Breaking: Evidence in Trayvon Martin Case Released to Public

The prosecution evidence that was given to George Zimmerman’s defense last week was released by Special Prosecutor Angela Corey’s office this afternoon. You can read the documents here.

Before the release, someone managed to get out a bit more information favorable to Zimmerman, specifically the fact that Trayvon Martin had traces of THC in his blood and urine when he was killed. From CNN:

Martin’s blood contained THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, according to an autopsy conducted February 27 — the day after the teenager was shot dead.

Toxicology tests found elements of the drug in the teenager’s chest blood — 1.5 nanograms per milliliter of one type (THC), as well as 7.3 nanograms of another type (THC-COOH) — according to the medical examiner’s report. There was also a presumed positive test of cannabinoids in Martin’s urine. It was not immediately clear how significant these amounts were.

Concentrations of THC routinely rise to 100 to 200 ng/ml after marijuana use, though it typically falls to below 5 ng/ml within three hours of it being smoked, according to information on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.

While some states have zero-tolerance policies for any drug traces for driving while impaired, others set certain benchmarks, the website of California’s Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs notes. In Nevada, that equates to 2 ng/ml for THC and 5 ng/ml for THC-COOH — also known as marijuana metabolite. The cutoff level in Ohio is 2 ng/ml for THC and 50 ng/ml for THC-COOH.

THC is detectable for weeks and sometimes longer after use, so it doesn’t sound like this is a big deal. Leaked information from his school file had already revealed that Trayvon had be caught with a plastic bag containing pot residue. The fact that a 17-year-old smoked pot is not exactly an earthshaking revelation, although I’m sure the defense will make much of it.

The autopsy also showed that he was shot from “intermediate range.” From Fox News:

Dr. Michael Baden, the former New York City medical examiner, said “intermediate” in such cases is defined as the muzzle of the gun being one to 18 inches away from the entry point when fired.

“If the muzzle is right against the skin, that’s a contact wound,” Baden said. Anything beyond 18 inches is considered “distant” range in coroner’s parlance, Baden said.

The only other injury to Trayvon’s body was a small cut on his “left ring finger below the knuckle, 1/8 to 1/4 inch long.

I plan to read as much of the evidence as I can, but for now there are several summaries available in the media. The Miami Herald reports some witness statements:

Conflicting witnesses described agonizing calls for help, and some thought they heard two shots.

The witness statements include one eyewitness who said he saw a man in a red shirt getting hit by someone else. When he returned for a second look, the man who was hitting the other was dead.

“I heard yelling out back in the grass area,” the unnamed witness said. “…I opened door and saw a guy on the ground getting hit by another man on top of him in a … position hitting a guy in a red sweatshirt or red top. I said I was calling the cops and ran upstairs then heard a gun shot. … The guy on top who was sitting the guy … layed out on the grass as he had been shot.”

Another witness saw a “broad man” on top hitting another. The evidence list shows Zimmerman wore a size 38. His shirt was red.

“First we heard like a howling sound. And then the second time we heard a more-clearly ‘help’ sound,” the witness said. “I know after seeing the TV of what’s happening — comparing their pictures — I think Zimmerman is definitely on top because of his size.”

According to The Orlando Sentinel, police said the “Encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin ‘avoidable,'”

Newly released evidence in the case against George Zimmerman shows that Sanford Police believed the encounter between Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin was “ultimately avoidable,” if Zimmerman had “remained in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement,” according to hundreds of pages of evidence in the case released this afternoon.

The Sentinel article says that Trayvon had “a scratch on one hand” in addition to the small cut on his left ring finger. The article contains a more complete description of Trayvon’s girl friend’s report on their conversations.

An unnamed girl, the one identified by the Martin family attorney as Trayvon’s girlfriend, told Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda that she and Trayvon talked on the phone daily and had known each other since Kindergarten.

The girl told the prosecutor that she and Trayvon talked on and off as he went to the store to buy a snack. She said Trayvon told her he took shelter from the rain under an overhang while walking back to his father’s girlfriend’s home.

Minutes later, she said, Trayvon told her a white man in a vehicle was watching him. Trayvon started walking, and the call cut off, she said. When she called back, “he said he’s walking, and he said this man is still following him.”

The girl said Trayvon started running, “and then, he said he lost him [Zimmerman],” she said, adding that the teen’s “voice kind of changed… I could tell he was scared.” The girl said she told Trayvon to keep running, but “he said he ain’t gonna run. He said he’s right by his father’s house.”

“And in a couple minutes, he said a man’s following him again, he’s behind him,” she said. “I say, ‘run.'”

She said Trayvon was breathing hard. She said Trayvon asked “Why are you following me for?” and a man’s voice said, “What are you doing around here?” Then, she heard a noise and the call cut off.

