Martin’s Wound Backs Shooter’s Story, Pathologist Says
By Christopher Boyd - Jul 10, 2013 12:01 AM ET
Trayvon Martin was probably on top of George Zimmerman and leaning forward when Zimmerman, a Florida Neighborhood Watch volunteer accused of second-degree murder, shot him through the heart, a forensic pathologist said.
Vincent Di Maio, a retired Texas medical examiner testifying for the defense, told jurors that material evidence from the shooting was consistent with what Zimmerman told Sanford, Florida, police had happened. Zimmerman, 29, contends he killed Martin in self-defense after he was punched and knocked to the ground and his head was pounded on the pavement.
The bullet tore into the 17-year-old’s chest and passed through his heart and right lung, Di Maio said yesterday in state court in Sanford. He estimated that Martin’s hooded sweatshirt was two to four inches from the barrel of Zimmerman’s 9 mm pistol when the shot was fired.
“The medical evidence, the gunshot wound, was consistent with his statement,” Di Maio said during 3 1/2 hours of testimony. “It’s consistent with someone leaning over.”
There were no eyewitnesses to the shooting itself.
Di Maio was among the final witnesses called by the defense, which began presenting its case on July 5. Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, told Seminole County Circuit Judge Debra Nelson that he plans to finish his defense today after calling more expert witnesses.
O’Mara hasn’t said whether Zimmerman will testify.
Zimmerman, active in the crime watch group at his Sanford townhouse complex, said in police statements that he and Martin fought on a dimly lit sidewalk in the development on the rainy evening of Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman said Martin straddled him and slammed his head against the sidewalk before he drew his weapon and fired a single shot.
Di Maio also testified that cuts and abrasions on Zimmerman’s head were consistent with his statement that Martin banged his head on the concrete walkway. A photo of Zimmerman’s nose taken just after police arrived appeared to corroborate his claim that Martin punched him in the face, he said.
Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda asked Di Maio on cross examination whether Zimmerman’s head wounds might have been caused by a tree branch. Photos of the scene show small trees near the sidewalk.
Di Maio said it was possible, although he didn’t see any branches in the photos.
De la Rionda asked Di Maio how much he was paid in the case. Di Maio replied $2,400 at $400 an hour. The analysis was easy, he said.
“This is not a complicated case, forensically,” Di Maio said.
The killing of an unarmed black teenager by a man whose father is white and mother Hispanic prompted rallies and protests across the U.S. and elicited a comment from President Barack Obama that if he had a son, that child would have looked like Martin.
Officials initially declined to arrest Zimmerman, saying it appeared he had acted within the bounds of the state’s Stand Your Ground law. The statute allows individuals who feel threatened in a public place to “meet force with force.”
Zimmerman faces a possible sentence of life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.
The case is State of Florida v. Zimmerman, 1712FO4573, Florida Circuit Court, 18th Judicial Circuit, Seminole County (Sanford).
To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Boyd in state court in Sanford, Florida
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