Florida grand jury to probe Trayvon Martin killing

Reply Tue 20 Mar, 2012 10:58 am
Mar. 20, 2012
Florida grand jury to probe Trayvon Martin killing
Frances Robles | Miami Herald

A grand jury will look into the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Seminole County State Attorney Norm Wolfinger said Tuesday.

“I share in the desire of the family and the community to accurately collect and evaluate all the facts surrounding the tragic death of Trayvon Martin,” said Wolfinger in a statement released Tuesday morning. “That is why I directed the expeditious review of the investigation which was delivered by the Sanford Police Department one week ago today….I will also be utilizing the investigative resources of the Seminole County Grand Jury which will be called to session on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.’’

Wolfinger, whose office has been reviewing the case since last week, asked for patience from the public and said his office will conduct “a thorough, deliberate, and just review of the facts.”

Wolfinger’s statement followed a decision late Monday by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI to investigate the killing of the Miami Gardens teenager by a neighborhood watch volunteer.

That announcement coincided with a statement from Florida Gov. Rick Scott asking the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to offer “appropriate resources” in the case.

The federal and state agencies are intervening in what attorneys call a botched investigation into the killing of the Michael Krop Senior High School student, who was killed Feb. 26 in Sanford, a town of 55,000 just north of Orlando. Trayvon, 17, on suspension from school, was staying at his father’s girlfriend’s house when he walked to a nearby a 7-Eleven store to buy candy and iced tea.

George Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch volunteer with a long history of calling in everything from open garage doors to “suspicious characters,” called police to say he had spotted someone who looked drugged, was walking too slowly in the rain, and appeared to be looking at people’s houses. Zimmerman sounded alarmed because the stranger had his hand in his waistband and held something in his other hand.

The unarmed teen was carrying Skittles and a can of Arizona iced tea.

Zimmerman said he had stepped out of his truck to check the name of the street he was on when Trayvon attacked him from behind as he walked back to his truck, police said. He said he feared for his life and fired the semiautomatic handgun he was licensed to carry because he feared for his life.

“The department will conduct a thorough and independent review of all of the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “The department also is providing assistance to and cooperating with the state officials in their investigation into the incident. With all federal civil rights crimes, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person acted intentionally and with the specific intent to do something which the law forbids — the highest level of intent in criminal law.

“Negligence, recklessness, mistakes and accidents are not prosecutable under the federal criminal civil rights laws.”

From the start, Trayvon’s family accused Sanford police of molding the investigation to fit Zimmerman’s account. Several witnesses said they heard cries that sounded like a boy wailing — howling silenced by the crack of gunfire — and were shocked to hear police later portray the cries as Zimmerman’s. One witness said police ignored her repeated phone calls.

The police chief was accused of telling lies big and small in ways that shielded Zimmerman. The family hired attorneys who helped devise a national campaign to demand a federal investigation.

Members of Congress and prominent black clergy members joined the chorus for a federal probe. At a rally outside the Sanford courthouse Monday, students called for Zimmerman’s arrest.

Police Chief Bill Lee told The Miami Herald that he was comfortable that his investigators were fair and thorough.

“I can say very confidently we would welcome any outside entity that wants to come look at what we did,” Lee said last week. “They are welcome to come here and look at it. We have not done anything but conduct a fair and complete investigation.”

He dismissed accusations of irregularities and insisted that investigators found no probable cause to arrest Zimmerman because there was no evidence to disprove his version of events.

The U.S. Community Relations Service will be in Sanford this week to meet with civil rights leaders, community leaders and local law enforcement officials to address tension in the community, the Justice Department announcement said.
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Reply Tue 20 Mar, 2012 12:04 pm
Trayvon Martin's Last Phone Call Contradicts Shooter's Claim, Attorney Says
March 20, 2012
by Mark Memmott - npr

George Zimmerman's statement to police about what 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was up to on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., "is completely contradicted" by the boy's cellphone records, an attorney for Martin's family just said during a news conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Attorney Benjamin Crump said the African-American teenager had been talking to friends all day and, as first reported earlier today by ABC News, was on the phone with a young girl when he was confronted by, in Crump's words, "neighborhood association loose cannon" Zimmerman.

The girl, Crump said, says Martin was just trying to get back to the house he and his father had been visiting when Zimmerman came into the picture. She heard Martin ask "why are you following me?" Crump said. Another voice, according to the girl, asked at least twice "what are you doing around here?"

Moments later, Martin was shot in the chest.

The 28-year-old Zimmerman, who had called police to report seeing a "suspicious" person and was advised not to follow that person, has told police he acted in self defense.