Police found several blood spots on George Zimmerman’s shirt, but the blood was all Zimmerman’s.

ABC News, which has seemingly become the George Zimmerman support network, concludes that all the evidence supports Zimmerman’s story. Based on ABC’s reporting, you have to wonder why Angela Corey even bothered to charge Zimmerman with a crime.

According to ABC, Trayvon Martin’s father told an investigator that the voice calling for help on a witness’s 911 tape was not his son. That will certainly be problematic for the prosecution, although the mother swears the voice was Trayvon’s.

A couple of other bits of news related to the case.

TPM reports that contributions to Zimmerman’s defense fund have slowed down.

Late Wednesday, Zimmerman’s defense team said he had only been able to raise about $15,000 since the new site went live on May 3. The biggest donation was $3,000, they said, while most ranged between $25 and $100.

While that still averages more than $1,000 a day, it’s a far cry from the rate Zimmerman was hauling in on his own.

The Smoking Gun has obtained a letter that George Zimmerman wrote to a supporter while he was in jail. Here’s the money quote:

Days before bonding out of a Florida jail, George Zimmerman wrote that he believed “this will all work out for me in the future,” adding, “I have given my burden to the Lord and he has blessed me with tremendous patience!”

Well, goody for him.


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!

Last night, George Zimmerman, the man who shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin and triggered nationwide outrage was booked on second degree murder charges and is now in Seminole County jail. He will appear before a judge this morning.

George Zimmerman arrived at the Seminole County Jail this evening, about two hours after officials announced that he will face a second-degree murder charge in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Special Prosecutor Angela Corey announced the second-degree murder charge at the State Attorney’s Office in Jacksonville tonight, more than six weeks after Trayvon and Zimmerman’s fatal encounter.

If convicted, Zimmerman would face up to life in prison on the first-degree felony charge. He arrived at the Seminole County jail about 8:30 p.m. tonight, greeted by a throng of reporters shouting questions.

George Zimmerman's booking photo

I’m not a doctor, but I’ve seen broken noses before. Zimmerman’s doesn’t look like the ones I’ve seen, but as I said, I’m not a doctor.

I just have a few more links related to this story. Trayvon Martin’s parents have behaved with dignity and grace during a time that for them can only have been nightmarish. Via Raw Story, yesterday, they reacted to the arrest and charging of the man who killed their son in an interview with the AP. When asked what they would do if they had an opportunity to talk with George Zimmerman.

“I would probably give him the opportunity to apologize,” said Sybrina Fulton, Travyon Martin’s mother. I would probably ask him if there was another way he could have helped settle the confrontation that he had with Trayvon, other than the way it ended, with Trayvon being shot.”

Tracy Martin, the boy’s father, said he would ask Zimmerman what his motive was.

“Why was he patrolling the neighborhood with a 9mm gun?” he said. “What was it about my son that made him suspicious? What made him decide to disobey the dispatcher, who is trained to handle 911 calls? Why does he feel his life is so altered and does he understand that he altered his own life by refusing to stay in his vehicle? Was it really worth it? Was it really worth taking an innocent child’s life?”

The right wing site the Daily Caller, which has had access to Zimmerman family members reported that George Zimmerman used the My Space handle “datniggytb.”

George Zimmerman, the Hispanic Floridian who killed black teenager Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, had a MySpace account whose username was “datniggytb,” The Daily Caller has learned.

According to a family member whose identity The Daily Caller has agreed not to reveal for safety reasons, the “datniggytb” name is not a racial slur, but a friendly nickname that referred to George himself.

“That was an old nickname his black friends gave him,” the Zimmerman family member said. “He didn’t have an issue with the profile name.”

The family member at first denied that George had a My Space account, and later came up with the “black friends” explanation. I hope someone in the Justice Department reads The Daily Caller.

In other news, the US Justice Department has filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Apple and three publishers for conspiring to fix the price of e-books in order to force Amazon to charge higher prices.

The announcement, made in Washington by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Sharis A. Pozen, the acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, capped a long investigation. The inquiry hinged on the question of whether publishers, at the urging of Steven P. Jobs, then Apple’s chief executive, agreed to adopt a new policy in 2010 that in essence coordinated the price of newly released e-books at the price offered in Apple’s iBookstore — typically between $12.99 and $14.99.

At the time, Apple with its blockbuster iPad was trying to challenge Amazon’s hold on the e-book market. Amazon, the online retail giant, had become a kind of Walmart for the e-book business by lowering the price of most new and best-selling e-books to $9.99 — a price meant to stimulate sales of its own e-reading device, the Kindle.

Publishers, looking for leverage against Amazon, saw Apple as their white knight. The Justice Department complaint, using language that could have been inspired by a best-selling white-collar crime novel, describes how executives from the publishing companies met to discuss business matters “in private rooms for dinner in upscale Manhattan restaurants,” tried to hide their communications by issuing instructions to “double-delete” e-mails, all the time complaining of Amazon’s increasing influence over the e-book market.

