New Evidence in Zimmerman Case Undermines Prosecution’s Case on Second Degree Murder Charge

The evidence continues to roll in on the Zimmerman case. While the new evidence is not entirely bad for the prosecution, it does contain some evidence that will likely bolster the defense of George Zimmerman in the second degree murder trial over the killing of Trayvon Martin. Regardless of the ultimate impact, the evidence again shows (in my opinion) that prosecutor Angela Corey over-charged the case in Florida.


Some of the new evidence shows that Martin had traces of THC (the active ingredient of marijuana) in his blood stream and urine. Martin was suspended from school due to a marijuana offense (though it involved an empty marijuana baggie). Another benefit to the defense is that Martin father is shown denying that the voice calling out for help was his son — though he later changed that view when he says he was given a better recording. Other witnesses have indicated that it Zimmerman who was calling for help.

Generally, the existence of drugs in the system of a victim or defendant is admissible. The suspension would appear inadmissible under standard evidentiary rules.

There is also evidence that some neighbors described Zimmerman as a bully and a racist. That would help bolster the reported hate crimes prosecution being considered by the Obama Administration, though I still have reservations based on the evidence as it currently stands. Also the police viewed the shooting as “avoidable” — if Zimmerman had left the matter to the police.

I am not sure how much of the neighbor’s view of Zimmerman as a bully or racist could come into evidence. Such accounts, however, can have the benefit of further discouraging Zimmerman from taking the stand as a witness — always a benefit to the prosecution because (while they are told that a defendant has a right not to testify (jurors expect to hear from defendants).

On the whole, however, I would view the evidence as more positive to the defense. First, I have previously said that I was most interested in the distance of the shot and forensics. It now appears that Martin was shot from an intermediate range (no more than 18 inches and as little as an inch away). That would support the claim of Zimmerman that they were in a wrestling fight when the gun was fired. The greater the distance the stronger the case for the prosecution. The defense will likely present expert testimony to try to reduce the range further on the stand. Also, the report does have people at the scene saying that Zimmerman’s nose appeared broken — supporting the later medical report of the family doctor (though such injuries could occur from Martin defending himself).

Moreover, at least two witnesses appear to support Zimmerman in describing the man in the hoodie at straddling the other man and throwing punches. The report state that the man in the “‘hoodie’ [was] on top of a white or Hispanic male and throwing punches ‘MMA (mixed martial arts) style.’ He then heard a pop. He stated that after hearing the pop, he observed the person he had previously observed on top of the other person (the male wearing the hoodie) laid out on the grass.” One report also says that Zimmerman can be heard yelling for help 14 times on a 911 call recorded during the fight.

While the reports blame Zimmerman for getting out of his vehicle (he says that he was trying to get a house number for the police), that is not itself a crime. Of course, none of this means that Zimmerman was not the aggressor. Given the presumption of innocence and the need to prove the elements beyond a reasonable doubt, this evidence presents an added problem for the prosecution in my view. I have expressed skepticism over the way the case has developed and how it has been charged from the outset. As a criminal defense attorney, I would view this as a strong defense case even on the manslaughter charge, particularly given the poor police work at the scene.

What do you think?

Here is the police report.

Source: ABC and NY Daily News

1,445 thoughts on “New Evidence in Zimmerman Case Undermines Prosecution’s Case on Second Degree Murder Charge”

  1. Headline: New Evidence in Zimmerman Case Undermines Defense’s (and Dershowitz’s) vociferous case that second-degree murder charges should never have been leveled against killer of Trayvon Martin.

    In a surprise move in open court on December 11, 2012, prosecutor Bernie DeLaRionda revealed that lead Homicide Detective Christopher Serino had written three drafts of his memo on March 13, 2012 before getting a capias drawn for Shooter George Zimmerman. In two of those drafts (the first two) apparently Serino asked for second-degree murder charges against Zimmerman based upon the evidence that was available by that date. More evidence has been gathered since that date. Although apparently then Prosecutor Norman Wolfinger did not agree to the second-degree murder charge, specially appointed State’s Attorney Angela Corey later did agree that in fact the second-degree murder charge was appropriate, resulting in a full-on indignant accusatory (and one might say bombastic) attack upon Corey’s credibility launched by academic Alan Dershowitz, Esq., who announced nationally that Corey had, in his well respected legal opinion, committed the crime of perjury in her charging affidavit.

    Stand-by: surely, more to come.

  2. Mark,

    “Why would it be abnormal for a community watch person to follow or even confront a suspicious or unfamiliar person. Is this not their job?”

    Not alone is this not part of their job – it is something that they are *expressly instructed NOT to do”.
    The other thing that they are expressly told NOT to do is to carry a weapon when engaging in NW activity.

    The police NW coordinator says that Zimmerman attended a meeting at which she emphasised this. She says that she has a special slide for this.
    NW are told to “observe from a safe distance” and report to police.

    It is impossible to maintain a safe distance from someone who has gone around a corner into a very dark place.
    In addtitions to be counter to instructions to NW volunteers, following there was reckless and stupid. This was particularly so as Zimmerman says that Martin had just circled his truck in a threatening manner.

  3. @ Mark Ward,

    You ask, “Why would it be abnormal for a community watch person to follow or even confront a suspicious or unfamiliar person. Is this not their job?”

