The Statutory Basis of the Murder Charge Against George Zimmerman and His Available Defenses Under Florida Law

On April 11, 2012, over a month and a half after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder for the 17 year old’s death. Zimmerman has since turned himself in to authorities, and is in custody pending a bond hearing. As an update to my earlier post on the timeline of events preceding Trayvon’s death, this post is a quick-and-dirty run through of the relevant statutory provisions that apply to the charges against Zimmerman, and the possible implications they may have.

Second Degree Murder vs. Manslaughter

To the surprise of many commentators, Zimmerman was not charged with manslaughter, as was widely predicted, but instead charged with second degree murder. Second degree murder, unlike first degree murder, does not require “a premeditated design to effect the death” of another person, but it still sets a higher bar than manslaughter:

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 782.04(2). Second degree murder.—

The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, is murder in the second degree and constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life[.]

Florida’s manslaughter provision is a general catchall for killings that are criminal, but don’t involve either the premeditation or the depraved mind of a murder charge:

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 782.07(1). Manslaughter.—

The killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification according to the provisions of chapter 776 and in cases in which such killing shall not be excusable homicide or murder, according to the provisions of this chapter, is manslaughter[.]

The key distinction between the two is that the second degree murder charge requires a finding that Zimmerman killed Trayvon while engaging in an act “imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life.” Take that element away, and you still have the lesser included offense of manslaughter, so both charges are still theoretically on the table.

Unlike Murder 1, for a Murder 2 charge you do not need to show a premeditated plan, or a plan to kill that came into existence prior to the moment of the shooting. Murder 2 just requires that the defendant deliberately, and with so little justification as to be reckless, engaged in conduct that puts others at obvious risk of death or great bodily harm. To give a rough example, imagine an individual who, on a random whim, decides to throw a boulder off a cliff, when that individual knows that there is a path at the bottom of the cliff that people walk on. The individual could not have known if the boulder would kill anyone, and did not actually intend to cause anyone’s death, but could still be subject to a murder 2 charge if in fact someone was struck and killed.

But murder 2 still requires showing a level of recklessness that is difficult to show when the only survivor of the incident is the defendant himself. The fact that Florida is charging Zimmerman with second degree murder, and not manslaughter, is a strong indication that the prosecutor thinks there is some pretty compelling evidence out there in the state’s favor. Even ignoring the self-defense aspect of this case, it is dubious whether there is enough evidence that has been publicly confirmed to support a finding of a “depraved mind with no regard for human life.” So what might the prosecutor have to make them confident enough to bring a murder charge? Some possibilities:

  1. The autopsy of Trayvon Martin contradicts Zimmerman’s version of events. It is possible that the autopsy revealed that Trayvon was shot at from a distance and angle that does not support Zimmerman’s story. This strikes me as a little bit unlikely, but it’s possible. We know that Trayvon was shot at “close distance,” but perhaps the coroner’s report was somehow able to confirm that Trayvon was shot from two feet away — it is hard to reconcile Zimmerman’s story with such a finding, if one was made. Or, less likely but still possible, the angle of the bullet wound is inconsistent with Zimmerman’s story. However, if the two were fighting when Zimmerman pulled a gun and fired, my entirely uneducated assumption is that the bullet trajectory could have plausibly been any number of angles, due to movements and jerking and uncertainty about how far Zimmerman was able to draw his gun before firing.
  2. The prosecution has evidence that thoroughly discredits Zimmerman. Perhaps either through a combination of small but significant inconsistencies — e.g., if Zimmerman has no evidence of any significant injury, if Zimmerman’s known locations doesn’t support his version of how the encounter occurred, if Zimmerman’s claims that Trayvon was going for his gun were not part of his initial story to police — or through a major, so far unreleased discrepancy — some piece of evidence that has been withheld so far, with blows Zimmerman’s story out of the water — the prosecution believes it has enough evidence to suggest that Zimmerman knows that the killing was not actually in self-defense, and Zimmerman has deliberately crafted a false, alternative version of events to support his self-defense claim. Zimmerman is the only person alive who saw how the fight started — if the only evidence he has to support a claim of self-defense is his own testimony, and if his own testimony is shown to be false and misleading, then he has no self-defense claim to proceed on.
  3. The prosecution is confident that it can prove that the voice yelling “help” was Trayvon; or, failing that, they can prove it was not Zimmerman. This point is similar to point 2 above, but, if shown, it would be vitally important for the prosecution for several reasons, all of which would go a long way to helping the state make its case. If it can be proven to be someone other than Zimmerman yelling for help, then (a) Zimmerman loses his best chance of objectively proving a subjective state of mind at the time of the killing that supports his defense; (b) Zimmerman is shown to have had the presence of mind to, within ten minutes of the killing, tell an untruthful cover story, suggesting a depraved state of mind; and (c) it strongly suggests that Zimmerman had full awareness at the time of the killing that Trayvon’s screams for help were the screams of someone who was scared for the life and wants to end an altercation, not the screams of someone who is trying to kill someone else; in other words, Zimmerman subjectively knew, even during the fight, that Trayvon’s yells were not the yells of an equal participant in the fight.
  4. The prosecution does not have any evidentiary aces up its sleeve; instead, the state believes from the circumstances surrounding Trayvon’s death they can prove Zimmerman was acting dangerously, unreasonably, and with no regard for human life. The affidavit of probable cause would help support this theory, in that every allegation that has been added in to meet the depraved mind element is based only on facts of the case that have been widely reported in the media, i.e., Zimmerman perceived a threat where the objectively was none, as it was just a kid walking home from the 7/11; Zimmerman’s state of mind was that he was enraged about “those assholes” and “those fucking [punks/coons/goons]”; Zimmerman then disobeyed police dispatch instructions not to pursue Trayvon, presumably due to his apparently deep-felt desire to make sure this particular asshole didn’t get away. So, it’s possible that the prosecution thinks that alone would be enough to convict Zimmerman for a depraved mind killing. However, I am reluctant to draw too many conclusions from what is revealed in such initial documents. The prosecution is only trying to release enough of their case to actually meet the probable cause standard in these types of affidavits, while holding back enough to put them in better position for the trial. As such, the prosecutor here may have simply decided to base a case for probable cause of a depraved mind base solely on the publicly available evidence.

Zimmerman’s Available Defenses

For either a murder charge or a manslaughter charge, Zimmerman still has a few possible justifications and excuses that he could raise in his defense. Florida law has a half-dozen or so provisions which provide either a complete defense to a homicide charge, or have the effect of downgrading a homicide charge, in cases where the defendant was either acting in self-defense or had suffered sufficient provocation. The most basic is the provision providing that use of deadly force is not unlawful when used to resist an attempt to murder or to commit a felony against the one who used deadly force:

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 782.02. Justifiable use of deadly force.—

The use of deadly force is justifiable when a person is resisting any attempt to murder such person or to commit any felony upon him or her[.]