Ultimately, the Justice Department charges, the publishers and Apple conspired to limit e-book price competition, increasing Amazon’s e-book retail prices and causing “consumers to pay tens of millions of dollars more for e-books than they otherwise would have paid.”

Three publishers have already settled with the Justice Department. As a Kindle owner, I’ve long hoped this would happen. Steve Jobs made me pay more for books, and I strongly resent it.

Yesterday, while promoting “the Buffet rule,” President Obama used the sainted Ronald Reagan as a stick to beat Republicans with. From Raw Story:

He described for the audience the actions of one of his predecessors in the Oval Office, a president who “gave a speech where he talked about a letter he had received from a wealthy executive who paid lower tax rates than his secretary, and wanted to come to Washington and tell Congress why that was wrong. So this president gave another speech where he said it was ‘crazy’—that’s a quote—that certain tax loopholes make it possible for multimillionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary.”

“That wild-eyed, socialist, tax-hiking class warrior,” he said, “was Ronald Reagan.”

Mitt Romney is still struggling to convince women that He and other Republicans aren’t waging war on them. He’s trying to do this by accusing the Obama administration of a war on women, but he can’t articulate how that war works, according to Talking Points Memo.

The campaign faced a number of questions in [a] press call as to just how Obama’s supposed “War on Women” worked, none of which produced a direct answer. Asked by TPM on the call to explain how another president taking office in January 2009 might have affected the gender gap in job growth, Romney adviser Lanhee Chen only said that the pattern was unusual compared with other recessions and that he believed a president like Romney would have gotten different results….

Chen was pressed again by another reporter to explain why women were disproportionately affected and what “difference in policy” would have changed the equation.

“The president’s policies in general, whether it’s Obamacare or Dodd-Frank or any of the policies they have pursued have really hurt both men and women,” he said. “This president has demonstrated that he’s doing everything in his power to scare away job creators and that’s had a disproportionate impact on women. That’s just a statistical fact.”

Asked a third time to explain the origins of this gender divide and how Romney would tackle the ratio of job losses specifically, Chen again said “it is a fact” that women have suffered disproportionately but offered no specific answer.

“[Romney] would undo the damage that President Obama has done,” he said. “He would take the economy in a very different direction and, as a result of that, produce very substantial job gains and growth for men and women.”

Al-righty-then.

Dakinikat covered that story really well yesterday, so if you haven’t read her post yet, be sure to check it out.

RNC chairman Reince Priebus announced yesterday that he isn’t backing down on his comparison of the notion of a Republican war on women to a war on caterpillars. Politico:

Reince Priebus said Wednesday he has no intention of taking back his “war on caterpillars” comment that landed him at the center of criticism last week — in fact, the chairman of the Republican National Committee vowed he’d gladly “double down” on the remark.

“I’m not going to walk back — I’ll double down on it,” Priebus said on MSNBC when asked whether he wanted to walk back or clarify his choice of words. “This war of women is a fiction that the Democrats have created, and the real war on women is the war that this president has put forward on the American people by not following through on his promises, by having women disproportionately affected by the Obama economy.”

He continued, “Go read Anita Dunn’s book if you want to go read about a war on women in the workplace — go read that book and you’ll see what the White House’s record is on women.”

Yes, Obama treated women working in the White House like shit. I read Confidence Men. So because Obama is a dick, Priebus wants us to vote for the party of personhood bills, vaginal probes, and birth control bans? A plague on both their houses.

Remember “killer bees?” A beekeeper in East Tennessee was stung 30 times by “partially Africanized bees” AKA “killer bees.”

Africanized bee swarm

A swarm of as many as 100,000 bees attacked a Tennessee beekeeper last month, and genetic testing of the angry critters has now revealed that they were partially Africanized bees. This is the first time that Africanized bees have been found in Tennessee.

Africanized bees, often referred to as “killer bees,” are a hybrid cross between the bee species normally found in America and African honey bees (Apis mellifera scutellata), which were originally introduced to the Americas as a productive source of honey. But the African honey bees take over hives wherever they spread, killing the hives’ original queens and hybridizing with resident populations. The hybridized Africanized bees are significantly more aggressive than other bees and more likely to attack in massive swarms when defending their nests. Their stings are no worse than those of other bees, but the sheer number of them can create more life-threatening situations, especially in anyone who is allergic to bee stings.

According to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, genetic tests on the recent swarm found that the bees were less than 17 percent Africanized, which is why they are considered “partially Africanized.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture considers truly Africanized bees to have 50 percent African genetics.

Eeeeeek!

In related news, Africanized bees are suspected in a recent Texas swarm that attacked three people and a horse. The horse, which was observed almost completely covered in bees, later died from allergic reactions to the stings.

