Thursday, June 21, 2012

Why does Talk Left take Zimmerman at his word?

**Update 6/25/2013**
I just realized I linked to the wrong Talk Left Post. I accidentally linked to Zimmerman: The Discovery and the Witnesses, when I had meant to link to George Zimmerman: The Most Likely Scenario. This is corrected in the post below.

A few weeks ago, defense attorney Jeralyn Merritt of the liberal legal blog, TalkLeft, presented what she thought was "the most likely scenario" in the Trayvon Martin killing:

George Zimmerman: The Most Likely Scenario

For the most part, it's a great, informative post. But in the midsts of her analysis, she makes a few assumptions about the case that aren't supported by the evidence, and appear pretty biased against Trayvon Martin. Merritt:

GZ did not have TM in sight when the dispatcher told him they didn't need him to follow TM. He responded OK. He didn't follow him after that. He didn't know where Trayvon was. He continued walking towards the front of the Retreat View Circle, where the first house is 2861, home to W-13 and W-12. He then turned around to walk back to his car. He just passed the T and the pet waste can when Travyon came up on his left. After a few brief vocal exchanges, which even according to Dee Dee were initiated by Trayvon, GZ got punched and fell down. This may have been at the T or in the grass right off the T, in the backyard of W-11 and W-20. After getting his nose broken is most likely when the sounds turned into cries and wails for help -- by George Zimmerman.

Merritt's assuming Martin was the one who confronted Zimmerman at point T on the map. Why? No witnesses saw this, and it seems to contradict Martin’s girlfriend’s testimony. She was on the phone with Martin immediately before the fight, was told by Martin that Zimmerman had spotted him, and that he was going to "walk fast", rather than run away.

It also contradicts the dynamics of the situation as we understand it, from the 911 calls. Zimmerman was following Martin in his truck as Martin was walking down the street. Martin ran away from Zimmerman, who got out of his car and ran after Martin. While he's running after Martin, he mutters, “these punks always get away”. (This statement, by the way, is going to be used by the prosecution to demonstrate a depraved state of mind, which is necessary for the murder charge). Why is Merritt so quick to believe Martin, who was running away from Zimmerman, decided to double back and jump Zimmerman?

Merritt believes the fight started at point T on the map, and ended up at point X (see the map at the top of this post). That’s about what, 40 feet? How, exactly, did that distance get covered? Here's Zimmerman's account of the situation:

Zimmerman told police that the struggle began when Martin "jumped out from the bushes" and punched him in the face, knocking him down.

"I started screaming for help. I couldn't see. I couldn't breathe," he said.

"He grabbed my head and started hitting it into the sidewalk," he said. "When he started doing that, I slid into the grass to try to get out from under him. ... I'm still yelling for help."

Martin, he said, put his hand over Zimmerman's mouth and nose and told him, "You're going to die tonight."

"When I slid, my jacket and my shirt came up. ... I felt his hand go down my side, and I thought he was going for my firearm, so I grabbed it immediately, and as he banged my head again, I just pulled out my firearm and shot him."

Zimmerman says that he was sucker punched and knocked down at point T, was completely unable to get out from under Martin, and ended up shooting Martin shortly thereafter. If we believe Zimmerman's testimony, Martin's body should have been discovered at point T, not 40 feet away at point X. The evidence simply doesn't match his story. It's worth noting that one of the homicide investigators, that questioned Zimmerman, informed him that he had received an anonymous phone call, "from somebody who gave a different version of events ... more along the lines that you tried to detain him," and recounted an argument prior to the shooting.

The alternative situation, as described by Martin’s girlfriend, better fits the facts. Trayvon was hiding out, and then was spotted by Zimmerman on his way back to his truck. Martin’s girlfriend begs him to run, but he says he’s just going to “walk fast” (which only makes sense if he’s walking fast away from Zimmerman). Zimmerman runs after Martin and confronts him at X, where the shooting occurs.

In this situation:

- The original dynamics stay the same. Zimmerman is pursuing Martin through out.

- We don’t have to account for how the shooting took place some 40 feet away from where Merritt assumes the altercation started.

- There’s no contradiction here between Martin’s girlfriend’s testimony and anything reported by the witnesses Merritt considers "useful".

Later in the her post, Merritt makes a pretty astounding statement:

The state is unlikely to prevail in arguing Zimmerman was the aggressor because to be the aggressor, Zimmerman had to contemporaneously provoke the force Martin used against him.Zimmerman's profiling of Martin and call to the non-emergency number were not contemporaneous with Martin's attack. Even if the state could convince a judge or jury that Zimmerman was following Martin, rather than walking back to his car, rendering his pursuit a contemporaneous act, it is not an act that provokes Martin's use of force against him. Demanding someone account for their presence does not provoke the use of force.

Merritt would have us believe that, at worst, Zimmerman merely followed Martin and asked him what he was doing in the neighborhood. Is that really all Zimmerman did?

According to the 911 tapes, Zimmerman was slowly following Martin in his vehicle, at night, and neglected to identify himself when Martin approached to check him out. When Martin runs away, Zimmerman runs after him through the dark neighborhood. Given the facts I discussed above, it also appears Zimmerman approached Martin when he spotted him again, after Martin had been hiding from him.

If I believed I was being stalked by a stranger, ran away, and saw my assumed stalker chase me through a dark neighborhood, it would be completely reasonable for me to assume my pursuer intends to harm me. Zimmerman's actions were clearly aggressive, and Trayvon Martin had every reason to believe he was in imminent danger of bodily harm, especially if he spotted Zimmerman's gun.


I have no idea why Merritt made the assumptions she did. My best guess is, because of her background as a defense attorney, she’s looking at the case as if she were the one representing Zimmerman, and that’s what’s coloring her analysis. Perhaps she wrote up something that she would have presented to the court in Zimmerman's defense, rather than an objective analysis of the facts.


Anonymous said...

Agree with your post.

The attorney you reference has adopted a groupthink mentality and regularly deletes posts on her blog suggesting any alternative scenario, for not being "factual".

So not an objective source. One would hope that Zimmerman's real lawyer would be smarter, and avoid pitfalls.

Zimmerman's story is merely that -- his version. It may or may not be believed by a jury. If the jury rejects his version, then they are left with a circumstantial case. Like all circumstantial cases, the prosecution will emphasize motive & opportunity.

Zimmerman's claim of checking house numbers is highly dubious; his puts the fight in the wrong location, possibly because he doesn't want to admit to officers that he turned up the walk-through behind the houses as that would negate his claim to be looking for house numbers; and his description of the aftermath of the shooting & the final position of the body are directly contradicted by 911 audios, witnesses, and the report of the officers who arrived on the scene. Plus he give inconsistent accounts of the physical alternation, as to whether he was brought to the ground by the punch to the nose or later on.

The prisons are filled with people doing hard time on far weaker evidence than this. It will all come down to Zimmerman's credibility as a witness.

My opinion: Zimmerman is his own worst enemy. He's manage to talk his way into a murder charge on manslaughter facts. A jury that believes him to be a liar will also find it easy to infer malice.

Bobby Abraham said...

"He's manage to talk his way into a murder charge on manslaughter facts."

I definitely believe the publicly available evidence make a manslaughter charge look far more appropriate than a murder charge. I'm not sure how the prosecution is going to prove murder 2 beyond a reasonable doubt. Perhaps they tracked down the anonymous witness, that the investigator mentioned, who claims to have witnessed Zimmerman attempt to detain Martin.

Me said...

It's because shes a gun nut and because the victim was black she feels emotionally untouched.