“I love that instead of reporting gossip, we can use actual documents,” she said. “I look at what the state can prove, not what Zimmerman can prove. He doesn’t have to prove anything.”
She believes the tracing of Trayvon’s steps that night shows he lingered too long, which could back up Zimmerman’s account that the teenager circled back and attacked him.
“I went from being fascinated about this case to trying to track the state’s theory and how they were going to make their case,” she said. “I don’t think they can make their case, if they are relying on the theory that he followed Trayvon. Following someone is not illegal and does not make him the aggressor.”
The bulk of the other amateur investigators came to the opposite conclusion. They say there are too many holes in Zimmerman’s story for his self-defense claim to hold up in court.
The blogger who goes by Tchoupi created an image-sharing site with a sophisticated histogram, mapping out what he believes were Zimmerman’s movements. Analyzing the lights passing by the Retreat at Twin Lakes clubhouse surveillance video the night of the shooting, Tchoupi theorizes that Zimmerman drove around several times in an apparent search for Trayvon, although he acknowledges he does not have proof that the lights are from Zimmerman’s vehicle.
“I have never been in a country where I could get access to not all, but most of the information of a case so early in the process,” Tchoupi, who hails from France and lives on the U.S. West Coast, told The Miami Herald. “It allows people to get involved and analyze it themselves. It’s quite amazing. I have to admit: It’s not fair to George.”
Like many of the other researchers, he asked that his real name not be published, because he doesn’t want his day job associated with his hobby.
Zimmerman called police the evening of Feb. 26 to say he saw a suspicious-looking teenager who walked too slowly and looked around at houses. When the kid took off running, Zimmerman was recorded going after him.
The call ends and about two minutes later, another one picks up: the first call to 911 about the two struggling.
The timing of the calls is critical, because Zimmerman’s accounts to police would suggest that it took him two minutes and 39 seconds to walk 100 feet, according to Tchoupi’s analysis. At the same time, if Zimmerman’s account were true, several bloggers point out that Trayvon would have had to have sprinted.
They also note that Trayvon’s body was about 50 feet from where Zimmerman said he was attacked, suggesting that the entire incident occurred in a different location than Zimmerman said. (The change in location, they believe, is because he doesn’t want to admit that he pursued Trayvon after the police call ended.)
“It’s quite clear to me that he’s not telling the whole truth, if he is telling the truth at all,” Tchoupi said.
Many of the armchair investigators have taken their theories to YouTube, where they post video reenactments and maps.
“You have a CSI phenomenon, where people think you can take a blurry video, focus it and find the truth,” said a blogger who goes by “whonoze.”
“On the other hand there are indisputable facts: the non-emergency call, Google maps and a clock. Stick those things together. People were not doing that, and were coming up with scenarios that were physically impossible.”