Finally, Connie from Orlando (AKA ecocatwoman) sent me a link to an interview that Terry Gross conducted yesterday with singer/songwriter Carole King. I grew up listening to Goffin-King songs, so I plan to listen to it ASAP. The occasion for the interview was her memoir A Natural Woman.

King, a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, has written for everyone from Little Eva to Aretha Franklin to James Taylor. Her 1971 solo album Tapestry spent 15 weeks at the top of the charts, and stayed on the charts for more than six years.

But King was just 15 when she and three classmates formed a vocal quartet called the Co-Sines at James Madison High School. At night, she attended disc jockey Alan Freed’s concerts — a veritable “who’s who” of rock ‘n’ roll performers — and later set up a meeting with Freed, an internationally known rock promoter she thought could help her break into the songwriting business. Freed told her to look up the names of record companies in the phone book.

She recounts the story in her new memoir, A Natural Woman, explaining that she called Atlantic Records and arranged a meeting. Soon after, she wrote her first big hit — the Shirelles number, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” — with Gerry Goffin, who would later become her husband.

So in honor of the woman who helped to create the soundtrack to my pre-teen and teenage years:

Now what’s on your reading and listening list today?


Breaking: George Zimmerman to be Charged in Trayvon Martin Shooting

Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey

Florida Special Prosecutor Angela Corey will hold a press conference at 6PM today to announce state charges against George Zimmerman, who admitted to shooting Miami high school student Trayvon Martin on the evening of February 26 as he returned to the home of his father’s fiancee in a gated community in Sanford, Florida. Sanford Police released Zimmerman the same night, apparently believing his claim that he killed Martin in self-defenst

Multiple news sources are saying there will be charges filed against Zimmerman, but not what crime he will be charged with. Corey had told reporters on Tuesday night that she would give them three hours notice before she announced new details in the Trayvon Martin case.

ABC News:

The prosecutor’s ruling is certain to provoke controversy in Sanford, Fla., where shooting took place and across the country.

Zimmerman, 28, a white Hispanic neighborhood watch captain, shot and killed Martin, who was 17 and black, on Feb. 26 after following the teenager for several minutes.

The special prosecutor’s ruling came one day after Zimmerman’s legal team quit because they had lost contact with him, and suggested that the pressure of the case had “pushed him over the edge.”

His lawyers said that Zimmerman was no longer in Florida and ABC News has learned that prosecutors do not know his exact location.

I’m hoping that Corey knows where Zimmerman is. His former attorneys had said earlier that he would willingly turn himself in if a decision were made to charge him. Will he follow through on the promise now that he has reportedly gone rogue?

State tuned. I’ll update this post with any new information that I can find.


George Zimmerman Goes Rogue

UPDATE: Angela Corey has announced that she will hold a press conference in Jacksonville within the next 72 hours. She said she will give the press a 3 hour heads-up before she makes her announcement.

George Zimmerman’s attorneys Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig, announced at a press conference this afternoon that they have withdrawn from the representing Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin homicide.

The attorneys decided to resign after they “lost contact” with Zimmerman–he has refused to return their calls since Sunday. They also learned over the weekend that Zimmerman had ignored their advice about a website they set up for him and had set up a Paypal account different than the one they had agreed on, which Zimmerman’s father would control.

The last straw was when Sonner and Uhrig learned that George Zimmerman had contacted special prosecutor Angela Corey’s office and asked to speak to her directly. She refused to speak to him without counsel. Zimmerman then called back and told Corey’s office that he had no attorneys, just “advisers.”

Zimmerman also contacted Sean Hannity, who took the call personally. Hannity confirmed that he did talk to Zimmerman off the record and that he would discuss it on his Fox News program tonight. Sonner and Uhrig have no idea what their former client said to Hannity.

Most troubling of all, Zimmerman has “left the state, but not the country.” So where is he? It’s not clear if even Zimmerman’s father knows where is now. Keep in mind that these two attorneys have never known where Zimmerman was hiding, and have never actually met him. They have only talked to him by telephone.

According to MSNBC, the attorneys said

“We have a pretty good idea where he (Zimmerman) is,” Uhrig said, but added that Zimmerman is not answering the phone. The attorneys said they thought Zimmerman was still in the United States, but not likely in Florida….

The attorneys also expressed concern about Zimmerman’s “emotional and physical safety” and said he may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. They also have reservations about a web site Zimmerman set up to solicit money for help in his defense.

“Him setting up his own website is fine,” Sonner said. “I wish he would have told me.” Sonner, the first attorney Zimmerman contacted, said he had been working on the case for free.

From Think Progress:

At various times during the press conference, both attorneys said they did not know where Zimmerman is currently.

