A user named “Super Filexican” has posted 41 such profanity-laced YouTube videos and has been banned twice for hate speech. He said he embarked on his 200 hours of research to support Zimmerman, who he believed was being convicted by the media. But he said his analysis helped him determine that it would have been impossible for Zimmerman to fire a round from a holstered gun while getting pummeled by someone who straddled him.
“His stories are almost like a child’s stories,” he said in an email to The Miami Herald. “You have goons jumping out of bushes calling you ‘homey.’ You have the same goon attacking for no reason. You have the ‘hero’ of the story pulling off superhuman acts. It’s pure silliness.”
Many of the researchers share their theories at bcclist.com, a website where the comments section sometimes soars into the thousands.
The Bcclist moderator, Christopher, says he works on the case from about 7 p.m. to midnight every night. “I’m calculating distances while other people are watching Real Housewives of New Jersey,” he said. “My wife thinks I’m obsessed.”
The bloggers all agree that that their Web traffic skyrocketed since they took on the case. Axiom Amnesia, where much of the information is posted, said it once got 80,000 hits on a single day. When the recordings of the 911 calls were released, the site could not sustain the volume of traffic.
Viewers are most interested, the site’s administrators said, in lab results that show Trayvon did not have Zimmerman’s DNA on his sleeves.
The administrators of that site, Heit & Cheri, are unusual in that they have paid for access to the Duval County server reserved for the media.
“Our goal is to highlight the inconsistencies,” Cheri said. “That’s what people have come to expect from us.”
At the start of the case, Zimmerman’s defense attorney, Mark O’Mara, sought to have the entire case file sealed, and the state attorney agreed. Media lawyers, including The Herald’s, intervened, and the judge agreed to release the court record, but with witness names covered. O’Mara filed several court motions to keep the most damaging information about the molestation accusations out of the files, because they would hurt Zimmerman’s chance at a fair trial, but the judge refused to flout Florida’s public record law.
Now Zimmerman’s defense attorney said he has two interns whose sole task is to keep track of what’s on the blogs.
“Most of it is crazy, but there are a couple of nuggets in there,” O’Mara said in a May interview. Of one blog, he said: “It’s absurd, and it’s never going away. The blog must have people who are up all night long endlessly analyzing evidence. They are doing my job for me.”
O’Mara admits he gets hooked on examining the evidence, too. “It starts out OK, and then you are up all night,” he said. “One day I will come home, my computer will be gone and my wife will have divorced me.”
A woman, her computer and 9 cats
Natalie Jackson, a lawyer for Trayvon’s parents, suspects O’Mara’s dive into social media helped incite the movement.
“The act of the defense of putting on a case in social media propelled a lot of these people, and they ended up blogging and using evidence to prove his client guilty,” Jackson said. “When the defense embraced social media, everyone said it was a great innovative thing. I don’t know; I am not so sure.”
The lawyers in the case agree that the bloggers are doing the work that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars to produce. The maps the bloggers have made normally cost about $3,000 to have made, Jackson said.
Attorney Jose Baez, who successfully represented accused killer Casey Anthony in what Time magazine called “The Social Media Trial of the Century,” said the armchair experts do more harm than good.
“Florida’s public-record law needs to bow to a defendant’s right to a fair trial,” he said. “Some woman sitting behind her computer with nine cats knows more about the case than anybody. What you end up with is a dog and pony show, and people want to march in the parade. I think it is severely perverting justice.”