Many of them say their research shows there is a two-minute gap in Zimmerman’s account that suggests he is hiding something. Their reenactments, they say, suggest that what Zimmerman says happened that night would have been physically impossible: He couldn’t have drawn a gun that fast during a vicious attack, and they believe Zimmerman’s telling of the story would require Trayvon to have sprinted across the housing complex. The Web sleuths can pinpoint Zimmerman’s inconsistencies from memory, and are deeply suspicious of witnesses who gave statements to police that did not match their 911 calls.
Although those witnesses were not named, the researchers studied their statements and compared them to real-estate records and Google maps to figure out their names and where they live. Zimmerman supporters showed a subsequent probe of the witnesses’ Facebook accounts indicates at least two of them signed petitions in support of Trayvon, putting their objectivity in doubt.
At the same time that some try to discredit Zimmerman, there is a rising movement to shine what one blogger calls a “disinfecting light” on Trayvon, whose social media accounts were picked apart in a quest to portray him as a drug-addled thug who may have participated in videotaped fight-club events in the months before his death. They believe the AriZona watermelon soda and Skittles he purchased minutes before he died were the fixings for a drug concoction called Purple Drank, and they present unverified screen shots from his social media pages to prove it.
The surveillance video from the 7-Eleven he shopped at just before he died shows what even some Trayvon- supporters say is the teen interacting with teenagers outside the store and possibly buying a cigar from them. The cigar purchase is believed to have been for him to make a “blunt,” a cigar filled with marijuana used to mask the illegal drug.
“In this case, so many people believed that Zimmerman had hunted down and murdered this innocent black teenager, and that it was Trayvon screaming for help on the 911 calls, when all the hard evidence showed it was just the opposite,” Wagist.com blogger Dan Linehart said in an email to The Herald. He said the analysis being done on the Internet is far less damaging than the mainstream media’s portrayal of Zimmerman as a neighborhood vigilante who benefited from a botched investigation.
Other pro-Zimmerman bloggers have set their sights on Trayvon’s parents in an effort to portray them as irresponsible parents profiting from their son’s death. They have poked holes in the story provided by the girl who says she was on the phone with Trayvon as he walked home from the convenience store that night. Conservative bloggers posted the social media accounts of a girl they say is her to show she carried on after the killing as though nothing had happened.
Another site posted the name, address and family photographs of the cousin who told police Zimmerman molested her when they were both kids.
Through the lens of a defense lawyer
Merritt, a criminal defense lawyer in Denver, has one of the few pro-Zimmerman sites where talk of Trayvon’s drug use, Twitter posts and scurrilous accusations about him are off-limits. A veteran blogger and legal analyst, she views the case through the lens of the rights of the accused.