Uhrig told the press that, if people are trying to find Zimmerman, they should “stop looking in Florida” and “look much farther way.” This directly contradicts what Craig Sonner said on March 23 when he assured a reporter from WFTV that “he’s absolutely in the state, he’s local.”

Benjamin Crump, one of the attorneys for Travon Martin’s parents, gave a statement to Time Magazine:

Benjamin Crump, attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family expressed surprise over the announcement and issued a statement to TIME.

Trayvon’s family was always concerned that Zimmerman doesn’t try to skirt his legal responsibilities and become a flight risk. We always wanted this before a judge and a jury. We hope that [authorities] will take this under consideration that this a flight risk. If they go to press charges, is he really going to face them?

Regarding the website, therealgeorgezimmerman.com, Crump says:

It’s America, and he has a right to do what he wants to do. The family was a little taken aback that George said he had this life-changing occurrence [and needs money]. Well Trayvon Martin had a life-ending occurrence; his family had to do all this stuff [to get someone] who killed their child to face a judge and a jury. The fact that he has this website and he’s out to do this website, when you see the balance, Trayvon is dead. If it were the reverse, Trayvon would have been arrested by day one.

Let’s hope that the special prosecutor’s office has caller ID or that the FBI has some way of finding out where Zimmerman has gone.


Monday Evening News Update

Good Evening!

I have some great Sky Dancing news! Minkoff Minx will be back posting again soon! She plans to do the Wednesday Morning Reads and will gradually work her way back to her previous schedule. I’m so happy you’re on the mend, Minx!

In addition, we have a new front pager, Ecocatwoman (AKA Connie from Orlando). If you haven’t read her first two posts yet, please check them out: Language Matters and Goodby Flipper?

It’s another slow news day in politics, but I’ve gathered a potpourri of links for you anyway.

First, I want to call your attention to an important post by Joseph Cannon at Cannonfire: Why is Progressive Insurance LYING about their spy devices?

You know about Progressive Insurance. That’s the company whose TV ads feature a lovely lady wearing a white uniform and blindingly red lipstick. The folks at Progressive are pushing a device called Snapshot which plugs into your car’s steering column and sends the company information about your driving habits. If you practice good habits, you get a substantial discount.

The question is: How much info are you sending to them? Are they tracking your location via GPS? Are they keeping track of how fast you go?

Progressive insists that they don’t collect location and speed info. In the video embedded above, you’ll see a Progressive commercial in which the lady with the stoplight lips assures you that the company doesn’t want to know where you go or how fast you get there. All they want to know is the amount of driving you do, how hard you hit the brakes, and what time of day you travel.

Please go read the whole thing. We truly have no privacy left. Along similar lines, apparently we can look forward to being spied on through our televisions next, according to The Daily Mail: Is your TV watching you? Samsung’s latest sets with built-in cameras spark concerns

Samsung’s latest breed of plasmas and HDTVs may allow hackers, or even the company itself, to see and hear you and your family, and collect extremely personal data.

The new models, which are closer than ever to personal computers, offer high-tech features that have previously been unavailable, including a built-in HD camera, microphone set and face and speech recognition software.

This software allows Samsung to recognise who is viewing the TV and personalises each person’s experience accordingly. The TV also listens and responds to specific voice commands.

This is Twilight Zone stuff!

Gary Merson, who runs website HD guru, said that because there is no way of disconnecting the camera and microphone, users cannot be 100 per cent sure that Samsung is not collecting data and passing it on to third parties.

Merson said: ‘What concerns us is the integration of both an active camera and microphone. A Samsung representative tells us you can deactivate the voice feature; however this is done via software, not a hard switch like the one you use to turn a room light on or off.

‘And unlike other TVs, which have cameras and microphones as add-on accessories connected by a single, easily removable USB cable, you can’t just unplug these sensors.

I’m never buying another TV as long as I live! I barely watch the thing anyway.

This morning Angela Corey, the special prosecutor (who began investigating the Trayvon Martin shooting after the states attorney in charge of Sanford, FL, Norman Wolfinger, had to recuse himself) announced that she will not be using a Grand Jury to determine whether to indict George Zimmerman or let him go free. The decision, and the consequences will be strictly on Corey. She didn’t indicate how much longer her investigation will take, so the only thing we know for sure right now is that Zimmerman won’t be charged with a capital offense. In Florida, that would require a Grand Jury.

According to The Miami Herald:

Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Trayvon’s parents, issued a statement after Corey’s decision Monday.
“We are not surprised by this announcement and, in fact, are hopeful that a decision will be reached very soon to arrest George Zimmerman and give Trayvon Martin’s family the simple justice they have been seeking all along,” Crump said.
Trayvon, 17, was shot and killed by Zimmerman on Feb. 26 while walking through a Sanford neighborhood where he was visiting. Sanford police opted not to arrest Zimmerman, who claimed self-defense. After public outcry, Gov. Rick Scott assigned Corey, the state attorney for Duval, Nassau and Clay counties, to take over the case on March 22.

