Detailed forensics reports in the Trayvon Martin killing show the victim’s DNA wasn’t on the gun that killed him and very little of it landed on the shooter’s clothes, according to evidence released Wednesday.
While the Miami Gardens teenager’s supporters saw the state’s crime lab blood-work results as proof that an innocent teen was attacked, experts say the evidence won’t produce any courtroom bombshells for either side.
Duval County State Attorney Angela Corey’s office released a batch of Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab reports, emails, photos, drawings, recordings and witness statements Wednesday as part of its ongoing prosecution of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer charged with second-degree murder. Zimmerman claims he killed Trayvon in self defense.
Among the highlights from Wednesday’s release:
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• Although the DNA of at least three people was found on the gun’s holster, only Zimmerman’s DNA was identified.
• Trayvon was excluded from being one of the two people who left DNA on the gun’s grip.
• Zimmerman’s DNA was not found under Trayvon’s fingernails, although a bit of his blood was located on the bottom part of the sweatshirt Trayvon wore under his hoodie.
• Former Sanford police chief Bill Lee received an avalanche of nasty emails in the weeks after Trayvon’s death, with subject lines such as: “Step down, you incompetent jerk” and “you are a racist.”
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Trayvon’s family, said the forensic evidence was an important boost for the prosecution.
“I think it’s very significant that there doesn’t seem to be anything from Trayvon on Zimmerman to suggest they had this altercation, and it seems there should be more of Zimmerman on Trayvon,” Crump said. “The evidence seems to suggest that it contradicts Zimmerman’s assertion that Trayvon was struggling for the gun. If Trayvon was grabbing Zimmerman, slamming his head on the ground, why isn’t his DNA on his fingernails? His hair?
“We don’t have Trayvon here to ask him, so we have to rely on objective evidence.”
Zimmerman told police that he killed the unarmed teen when, during a struggle, Trayvon reached for Zimmerman’s gun.
Photos showed Zimmerman suffered injuries to the back of his head, which was shaved very short.
The reports showed none of Zimmerman’s blood on Trayvon’s sleeves or cuffs.
Although most of the blood on Zimmerman’s jacket was his own, at least one stain was Trayvon’s.
The forensic experts noted that Trayvon’s clothes were damp and reeked of mold or ammonia.
Experts who reviewed the reports for The Miami Herald said it’s not unusual to find several people’s DNA on a firearm, particularly if the owner shared it at a gun range.
They also agreed that Trayvon wouldn’t necessarily get DNA under his fingernails, even if he had punched Zimmerman.
“What prosecutors want to prove is not going to be proven or supported by DNA findings,” said Lawrence Kobilinsky, a forensics professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. “I don’t see anything that differentiates between Trayvon being the aggressor or vice versa.”
He was, however, surprised there was not more of Trayvon’s blood on Zimmerman’s clothes, particularly if Trayvon was straddling Zimmerman when he was shot, as Zimmerman and witnesses described to police. Florida International University biologist Martin Tracey, a DNA expert who often testifies for the prosecution in criminal cases, said that for Trayvon’s DNA to wind up on the weapon, he would have to have handled it “for a reasonable amount of time.” The absence of his DNA doesn’t mean much for the case, Tracey said.
“My suspicion is that the defense and the state will present the DNA, because jurors expect to see it, but neither will make anything of it,” Tracey said. “It doesn’t say, ‘He did it!”