Although Florida does have an excusable homicide statute as well, it is not available here, because it may not be invoked where “any dangerous weapon [is] used” in the killing — in applies more to situations where two parties tussle, and, by unlikely accident, a fatal injury that could not have been reasonably predicted occurs:

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 782.03. Excusable homicide.—

Homicide is excusable when committed by accident and misfortune in doing any lawful act by lawful means with usual ordinary caution, and without any unlawful intent, or by accident and misfortune in the heat of passion, upon any sudden and sufficient provocation, or upon a sudden combat, without any dangerous weapon being used and not done in a cruel or unusual manner.

There is also a provision providing for “unnecessary” killings done to stop an unlawful act. This section does not define any new substantive crime, but rather is an exculpatory provision that serves to reduce what would otherwise be a murder charge to one of manslaughter, for any homicide committed while resisting victim’s attempt to perpetrate unlawful act:

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 782.11. Unnecessary killing to prevent unlawful act.—

Whoever shall unnecessarily kill another, either while resisting an attempt by such other person to commit any felony, or to do any other unlawful act, or after such attempt shall have failed, shall be deemed guilty of manslaughter, a felony of the second degree[.]

It presumably would not apply here, as the State’s theory of the case is that Trayvon’s struggle with Zimmerman was done in self-defense — which is not itself an “unlawful act.”

Finally, we have the infamous “stand your ground” law, which provides that:

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 776.012.—

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 … [h]e 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.

The distinction between § 776.012 and § 782.02 is simply that the former does not incorporate an examination of whether or not the defendant had the ability to avoid the encounter with no danger to himself or others. As has been discussed elsewhere, the technical language of the Stand Your Ground law is not of such great relevance to the Zimmerman case — but the presumptions and assumptions created by the law seem to have effected the initial prosecutor’s decision not to bring a charge.

But the “stand your ground” law won’t protect Zimmerman if it can be shown he was simply fending off a few punches from an unarmed teenager. The provision specifically notes that deadly force is not permitted merely to stop another’s use of unlawful force; you can’t shoot someone simply because you’re getting punched and decide you don’t like the way the fight is going. And the use of deadly force only becomes justified when “[h]e or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.” An unreasonable belief does not provide any right of self-defense, no matter how subjectively real the belief was. The fear of imminent death must be based on objective facts “such as would induce a reasonably prudent or cautious man to believe that the danger was actual and the necessity for taking life real.” Ammons v. State, 88 Fla. 444, 454, 102 So. 642, 645 (1924).

If Zimmerman was not actually getting his head deliberately bashed into concrete — which, from the lack of any genuine injuries and improbability of that scenario, would seem to be the case — then Zimmerman was not justified in using force against Trayvon, no matter what his actual beliefs were. Zimmerman may have had the adrenaline rushing through his blood, and may have perceived his opponent as a murderous thug gang-member rather than a skinny teenager because of the presence of a hoodie; it’s possible Zimmerman really did think that a wrestling match on the grass with a skinny teenager somehow put his life in mortal danger. But his hyperactive threat perception system does not excuse him.

An individual’s right to life is not contingent upon maintaining a constant impression of harmless frailty —  “men do not hold their lives at the mercy of excessive caution or unreasoning fear of others.” Ammons, 88 Fla. 444 (1924). Even if Zimmerman truly believed he was somehow in danger for his life, he was not thereby granted permission to kill Trayvon if his fears were the product of an unreasonable mind. And there is plenty to suggest Zimmerman was in fact acting out of excessive caution and unreasoning fear that night. His hyperactive vigilance, his willingness to see a boy returning home from a candy run to the store as a grave threat to his neighborhood, his professed fear for his life due to a tussle with an unarmed boy that he outweighed — if the jury finds from Zimmerman’s behavior that his fears were unreasonable, and that his fear for his life due to a couple bumps on the grass was not prudent, then the killing is not justifiable as self-defense.

Moreover, even the “stand your ground” law imposes a duty to retreat in cases where the defendant has caused the fight, even if he later finds himself on the losing end of it:

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 776.041. Use of force by aggressor.—

The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who… [i]nitially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless [s]uch force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant[.] (emphasis added)

If Zimmerman instigated the encounter, then, even assuming he could somehow conclusively prove that Trayvon was in fact trying to wrestle Zimmerman’s gun away from him, that still won’t necessarily provide an absolute defense to the killing. Zimmerman was the one who chose to arm himself while pursuing a teenager who was rightfully in the neighborhood and doing nothing wrong; Zimmerman was the one who chose to stand outside of his vehicle looking for the kid, even when he was told not to do so by police dispatch; Zimmerman was the one who created a situation where, if a shoving match occurred between him and Trayvon, he could then argue that the fact he was armed made an unarmed boy a potentially lethal threat that put Zimmerman in fear of his life, because Zimmerman knew he had a gun that the boy could theoretically steal. Because “[a] killing is not justifiable or excusable if the defendant brought about the necessity therefor through his own wrongful act or without being reasonably free from fault in provoking the difficulty in which the killing occurred.” Lovett v. State, 30 Fla. 142, 11 So. 550, 17 L. R. A. 705; Ballard v. State, 31 Fla. 266, 12 So. 865; Padgett v. State, 40 Fla. 451, 24 So. 145.

It is arguable that regardless of who threw the first punch, Zimmerman provoked the confrontation by, while armed with a gun, recklessly hunting down an innocent neighbor. Zimmerman could have easily avoided any confrontation with Trayvon — Zimmerman himself admits that the kid ran away from him when he first saw Zimmerman, trying to escape. If Zimmerman had not pursued Trayvon, and if Zimmerman had not brought a gun, thereby inserting the possibility of deadly force into the equation where previously there had been none, then Trayvon would be alive today, regardless of who shoved who first:

“A defendant may, as a reasonable man, have believed that he was in danger of losing his life, or of incurring great bodily harm, and yet the killing may not, under some circumstances, be justifiable or excusable.  One instance is where he has brought about the necessity without being reasonably free from fault.  Again, the circumstances of a case may at least make it a question for the jury whether a killing was not in pursuance of a previously formed design to kill, instead of having been the result of a mere purpose of self-defense, although at the time of the altercation the first overt act may have come from the person slain.”  Ballard v. State.

Will Zimmerman Have to Take the Witness Stand to Claim Self-Defense?

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Zimmerman’s possible claim of self-defense is that, in order to raise it, Zimmerman may very well be forced to take the stand in his own defense. If the prosecution, in its case, declines to introduce Zimmerman’s claims of self-defense, he may have to do so himself. As previous Florida case law has held, “in order to be entitled to instruction on self-defense, there must be some evidence that the defendant acted out of self-defense. … In the present case, there is no evidence in the record that defendant shot her husband in self-defense. The defendant and her husband were the only witnesses to the shooting and the defendant did not testify.” Smiley v. State, 395 So. 2d 235, 236-37 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1981). Getting Zimmerman on the stand would blow open up a huge new angle of this case, and would give the State an invaluable opportunity to meet its burden of proof. If the State gets to cross-examine Zimmerman, it will have the opportunity to discredit his story beyond any reasonable doubt — something the state is unlikely to be able to do based on an abstract and vague encounter in the dark between two individuals.