Assuming Corey decides to charge Zimmerman, it may not be as easy for him to get off with a “stand your ground” defense as some commentators have claimed, according to a legal analysis published by Reuters.

Interviews with nearly a dozen veteran defense lawyers who have experience litigating Stand Your Ground cases suggest winning immunity could be quite difficult.

“Judges do not readily grant these (immunity) motions because they know they can pass it on to the jury,” said Carey Haughwout, the public defender for Palm Beach County….

The first hurdle will be a special evidentiary hearing in front of a judge, where Zimmerman will have the opportunity to argue that he deserves immunity. But to convince the judge, Zimmerman will have to present a “preponderance of evidence” that he acted in self defense, which under the law means he has to show he had “reasonable belief” that such force was necessary. That is a high bar, and difficult to prove, criminal defense attorneys said.

In cases where the facts are in dispute — and even if they don’t seem to be — the judge is likely to deny the Stand Your Ground immunity motion, said Ralph Behr, a Florida criminal defense attorney who has filed eight motions for immunity, all of which have been denied. More typically, a judge will choose to have the case go to trial, where the defendant must take his or her chance with a jury, just like other criminal defendants, he said.

I think that is all Trayvon’s family and their supporters want–a chance to see Zimmerman arrested and tried before a jury. Of course they also have the option of a civil suit, and that could mean that the homeowners’ association that allowed Zimmerman to run their neighborhood watch without doing a background check or requiring that he get training could be on the hook for millions of dollars.

I certainly hope that Angela Corey will factor into her decision the troubling racist history of the city of Sanford as well as the history of the Sanford Police Department’s failure to carefully investigate crimes against young black men.

Here’s a little Sanford history from WXEL public television:

The year before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier by becoming the first African American to play major league baseball, he fled the racist threats of townspeople in Sanford, Florida, where Trayvon Martin was shot 66 years later.

It was 1946 and Robinson arrived in this picturesque town in central Florida for spring training with a Brooklyn Dodgers farm team. He didn’t stay long.

Robinson was forced to leave Sanford twice, according to Chris Lamb, a professor at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, who wrote a graphic account of Robinson’s brush with 100 angry locals in a 2004 book.

According to the article, there was still plenty of “racial tension” in Sanford even before the shooting of Trayvon Martin, and the failure of local police to arrest Zimmerman has brought the simmering resentment to the surface.

Last month, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) held two town hall meetings in Sanford where hundreds of black residents turned out to voice their concern over police conduct….

NAACP officials compiled details at those meetings of at least six incidents involving alleged police misconduct that they plan to turn over to the Justice Department for possible investigation, an NAACP spokesman said.

HuffPo has a very good article on the racist bumbling Sanford Police Department. Check out this one example from a lengthy piece:

On the night of June 15, 2010, Ikeem Ruffin, 17, was shot and killed by a masked man during a robbery in an apartment complex in north Sanford. Ruffin had just left work and died wearing his McDonald’s uniform.

Police found 18-year-old Tarance Terrell Moore standing by the victim and calling for an ambulance, but the teen was already dead. The gun used in the killing was never recovered.

The next day, police charged Moore with robbery and murder in Ruffin’s death. He was denied bail and locked in Seminole County Jail awaiting trial.

More than a year later, Seminole County prosecutors dropped the murder charge, which carried a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole, in exchange for a guilty plea to a charge of robbery with a firearm. Moore was sentenced to nine years in prison….

“He was there, but he wasn’t my son’s killer,” Ruffin said of Moore. “They just wanted to pin it on him and forget about the killer.”

So the kid shoots someone and then stands there calling for an ambulance? How much sense does that make. But police never investigated further after arresting Moore.

I just have a couple more items for you. Did you hear about Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley calling President Obama “stupid” on Twitter?

David Axelrod responded: “Heads up, Sen. Grassley. I think a 6-year-old hijacked your account and is sending out foolish Tweets just to embarrass you!” But I like Charlie Pierce’s response better:

This is…funny because, you see, if there’s one thing that Chuck Grassley is noted for, it is that he is the most spectacular box of rocks, the most bulging bag of hammers, in the history of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. If brains were atom bombs, he couldn’t blow his nose. If his IQ was one point lower, they’d have to water him. As the great Dan Jenkins once put it in another context, if the man had a brain, he’d be out in the yard playing with it.

Don’t take it from me. Ask anyone. “Stupid” is not a word for this fella to be tossing around idly, even if he did spell it out fully.

Finally, a very scary situation for some British youngsters that turned out to have a happy ending: Toddler on Easter egg hunt stumbles on live GRENADE… which has to be blown up by bomb squad.

