The stack of evidence released Thursday in the second-degree murder case against George Zimmerman is notable, legal experts say, for whats not in it: firm evidence that Zimmerman acted with malice when he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Special prosecutor Angela Corey filed a second-degree murder charge against Zimmerman last month, alleging that Zimmerman, a neighborhood crime-watch volunteer, acted with ill will when he shot Martin, a black teen, following a Feb. 26 scuffle behind some townhouses in a gated community in Sanford, where Martin was staying with his father.
But analysts say the evidence released so far contains little information to support the prosecutors contention that Zimmerman acted with a depraved mind when he shot Trayvon a standard the prosecution must meet if the murder charge is to stand.
I still dont see any evidence yet of the elements of second-degree murder, said Miami defense attorney John Priovolos, a former prosecutor. The special prosecutor has to prove ill will, hatred or spite. I dont see any evidence of his state of mind, he said.
The new evidence also includes photos of injuries to Zimmerman that could bolster his self-defense claims, and statements from witnesses that appear to contradict some key conclusions made by investigators in an affidavit supporting Zimmermans arrest.
The new information tends to support what Zimmerman is saying, that he was being assaulted, said former Miami-Dade prosecutor David Waksman.
This case was never a second-degree murder case, said longtime Miami defense lawyer Jeffrey Weiner. If anything, it was an overreaction in a self-defense situation.
Zimmerman was monitoring his neighborhood on a rainy evening when he first noticed Trayvon walking behind a row of homes on his way to his fathers apartment. Zimmerman called the police to report a suspicious guy the kind of complaint Zimmerman made routinely in his role as neighborhood watchman.
A dispatcher advised Zimmerman not to follow Trayvon. Prosecutors believe Zimmerman did follow anyway. At some point, the pair struggled, and Zimmerman shot the unarmed teen from close range.
Several witnesses in the community said they heard sounds of a struggle and cries for help. But no witnesses could provide evidence showing whether it was Zimmerman or Martin who started the altercation.
Prosecutors have described Zimmerman as a frustrated and overzealous watchman who falsely assumed that Martin was a criminal prowling his neighborhood.
These aholes, they always get away, Zimmerman complained to the police dispatcher.
An unnamed girl, described by Trayvons family as his girlfriend, told investigators she was on the phone with Trayvon in the moments before the shooting, when Trayvon told her he was being followed by a man while on his way home. Her statement suggested that Trayvon was first attacked by Zimmerman.
He said the guy was getting real close to him. Next thing I hear, Why are you following me for? And I hear this man: What are you doing around here? the girl told prosecutors.
The girl said she could then hear somebody bump Trayvon before hearing Trayvon say: Get off, get off. Then the phone went dead.