I am not a criminal attorney by any means, so this analysis should be taken with a grain of salt. But, from a quick read of Florida law, it seems like Zimmerman’s only route of guaranteeing that a self-defense instruction is made available to the jury is by providing his testimony on why self-defense was necessary. Zimmerman will likely not be able to raise a defense to the murder charge based solely his statements to police that it was so — for one thing, much of the second-hand reporting of what Zimmerman said will likely be inadmissible hearsay, leaving Zimmerman with few alternative routes for presenting evidence of his self-defense claim. And the hearsay exceptions that are likely to apply in this situation are stacked in favor of admitting statements tending to show his guilt, not exculpate him. When a defendant seeks to introduce his own out-of-court exculpatory statement for the truth of the matter stated, it is inadmissible hearsay. See, e.g., Ehrhardt, Florida Evidence § 801.3 (1998); Lott v. State, 695 So.2d 1239 (Fla.1997); Logan v. State, 511 So.2d 442 (Fla. 5th DCA 1987); Fagan v. State, 425 So.2d 214 (Fla. 4th DCA 1983). The prosecution is free to introduce these statements if it wishes to, but Zimmerman does not have the same ability. So although Zimmerman has, apparently, given some details of the encounter to the police, without his supporting testimony on the stand, that alone probably will not be sufficient to get him a jury instruction on the self-defense claim:

“[W]e conclude that the trial court correctly refused to instruct the jury on self-defense because, simply stated, there was insufficient evidence adduced below to support such an instruction. The sole evidence at trial on the issue was the testimony of a police detective who stated that the defendant made an oral statement to the police that, “ ‘I stabbed the victim in self-defense.’ That he was assaulted by group of males.” Plainly, this evidence was nothing more than an assertion of self-defense by the defendant and in no way explained the exact circumstances upon which the assertion was based. This being so, the trial court was not required to instruct the jury on self-defense based solely on the defendant’s bald assertion of self-defense.” Gaffney v. State, 742 So. 2d 358, 362 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1999).

At the same time, if Zimmerman does testify, it means that the State will have to either produce a contradicting witness, or diminish any credibility in Zimmerman’s own claims, in order to prevent a successful claim of self-defense:

“The defendant’s direct testimony concerning the victim’s threats and his menacing approach together with the defendant’s assertion that he was in fear of his life made out a prima facie case of self defense[]. The state presented no evidence to rebut the defendant’s direct testimony that he acted in self defense nor was it able to diminish his testimony on cross-examination.” Diaz v. State, 387 So. 2d 978, 980 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1980).

So maybe that’s what the prosecution is banking on. If Zimmerman does not claim self-defense, then the State has already met all the elements necessary to convict him of manslaughter, and has a good shot at proving second degree murder to boot. But if Zimmerman does want to claim self-defense, he may have to take the witness stand to do so — and perhaps the prosecution is confident that, if it comes to that, they can impeach his testimony into oblivion.


62 thoughts on “The Statutory Basis of the Murder Charge Against George Zimmerman and His Available Defenses Under Florida Law

  1. Pingback: Minute-by-Minute Timeline of Trayvon Martin’s Death | The View From LL2

  2. Awesome analagy! However, I still say GZ confronted Trayvon with his gun already in hand. If Zimmerman had the safety of securing his gun on the inside of his waistband in it’s holster after the murder, it implies the gun would have had to be on the inside of his waistband in it’s holster and on safety before the fight/struggle. Not too plausable to get that gun out of that situation during a struggle and get the safty off too! Jacket zipped up during the fight according to his friend Frank. Betting the gun had to alreadyy be in his hand with safety off before the confrontation.

    • Finally someone who postulates what I did- but you do what I couldn’t- explain why it is unlikely that Zimmerman could have accomplished accessing the gun while in a struggle of that nature.

      So many thanks to Susan and you!

    • I have always said GZ shot Trayvon in cold blood. The struggle and yelling ensued solely bc Trayvon was trying to wrestle the gun from GZ. There was not enough time for Trayvon to beat Zimmerman until he thought he would die, one minute or less? No grown man thought he would die after a one minute scuffle with a kid. Also, banging someone’s head on the concrete requires 1. Something to hold on to LIKE HAIR, which GZ didn’t have and 2. Sitting on their lower body. Now I’m no fight expert but I know I wouldn’t chose head bashing as my method of killing someone especially if they don’t have hair for me to pull. I also find it implausible that GZ unholstered his gun, which was in his waistband while Martin was straddling his waist.

      Since we have yet to see proof of his injuries that I am POSITIVE never existed, I am fairly certain that Zimmerman, who convinced himself that Martin was a gun toting thug, pulled his gun out first and called himself as shooting “first” convinced Martin had a gun. Martin’s body was in the position it was in b/c GZ checked Trayvon for a gun after he shot him.

    • That particular firearm has, I have been informed, what’s called a hammer block safety, which is supposed to prevent it from firing if it’s dropped or something like that, but if a round has been chambered, all that’s necessary to override that safety is to pull the trigger.

      In other words, you can pull it out and shoot it without having to flip any levers or work any switches.


    • Responding here to “anonymous” who apparently can’t figure out how to, or can’t be bothered to, register a “handle” with WordPress.

      Zimmerman’s gun had a safety, it just wasn’t a switch or lever on the exterior which had to be worked before you could pull the trigger and shoot.


    • Here are a couple of links to the PF-9, unitron is right the safety feature is that it blocks the hammer until the trigger is pulled, instead of a externally activated safety like my 1911 has. My gun has to have a solid grip (Grip Safety below the hammer) and a thumb safety that must be swipped prior to pulling the trigger. I carry a round chambered and the hammer back as the gun was designed in 1911 (Single Action Only). the Kel-Tec PF-9 pulls the hammer back during each trigger pull (Double Action Only). The PF-9 is designed to be carried with a round chambered, and should not need the kool hollywood “Racking the Slide” for dramatic effect before firing.

      Here is the manufacturers website on the PF-9

      Here is an animation of the PF-9 action.

      Hope this helps

    • Not only did he check him for a gun but he turned the body over from his back to.his stomach which is how his arms came to rest under him. If GZ was under TM when he shot him there is NO WAY his body comes to rest on his stomach with his arms underneath him. A person falls.that.way if they are on their knees when they are shot but not if they are shot while on top of someone. If shot while on top, and with a 9mm, they fall back. I’m sure 10,000 simulated tests will prove Martin’s body couldn’t possibly have ended up like that if GZ’s explanation was true. Further, Zimmerman never says he threw a punch. So his only defense mechanism during this fight, per his own words, was to pull out his gun.

