George Zimmerman bloodied and bruised, files show
Gunman who killed Trayvon Martin suffered a broken nose from a fight
Trayvon Martin was shot through the heart at close range. George Zimmerman had a broken nose, bruises and bloody cuts on the back of his head.
The lead investigator in the case wanted to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter in the weeks after the shooting but was overruled.
These are among the details revealed in nearly 200 pages of documents, photos and audio recordings that were released Thursday in a case that has riveted the nation. Yet it's still unclear what exactly happened and whether it was racially motivated.
The evidence supports Zimmerman's contention that he was being beat up when he fired the fatal shot. At the same time, it bolsters the argument of Martin's parents that Zimmerman was profiling Martin and that the whole confrontation could have been avoided if not for Zimmerman's actions.
Many of the pertinent questions remain unclear: What was in Zimmerman's mind when he began to follow Martin in the gated community where he lived? How did the confrontation between the two begin? Whose screams for help were captured on 911 calls? And why did Zimmerman feel that deadly force was warranted?
Another opportunity for answers isn't likely to come until a hearing later this year in which Zimmerman is expected to claim the shooting was justified under Florida's "stand your ground" law. Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, didn't return a phone call seeking comment Thursday.
Bloody nose, laceration to head
The evidence supporting Zimmerman's defence includes a photo showing the neighbourhood watch volunteer with a bloody nose on the night of the fight. A paramedic report says Zimmerman had a 2.5-centimetre-long laceration on his head and forehead abrasion.
"Bleeding tenderness to his nose, and a small laceration to the back of his head. All injuries have minor bleeding," paramedic Michael Brandy wrote about Zimmerman's injuries in the report.
Whether Zimmerman was injured in the Feb. 26 altercation with Martin has been a key question. The 28-year-old has claimed self-defence and said he only fired because the unarmed teenager attacked him.
Zimmerman was not arrested for weeks because he invoked Florida's "stand your ground" law, which does not require a person to retreat in the face of a serious threat. He was released on bail and is in hiding while he awaits trial on a second-degree murder charge. He has pleaded not guilty.
Other evidence supports the contention of Martin's parents that Zimmerman was the aggressor.
The investigator who called for Zimmerman's arrest, Christopher Serino, told prosecutors that the fight could have been avoided if Zimmerman had remained in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement. He said Zimmerman, after leaving his vehicle, could have identified himself to Martin as a concerned citizen and talked to him instead of confronting him.
'It was completely avoidable'
The report was written on March 13, nearly a month before Zimmerman's eventual arrest.
He said there is no evidence Martin was involved in any criminal activity as he walked from a convenience store to the home of his father's fiancée in the same gated community where Zimmerman lived.
The lawyer for Martin's parents seized on the investigator's recommendation.
"The police concluded that none of this would have happened if George Zimmerman hadn't gotten out of his car," said attorney Ben Crump. "If George Zimmerman hadn't gotten out of his car, they say it was completely avoidable. That is the headline."
The release of evidence did little to clear up whose voice is screaming for help in the background of several 911 calls made during the fight.
Since first hearing the calls in early March, Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, has been unequivocal in saying that it was her son's voice on the tapes.
But Serino wrote in a report that he played a 911 call for Martin's father, Tracy, in which the screams are heard multiple times.
"I asked Mr. Martin if the voice calling for help was that of his son," the officer wrote. "Mr. Martin, clearly emotionally impacted by the recording, quietly responded 'no."'
Zimmerman's father also told investigators that it was his son yelling for help on March 19.
"That is absolutely positively George Zimmerman," Robert Zimmerman said. "He was not just yelling, he sounded like he was screaming for his life."
Investigators sent all the recordings to the FBI for analysis. In regards to the screams during the altercation, there also wasn't enough clarity to determine who it is "due to extreme stress and unsuitable audio quality."