Reviewing The Botched Investigation Of George Zimmerman's Killing of Trayvon Martin Even As Gunman Continues His Current Violence-Spree
[Speaking Truth To Power]
Part six of our special series reviewing the debacle in handling of the George Zimmerman case.
As we continue our look at the trial of George Zimmerman, current news reports tell us he was just charged, on Tuesday, with aggravated assault for pointing a gun at his girlfriend in Florida. And, she is now telling stories about Mr. Zimmerman’s fixation with guns—and that he’s apparently suicidal.
Trayvon Martin's killer has since posted $9,000 bail on the current charges.
If Sanford Police had done their jobs correctly in the first place—and if prosecutors had taken them to task for not doing so—would this killer still be making the news?
The testimony of Inspector Chris Serino and Officer Doris Singleton—as representatives of Sanford Police—in our opinion, did more damage to the case against George Zimmerman for the unjustified killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin than anything else.
Much was made of several pieces of evidence in the case that didn’t work out well for the prosecution team of Special Prosecutor Angela Corey. Some talked about the 911 tape and the inability of the prosecution to show that it was Trayvon Martin screaming for help to save his life.
It is surely questionable just how much resources were put into cleaning up the tape—and getting the best experts to analyze the voice on the tape. Also, we wonder if any attempt was made to match the screams on this 911 tape to any possible recordings of Trayvon’s voice.
Others cited the testimony of Dr. Vincent Di Maio—who testified the forensic evidence was consistent with Mr. Zimmerman’s claim that Trayvon was over him when he shot him. This point was important, given the hubbub about who was on top of whom when the fatal shot was fired.
Stunningly, the fact Mr. Zimmerman placed himself upon Trayvon was never really explored and questioned.
Mr. Zimmerman in one of his police interviews placed himself upon Trayvon’s body after he fired the fatal shot—from a hollow-point bullet—into the heart of Trayvon when he said he “grabbed his hands when I was on top of him and spread his hands away from his body…and I was on top of him.”
Recall, Zimmerman said he was in fear for his life because Trayvon was brutally beating him. So, why would he do this—especially, when he claimed he thought Trayvon wasn’t seriously injured?Prosecutors did highlight that police found Trayvon hands, contrary to Zimmerman’s claim, underneath his body and not “spread” “away from his body.”
However, prosecutors never emphasized this crucial point loudly and clearly enough. Prosecutors should have drilled this point home to the jury—and ask them to think if his rationale for doing so made any sense at all.
Consequently, by not doing so, this telling lie was lost on the jury as the case wore on. Zimmerman’s statement that he thought Trayvon had something in his hands, when he claimed Trayvon was hitting him, does not explain his curious actions here. Unfortunately, much like was done by Inspector Serino, the prosecution never explored this troubling aspect of the case.
But the most dubious claim made by Dr. Di Maio—that Trayvon could repeatedly pound Zimmerman, with no major injuries to his hand—was never seriously challenged. Dr. Di Maio’s head-scratching assertion could’ve been debunked—but prosecutors seemed totally unprepared to do so.
“We could see no physical signs like there had been a scuffle [or] there had been a fight," said Mr. Richard Kurtz, funeral director of the Roy Mizell and Kurtz Funeral Home. "The hands -- I didn't see any knuckles, bruises or what have you.” Why weren’t Mr. Kurtz’s findings used forcefully to back-up the autopsy report done by Dr. Shiping Bao, which found only two small abrasions on Trayvon’s left hand?
All these things, surely, negatively impacted the case. However, the tainted testimony of Inspector Serino and Officer Doris Singleton were much more problematic in allowing this travesty of justice to occur. How could these police officers—who took an oath to “protect and serve”—pretend under oath, that they had no major problems with the fables Mr. Zimmerman was spinning them? Was there testimony anything more that an exercise in “circling their wagons” to shield themselves from further scrutiny and questions regarding why they never arrested Mr. Zimmerman?
Sanford Police—and other Sanford officials, like State Attorney Norm Wolfinger and former Police Chief Bill Lee—could not have been happy being second-guessed by others. And they very likely were incensed that people protests forced the hands of Florida’s higher authorities to act. Did those who decided to bring in a special prosecutor think about this? Didn’t they realize instituting a special prosecutor while using the same failed police officers could undermine their case?
We believe the self-serving testimony of these officers was given to justify Sanford Police’s investigative failures. In the process, the “interest of justice” was severely undermined to save these officers further embarrassment—and to cover up their baffling blunders. There are many grilling questions these officers should be asked.
Officer Serino should be asked why he flip-flopped on deciding whether or not to arrest Zimmerman? Why did he recommend arresting Zimmerman for manslaughter and then change his mind? Why didn’t he make interviewing Rachel Jeantel a priority? Inspector Serino should also be asked why it took over a week to interview 13-year-old Austin Brown—a prime witness—who say part of the deadly struggle before the fatal shot? And shouldn’t we know if Austin Brown’s mother, Cheryl Brown, was being truthful when she quoted Inspector Serino as telling her “This was absolutely not self-defense. There is some stereotyping is going on here?”
But while Inspector Serino, according to Cheryl Brown, was telling her the shooting “was absolutely not self-defense…stereotyping is going on here,” in his taped questioning of Zimmerman he never seriously challenges Zimmerman with these suspicions. Even worse, in several instances he seems to be coaching Zimmerman on the weak points of his story—and how, possibly, to change his story to fit a more believable narrative.
At one point, in the February 29 interview—conducted by Inspector Serino and Officer Singleton—Inspector Serino while playing the now infamous 911 tape tells Mr. Zimmerman “that’s you yelling for help.” Why is Serino telling Zimmerman “that’s you” instead of asking Zimmerman if the voice is his? It should be pointed out Mr. Zimmerman, at first, said the screaming on the 911 tape “doesn’t even sound like me.” Yet, by the time of the trial his defense argued strenuously that it was his voice—and not Trayvon’s.
In another instance, Mr. Zimmerman claims Trayvon was “mounted” on him and was “suffocating” him. When Inspector Serino asked him how long he was suffocated, Zimmerman said he didn’t know but was sure it wasn’t for “hours.” How does someone, supposedly, fighting for their life not remember something like this?
At another point Serino tells Zimmerman “you’re the good guy here,” and does this after telling Zimmerman, earlier in the interview, that Trayvon doesn’t “fit the profile” of being a violent person who would just attack someone without cause.
Some may say Inspector Serino was only trying to trick Zimmerman. However, we should remember the good inspector on the night of the killing told one witness the person heard screaming had survived the attack.
Another deceptive tactic used by Zimmerman on the original 911 call was when he insinuated he thought Trayvon had a weapon. If he felt Trayvon had a weapon why would he risk getting shot by following him—especially, after the dispatcher told him not to do so? But Inspector Serino never asked him why he would trail someone he thought may have a gun.
There can now be no doubt Sanford Police bungled this case. Unfortunately, the prosecution made matters worse by not challenging the police—and in so doing, along with the other problems, an acquittal was all but assured.
Didn’t they expect jurors would’ve been curious about the reasoning behind the decision not to arrest Zimmerman? Angela Corey’s prosecution team needed to challenge Sanford Police and should’ve also contested the decision by Sanford officials not to arrest Mr. Zimmerman in the first place.
Next time we’ll wrap-up our review of this historically important case.