Police called in the bomb squad yesterday after a three-year-old boy was spotted standing on a live hand grenade during an Easter egg hunt.

The grenade, believed to be a relic from the Second World War, was found in a field next to a busy road.

Yikes!

The egg-shaped hand grenade was spotted by father-of-three Stuart Moffatt, 34, at the event organised by a pre-school group.

Mr Moffatt, an engineering consultant, was there with his wife Victoria, 35, and their children Nelly, five, Isla, two, and 11-month-old Freddie.

He said: ‘We were beginning to count up the eggs at the end of the hunt and I saw a boy of three standing on an object.

‘It was brown and about 4 inches high. It looked like an Easter egg, but it was a hand grenade.

‘I was shocked. The boy who was standing on it thought it was a rock.’

Thank goodness all the kids are okay!

Sooooo….what stories have you been following today?


Friday Night Open Thread: Trayvon Martin Case Updates

Good Evening! The big news today is that Minkoff Minx is back home and resting after her surgery. She even managed to send off an e-mail to the rest of the administrators, so she might even be reading this–if so, hi there, Minx!

I have several updates on the Trayvon Martin case. The city of Sanford is preparing for the aftermath of the special prosecutor Angela Corey’s decision on whether or not she will order the arrest of George Zimmerman.

Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett said on Thursday that the city’s emergency management team has met regularly with the U.S Department of Justice to construct a plan. Officials said extra police officers and fire department officials are on standby. Neighboring agencies have also been asked to assist, if needed.

“You always prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Triplett said. “We’re planning for the ‘what-if’ case scenario, and that would be to make sure that all of our citizens get the protection they pay their taxes for.”

The grand jury ordered by Governor Rick Scott is scheduled for next Tuesday, April 10, so Corey is expected to decide soon.

If she finds probable cause, Corey could direct-file the charges anytime or present evidence to a Seminole County grand jury, which was tentatively scheduled to meet on Tuesday. The grand jury could indict, ask to hear more evidence, or decline to indict.

Since the Stand Your Ground Law has been invoked by Zimmerman, even if charges are filed, a judge could review the case and grant immunity, thus dismissing the charges.

Corey previously stated that she may not need the grand jury. I’ll be honest: I just have a gut feeling that she will decline to charge Zimmerman. I hope I’m wrong, but Corey is known for charging juvenile offenders very harshly and trying them as adults. Last year, she charged a 12-year-old boy with first degree murder and ordered him tried as an adult in the death of his two-year-old brother. HuffPo reports that Corey

is known for her tough tactics aimed at locking up criminals for long sentences and making it difficult to negotiate light plea bargains.

Furthermore, 57-year-old Angela Corey has handled hundreds of homicide cases involving the justifiable use of deadly force – experience that could prove invaluable.

Angela Corey

On the other hand, they also report that Corey is exceedingly close to the Sheriff’s office and police. One colleague told HuffPo that she is “too close” to them.

Hal Uhrig

George Zimmerman has a new attorney who is a former police officer, now a criminal defense attorney, who has experience with the media. But that experience did not serve him well today when he suggested in a TV interview that Zimmerman may have suffered from “shaken baby syndrome” after Trayvon Martin supposedly bashed his head on the sidewalk. Except that the new attorney is now claiming his client’s head was bashed into the “ground.” (Just a side note: neither of Zimmerman’s attorneys has actually met him in person yet. They’ve only talked with him on the phone.)

Hal Uhrig, a lawyer and former Gainesville, Florida, police officer who recently joined Zimmerman’s defense team, cited in a TV interview the brain damage that can seriously injure or kill an infant.

His point, which has been made before, was that Zimmerman contends he shot Martin in self defense and feared for his life after the 17-year-old attacked him and began pounding his head into the concrete pavement of a gated community on a rainy evening in Sanford on February 26.

But Uhrig’s choice of words, and use of a recognized sign of child abuse to defend a 28-year-old man who killed a kid, seemed likely to raise more than just a few eyebrows.

“We’re familiar with the Shaken Baby Syndrome,” said Uhrig on the CBS This Morning program. “You shake a baby, the brain shakes around inside the skull. You can die when someone’s pounding your head into the ground.”

Shaken baby syndrome can occur in very young infants because their skulls are still soft, they aren’t yet in control of their neck and limbs, and their heads are very large in proportion to their bodies. Adults can obviously suffer serious head trauma leading to internal bleeding and death, but if EMT’s believed that had happened to Zimmerman they would have insisted he be transported to a hospital.

One of Uhrig’s first actions after taking the job was to get rid of Zimmerman’s “friend” Joe Oliver (now being called a “media adviser”), who made innumerable embarrassing media appearances in which presented a number of inconsistent explanations of what supposedly happened the night of the shooting.

A group of about 40 Florida college students have organized a 3-day march from Daytona Beach to Sanford (41 miles), Florida to demand racial equality in honor of Trayvon Martin. The march is “modeled after the historic 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.”