    • Susan thank you , I would like to pose 2 questions to you since now we know there is a this bloody photo of zimmerman… how would you account for him having a cell phone in his hand and appearing not cuffed? and since zimmerman is the one who said trayvon was running towards the back gate.. wonder why he did not figure having been watched and feeling uncomfortable that this kid may have been going to exit through the back gate out of the complex(since zimmerman did not know he had a residence he was returning to)and I know I said 2 questions but at 7 pm it sure seems like a lot of people were up and active so how likely was it that anybody was going to be doing anything criminal at that hour …..hmmmmmmm

    • Susan one more thing … in the photo .. the head shot of the blood .. if this guy was in a life or death struggle and was violently moving his head around… why isnt the blood smeared , where are the particles of sand dirt, grass , why does everything appear so dry when I thought i was raining…? thank you

      • to “getting tired of the crap.”

        Excellent questions! I hadn’t noticed, but you are absolutely right! Three minutes after the fight, the blood should still be really slick and shiny, and mixed with rain water, which would have kept it even more liquid longer!

    • Hey Susan I have one burning question……if we take a look at the “bloody Head” photo, we see that this is a picture of a man with a slight balding or receding hair line, but in the police video, there is no indication of any balding or receding hair line……Why does these appear to not be the same person? Is it just me and the video once again it “too grainy” to see the hair line?

      • “if we take a look at the “bloody Head” photo, we see that this is a picture of a man with a slight balding or receding hair line, but in the police video, there is no indication of any balding or receding hair line……Why does these appear to not be the same person? Is it just me and the video once again it “too grainy” to see the hair line?”

        What he had was basically the same thing as a head that was shaved all over and then allowed to grow back for a week or 3. It’s so short that as he gets out of the police car and crosses the room to the doorway the shifting of the relative angle of his head and the light source gives the appearance of a bald spot that keeps moving, because the light is reflecting off of his scalp, which it is able to reach because his hair’s so short that it “disappears” in the brightest part of the light.

        As for the “3 minutes after the shooting” cell phone camera photo, who knows what kind of light source from which angle there was for that.

        But keep observing and keep thinking.


    • One more thing. In the so called “enhanced” police video, Why can’t we see the wet marks on the back of Zimmerman’s coat? How come the only thing that was enhanced was his so called “wounds”? I looked at the license plates that are on the police car and compared it to both videos, the “grainy” video, and the enhanced video, and the only that changed was Zimmerman’s so called “wounds”. It appears to be some type of trick to me, “now you see it, now you don’t”

      • “In the so called “enhanced” police video, Why can’t we see the wet marks on the back of Zimmerman’s coat? How come the only thing that was enhanced was his so called “wounds”? I looked at the license plates that are on the police car and compared it to both videos, the “grainy” video, and the enhanced video, and the only that changed was Zimmerman’s so called “wounds”. It appears to be some type of trick to me, “now you see it, now you don’t” ”

        I don’t know how long he rode in the back of the police car, or how absorbent the upholstery is, but that could have brushed off the grass and maybe dried up some of the wetness which by then could have spread more evenly through the material of the jacket.

        As for the “enhanced” video, when they show it as video, i.e., with motion, their graphics cover up what we want to see, and the still isn’t a photographic still, where every pixel is taken at the same time, it’s a single frame or field from the video where the upper left hand corner is actually older than the bottom right hand corner, assuming that the still is taken from that video.

        From what I could tell, their “enhancing” consisted of simply increasing the contrast, making the light parts lighter and the dark parts darker.


  3. Excellent logic! I totally agree that there isno way GZ could have reached his gun while trying to protect his face, protect his head from being “repeatedly slammed” and with Trayvon straddling him. None of this makes sense.
    ibelieve that is thereason the prosecutorwent for second degree murder (even if a plea bargain lowers those charges to aggravated manslaughter during trial): angela Corey has the forensics, incuding the distance and angle of entry of the bullet. She also has the medical records for GZ showing his “injuries”. . . . Or the lack of it.

    No one really knows with certitude any of those facts today, but I believe that forensic will support our logical analysis.
    And I want to thank Susan again for the great job she is doing with gathering the most fa tual information available, and filling in with rational, logical analysis of the situation.

  4. While I’m glad that the bloggers and commenters here are using their heads, I do think there are some things that should be added to the conversation and so I shall do so.

    A. For one, Prosecutors with their total immunity can bring even the most outrageous charges (and sometimes do) for political or legal purposes, short of certain charges being barred by evidential statute which is actually pretty rare in my experience. In short, you may not have the evidence needed to secure a conviction but the law very rarely will stop or penalize you for trying no matter what physical, emotional, or monetary stress you place on a defendant for your failed prosecution.

    The fact that this affidavit contains lies (George Zimmerman was never legally given an order not to investigate or follow among other things, analyzed at the TalkLeft blog) does not , in my experience, bode well for this being anything than other posturing by the Prosecution either for political purposes, or for purposes of trying to scare the defendent into a plea. In short, I think the Prosecution has nothing.

    B. As is usual with both “sides” of this case the blogger and the commenters seem totally incapable of seeing more than one side in terms of how they might have viewed things. Has it ever occurred to anyone of you that George Zimmerman might have observed a kid who looked suspicious because:

    1. Since it was dark and lots of the houses in that complex look alike, I bet Martin was double or triple checking his location at times, which could be interpreted by an observer as “scoping” a place out. Please remember that this community had been burglarized repeatedly in the recent past before this sorry event.
    2. And more important: Martin was using a hands free cellphone with an earpiece. Perhaps he was gesticulating wildly and seemingly talking to himself. It’s dark, and if Zimmerman was like me and had never used a hands free cell before, he might have wondered what was making this person gesticulate so like a guy on heroin or something. It certainly explains his comment to the dispatcher (not police person!) that this person is acting funny.

    Anyway, here’s MY theory as to what happened and why there won’t be a conviction, whether this goes to trial or not.

    Due to 1 or 2 or both above, George Zimmerman, (not on patrol that night but on a personal errand according to the City of Sanford) notes Mr. Martin. He makes the 311 calls (he calls a non-emergency number), and follows Martin in his truck. At some point (keeping this simple) he says Martin is running and he loses him. He gets out of his truck in order to get a street address and to (all this hypothetical at this point) see if he can locate Martin. Martin probably doubled back (there’s absolutely no evidence from the calls that Zimmerman ever ran after Martin so if Martin ran he couldn’t have closed the gap on foot) and confronted this strange man who seemed to be hassling him. Unexpectedly, GZ encounters TM at this point, and the conversation that the girlfriend heard on the cellphone takes place. I don’t believe GZ had his gun out at this point, or TM would have acted differently while on the phone. Then there is a scuffle which, at this point, even the prosecution seems to think was instigated by Martin, though we don’t know why. Perhaps he was scared.