As we've been reporting, Martin's death has reignited a national conversation about race and racial profiling. And it has led to charges from Martin's family and their supporters that local police failed to adequately investigate. "Arrest killer. He killed this child in cold blood," Crump said a moment ago.

Zimmerman has not been charged with a crime. The federal Justice Department is now getting involved, and the local state attorney announced this morning that he's asked a grand jury to investigate.
0 Replies
Reply Tue 20 Mar, 2012 01:31 pm
BumbleBeeBoogie wrote:

George Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch volunteer with a long history of calling in everything from open garage doors to “suspicious characters,” called police to say he had spotted someone who looked drugged, was walking too slowly in the rain, and appeared to be looking at people’s houses. Zimmerman sounded alarmed because the stranger had his hand in his waistband and held something in his other hand.

Zimmerman said he had stepped out of his truck to check the name of the street he was on. . . .

Incredible! He's doing neighborhood watch duty, and doesn't know what street he is on. Makes one wonder whose neighborhood he was watching. Anyway, I don't recall a time in my life when I got out of a car in the rain to read a street sign.
Joe Nation
Reply Tue 20 Mar, 2012 01:48 pm
Next we will find him claiming that he is extremely near-sighted but had forgotten his glasses, yet could see well enough, in a rain storm, to recognize that the young man he was stalking was a danger to the community.

Zimmerman must go to jail.

Joe(he must)Nation
Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2012 09:47 am
@Joe Nation,
Mar. 21, 2012
Trayvon Martin's shooter should likely be charged, avoid immunity, law's authors say
Marc Caputo | McClatchy Newspapers

MIAMI — The authors of Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law say the killer of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin probably should be arrested and doesn't deserve immunity under the statute.

The comments from the Republican lawmakers came the same day state Sen. Oscar Braynon, a Democrat, urged the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators to call for the law to be repealed, amended or subject to legislative hearings. Trayvon's mother lives in Braynon's district.

But the lawmakers who crafted the legislation in 2005 - former Sen. Durell Peaden and current state Rep. Dennis Baxley - said the law doesn't need to be changed. They believe it has been misapplied in the shooting death of Trayvon by a Sanford crime-watch captain, George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman has not been charged because, police said, it appears he acted in self-defense. The Seminole County state attorney's office decided Tuesday to take the case before a grand jury.

"They got the goods on him. They need to prosecute whoever shot the kid," said Peaden, a Republican who sponsored the deadly force law in 2005. "He has no protection under my law."

Peaden and Baxley, a Republican, say their law is a self-defense act. It says law-abiding people have no duty to retreat from an attacker and can meet "force with force." Nowhere does it say that a person has a right to confront another.

The 911 tapes strongly suggest Zimmerman overstepped his bounds, they say, when the Sanford neighborhood crime-watch captain said he was following Trayvon and appeared to ignore a police request to stay away.

"The guy lost his defense right then," said Peaden. "When he said 'I'm following him,' he lost his defense."

Peaden and Baxley said they didn't know all the facts of the case, so their interpretations of what happened could change if new information arises during the investigation.

The shooting has gripped the national news media's attention and put the state's Stand Your Ground law in its crosshairs. The shooter was white. The victim was black.

The law clearly says a law-abiding citizen can use deadly force if "if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

If a person uses deadly force and invokes the law, a police agency "may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful," the statute said.

Sen. Braynon said the law is too vague. It doesn't specify that people shouldn't pursue others.

"The Legislature needs to take a look at Stand Your Ground," Braynon said. "When the Legislature passed this in 2005, I don't think they planned for people who would go out and become vigilantes or be like some weird Batman who would go out and kill little kids like Trayvon."

Baxley and Peaden said the law did not need to be clarified and said some are using Trayvon's death to attack gun rights.

But, Baxley said, lawmakers should examine whether to make sure that crime-watch captains aren't acting like armed vigilantes and "feeling like they have the authority to pursue and confront people. That is aggravating an incident right there."

"If you want to pass something, pass something that limits their ability to pursue and confront people," Baxley said. "It's about crime watch. What are the limitations of crime watch? Are you allowed to jump out and follow people and confront them? What do you think is going to happen? That's where it starts."

Baxley refrained from overtly criticizing the prosecutor and police chief, saying he doesn't have all the facts. But he stressed over and over again that "there's nothing in this statute that authorizes people to pursue and confront people."

Peaden said it sounded to him as if Zimmerman went looking for trouble. And he found it. But he doesn't deserve a claim of self-defense.

