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George Zimmerman said Trayvon Martin circled vehicle, paper reports

May 04, 2012|By Richard Fausset
  • George Zimmerman is reportedly telling investigators that Trayvon Martin circled his vehicle before their confrontation.
George Zimmerman is reportedly telling investigators that Trayvon Martin… (Gary W. Green / EPA )

Was Trayvon Martin circling George Zimmerman's vehicle before the neighborhood watch volunteer and the unarmed teenager engaged in their now-infamous -- and tragic -- scuffle?

That is the assertion that Zimmerman has made numerous times to investigators, according to a new report in the Orlando Sentinel, citing a source familiar with the criminal investigation into Martin's slaying by Zimmerman in February at a gated community in Sanford, Fla.

According to the Sentinel, the source said Zimmerman told police he was so worried by Martin's behavior that he rolled up his windows to avoid trouble. The paper notes that Zimmerman did not give these details to the non-emergency police dispatcher he had called in order to report Martin as a suspicious character.

The paper's report, posted on its website Thursday, is one of numerous leaks from law enforcement sources that seem to offer outside observers a few puzzle pieces to work with as they follow the second-degree murder case, though it's still difficult to understand how the pieces fit together -- if at all.

The Sentinel's source also points out what may be an inconsistency in Zimmerman's statements: Zimmerman reportedly told police that Martin put his hand over Zimmerman's mouth during the fight. But investigators apparently don't believe him, because on one 911 call, someone is screaming for help.

Zimmerman has said the screaming voice is his. But the cries are not muffled.

"It's either one or the other, it can't be both," Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Martin's family, told the paper.

Yet how much weight this detail may carry in court remains to be seen. After all, it could be possible that Martin covered Zimmerman's mouth for part of the fight, leaving him free to issue unmuffled screams during another part.

Zimmerman's attorney,Mark O'Mara, said he hadn't yet seen Zimmerman's statements to police.

Martin's parents, meanwhile, visited Birmingham, Ala., on Thursday, where they participated in a civil rights rally along with Crump. The attorney again alluded to the suspicion that racial bias infected the handling of the case from the beginning. Martin was black. Zimmerman is half white and half Latino. Sanford police initially declined to arrest Zimmerman, who claims he shot Martin in self-defense.

"Had Trayvon pulled that trigger, he could have said stand your ground, self-defense, he could have said whatever, he would have been arrested that night," Crump said, according to Alabama station WVTM-TV. "It wouldn't have taken 44 days to arrest him."

Zimmerman was eventually arrested after charges were filed against him by a special prosecutor assigned to the case by Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Zimmerman turned himself in to police and has pleaded not guilty. He was released from jail on April 23 on a $150,000 bond.

ALSO:

Florida gov. blows away plan to limit guns outside GOP convention

Border Guard founder J.T. Ready is blamed in Arizona murder-suicide

Hazing death: Victim's parents denounce probe, want Florida A&M band dismantled

richard.fausset@latimes.com

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