They call themselves the Dream Defenders. The march began earlier today.

The campaign began at Daisy Stocking Park and will conclude on April 9 at Sanford City Hall. During the march, students will be stopping every two hours and receiving training. They will also work on developing a strategy to launch a larger youth movement to address racial inequalities. Their first stop is the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center for a prayer vigil and speakout. You can track the group as they march on their website.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and police officers in Daytona Beach, DeLand and Orange City are coordinating and will be helping with traffic control to make sure the students are safe while crossing busy highways.

Vanessa Baden, a 2007 alumna of Florida State, flew in from Los Angeles to attend the march on behalf of Dream Defenders. She said the purpose of the march is to call for the arrest of George Zimmerman and the investigation of the process of law enforcement following the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

“What we’re not trying to do is try Zimmerman in the court of public opinion. We get that there’s a process in this,” Baden said. “We’ll be patient with the process if they allow the process to begin.”

The group expects other college students to join the march along the way. Good for them. I know darn well if Martin Luther King were still alive, he would be there too.

Unfortunately, a group of “armed neo-Nazis” is already in Sanford, supposedly to help in riot control after Angela Corey makes her decision.

Neo-Nazis are currently conducting heavily armed patrols in and around Sanford, Florida and are “prepared” for violence in the case of a race riot. The patrols are to protect “white citizens in the area who are concerned for their safety” in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting last month, says Commander Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement. “We are not advocating any type of violence or attacks on anybody, but we are prepared for it,” he says. “We are not the type of white people who are going to be walked all over.”

Because nothing diffuses racial tension like gun-toting racial separatists patrolling an already on-edge community.

Lots of audio “experts” are still analyzing Zimmerman’s initial 911 tape to see if he used word “coons” in a whispered utterance. CNN’s expert claims Zimmerman said “fucking cold.” Another expert says it was “fucking punks.”

In addition, I found this slowed down tape of the 911 call by a witness. It was posted by a self-described “audio person.” You can hear screams for help in the background, then a gunshot, and another sound after the shot. It sounded like a scream after the gunshot to me.

NBC has fired a producer who edited the Zimmerman 911 tape and played the edited version on the Today Show as if it were the original.

The person was fired on Thursday, according to two people with direct knowledge of the disciplinary action who declined to be identified discussing internal company matters. They also declined to name the fired producer. A spokeswoman for NBC News declined to comment.

The action came in the wake of an internal investigation by NBC News into the production of the segment, which strung together audio clips in such a way that made George Zimmerman’s shooting of Mr. Martin sound racially motivated. Ever since the Feb. 26 shooting, there has been a continuing debate about whether race was a factor in the incident.

The segment in question was shown on the “Today” show on March 27. It included audio of Mr. Zimmerman saying, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”

But Mr. Zimmerman’s comments had been taken grossly out of context by NBC. On the phone with a 911 dispatcher, he actually said of Mr. Martin, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.” Then the dispatcher asked, “O.K., and this guy — is he white, black or Hispanic?” Only then did Mr. Zimmerman say, “He looks black.”

Obviously, the editing was misleading, but I actually think the real 911 tape sounds worse and more racially biased. JMNSHO.

Family and friends of George Zimmerman are starting a website to raise funds for his defense and his living expenses. The reporter, Frances Robles says that Zimmerman has suffered “weeks of withering media coverage lambasting him and his supporters…” I’d say the lambasting of Trayvon Martin has been even more “withering,” but of course he no longer has “living expenses,” because George Zimmerman shot and killed him. But what do I know? Poor George….

Robles also notes that Zimmerman has attract some troubling supporters

such as white supremacists and the Rev. Terry Jones, the Gainesville pastor who announced last year plans to burn the Quran and now plans to hold a rally for Zimmerman. Gun ownership advocacy groups have also announced intentions to contribute $10,000 towards Zimmerman’s defense.

But one of Martin’s attorneys points out that

“It’s a PR strategy, a propaganda campaign,” said Natalie Jackson, an attorney for Trayvon’s parents. “His friends and family are doing him a big disservice by race-baiting. They are trying to divide a jury. Frank Taaffe, Joe Oliver, everybody gets up there and says, ‘George Zimmerman is not a racist.’ That’s not what we’re talking about.

“We’re talking about whether he was justified in taking Trayvon Martin’s life.”

I agree with Jackson that the racism issue is a red herring. It’s up to the FBI to decide whether this was a hate crime or not. But Zimmerman needs to be arrested and charged. Then he can plead his case for self-defense to a judge and jury instead of the media.

Feel free to discuss any topic on this thread. I decided to focus on the Martin case because there was so much news coming out today on it, and it has otherwise been a pretty slow news day because of the upcoming christian holiday.