"He's kind of stretching a whole bunch of things. And if he has a gun, that's premeditated," Peaden said. There's nothing in the Florida law that allows him to follow someone with a damn gun."

(Staff writers Tia Mitchell, Steve Bousquet and Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report.)
Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2012 09:51 am
Mar. 20, 2012
Commentary: Trayvon Martin's shooting raises old fears, questions
Leonard Pitts Jr. | The Miami Herald

They do not see you.

For every African American, it comes as surely as hard times, setback and tears, that moment when you realize somebody is looking right at you and yet, not seeing you – as if you had become cellophane, as if you had become air, as if somehow, some way, you were right there and yet at the same time, not.

Ralph Ellison described that phenomenon in a milestone novel that begins as follows: “I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe. Nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids — and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”

Trayvon Martin was killed on Feb. 26th in Sanford, Fla., fully 60 years after Ellison published Invisible Man. The circumstances of the unarmed 17-year-old’s death suggest that even six decades later, invisibility plagues black folks, still.

It happened like this. He was visiting his father, watching hoops on television. At halftime, he left his dad’s townhouse in a gated community and walked to a 7-Eleven for snacks. There was a light drizzle and he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and jeans. On the way back, he drew the attention of George Zimmerman, captain of the Neighborhood Watch. Zimmerman, who is white, called police from his SUV and told them he was following a “suspicious” character. The dispatcher promised to send a prowl car and told Zimmerman to stay in his vehicle.

He didn’t. When police arrived, they found him with a bloody nose and Martin face down on the grass not far from his father’s door, a gunshot wound in his chest. Zimmerman said he shot the boy in self defense. Police did not arrest him. At this writing, nearly three weeks later, they still have not, citing insufficient evidence. The case has been referred to the State’s Attorney and the NAACP has asked the Justice Department to intervene.

All of which raises a number of pressing questions:

How can you get out of your truck against police advice, instigate a fight, get your nose bloodied in said fight, shoot the person you were fighting with, and claim self defense? If anyone was defending themselves, wasn’t it Trayvon Martin?

Would police have been so forbearing had Martin confronted and killed an unarmed George Zimmerman?

Of course, the most pressing question is this: What exactly was it that made this boy seem “suspicious?” The available evidence suggests a sad and simple answer: He existed while black.

The manner of said existence doesn’t matter. It is the existing itself that is problematic. Again: Sometimes, they do not see you.

That’s one of the great frustrations of African-American life, those times when you are standing right there, minding your business, tending your house, coming home from the store, and other people are looking right at you, yet do not see you.

They see instead their own superstitions and suppositions, paranoia and guilt, night terrors and vulnerabilities. They see the perpetrator, the suspect, the mug shot, the dark and scary face that lurks at the open windows of their vivid imaginings. They see the unknown, the inassimilable, the other.

They see every damn thing in the world but you.

And their blindness costs you. First and foremost, it costs your sacred individuality. But it may also cost you a job, an education, your freedom. If you are unlucky like Trayvon Martin, it may even cost your life.

He lay bloody and ruined in wet grass with nothing in his pockets but $22, a can of lemonade and a bag of Skittles, not a type, not a kind, but just himself, a kid who liked horses and sports, who struggled with chemistry, who went out for snacks and never came home.

Visible too late.


Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla. 33132. Readers may write to him via e-mail at [email protected]. He chats with readers every Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EDT at Ask Leonard.
Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2012 10:10 am
Trayvon Martin's Killer Had Been Accused Of Violence In The Past
March 21, 2012
by Mark Memmott - NPR

As national attention continues to be focused on the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., last month and the questions it resurrects about race relations in the U.S., The Orlando Sentinel today adds to what's known about George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old man who pulled the trigger.

Painted as "a racist, a vigilante and a murderer" for killing the African-American boy in what Zimmerman claims was self defense, the Sentinel notes that the "embattled neighborhood watchman" has had few defenders so far.

A former neighbor in Manassas, Va., says Zimmerman was "a good-enough kid" when he was younger. But, "in 2005 [he] was twice accused of either criminal misconduct or violence."

In one case, Zimmerman allegedly pushed a state alcohol agent who was arresting one of Zimmerman's friends. He "avoided conviction by entering a pretrial-diversion program, something common for first-time offenders." In the other case, he was accused by a woman of domestic violence. Zimmerman "responded by filing a petition of his own the following day." Injunctions have kept the cases' outcomes sealed, the Sentinel says.

Zimmerman has not been arrested. As we reported Tuesday, though, the local prosecutor is taking the case to a grand jury for it to investigate.

