers and playing with guns. Most people, all things being equal, are usually fairly decent if given a chance. Thank god for that.

  78. Jenos Idanian says:

    @MarkedMan: Sounds like you’re doing a bit of profiling and stereotyping there, sport. Sounds like you got some serious hate issues.

  79. rodney dill says:

    @Jenos Idanian: @MarkedMan: Alluding to the small subset of NRA (if they actually belong to the NRA) that you call “roid-rage culture of gun nuts”, as being a main driver of the NRA’s agenda is comparable to saying the Rev. Wright is the main driver of the Democratic Party’s agenda. It’s just innuendo.

  80. Jenos Idanian says:

    @MarkedMan: Hey, can you draw up a Venn diagram of “steroid abusers” and “gun rights activists?” I’d be fascinated to see how much overlap there is between the two…

  81. grumpy realist says:

    So what does the NRA suggest as protection for young adults less than 18 who run up against wanna-be cop vigilantes in Florida? What SHOULD have Treyvon done? He can’t fight back, he can’t wrestle Zimmerman for Zimmerman’s gun. Just run, and hope that he doesn’t get a bullet in the back?

  82. rodney dill says:

    @grumpy realist: Assuming Treyvon was the direct aggressor – Then he shouldn’t have jumped Zimmerman.

    Assuming Zimmerman was the direct aggressor – Then Trevyon certainly could fight back, could try to take the gun, or could run.

    Assuming something in the middle, where a verbal or physical altercation started and escalated out of control, either could’ve stopped before drawing of a gun occurred. (At least the one getting the upper hand at any point could, the other could’ve been in too defensive mode to withdraw) I think Brian’s comment said it best.

  83. Boyd says:

    Very, very, very late to the game, but I feel compelled to state:

    Wow, James, you’ve really abandoned any attempt at objectivity. Your statements are more than disingenuous, they’re outright untrue.

    Did someone steal your login information? Because you sound like a raving, fact-free, emotional lunatic in this post and comment thread, something that’s decidedly not in character for you.

  84. Jenos Idanian says:

    @grumpy realist: So what does the NRA suggest as protection for young adults less than 18 who run up against wanna-be cop vigilantes in Florida? What SHOULD have Treyvon done?

    Well, two possibilities that come immediately to mind are keep walking, and call the cops. Hell, he’d lost Zimmerman; there was no reason to actively seek out a confrontation at that point.

  85. Jenos Idanian says:

    And things keep getting more interesting.

    George Zimmerman, from the 911 tape of his call to police:

    This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something.

    Medical examiner’s report on Trayvon Martin: Traces of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) found in his system.

    Trace amounts, from prior consumption and not enough to affect his behavior that night, but nonetheless an interesting factoid…

  86. Jim Moran says:

    @James Joyner:

    Yep it’s inconceivable that GZ would not be walking around with an drawn gun after calling for the cops. Who wouldn’t want to explain to the cops that they drew a gun because a kid looked suspicious and was moving away from the drawn gun.

    Plus Martin’s girlfriend didn’t say Martin had seen a drawn gun.

    Plus Martin wouldn’t have closed to a point blank distance if GZ had a drawn gun.

    Plus Zimmerman wouldn’t have allowed Martin to get right on top of him if he had a drawn gun.