    It is NOT their job to follow, and furthermore, it is specifically taught to them (as it was to George Zimmerman by Wendy something-or-other whose deposition is in evidence already) NOT TO FOLLOW anyone. Furthermore, on the NEN call that Zimmerman made before killing Martin, the dispatcher said,

    “Are you following him?”
    George answered, “Yeah.”

    The dispatcher said to George: “We don’t need you to do that, OK?”

    George answered “OK.” But then the story gets a bit weird and, on George’s side, a bit unbelievable. George claims at one point (to detectives, at station) that he headed back to the truck at that time but Trayvon attacked him. He claims at another point (Hannity interview, televised) that he continued on to another street where he expected “an officer that I had called” to meet him. Furthermore, after agreeing not to follow, he then advised the NEN dispatcher NOT to meet him back at his truck, but to have the officers CALL HIM on his cell phone when they arrived in the area. So he clearly did not want to be pinned down, by the dispatcher, as going back to his truck. He clearly wanted to keep changing his own location along with his own intentions and desires until the officers arrived. It was more than two minutes later that he killed Trayvon Martin. It would have taken him under a minute to return to his truck.

    See?

    The other issue that you mention does not have to do with people assuming racism because a white killed a black. It has to do with the fact that the police refused to arrest the white who killed the black. This is a long-time Southern tradition, one that our federal government has had to deal with seriously since 1864. And it is as much of a problem today as it ever was if you consider that each and every time it happens, there is some black victim’s family and community who is absorbing their government’s belief that their decedent’s life was not really valuable.

    So that’s where the issue lives, not with some purported “witch hunt” meant to victimize poor white guys who happen to accidentally kill young Black men.

  4. In light of “just”exposing these HD color photos of Zimmerman’s face it seems like there was very poor investigation by police on scene. When I first heard the announcement on CNN about a “white” male shooting an unarmed ” Black ” youth sent shivers up my spine. I feel strongly about the acts of racism and had hoped with a half black half white president, he would use this on his original campaign to end “All” racism, but he has not.
    Then I’m glad Zimmerman’s father corrected CNN that George was Latino and not White. The media pushes racism! It’s news. Questions that were raised in my mind were things like. 1. Was Trayvon shot at point blank range? 2. Was he shot in the front charging or back fleeing? 3.Did Trayvon’s family live in this gated community?
    Why would prosecution even have black and white photos to present. Most phones take better pictures than they were presenting , let alone taken by a trained police photographer.
    Why would it be abnormal for a community watch person to follow or even confront a suspicious or unfamiliar person. Is this not their job?

    This is just food for thought. Something I thought the defense should be asking for and something a non racist prosecutor would want to consider.
    I don’t know whose is guilty or innocent. It’s a true shame any youth should have his life cut so short, but do a proper investigation. Don’t go fast don’t go too slow and certainly don’t go half assed.

  5. NEWS FLASH: REQUEST FOR THREAD WITH NEW HEADLINE:

    “New Evidence in Zimmerman Case Undermines Defense’s case on self-defense to second-degree murder charge”

    πŸ˜› πŸ˜† πŸ™„ πŸ’‘ 😳 ❗ :mrgreen:

  6. Headline: PROSECUTION’S CASE ON SECOND DEGREE MURDER DOING FINE; JUDGE CHANGES

    Interesting that Mark O’Mara now says he will re-file his motions. Yet he did not claim, in his motion to recuse Judge Lester, that any of his decisions was out of line with the law of Florida. Hmmm. So he wants a different decision on motions already decided because one of the motions (to grant bail) was APPROVED while he did not like the things the judge SAID about his client?

    I am wondering if his re-filing these motions might not get him a different result: might get his motions DENIED while the judge says NICE STUFF about his client. I would love to see that.

  7. BFM, thanks, and for a catchy ad, I’d like a You-Tube video of somebody throwing a banana cream pie into Dershowitz’s smug professorial face.

    By the way, Dershowitz DOES know that a charging document need not include all exculpatory evidence; he DOES know that acquittal of a rape defendant does not equal a prima facie case of perjury against the complaining witness; he DOES know that Angela Corey did not overcharge Zimmerman, too.

    What makes him say these things is, in my opinion, his own desire to appear to have legal and scholarly backing for his own obvious prejudices. In my opinion he is a slick, smart-talking misogynist, racist, show-off.

  8. Now that there is a popular YouTube video showing precisely how the “Reasonable Doubt” photo of the back of Zimmerman’s bloody head was photoshopped,

    (See “Reasonable Doubt thread, Malisha comment near the end”)

    we can look again at Dershowitz’s insane fussbudgeting diatribe, and we can wonder, WHO COMMITTED A CRIME?

    Read all about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdvWyS1vphw&feature=related

    Does Dershowitz actually believe that a probable cause affidavit has to plead the DEFENSE CASE — especially with fraudulent evidence — or that the prosecutor should be charged with a crime?

    If he does believe that, is he not defrauding Harvard? Or does he suffer from pomposity-induced early onset dementia?

    1. @Malisha “pomposity-induced early onset dementia?”

      You do have a way with words. All we need now is a charity – Make your contribution today to aid suffers of PIED!

  9. Sling, this is what made me think the killing was motivated by George being angry that his authority was not recognized, rather than by self-defense.

    George apprehends “the suspect”; “the suspect” does not bow to his authority; he has to kill “the suspect.”

Comments are closed.