Meanwhile, as NPR's Kathy Lohr reported on Morning Edition, tensions remain high in Sanford, where Martin's family and supporters accuse the local police of not being interested in investigating the case because of the boy's race.
Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2012 10:12 am
FreeDuck's thread on this topic:

0 Replies
Reply Thu 22 Mar, 2012 10:23 am
Mar. 22, 2012
Fla. Rep. Wilson seeks justice in Trayvon Martin case
Erika Bolstad | McClatchy Newspapers

There's a sign outside U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson's congressional office: "Trayvon Martin's Murderer Still At Large. Days With No Arrest: 25."

Tuesday, when the sign read "24," Wilson toted it to the floor of the House of Representatives. There, Wilson vowed to keep vigil with a daily speech in honor of the 17-year-old Trayvon, a constituent who was slain by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla.

"I will go to the floor every day," Wilson said Wednesday. "When I go tomorrow, it’ll be 26."

Her first speech came shortly after the Justice Department said its Civil Rights Division would review the case, and that the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would probe how the investigation into the shooting was handled by local authorities.

Trayvon, of Miami Gardens, died Feb. 26, after George Zimmerman called Sanford Police to report someone suspicious in his gated townhouse complex. The call was one of many from the 28-year-old Zimmerman to police over the years; it was also one of several when he called to report the presence of a black male.

Zimmerman, an aspiring police officer who once attended a citizen police academy, told police he fired in self defense after the young man came at him from behind and attacked him. He was not charged, sparking national outrage that has spread to Congress.

In an interview Wednesday, Wilson said that Trayvon’s death struck her as far too similar to that of another child for whom she had pursued justice just a few years ago: Martin Lee Anderson, a 14-year-old boy who died after being manhandled by guards at a state-run boot camp in 2006.

"Mr. Speaker, I am tired of burying young black boys," she said Tuesday on the House floor. "In Florida we have another Martin, Trayvon Martin. Trayvon Martin was shot to death by a renegade wannabe policeman neighborhood watchman."

Although the investigative process is out of her hands, Wilson wants to have a forum in Miami to talk about racial profiling by police, a topic that’s drawn renewed debate since Trayvon’s death.

She recalls worrying about her own son, now 30, when he got his drivers license as a teenager. She said she bought him a cell phone so he had it with him in case he was ever pulled over. And he was, Wilson said, despite being a young man who "looked like a nerd."

Wilson, a former school principal who heads a mentoring organization for young black men called "5,000 Role Models of Excellence," has a pamphlet she passes out that explains what happens if a child is arrested. Its first instruction: "Freeze! Do not move until you are told to do so." It urges young people to keep their hands in plain view, not to run from police, and to always carry identification.

"That’s a situation that you can never talk about enough, educating children and police officers," she said. "It has to be a continuous conversation until such time as everybody understands."

Wilson said she’ll attend a rally Thursday in Sanford in support of Trayvon, and she’ll also press Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi to use the power of their offices to press for charges in the teen’s death.

"I’m going to work this all the way through until such time justice is served for Trayvon," she said. "That’s why I have that calendar out there."
Reply Thu 22 Mar, 2012 01:54 pm
The city manager just required the police chief, Bill Lee Jr. to remove himself from his current job. He was not fired. The city manager is looking for a replacement.

Reply Fri 23 Mar, 2012 10:40 am
Mar. 23, 2012
Obama speaks on Trayvon Martin shooting
Lesley Clark | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama spoke out Friday on the Trayvon Martin shooting for the first time, calling the incident a “tragedy” and invoking his own children.

“I can only imagine what these parents are going through,” the president said, adding that he couldn’t help but think about his daughters. “I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this.

“My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin,” he added. “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves and we’re going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.” The president said he was pleased to hear that Florida Gov. Rick Scott has appointed a task force to look into the incident.

“I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen,”

Noting that his attorney general is looking into the case, the president prefaced his remarks by saying it was important he was not “impairing any investigation that’s taking place right now.”

Obama’s remarks came as he stood in the Rose Garden to introduce his new choice for the president of the World Bank.

They were his first remarks on the incident. The White House earlier in the week noted it was a “local” event.
Reply Fri 23 Mar, 2012 11:55 am
'Race Cards': Six Words On Trayvon Martin's Death
by NPR Staff Talk of the Nation
March 22, 2012

Nearly a month after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Florida, the widespread shock and outrage has grown into a nationwide movement calling for justice. This week, the Justice Department announced it would conduct a federal investigation of the incident.

But the Trayvon Martin story has also turned into a dialogue about race in America, a conversation that NPR's Michele Norris has been engaged in for over a year with her Race Card Project.