    As for pounding GZ’s head into the ground or concrete? I can believe it. I think at this point both men are scared. GZ’s only physical advantage over TM was weight, TM had him beat in terms of height (reach), strength, and speed, so he’s probably got Zimmerman under him. THEN I think its very plausible he felt the gun on Zimmerman’s person and went from trying to perhaps wrestle GZ into submission to trying to “take him out” or otherwise incapacitate him. That’s what I would do if I suddenly found out that the weirdo I was struggling with was armed.
    George Zimmerman thinks his life is in danger, manages to get the gun loose, fires a single shot, and that’s all she wrote, the Perry Masons above (who seem to think TM died right away and wouldn’t have clutched or moved or anything nonewithstanding) Tragic, but not the cold blooded execution of a defenseless child many seem to think it was.

    So I think GZ walks.

    • If the prosecution has nothing as you emphatically state, why did Zimmerman and his lawyer ask the court to seal the records (we also understand that Zimmerman made lengthy statements to the police the night of the shooting and that these statements are different from the MANY different stories now being told bij his supporters)? What are Zimmerman and the likes of you (I am surprise you are not demanding that the records be unsealed) afraid of? Why do you need journalists to ask the court to unseal the records?

      For the rest, your conjectures are not worth commenting on as they are intrinsically confused and do not make any sense (e.g. where Trayvons body was found is yards away from where “Zimmerman stopped in order to get the address of his location”. Maybe Zimmerman shot Trayvon at location ‘A’ after which Travon ran and dropped dead at location ‘B’ where his body was found. Furthermore you go from what you call “hypothetical” to “I believe”). Like you said, everyone here is making use of his head. I suggest you do the same. It should not be about your passions for Zimmerman (or indeed Trayvon)! It MUST be about the cold hard facts and what the facts are saying.

    • You’ve pretty much described my pet theory of how the actual fight happened, too, Clarence. With one exception — if Trayvon sees the gun, he is not going to be going for Zimmerman’s head. He’s going to try and pin the other guy’s arms down. Which explains why the fight hardly moved over the course of the minute, and why someone was able to have enough breath to continuously yell at “help” for so long. They were locked in a stalemate, and Zimmerman finally won the arm wrestling match to grab his gun.

      But I don’t think that results in the same legal conclusion as you come to. Zimmerman acted with gross recklessness in arming himself and following a neighborhood kid on foot. That’s a threat, plain and simple — anyone is going to be made extremely uneasy, at a bare minimum, by that behavior. By deliberately creating a situation where that encounter could occur, and by then failing to use all non-deadly methods of escape, he committed manslaughter. And if the prosecution can show he had the presence of mind to understand Trayvon was yelling for help in desperation at the time that Zimmerman shot him, and then lied about it, that’ll likely be enough to bump it up to murder.

    • I guess eight reported break-ins in a 15 month period is an epidemic. That is exactly one every six weeks. And if you were shot at close range, assuming Zimmerman is telling the truth, by a 9 mm, you would probably die in a matter of seconds. And where is Martin’s blood? To find Zimmerman’s account credible, he should have Martin’s blood on his clothing. We shall see if that is the case.

    • Best you get with that theory is manslaughter, because Zimmerman brought the gun to the fight.
      I sincerely doubt that breaking the SPD NW rules is going to weigh in GZ’s favor, since the court will have no choice but to consider those very rules to be a barrier to GZ getting out of his car to follow as he admits in his NEN call.
      The laws will tell you that, since the matter would have been prevented, if GZ had followed the rules he was given, he has to be held responsible for breaking those rules.

      Here, read a little FLA Law and get back to us:

  5. Intel:
    Please don’t ascribe motivations to someone you know nothing of, thank you.
    I never addressed the records issue, so it’s not kosher to assume something about my beliefs on that when all I talked about was my ideas about what might have happened that night. There are good arguments for keeping the documents temporarily sealed:

    hxxp:// (replace the hxxp with http and paste to address bar if you want to see the inks) Here’s the money quote:
    “The media’s motion makes the best case for keeping it sealed. It says:

    “Defendant’s confession has already been disseminated in various news articles.”

    Zimmerman has not confessed to any crime. He hasn’t publicly said anything yet. No statement signed by Zimmerman or police recording of any of his statements has been released. A police report and statements by his lawyers and family that he acknowledged shooting Martin is not a confession of wrong-doing or confession to a crime. By all reports, he is denying he committed a crime.
    Since the media cannot be trusted to report fairly, the motion should be denied.”

    Now she’s ok with things being released after the dismissal or trial, and she’s ok with pleadings being released now. But though I could care less one way or the other, I have to agree that media reporting on this case has been dismal and sensationalistic, almost from the start.

    Far as it goes, I don’t care if they unseal the records or not, but thanks for asking. Oh, wait, you didn’t ask, did you? If we play that game I might as well hold you culpable for the misleading statements on the State’s affidavit:
    But then I’d be unfair, because you have no more control over this prosecution than I do.

    Regardless, I saw similar shenanigans from prosecutors and District Attorneys on several cases over the years the most famous being the Duke Lacrosse false rape prosecution. That’s why I said in my experience if the state is willing to mislead to the extent I see on this affidavit it usually doesn’t bode well for the prosecution or for justice in general.

    • He confirmed to police that he did shoot Martin. That is an established fact. Reporting it as a confession is not correct, but because Zimmerman admitted he pulled the trigger, he can’t claim it was an accidental discharge of his firearm.

  6. Clarence,
    We all signed a social contract with the State by which we all recognized the State as the sovereign. In return the State obliges itself to protect our lives, properties, freedoms and liberty. IT SEEMS the State failed Travon Martin most pitifully in this regard. We all have the obligation to seek the truth and equal protection under the law for all – without which our imperfect Union will cease to stand. Without the media there will be no democracy or the United State of America (as we know it: a country founded on freedom). Our media is not perfect, but it’s the best there is. Through the media the people call their elected officials and bureaucrats to account for their (in)actions. If you will, the media is like the vulture without which the ecosystem will collapse: the media sniffs out dirt and decay wherever it may be, bring it to the limelight in order for it to be dealt with and heal the society. If the SPD had done its job well, the media needed not step in. Without the media, the truth (either way) will not come out, the sense of racial discrimination (justified of not), racial democracy (justified or not), race based protection under the law (justified or not) will persist. These and other evils will continue to erode the fabrics of the imperfect Union until the Union can no longer stand. It will indeed be more than sad for the USA to fall – because the USA is great indeed. Give the media the credit it deserves. Journalist (and some of them have are very dishonest) are people who sniff out dirt and decay among us in order to keep our society healthy. With the records sealed, there is no light on the Trayvon case. What we have now is a secret process – something our forefathers fought more than 200 years to abolish. We need to know what is in de sealed files. We need to seek the truth. The truth will either set Mr. Zimmerman FREE or send him to the gallows!

  7. Susan,

    Take this theory for a test spin.

    Prosecution charges murder 2, hoping to pressure Zimmerman into a plea bargain on some sort of manslaughter or other lesser charge, they reach an agreement, maybe involving doing some time, take it to the judge, get it done, jury never seated, Sharpton goes home, and, the real goal, the investigation never gets investigated.


