Thursday, August 29, 2013

Forensic Expert Testification in a Case

Forensic Expert Testification in a Case

The fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman took place on the night of February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida, United States. Martin was a 17-year-old African American high school student. George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old. Following an earlier call from Zimmerman, police arrived within two minutes of a gunshot during an altercation in which Zimmerman fatally shot Martin, who did not have any weapons. Zimmerman was taken into custody, treated for head injuries, then questioned for five hours. The police chief said that Zimmerman was released because there was no evidence to refute Zimmerman's claim of having acted in self-defense, the police were prohibited by law from making an arrest. The police chief also said that Zimmerman had had a right to defend himself with lethal force. As news of the case spread, thousands of protestors across the country called for Zimmerman's arrest and a full investigation. 
It was found that Martin was killed by an injury resulting from a single gunshot to the chest, fired at "intermediate range", between 1 and 18 inches according to a forensic expert.

An FDLE analysis of Martin's body and clothes described the distance as "a contact shot".  The autopsy also found that Martin had one small abrasion on his left ring finger below the knuckle. No other injuries were found on Martin's body at the time of his death. Physicians who reviewed the official autopsy report, stated in their opinion that Martin lived from 20 seconds to several minutes after he was shot, and that Martin likely remained conscious "for a little time, anyway". The autopsy report stated that Martin had trace levels of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in his blood and urine. The toxicology report found the levels to be 1.5 nanograms/ml of THC and 7.3 nanograms/ml of THC-COOH, a metabolite of THC that can stay in the system for weeks after cannabis has been smoked.  Larry Kobilinsky, a professor of forensic, stated that the THC amount was so low that it may have been ingested days earlier and played no role in Martin's behavior.

Six weeks after the shooting, amid widespread, intense, and in some cases misleading media coverage, Zimmerman was charged with murder by a special prosecutor appointed by Governor Rick Scott.
Zimmerman's trial began on June 10, 2013, in Sanford. On July 13, 2013, a jury acquitted him of second-degree murder and of manslaughter charges.

 Defense witness and forensic pathologist Dr. Vincent di Maio testified that forensic evidence was consistent with George Zimmerman’s version of events that resulted in the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
Di Maio spoke on a wide range of evidentiary questions, but the key moments came in his support of Zimmerman’s claim that Trayvon Martin had attacked him, and was straddling him at the moment Zimmerman fired.
“Your work, essentially, your task, was to determine whether the medical evidence was consistent with what Mr. Zimmerman said happened,” the defense said.
“The medical evidence—the gunshot wound, the tattooing—is consistent with his opinion, with his statement as to that,” di Maio said, arguing that the evidence suggested Martin was leaning over Zimmerman when the defendant shot him:

“The most important point is the nature of the defect in the clothing and the powder tattooing. That is, if you lean over somebody, you would notice that the clothing tends to fall away from the chest. If, instead, you’re lying on your back and somebody shoots you, the clothing is going to be against your chest. So the fact that we know the clothing was two to four inches away is consistent with somebody leaning over the person doing the shooting and that the clothing is two to four inches away from the person firing.”
Di Maio also testified on the variety of knicks and lacerations on Zimmerman’s head, though he often complained that the quality of the photographs in evidence made distinguishing the marks difficult. Most important among these were “punctate abrasions,” which he explained were “little reddish markings, and that indicate that there was impact with a surface that was not really smooth.”
“Would concrete of the nature that was used in your everyday sidewalk have that kind of surface?” the defense asked, hoping to prove that Martin had banged Zimmerman’s head into the sidewalk as part of an attack on the defendant.
“Yes,” Di Maio said.
“Is this injury consistent with Mr. Zimmerman’s head having impacted a sidewalk?”
The testimony, taken if full, would seem to support the defense’s case that Martin was attacking Zimmerman at the time of the gunshot that killed him.

Source:- Media ITE, Wikipedia
Watch the testimony, via CNN:
‘Medical Evidence Is Consistent’ With Zimmerman Being Attacked

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