Through the project, Norris asks people to express their thoughts on race in six words or less. Many have written to her recently with thoughts on Martin's death.

NPR's Neal Conan speaks with Norris about the submissions she's received and what the frustrations, fears and hopes expressed in six words tell us about race in America today. NPR correspondent Kathy Lohr also joins the conversation, with the latest developments in the case.

Tell us: What six words would you use to talk about race in light of what happened in Sanford, Fla.?


0 Replies
Reply Fri 23 Mar, 2012 12:49 pm
I read somewhere this morning that friends and family say that Zimmerman is not racist, which I've taken him as myself from afar. I don't know his heart.
However, it does seem likely that he acted because to him Trayvon looked suspicious (black kid with hoody). Given that as far as I understand it he acted against police directive in following and confronting the boy, and against standard procedure as a neighborhood watch person, and as someone I read about as studying to be a policeman - I think that racist or not in his heart, he acted like an the action hero he thought himself as. Opinion, of course.

Jeffrey Toobin, a legal writer, said per CNN (I think) that the FBI won't come in unless racism is involved - that's not a direct quote. So, suppose they don't. Can he still be prosecuted?
Reply Fri 23 Mar, 2012 04:04 pm
People who have heard the two whispered words spoken by George Zimmerman to the police on the phone say it is "******* coon." That indicates a hate crime, doesn't it?

Reply Fri 23 Mar, 2012 04:40 pm
Sure does. I think it was some article on cnn that someone said they couldn't tell what the word was.
Me, I have trouble clearly hearing many videos on youtube, so I didn't even try. I should look for a transcript of the tape(s).
Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 01:10 pm
I'm really puzzled by something that nobody seems to have noticed. Trayvon's girlfriend was talking to him on his phone while Zimmerman was stalking him. It has been reported that when Zimmerman took out his gun, Trayvon began screeming. But Zimmerman claims that Trayvon hit his nose and broke it, and knocked him down on the ground and beat his head into the ground several times. Trayvon's girl friend said she could hear them talking up to the time that the gun shot ended after the screaming. How could Trayvon attack Zimmerman, a much bigger and powerful man, while holding his phone in his hand where his girlfriend could still hear what was going on?

Reply Thu 29 Mar, 2012 02:12 pm
This is apparently disproved by a video turning up of Zimmerman looking fine when going to be interviewed, plus comments from the medical examiner.

Case also being discussed here -
Florida's Stand your Ground law

and here -
Reply Mon 9 Apr, 2012 09:36 am
Apr. 09, 2012
What Trayvon Martin's tweets say about him
Deborah Acosta | The Miami Herald

Trayvon Martin liked girls, hated high school and was planning for college.

He loved rap music and enjoyed cracking jokes on Twitter about street culture.

The 17-year-old high school junior known as “Slimm” tweeted thousands of times over a period of months. His last 140-character message came just two days before he was gunned down in a gated townhouse community in Sanford.

But in the racially divisive media hype that has followed the teenager’s controversial killing, pages of nonsensical Twitter updates written back when Trayvon’s biggest concerns were getting a call back from a girl are now being examined and scrutinized by bloggers around the nation.

Critics call attention to his tattoos, an empty marijuana bag found in his school book bag, and a photo that purports to show him with gold teeth — “grills,” in hip-hop parlance — to show that he had a violent nature and that his family deliberately tried to keep this image from the public. His email accounts were hacked by white supremacists and his tweets were exposed by the conservative website The Daily Caller.

But friends say Trayvon wasn’t into violence.

“When I heard about the tragedy and the initial story, I knew it wasn’t true,” said Ricaysha Milton, 17, who knew Trayvon from Carol City High School, and corresponded with him over Twitter. “Trayvon is the ‘walk away’ type of guy. He’d rather walk away than fight.’’

By cross-referencing tweets from his account with those of people mentioned throughout, The Miami Herald was able to show the account was, in fact, Trayvon Martin’s.

A review of the account, which has since been taken down, portrays a typical teenager with a sense of humor and a preoccupation with girls. He is sometimes vulgar when discussing sex, and he often quotes explicit song lyrics.

At times it’s difficult to discern what’s a song lyric and what’s not. How many of Trayvon’s tweets can be taken as literal is up for grabs.

There are certain things that can be gleaned about Trayvon from his tweets:

He loved the films Friday, starring Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, and Next Friday, both of which poke fun at street culture. He posted YouTube clips from the films.

He often made fun of street culture, such as the time he retweeted this joke: “If you use kool-aid as hair dye #youghetto.”