  8. The legal analysis looks sound. The failure to specifically also charge manslaughter can probably be later cured but is risky. My problem is with the factual assumptions intertwined with the above analysis. Remember, conviction requires all elements proven beyond a reasonable doubt and the above stated factual presumptions are shaky at best. For example

    “If Zimmerman was not actually getting his head deliberately bashed into concrete — which, from the lack of any genuine injuries and improbability of that scenario, would seem to be the case — then Zimmerman was not justified in using force against Trayvon, no matter what his actual beliefs were”

    Fox news has released a photo taken of the back of Z’s head within 3 minutes of that attack: . The photo shows considerable blood covering a large part of the back of Z’s head and those photos are certain to be confirmed by the paramedics who arrived shortly thereafter. There is also, in that report, a statement by a direct witness (John, who took the photo) to part of the attack that supports Z’s story. As for pundits claiming Z’s head wasn’t banged against concrete, it was clearly banged against something hard enough to cause at least two cuts, bumps and considerable bleeding and Z suffered a broken nose. More than enough to fear for great bodily harm.

    “His hyperactive vigilance, his willingness to see a boy returning home from a candy run to the store as a grave threat to his neighborhood, his professed fear for his life due to a tussle with an unarmed boy that he outweighed — if the jury finds from Zimmerman’s behavior that his fears were unreasonable, and that his fear for his life due to a couple bumps on the grass was not prudent, then the killing is not justifiable as self-defense.”

    The “hyperactive vigilance” wouldn’t prove any motive to attack but instead simply a concern for his neighborhood in a high crime area with frequent burglaries (a very feared crime because residents could be attacked in their own home and which is considered a violent crime). Very relevant will be what Z did in the previous times he called police (note: he did NOT call 911 but instead only called a non-emergency number). If there were no complaints about “hyperactive vigilance” (whatever that term of art means!) and he always waited for police to arrive and never personally confronted any suspects that supports Z, it doesn’t condemn him.

    As for the “candy run,” obviously if Z knew the suspect was staying at the complex and was simply returning from buying candy he would never have called the police. He isn’t presumed to be a mind-reader or have omnipotent powers. The only issue, if indeed it is an issue and not a red herring, is that Z simply perceived actions by a suspect (no matter how innocently explainable those actions ultimately turn out to be) that led to a non-emergency call to a dispatcher for a police car to look in at the complex. No more, no less.

    As for “see a boy returning home from a candy run … as a grave threat to his neighborhood.”

    Z did NOT call 911. He called a non-emergency number, so it is hard to conclude he saw a “grave threat” as opposed to suspicious circumstance that merited a police officer checking the situation out.

    My big issue is how, given what we now know, a jury could (beyond a reasonable doubt) “find from Zimmerman’s behavior that his fears were unreasonable.” The case, even for manslaughter (if allowed), is so weak that there is a real chance the judge could throw out the case or, in the unexpected case of a jury conviction, an appeal court might do the same.

    • As scalp wounds go, that’s not a considerable amount of blood.

      Looks like he was at a right angle to the edge of the sidewalk and the back of his head hit it, or was hit against it, once, and only once.

      I suspect he had a number memorized (as do I, from my radio station days) or on speed dial, as often as he called them, that goes straight to the police department to save him having to explain things once to 911 and then again when they transfer his call, and also to avoid tying up the “somebody’s house is on fire or they’re bleeding to death right now” line with a “I think I see something suspicious, have you got car in the area that could swing by” call.

    • “High crime area”? Not so much. It’s a gated community which might explain why a grand total of eight break-ins in 15 months might be PERCEIVED as an epidemic, but it was most assuredly not the case.

    • GZ has ruined his own self defense claim, because it rests upon TM going for his gun. The trouble is, his gun can’t be the source of his fear for his life, since it is the only weapon and he is the one who brought it to the scene. So, not only is he not supposed to be at the scene, he’s not supposed to have brought a gun there either. If TM went for the gun, it counts as part of TM’s self defense. If GZ keeps control of it, the law only recognizes GZ’s right to retreat.

      • I am curious what law he violated by having a concealed weapon on him? State law forbids any subsection of the state from making any laws at all on the carrying of a firearm in FL under F.S. 790.33 Field of regulation of firearms and ammunition preempted. Neither SPD or the HOA could tell him not to carry.

        I have explained before how you can have two seperate trials of both TM and GZ and both trials find each have a Justifiable use of Force/Immunity claim. TM having a self defense claim does not make GZ automatically guilty, nor does a GZ self defense claim make TM automatically Guilty.

        • Yes, it does seem that there is a conundrum created that the courts will have to sort out! As a general rule, the statuary laws, if they do not prohibit a thing, will recognize lawful rules and regulations that do, as if they too were statuary law.

          Where the rules of a shop requires one to wear eye protection, an eye injury due to failure to observer the shop rule, would be treated as a transgression at law.

          NW, is reliant upon it’s ability to have it’s membership, agree to abide by it’s own rules. If one does not abide by the NW rules, then they are not NW. That would leave GZ without any reason for calling in a suspicious person, using the Non Emergency Number, as NW’ers are instructed to do, so, he should have called in his claims to 911, since he was not
          on NW.

          Since GZ is obviously trying, by dint of his narratives given, attempting to preserve for himself, some appearance of being in compliance with NW rules, while being “excusably” in violation of same, my guess is the courts will rule that since he pretends to be NW, he actually is, and therefore is in willful violation of law, because he refuses to relinquish his weapon, while in furtherance of his NW duties. After all, he has agreed to do things that would have worked no harm, if he had not violated the agreements he made, for the purposes given.

          The laws in his favor “CC” are passive in the face of his NW agreements and duties, which are much more immediate and profound. I doubt the courts will hold in favor of any rules that would make travesty and tragedy a most likely outcome, without any redeeming value.

          • No matter how much any of them would want to stop him from carrying, they are not allowed to. This law has been on the books for years, but had no teeth. There is an update to Subsection (3) that has local authorities tripping over themselves to remove all references to when Zimmerman could carry.


            790.33 Field of regulation of firearms and ammunition preempted.—


            (a) Any person, county, agency, municipality, district, or other entity that violates the Legislature’s occupation of the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition, as declared in subsection (1), by enacting or causing to be enforced any local ordinance or administrative rule or regulation impinging upon such exclusive occupation of the field shall be liable as set forth herein.

            (b) If any county, city, town, or other local government violates this section, the court shall declare the improper ordinance, regulation, or rule invalid and issue a permanent injunction against the local government prohibiting it from enforcing such ordinance, regulation, or rule. It is no defense that in enacting the ordinance, regulation, or rule the local government was acting in good faith or upon advice of counsel.

            (c) If the court determines that a violation was knowing and willful, the court shall assess a civil fine of up to $5,000 against the elected or appointed local government official or officials or administrative agency head under whose jurisdiction the violation occurred.

            (d) Except as required by applicable law, public funds may not be used to defend or reimburse the unlawful conduct of any person found to have knowingly and willfully violated this section.

