Evidence Sheds Light On Trayvon Martin Shooting

May 18, 2012
Originally published on May 18, 2012 4:49 pm



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Americans now have a little more information on which to base their debate about Trayvon Martin. The teenager's killing in Florida - where he was shot by a man named George Zimmerman - prompted an intense and politically charged national discussion about violence, about gun laws and about race.

What we haven't had was a fuller record of the evidence. And now prosecutors have released documents, audio and photos, as well as video from their investigation.

NPR's Greg Allen reports from Miami.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: The material includes Trayvon Martin's toxicology report done at the time of his autopsy. It shows that at the time of his fight with Zimmerman, he had marijuana in his system.

GREENE: There's also a report from Sanford police investigator Christopher Serino dated March 13th asking prosecutors to charge George Zimmerman with negligent homicide. In his report, Serino writes: All of Zimmerman's past suspicious persons calls identified black males as the subjects. The encounter between Zimmerman and Martin could have been avoided, Serino writes, quote, "if Zimmerman had remained in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement." It wasn't until nearly a month later, however, that Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder.

ALLEN: There's other material here that would seem to bolster Zimmerman's defense. Here's an interview taken by investigators the night of the shooting from a witness who saw much of the altercation. His name, and the names of all the witnesses, were redacted by the court.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There was a black man with a black hoodie on top of either a white guy - or now that I've found out that he was a Hispanic guy - with a red sweatshirt on, the ground yelling out help.

ALLEN: This witness said he didn't see how the fight started, but says the person on top - who from his description, appears to be Trayvon Martin - was raining punches on Zimmerman.

Investigator Serino also says that the person heard calling for help in 911 calls was George Zimmerman. Two days after the shooting, Serino says he played the 911 call for Tracy Martin, Trayvon's father. When he asked him if that was his son's voice, Serino said Martin, quote "clearly emotionally impacted by the recording, quietly responded no." Later, both Tracy Martin and Trayvon's mother Sybrina Fulton said the voice on the 911 tape calling for help was their son.

Also in the discovery material, photos and an interview with a paramedic that shows Zimmerman's nose was broken, and he had two-inch long lacerations on the back of his head.

One of the most important witnesses may be one who was not in Sanford that day. Prosecutor Bernie de La Rionda interviewed Trayvon Martin's girlfriend, who says she was talking to him on and off throughout the day until minutes before his death. The girlfriend, who's not identified in the court material, says Trayvon put his hoodie up when he was returning from the 7-11 with Skittles and an iced tea because it was raining. At first, she says, the 17-year-old told her he saw George Zimmerman watching him from his car. She told Trayvon to run to his father's house. When he ran, she says Zimmerman pursued him on foot. Eventually, she says, Trayvon stopped running and confronted Zimmerman.

This is prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda.


BERNIE DE LA RIONDA: And what do you hear Trayvon saying?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Why are you following me for?

RIONDA: Why are you following me for?


RIONDA: And then what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: He - the man, like an old man...


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: ...saying, what are you doing around here?

ALLEN: The girlfriend says she could tell Trayvon was scared. She was shouting into the phone: Trayvon, what's going on?


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I'm calling him. He didn't answer.

RIONDA: What? No answer from Trayvon.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yeah. Just hearing, I hear this sound like, bump. You could hear that Trayvon, that somebody bumped Trayvon, because I could hear the grass.

RIONDA: OK, so you could hear there was something going on...


RIONDA: ...like, something hitting something?


ALLEN: Shortly after that, the phone went dead. The next hearing in the case is not until August. In the meantime, George Zimmerman is out on bail, awaiting trial on second-degree murder charges.

Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.