He frequently retweeted viral jokes such as, “DOG, Y U NO EAT MY HOMEWORK?” and “GHETTO GIRL NAMED SHANEKAQUELA, Y U NO GET NORMAL NAME?”

He loved Tupac, DMX and Mystikal, all popular rap artists.

He often stayed up late at night waiting for girls to call or text. In one exchange, he singles out a girl to say he stayed up until 1 a.m. waiting for her call, to which she replied, “I did too call u at 12:18 !!!!!!”

Most of his tweets revolved around girls and sex.

“I’m READY for a REAL relationship I’m talking mama meetin and all,” he said on Jan. 8, almost two months before his death.

He often retweeted Twitter account @iTeachSEXOLOGY, with tips on the physical acts of sex.

It’s clear he wasn’t happy at his high school, Dr. Michael D. Krop Senior High in Northeast Miami-Dade:

“Wuld I miss Krop?? Hell na f** da skool, f** da lunch, nd most of all f** da faculty….. Ima miss sum of da students, mainly da babies Wink

Despite the fixation with sex and girls, many of his postings reveal a childish side. He tweeted a picture of Scooby Doo gummy snacks and said he loved them so much he ate them constantly for lunch.

Mundane postings included references to Krispy Kreme doughnuts, ice cream, going to the movies and pulling all-nighters.

“He’d do anything to make you smile,” Laquavia Smith, 17, told The Herald over Twitter. “He was the funny guy.”

She had known him since the seventh grade, when they were in Highland Oaks Middle School together, and says she viewed him like a brother.

Once in eighth grade, he climbed atop a table and started dancing, just to make everyone laugh, she said.

“He was just a funny, goofy person who liked to joke around and make people laugh,” said Courtnie Lee, another friend who corresponded with Trayvon over Twitter. Like Laquavia, Courtnie, 17, also met Trayvon in middle school.

Trayvon’s Gmail account also surfaced briefly. The website Gawker was able to obtain a screen shot of what his inbox looked like before the account was deleted. The inbox showed almost every email was in reference to upcoming SAT exams, scholarship opportunities, and invitations to an open house at Saint Leo University, a Catholic liberal-arts school between Tampa and Orlando.

The question is whether Trayvon’s digital footprint on sites such as Facebook and Twitter may factor into a potential case against his shooter, George Zimmerman.

Some experts say it does.

“Basically what it boils down to is… whether or not [Zimmerman’s] conduct is reasonable,’’ said University of Florida criminal law professor Kenneth Nunn.

“In order to determine that, you’d want to look at what [Trayvon’s] behavior traits have been, or may have been over time. When I’m trying a case and I’m concerned about a person’s character, I’m looking at anything.”

But Lyrissa Lidsky, a professor of media law at the University of Florida, cautions that a person’s online persona may not offer a true picture of who they are, especially among young people.

“I think you have to take these social media posts with a grain of salt, because they don’t necessarily tell you what this teenager was like in person,” she said.

One example: Trayvon’s purported “grills.” In his Twitter avatar, he appears to be wearing some, but friends say they’d never seen them before.

“I didn’t know he had those until I saw the picture on the news,” said Ricaysha Milton. “Every time I see him in public he never has them on.”

Trayvon family representative Ryan Julison told The Miami Herald that Trayvon did not have permanent grills on his teeth.

“The persona you have online is not necessarily the same as the persona you have offline,” Lidsky said.

“It’s an artificial reality... It’s almost like make-believe.”

Miami Herald staff writer Frances Robles contributed to this report.
Reply Mon 9 Apr, 2012 09:44 am
Apr. 09, 2012
Friends, lawyers wage campaign for George Zimmerman
Frances Robles | McClatchy Newspapers

MIAMI — One self-described friend of George Zimmerman's who made the rounds on national television was outed as a co-worker who didn't seem to know him all that well.

Another was portrayed as a thinly veiled racist with a checkered criminal history.

And on his first TV interview, Zimmerman's stammering attorney, Craig Sonner, didn't understand the law the case is based on.

But now, after weeks of withering media coverage lambasting him and his supporters, the cast of Zimmerman allies that has until recently been lampooned on TV has been replaced with an aggressive media campaign and message: George Zimmerman is not a racist, and he shot Trayvon Martin to save his own life. Zimmerman appears poised to ratchet up the damage control by having more of his relatives go public, launching a website and hiring a veteran criminal defense attorney with a solid reputation and experience on TV.

With attorney Hal Uhrig on the case, Zimmerman's controversial "friend" and media consultant Joe Oliver has bowed out.