          • I understand what you are trying to say, that there is no law that can prohibit him from carrying. Okay, I can agree with that. But, there is no law that can prevent him from agreeing not to carry a weapon, if that is what is required by the rules of the organization he joins. As a NW’er he agrees not to carry his weapon on patrols.

            NW rules recognize that they cannot stop one from carrying a weapon. But they can ask members to agree not to do that, for the reasons they give. So the choice is simple, if you carry a weapon, you cannot be considered to be on a proper patrol under the NW rules.

            So, it’s not a matter of what the law prohibits, but one of, what are the rules a NW has agreed to follow while on patrol. If the Court finds that GZ was acting as a NW’er then the Court can expect him to abide by his agreements lawfully made.

            Just because he has a CCW does not mean that he has to carry it always! He does have the right to go without it, and most especially when performing a community service, that the police given him rules they asked him to observe.

          • Lonnie,

            That is one of the things I am trying to clarify. It is like the statement made twice in the PC Affidavit that he was to wait for the officer, we have the entire conversation in recorded and written transcripts and he was never told that at all. I have the Neighborhood Watch manual put out by the Sanford PD in front of me, I have all of the neighborhood watch materials that have been put out that I know of. I see no reference to anyone trying to tell him not to carry on NW. Can anyone provide a reference to either the HOA, the Sanford NW Coordinator, or anyone else telling him not to carry on Neighborhood Watch? Note: if it was anyone on any level of Govt below the state i.e. Sanford NW Coordinator, they know they can face charges under F.S. 790.33

          • Before anyone starts pointing out that Zimmerman was on his way to Target vs “On NW Patrol” therefore not “On Neighborhood Watch” and those rules do not apply, I am interested in having this conversation about the NW Rules.

            The National Sheriffs’ Association puts out general Guidelines to Neighborhood Watch Coordinators, since there are varying laws from city to city and from state to state (All laws in FL are at the State or Federal Level) they put them out to the coordinators with the caveat that the coordinators tailor them to the local laws. This is where Wendy Dorival comes in, she is the Volunteer Coordinator for Neighborhood Watches in Sanford FL. Notice her specific wording when she talks about this case. “Using a gun in the neighborhood watch role would be out of the question, she said in an interview.” Notice she specifically said using vs carrying, if she had said carrying as member of Sanford PD she would have been liable for up to a $5000 fine out of her own pocket IAW F.S. 790.33.


            She set up a visit for the next month at the Retreat at Twin Lakes, a gated community that had been dealing with a string of burglaries. When 25 residents showed up, a decent turnout, she had the residents introduce themselves; after all, people join the groups to look out for each other. She then gave a PowerPoint presentation and distributed a handbook. As she always does, she emphasized what a neighborhood watch is — and what it is not.

            In every presentation, “I go through what the rules and responsibilities are,” she said Thursday. The volunteers’ role, she said, is “being the eyes and ears” for the police, “not the vigilante.” Members of a neighborhood watch “are not supposed to confront anyone,” she said. “We get paid to get into harm’s way. You don’t do that. You just call them from the safety of your home or your vehicle.”

            Using a gun in the neighborhood watch role would be out of the question, she said in an interview.


            This part of the statement from Sanford City Manager and Sanford Chief of Police explains many parts of this:

            Why did Mr. Zimmerman have a firearm in his possession while acting in the role of a neighborhood watch member?

            Mr. Zimmerman holds a concealed weapon permit issued from the State of Florida. He is authorized to carry the weapon in a concealed manner wherever Florida Statute dictates. Neighborhood Watch programs are designed for members of a neighborhood to be “eyes and ears” for police and to watch out for their neighbors. They are not members of the Police Department nor are they vigilantes. Training provided by law enforcement agencies to Neighborhood Watch organizations stresses non-contact surveillance of suspicious situations and notifying police of those situations so that law enforcement can respond and take control of the situation.

            Mr. Zimmerman was not acting outside the legal boundaries of Florida Statute by carrying his weapon when this incident occurred. He was in fact on a personal errand in his vehicle when he observed Mr. Martin in the community and called the Sanford Police Department.


            Here are links to downloadable manuals from Sanford PD.

            Sanford PD Neighborhood Watch Manual

            Sanford PD Neighborhood Watch PPT Brief

            Sanford PD Burglary Prevention

            Here is a link to Axiom Amenesia’s website about neighborhood watch.

            Here is the NSA Neighborhood Watch Program handbook, not this is not tailored to any specific local laws and the final product for an area must be vetted through local law enforcement and their Lawyers.

            Click to access Neighborhood%20Watch%20Manual.pdf

  9. It seems clear that Angela Corey made a mistake in not adding the lesser included offense of manslaughter. The reason is that at some point before trial, Z’s attorney will surely ask the judge to throw out the 2nd degree murder count — a tactic that has an excellent chance of suceeding. At that point, what does a prosecutor do? Then include manslaughter before a ruling (double jeopardy may apply so it is risky to wait)?

    Even if manslaugter is then added, dismissal of the 2nd degree murder charge can still succeed, leaving the prosecutor in bad graces with the judge and public opinion for original overreaching.

    Any plea bargaining could go on regardless of having included the lesser offense of manslaughter.

    • It seems that many”mistakes” have already been made by the prosecution. I am even starting to wonder if Angela Corey hasn’t been picked precisely for her political ambitions (within the Conservative party) and is not purposely throwing in the case while giving a mascarade of justice to those who were not satisfied with the first, botched investigation. I realize it sounds pretty far fetched, but yesterday hearing was ridiculous and certainly didn’t give much confidence that the prosecution had all their ducks in a row, or that they were thinking very clearly. I have a hard time believing that an experienced prosecutor could have let things go so wrong for such a high profile case. . . .unless that is exactly what was intended!

    • That’s why I suspect the prosecution is confident that they’ve got some strong impeachment evidence to use against Zimmerman. Absent some way to prove that Zimmerman is lying about his state of mind at the time of the shooting — i.e., some way to prove Zimmerman knew or absolutely should have known Trayvon wasn’t a threat, because the kid was screaming bloody murder for help — then this does look like a manslaughter situation.

    Dear Susan, I heard the click of the gun while listening to the 911-tape/call ( !!). It seems Mr. Zimmerman was already cocking his gun while talking to the dispatcher. Also the ringing of the keys in the ignition as he gets out of his car proves he is already on foot to pursue the poor kid with gun in hand. SUSAN, could you please comment on this and if possible point this out to the prosecutor–THEY MUST NOT MISS THIS (if I am right) IN TRIAL!!!

    • By cocking the gun do you mean pulling back the hammer or working the slide to chamber a round?

      It’s quite possible that he carried it with a round already chambered.

      That particular weapon has a hammer block safety to prevent accidental discharge due to impact, but with a round already chambered it’s only necessary to pull the trigger to fire it, although apparently it takes a fair amount of pulling and has a long trigger travel.

      Apparently it’s not uncommon for owners of that particular model to carry it with a round chambered.

