A trove of evidence collected for George Zimmermans second-degree murder trial was made public Thursday, including the report that shows the lead detective originally wanted to file manslaughter charges because he said the whole encounter could have been avoided with better judgment and a little dialogue.
But the cache of forensic evidence, autopsy results, documents, audio tapes and police reports also paints a murky portrait of a fight between two people that left a teenager dead, a man facing life in prison, and a community shaken.
Some witnesses contradicted each other and others were flat wrong. Some heard two shots, when only one was fired. A few people saw the man with a red shirt Zimmerman on top during the fight, while others saw Trayvon Martin straddling Zimmerman and throwing punches. Still others were convinced it was Trayvon who cried for help, although police disagreed.
Ultimately, police, medical and witness accounts verify that Zimmermans nose was broken and that he was punched repeatedly by a scrawny unarmed teenager who straddled him as terrified neighbors called police. Records released by State Attorney Angela B. Corey on Thursday show the lead Sanford police investigator believed it was the neighborhood watch volunteer who was recorded screaming the word help 14 times in 38 seconds.
Other witnesses described Zimmerman as nonchalant after the killing. Two people who said they knew him told police that he was a racist and a bully, once fired from a job for complaining so much about co-workers and bosses.
In mid-March, the Sanford police chief announced that no probable cause existed to make an arrest. In a document dated the next day, the lead detective swore otherwise.
The encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin was ultimately avoidable by Zimmerman, if Zimmerman had remained in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement or conversely if he had identified himself to Martin as a concerned citizen and initiated dialog(sic) in an effort to dispel each partys concern, lead investigator Chris Serino swore in a March 13 statement. There is no indication that Trayvon Martin was involved in any criminal activity at the time of the encounter.
His conclusion: probable cause for manslaughter.
The documents made public Thursday also showed that:
• Trayvon, 5-foot-11 and 158 pounds, tested positive for trace levels of marijuana.
• When Trayvons father first listened to the 911 police tapes, he told detectives that it wasnt his sons voice crying for help. This is a critical aspect of the case, because the state attorneys investigators cited Trayvons mothers testimony that it was her sons voice as part of the probable cause affidavit in support of the charge against Zimmerman. Zimmermans father said it was his son crying, but an FBI analyst said there was no way to tell for sure.
• The autopsy report showed a shot fired from intermediate range pierced Trayvons heart. He also had a small cut on one of his fingers.
• Pictures showed Zimmermans nose was swollen and bloody and he had two cuts on the back of his head. A paramedic thought he needed stitches, and a doctor who saw him the next day said his nose was fractured. Although he complained of back pain and feeling lightheaded, Zimmerman declined to go to a hospital. Zimmerman, the records show, takes medication for ulcers and anxiety.