"The attorneys admit they haven't met him, and Joe Oliver turns out not to know him very well - there's a strange distance people around George Zimmerman seem to be having," said Fordham University professor Paul Levinson, a media critic. "On TV, Robert Zimmerman spouted complete nonsense about his brother. All told, there hasn't been a strong defense at all."

After the Feb. 26 shooting and rallies that followed, Zimmerman went weeks without any representation, legal or otherwise. The first to step up to defend him publicly was his neighbor, Frank Taaffe, a marketing specialist who seemed to defend racial profiling. His booking photo from past domestic violence arrests now graces the blogosphere.

Next at bat was lawyer Craig Sonner, a DUI attorney who Seminole County court records show has only one recent case that is not traffic-related. In fact, a majority of his cases in that county are misdemeanors. In Orange County, the vast majority of the cases he handled in the past decade were for civil and criminal traffic violations.

Experts note that DUI cases are complicated and difficult, but the expertise an attorney builds on those cases does not apply to major crimes. A former prosecutor, he told the Orlando Sentinel that he was an engineer and has a black belt in aikido. He did not return at least a dozen messages left over the past two weeks.

In early television interviews, Sonner, 47, seemed unsure of himself. The analysis of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law that he offered on CNN was the opposite of what the statute actually says, although he has since acknowledged the gaffe and now speaks more assertively.

"That would shake my confidence in him a bit," said veteran prosecutor Jeff Ashton, who tried the Casey Anthony case. "He seemed inexperienced. He could articulate intelligently, but he didn't seem like someone who had much experience in front of the media, which can be intimidating if you're not ready for it."

Ashton, who is now running for Orange County State Attorney, is more familiar with co-counsel Uhrig, 65, who was a legal analyst for Orlando's Fox affiliate during the Anthony trial. Ashton and Uhrig squared off in court in 1987 in what became the country's first conviction based on DNA testing.

"He's a good lawyer," Ashton said of Uhrig. "He's been around a very long time. He's competent, not flashy or flamboyant. He's a tough litigator."

Uhrig has a more varied criminal practice, which does not include many high-profile homicides, Ashton said.

Uhrig joined the Florida Bar in 1975, after several years as a Gainesville police sergeant. He has represented 10 law enforcement agencies, and was president of the Florida Association of Police Attorneys.

"Right now we're defending a reputation. We may be defending more than that later, but that's up to somebody other than us," Uhrig told NBC News. "When all of the evidence comes out it's going to be absolutely clear. ... The forensic evidence all supports Mr. Zimmerman's version of what happened."

With Uhrig onboard, Zimmerman's co-worker said he has stepped down from serving as a media consultant in the case.

"My goal in stepping in front of the camera was to slow down the race to judgment, not the rush - the race," Oliver said. "I feel like I was able to open at least some eyes."

Oliver, who is African-American, was lambasted as the "black friend" who sometimes said preposterous things in his friend's defense. Ultimately, anti-Zimmerman talk show hosts forced Oliver to admit that he has not seen Zimmerman recently and had no personal knowledge of his injuries the night he killed Trayvon Martin, or of his past arrests and domestic violence complaints.

Oliver said he never intended to speak up on Zimmerman's behalf, and meant just to advise on a media strategy. People mocked the former TV newscaster, saying his appearances were merely a desperate attempt to get back on the air.

"I got caught up in the story," said Oliver, who noted that Sonner's delivery on television has improved dramatically.

Oliver said Zimmerman's father and brother, both named Robert, never consulted with him or with the attorney before going on national television to recount their version of events. He wouldn't offer details of what guidance he offered the Zimmerman family, but added: "They are following their own advice."

Among the strategies is to spread word about Zimmerman's activism on behalf of a homeless black man who was beaten by the son of a Sanford police officer in 2010. An anonymous flier Zimmerman reportedly left on car windows demanding justice for the homeless man was emailed to news reporters and mailed to Sanford black churches and leaders.

New pictures of Zimmerman were distributed, as the family repeated Zimmerman's allegations that Trayvon attacked him, not the other way around.

"If he was banged one more time, he would be wearing diapers the rest of his life, being spoon fed by his brother," Zimmerman's brother, Robert, told CNN's Pier Morgan.

The approach may have worked. A March 24 and 25 CNN poll showed 73 percent of Americans were in favor of Zimmerman being arrested. But once Zimmerman's side of the story was pushed forward - and conservative bloggers began portraying Trayvon as a thug - public opinion began to shift.

A Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research poll conducted March 27 and 28 showed the number of people in favor of an arrest had dropped to 48 percent. Many people were now increasingly "unsure."

