Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Short: Trayvon Martin gunshot forensics

According to a forensic expert, Martin was on top of Zimmerman and leaning forward when the shot was fired from 2-4 inches away. This is consistent with Zimmerman's account of Martin being on top of him. I've been waiting for forensic evidence either supporting or refuting this claim, and here it is.

Some people think Martin got what he deserved. My opinion is that Zimmerman following Martin is significant in contributing to Martin's assault on him, so this isn't a simple case of an unprovoked assault.

Image: axiomamnesia.com


Dangerous said...

Two things on this:

1) The forensic evidence is inconclusive in reconstructing the events. At most it shows that Martin might have been leaning over and that Zimmerman didn't put the gun directly against his chest. One possible position is Martin on top of Zimmerman. That's all.

2) I'd say that all of this assumes facts not in evidence, since "Zimmerman's account" is not in evidence because he hasn't actually testified. The defense has gotten his story in sideways -- cleverly so as to avoid cross-examination -- and not everything Zimmerman asserts is false.

That said, I think the prosecution has the better of the closing arguments coming up since Martin seems to have been standing his ground when he was shot. Who was on top of who and who threw the first punch and who suffered more injuries from the fight doesn't seem that relevant in context. 2nd degree murder seems like a reach, but only because we don't have Martin's testimony to what happened, and Zimmerman probably would claim self-defense on the stand.

This is why the calls for help are so critical. Zimmerman calling for help is hardly exculpatory since, according to his account, he was getting whipped. But he was also the one with the gun, so he didn't really need help, now, did he? But if Martin was calling for help, Zimmerman is toast because he killed the guy calling for help.

This is an unusual case for a jury since they a) don't have to give Zimmerman's account any weight at all in assessing reasonable doubt. They can use their best judgment to reconstruct the events leading to the shooting and draw their own inferences and conclusions based on those inferences. And the inferences are all bad for Zimmerman's account, for exactly there reasons you pointed out in your post, MP.

I wonder why Zimmerman didn't stick the gun in Martin's ribs and tell him to back off or he'll shoot. Zimmerman had the gun with him. He chased Martin down on a false and prejudiced assumption that Martin was a criminal just by being there. One can only assume he was ready and willing to use that gun to kill, if necessary. Lo and behold, to Zimmerman if because necessary.

Zimmerman's guilty of something. He never had to kill Martin.

ModeratePoli said...

Re. point 1, it's hard to construct another likely position to fit the evidence. This strongly supports Zimmerman'x contention that Martin was on top of him.

I agree that Zimmerman was overeager to shoot a burglar and use the Stand-your-ground defense to avoid all prosecution. It's terrible, but it seems many gun owners have the same dangerous fantasy.

Dangerous said...

The problem with point 1 -- with Zimmerman on the ground and Martin on top of him -- is that Zimmerman's gun was behind him on his back-hip holster, making it hard to see how he would have been able to pull out the gun. It also is in contrast with Zimmerman's earlier statement that Martin reached for the gun. That's why I find the evidence inconclusive with respect to Zimmerman's contention.

ModeratePoli said...

@Dangerous, I don't know how difficult it is to get a gun out of a hip holster, but it's not hard to arch your back and reach. I don't find it credible that Martin reached for the gun too.

A witness testified to seeing Martin on top, so that counts for something.

Dangerous said...

I think the evidence strongly points to Martin being on top at that point, but exactly the nature of how the parties reached various positions is not clear.

There was clearly a fight. One party brought a gun to the fight. One party precipitated a fight. And both of those parties are George Zimmerman.

I don't think Zimmerman set out that night after Martin to kill him. But he was ready to do so, if he found it necessary, and certainly eager to thwart anything that he thought Martin might be predisposed to do. Yada, yada, yada, and Zimmerman killed Martin.

Justifiable homicide? The evidence of that is inconclusive. Intentional murder? The evidence is equally inconclusive.

I predict Zimmerman gets convicted of a less charge of homicide. That's probably how I'd vote as an impartial juror.