Cross posted from Frederick Leatherman Law Blog

George Zimmerman. Photo by Seminole County Sheriffs / Wikimedia Commons.

Sometimes what you are searching for during an investigation is located in plain view right in front of your face, but for one reason or another, you don’t see it. I have been chastising myself for not seeing Zimmerman’s confession, even though it was obscured by a fog of inconsistencies and lies. Nevertheless, I should have seen it.

When Investigator Chris Serino was interviewing Zimmerman on February 29th, three days after the shooting, Zimmerman said,

“I didn’t want him to keep slamming my head on the concrete so I kind of shifted. But when I shifted my jacket came up…and it exposed my firearm. That’s when he said you are going to die tonight. He took one hand off my mouth, and slid it down my chest. I took my gun aimed it at him and fired.”

The key word “aimed.”

Notice that he did not say, “I took my gun and fired.”

Because of the ongoing struggle he was describing, I pictured him freeing his gun from his holster while lying in a supine position and firing it at point blank range into Trayvon Martin’s torso.

Given his description of the struggle between the two of them, he could not have extended his arm and hand holding the gun because there was not enough room between the two of them. Not only that, according to him, he succeeded in grabbing the gun because he pinned Martin’s left hand against the side of his chest using his right upper arm and that prevented Martin from grabbing it.

Do y’all see the problem? How can he possibly extend his elbow and aim the gun with Martin lying on top of him while pinning Martin’s left hand to his chest with his right upper arm.

If he accurately described their relative positions and what they were doing when he fired the fatal shot, the entry wound should have been a contact wound in Martin’s left side or possibly his back traversing Martin’s body sideways from left to right probably with a downward trajectory.

With Martin’s torso in the way, I do not see any way, he could have extended his arm and aimed his gun firing the fatal shot from intermediate range into Martin’s torso creating an entry wound 1 inch to the left of the midline and 1/2 inch below the left nipple with the trajectory of the bullet going mstraight through from front to back without deviating up or down or left or right.

I also do not see him him saying that he aimed his gun when he did not aim his gun.

Instead, like a Freudian slip, it appeared to slip out during his narrative of the circumstances leading up to the shooting.

If this is what happened, he did not shoot Martin in self-defense because he had already separated from Martin with his gun in his hand aimed at Martin and was no longer in imminent danger of being killed or suffering grievous bodily injury.

Frederick Leatherman

Frederick Leatherman

I am a former law professor and felony criminal defense lawyer who practiced in state and federal courts for 30 years specializing in death penalty cases, forensics, and drug cases.

I taught criminal law, criminal procedure, law and forensics, and trial advocacy for three years after retiring from my law practice.

I also co-founded Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW) at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle and recruited 40 lawyers who agreed to work pro bono, assisted by law students, representing 17 innocent men and women wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing their children in the notorious Wenatchee Sex Ring witch-hunt prosecutions during the mid 90s. All 17 were freed from imprisonment.