      I’m not certain if it’s even possible to directly access the hammer on that model to “cock” it.

    • Zimmerman already showed that he thought he was in fear of his safety by telling the operator that he didn’t want to give out his address because he didn’t know where the individual was.

      It is only logical to conclude, if that is indeed what you hear, that he made sure, for his safety, that his sidearm was prepared in case it was needed.
      It does not mean his gun was in his hand.

      If the sidearm had been, Trayvon most likely would have seen it, and told his Girlfriend and ran to the home in which he was staying. Not attacked Zimmerman.
      Be that as it may –
      I am almost positive that the prosecution will try to use those sounds against Zimmerman.
      Btw, I was aware of those sounds from the moment I first heard the audio of the call. It only sounds like he is readying his sidearm and mag. Nothing more.
      If you are aware of the sounds, and I am aware of them, who else do you think is most likely aware of them?

    • Unless we’re talking about the relative merits of firearms in various video games, I’ve got nothing to add on the subject of guns. The full extent of my knowledge on them is that I think they are pretty fun to shoot at targets.

      So it’s an interesting idea, but without having any real clue of what noises a handgun might make aside from “boom,” I have no idea if that’s what the sounds in Zimmerman’s call to police are. But I agree with Len — doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re out in the dark with a suspected criminal lurking about, and you’ve got a gun handy, you’re going to keep that thing easily accessible and ready to go.

    • To Len
      No Len, Zimmerman did not give his location to the dispatcher “because he was scared” BUT because he intends to pursue/track down Travon and as such would not know where he will be at when the police arrives. You seem to suggest that by giving his location to the dispatcher, Zimmerman will reveal his location to Trayvon. It just does not make any sense. Don’t you agree? You also state or at least suggested that Trayvon attacked Zimmerman. On what are you basing your assertion? Why would Trayvon be running away from Zimmerman (and Zimmerman confirmed it) and at the same time attacking Zimmerman? Or do you mean to say that Trayvon was so scared of Zimmer that he started running away BUT suddenly regained his confidence, turned around and attacked Zimmerman?

    • Intel

      Reread what I said;
      “Zimmerman already showed that he thought he was in fear of his safety by telling the operator that he didn’t want to give out his address because he didn’t know where the individual was.”
      That is based solely on what he said to he call taker.

      Whether or not you think that makes sense does not matter.
      It is essentially, what was said.

      You basically asked about my use of the word attacked.
      That is the evidence that has been released to us.
      Do you have something to dispute it?

      You also basically ask why would Trayvon run?
      Lets see…
      Trayvon notices he is being observed and put his hood on. (girlfriend’s statement)
      That is an act of evasion.
      Then he runs. Another act of evasion.
      My guess is he is evading because he doesn’t like being observed.

  11. “Looks like he was at a right angle to the edge of the sidewalk and the back of his head hit it, or was hit against it, once, and only once.”

    The picture ( ) clearly shows TWO SEPARATE, non overlapping areas of considerable bleeding and also contusions. Nobody can say Z’s head wasn’t banged against concrete without breaking skin, as evidenced by the contusions. Moreover, there is the now accepted broken nose.

    Hardly, a ‘locked and loaded’ gun maniac who could simply have shot first and not waited until he was on the verge of unconsciousness and badly battered to fire a single shot at an attacker on top of him to fend him off.

    • Haven’t seen a broken nose yet.

      Didn’t say skin wasn’t broken, straight line indicates edge of sidewalk broke skin, although not very deeply or there would have been much more blood, it being a scalp wound.

      And he must have gotten back up off the ground fairly quickly for all of the blood to have flowed below the line of the cut (with gravity) instead of both above and below it as it would have if the back of the head were parallel to the ground (making the cut not have an above and below) instead of perpendicular to it.


  12. unitron, you say “once, and only once,” a clearly incorrect statement when the photo evidences two separate areas of bleeding.

    Also, you are stating only one hit occurred and CONCLUSIVELY RULING OUT OTHER HITS. That premise is contradicted not only by two areas of bleeding but by contusions. You are thereby also ruling out the likely chance his head was slammed against concrete additional times but the skin was not broken so those additional hits would not show on the photo.

    • Once and only once on the edge of the sidewalk, hence only one straight line across the back of the head.


    • IF the new bloody head photo is real, how is it that Zimmerman is shown without any bandages, band-aids, steri-strips or anything else covering the purported wound only about 35 minutes later in the video of the police station? Scalp lacerations tend to bleed a lot. The absence of bandaging probably means that the wounds were superficial, hardly being beaten so badly that “one more blow might have meant that George would have been wearing diapers for the rest of his life,” as ZImmerman’s brother claimed.

    • Wrong. Take it from an old Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman. That is exactly what the scalp looks like after a severe contusion, or, in this case, multiple contusions.
      When an MP whacks a Marine over the head with a billy club, the scalp splits open exactly that way. Ditto for beer bottles. I’ve sutured up several such wounds.
      Trust me: Zimmerman’s head was banged repeatedly on something very hard – no doubt concrete just as he has stated – until his scalp split. Those are splits, not lacerations.

    • Except that a medical professional who actually observed and treated Zimmerman’s injuries concluded otherwise, and found that Zimmerman did not sustain any head trauma.

  13. “If Zimmerman instigated the encounter, then, even assuming he could somehow conclusively prove that Trayvon was in fact trying to wrestle Zimmerman’s gun away from him, that still won’t necessarily provide an absolute defense to the killing.”

    1. Is the writer saying that even conclusively proving such fact would still leave doubt whether the shooter had exhausted all reasonable means of escape (and thus might still be liable under Fla. Stat. Ann. § 776.041)?? What other reasonable means would have been available at the point?

    2. Or is she saying that the shooter conceivably could still be criminally liable EVEN AFTER CONCLUSIVELY PROVING BOTH that he was reasonably in fear of imminent death AND he had exhausted all reasonable means of escape? If so, by what law?

  14. I am curious how changing a Judge this far into a case affects the dynamics of a case, I’m pretty sure this doesn’t happen often, but it does happen as it has here. Judge Nelson is not known for being kind to Lawyers when they step over the line, that is exactly what I have wanted to see. If the Defense Lawyer gets out of line she hammers them, if the Prosecution gets out of line she hammers them too. As long as she is fair and give this case a fair hearing I am happy no matter the outcome.

    These are specific issues I am wondering about how she will react to, since I am not a lawyer these may be obvious to those that are.

    1. How will she handle the question of Immunity? Justifiable use of force hearing, SYG hearing, throwing out the PC Affidavit from the bench?

    2. The misrepresentation that Zimmerman was told to wait in the PC Affidavit.

    3. The release of information that the prior judge said was not to be released.

    4. The Officers that apparently leaked the information at the beginning of the case to Crump and Company, giving Verbatim quotes from the lead investigator to the news media.

    This should be interesting, this is a learning curve for me on how the system actually works vs how it works on paper.

  15. Pingback: After Defensive Gun Use | TopGunReview News

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