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Trayvon Martin case: Evidence shows an injured George Zimmerman

May 17, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • This Feb. 27, 2012 photo released by the State Attorney's Office shows George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Trayvon Martin, with blood on the back of his head.
This Feb. 27, 2012 photo released by the State Attorney's Office shows… (Associated Press )

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, was bloody after their encounter and had head wounds, according to the latest evidence released in the racially-charged case.

Officials late Thursday afternoon released a massive cache of documents, photographs and investigative reports on the Feb. 26 confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin, a fateful meeting that left Martin dead and Zimmerman eventually facing second-degree murder charges. The documents include the medical examiner’s report on Martin, photographs of the scene and of Zimmerman taken that night, and investigators’ recommendations that Zimmerman be charged. The file, called discovery material, was turned over to the defense this week.

Some of the material had been previously reported, such as the feeling of some Sanford, Fla., police officers that Zimmerman should be charged. Zimmerman was not charged that night but was arraigned later after a special prosecutor was brought onto the case because of repeated demonstrations and pressure from civil rights activists and others.

Some of the released material amplifies previous claims in the case, such as Zimmerman’s argument that he fired in self-defense after a fight with Martin, who was returning from a convenience store where he purchased a can of tea and a package of Skittles -- both noted on evidence reports.

According to the toxicology report, medical examiners found THC in the blood and urine tested from Martin, though it was unclear from the material whether the amounts contributed to the events of the night of Feb. 26. There are also pictures of Zimmerman with a bloody nose, though how he was wounded remains part of the legal battle that will be argued in the pending court proceedings. Zimmerman is free on $150,000 bond, but is in hiding after threats on his life.

Martin, 17, was pronounced dead at the scene, a courtyard near a housing complex in Sanford. The discovery material says he had $40.15, the Skittles, a red lighter and headphones. Medical examiners determined that he had been shot once in the chest.

Martin “was basically flat-lined,” said one first-responder who pronounced the teenager dead after checking a heart monitor at the scene. Martin was never conscious, the responder told investigators in a recorded interview.

A Sanford Fire Department officer who responded to the shooting said she saw Martin on his back on the ground. She said she “lifted up the sweat shirt and saw a bullet hole in his chest.”

She described the wound as a “small bullet hole.” There were no other injuries, she said.

The sweat shirt had a pocket at the waist and there was a can inside that she placed to the side, she said. She said she attached a heart monitor and determined it was a “cardiac arrest situation.”

At some point she and others realized “it’s a crime scene now, let’s back out.”

In a nearby police car sat Zimmerman, both responders agreed. Zimmerman’s condition will probably be part of the self-defense argument his lawyers will make.

Zimmerman was handcuffed in the car, one responder said. “There were cuts and abrasions on his face and nose,” the responder said. “We basically cleaned him up.”

Later in the recorded interview with investigators, the responder said it appeared that the “nose was swollen and that there were abrasions on his cheeks and face.”

The responders differ on the wound or wounds to the back of the head, but both agreed there was at least one laceration. Zimmerman told police he scuffled with Martin, who banged Zimmerman's head on the ground.

One responder said there was a “laceration at least an inch by a half-inch wide.”

“There were two lacerations at the back of his head, one deeper than the other,” another responder said during her interview. “We cleaned him up and got them to stop bleeding.”

She said Zimmerman complained of feeling dizzy at one point and seemed impaired. Both responders said they thought police would take Zimmerman to a hospital for stitches to his head.

Special prosecutor Angela B. Corey authorized the creation of a website for access to the dozens of CDs of information collected in the wake of Martin’s death. The released documents include reports from five Sanford, Fla., police investigators and recorded statements from about two dozen witnesses. There are also photographs from that night.

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michael.muskal@latimes.com

Staff writers Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Texas and Richard Fausset in Georgia contributed to this report.

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