Media Watch: The Sharyl Attkisson approach
First, from ABC News:
A medical report compiled by the family physician of accused Trayvon Martin murderer George Zimmerman and obtained exclusively by ABC News found that Zimmerman was diagnosed with a “closed fracture” of his nose, a pair of black eyes, two lacerations to the back of his head and a minor back injury the day after he fatally shot Martin during an alleged altercation.
The morning after the shooting, on Feb. 27, Zimmerman sought treatment at the offices of a general physician at a family practice near Sanford, Fla. The doctor notes Zimmerman sought an appointment to get legal clearance to return to work.
The record shows that Zimmerman also suffered bruising in the upper lip and cheek and lower back pain. The two lacerations on the back of his head, one of them nearly an inch long, the other about a quarter-inch long, were first revealed in photos obtained exclusively by ABC News last month.
But the report also shows Zimmerman declined hospitalization the night of the shooting, and then declined the advice of his doctor to make a follow-up appointment with an ear nose and throat doctor.
And from Orlando’s WFTV:
SANFORD, Fla. — WFTV has confirmed that autopsy results show 17-year-old Trayvon Martin had injuries to his knuckles when he died.
The information could support George Zimmerman’s claim that Martin beat him up before Zimmerman shot and killed him.
The autopsy results come as Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara continues to go over other evidence in the case.
O’Mara wouldn’t comment on the autopsy evidence, but WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said it’s better for the defense than it is for the prosecution.
WFTV has learned that the medical examiner found two injuries on Martin’s body: The fatal gunshot wound and broken skin on his knuckles.
When you compare Trayvon’s non-fatal injury with Zimmerman’s bloody head wounds, the autopsy evidence is better for the defense, Sheaffer said.
“It goes along with Zimmerman’s story that he acted in self-defense, because he was getting beaten up by Trayvon Martin,” Sheaffer said.
The injury to Martin’s knuckle also fits with Zimmerman’s story that before he shot and killed Martin, Martin had broken his nose and knocked him to the ground, slamming his head on the sidewalk.
But Sheaffer said there could be another explanation for Martin’s knuckle injury.
“It could be consistent with Trayvon either trying to get away or defend himself,” Sheaffer said.
As I wrote on Twitter just a few minutes ago, the release of this documentation/evidence does make you wonder all the more at what led the prosecutor to think she had enough to even try George Zimmerman at all, much less for second degree murder. We will, of course, find out at trial – but what we know so far about this case tends to favor Zimmerman’s account of events.
In related news, WFTV also reports that the FBI is busy conducting interviews with witnesses in order to determine whether or not to seek hate crime charges against Zimmerman, which could possibly see him face the death penalty:
SANFORD, Fla. — WFTV has learned charges against George Zimmerman could be getting more serious.
State prosecutors said Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, profiled and stalked 17-year-old Trayvon Martin before killing him, so the FBI is now looking into charging him with a hate crime.
Zimmerman admitted to killing Martin in February during a confrontation. However, he claims the shooting was in self-defense. He’s facing a second-degree murder charge, which carries a maximum possible sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. But if Zimmerman is charged and found guilty of a federal hate crime involving murder, he could face the death penalty.
FBI investigators are actively questioning witnesses in the retreat at the Twin Lakes neighborhood, seeking evidence for a possible federal hate crime charge.
WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said federal prosecutors would have to prove the hate crime to charge Zimmerman, though.
“What the government would have to prove is that Mr. Zimmerman acted out of hatred toward African-Americans. That’s why he came into contact with him. That’s why he shot and killed him,” Sheaffer said.
I have followed this case extensively and I just do not see hate crime charges being leveled against Zimmerman. Not even the prosecution alleges that Zimmerman said “f*cking c**ns” on the now-infamous 911 call. And given Zimmerman’s family’s mixed-race make-up, not to mention the back story on the crime problems that plagued his community months before that deadly night in February – which indicate reasons why Zimmerman would be suspicious of someone he didn’t know in the neighborhood – nothing so far points to a person full of rage specifically due to someone’s race.
We’ll know more in the weeks and months to come, to be sure, but for now I remain convinced that Zimmerman acted in self defense on that February night.