The shift has also been marked by public support for Zimmerman from fringe groups 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.

"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."
Reply Wed 11 Apr, 2012 05:59 pm
2nd-Degree Murder Charge in Shooting
Published: April 11, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Florida special prosecutor announced a second-degree murder charge on Wednesday against George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

What the Charge Means

By choosing to charge George Zimmerman with second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin, Florida Special Prosecutor Angela B. Corey selected the toughest possible charge involving a killing, short of first-degree murder, which requires a finding of premeditation and carries the death penalty as a possible punishment.

Under second-degree murder, the jury must find that a death was caused by a criminal act “demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life,” said Eric Abrahamsen, a Tallahassee criminal defense lawyer, reading from the state’s standard jury instructions.

The jury would be able to reject the murder charge, however, and opt for a lesser offense, including charges like manslaughter. The maximum sentence for second-degree murder is life in prison.

Angela B. Corey, the prosecutor, said Mr. Zimmerman, 28, a crime watch volunteer, was in the custody of law enforcement officers in Florida. He is accused of fatally shooting Mr. Martin, an unarmed teenager, in a case that has captivated the country and brought to the fore issues of race, violence and precisely what constitutes self-defense.

“We did not come to this decision lightly,” Ms. Corey said. She added, “Let me emphasize that we do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition.”

“We will continue to seek the truth about this case,” she said.

Ms. Corey opened the news conference by saying that she had spoken to Trayvon Martin’s parents shortly after she took on the case, and that the investigation was driven by “the search for justice for Trayvon.”

“It was less than three weeks ago that we told those sweet parents that we would get answers,” she said.

Critical to the case is the question of whether or not the shooting fell under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which gives wide leeway to people who claim self-defense, and which does not require people to retreat before using deadly force.

Ms. Corey said that her office regularly deals with Stand Your Ground motions. “If Stand Your Ground becomes an issue, we will fight it,” she said. Earlier this week, Ms. Corey announced that she had decided not to convene a grand jury to investigate the shooting and would herself make the ultimate decision as to whether to charge Mr. Zimmerman.

Mr. Zimmerman has been in hiding for the past several weeks after having received death threats. He has not spoken publicly since the shooting . Mark O’Mara, a criminal defense lawyer from Orlando, announced that he is now representing Mr. Zimmerman.

At a news conference in Washington, D.C., Trayvon’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, said the charges had started the healing process, but Mr. Martin said, “We will continue to walk until the right thing is done.”

Ms. Fulton thanked the family’s supporters, saying “a heart has no color. It’s not black. It’s not white. It’s red, and I want to say thank you from my heart to your heart.”

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing the family, said that Ms. Corey prayed with Trayvon’s parents but “did not make one promise to the family that she would prosecute,” only that she would look hard at the evidence.

Mr. Crump also thanked the people behind an online petition that helped begin the online conversation about the case and “the young people who believed completely in justice; the idea, the concept, the dream of justice.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Zimmerman’s previous lawyers, Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig, announced that they were withdrawing from his legal team. They said they were worried about Mr. Zimmerman’s state of mind, that he had been in contact with Ms. Corey without consulting them, and that they had not been in communication with him and did not know where he was.

A statement on a Web site set up by Mr. Zimmerman to raise money called the shooting a “life-altering event.”

The shooting occurred the evening of Feb. 26 when Mr. Martin was walking back from a store to the home of his father’s girlfriend in a gated community in Sanford, just north of Orlando. Mr. Zimmerman, who had called 911 to report a man who he said was behaving suspiciously, had trailed Mr. Martin for several minutes and had continued to do so even after having been advised by a 911 operator that he should stop.

Mr. Zimmerman has told the authorities that Mr. Martin punched him in the face and tried to take his gun. He has said he shot Mr. Martin in self-defense.

After conducting an investigation, the Sanford Police Department said it lacked sufficient evidence to file charges against Mr. Zimmerman, a decision that set off a wave of protests nationwide by people who believed that the shooting had been racially motivated. Mr. Martin is black. Mr. Zimmerman is Hispanic.

Bill Lee Jr., the police chief, announced his resignation on March 22.

The previous prosecutor in the case, State Attorney Norm Wolfinger, had directed the grand jury to convene to hear evidence starting earlier this week. But Mr. Wolfinger, who usually handles cases in Sanford, recused himself after public outcries about the pace of the inquiry.

An investigation by the Justice Department is continuing.

Serge F. Kovaleski contributed reporting from Sanford, Michael S. Schmidt from Washington and Timothy Williams from New York.

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