Prosecutors in the Trayvon Martin case released a stash of evidence to a mouth-watering press horde yesterday evening, making public hundreds of pages of witness testimony, medical reports and photos. The headline takeaways: Zimmerman was hurt (his nose broken and head bloodied) and a few neighbors told police he was a bullying racist; Martin, meanwhile, was shot through the heart and had traces of marijuana in his system.
What the hell does any of this mean for Zimmerman's murder trial? We've got a field guide for ya:
Remember the whole brouhaha over the security footage of Zimmerman showing up at Sanford police headquarters after the shooting, when the Zapruder-esque film was analyzed for 47 straight hours on CNN? In that video, Zimmerman seemed totally unhurt, laying bare his claim that Martin attacked him. Well, you can put that one to bed. New reports confirm Zimmerman's nose was broken, while photos make it clear that his head was bloody:
Who does it help? Zimmerman. There's no longer any doubt that he was hurt in his fight with Martin. Still, his wounds weren't serious enough to go to a hospital and medics on the scene called his injuries "minor."
Autopsy results show that the Miami teenager died from a bullet shot at very close range -- between one and 18 inches away. He also had a scrape on his finger that might indicate some punches being thrown.
Who does it help? Prosecutors. Nothing in his injuries changes the narrative about that night. But the image of a gun pressed to a scrawny, unarmed teen's chest and then blasted through his heart will stay with a jury.
The new batch of evidence makes it abundantly clear that witnesses aren't to be trusted. They variously heard only Martin scream for help and only Zimmerman cry for assistance. Some heard two shots. (Only one was fired.) No one saw the full conflict leading up to the fight.
Who does it help? Probably Zimmerman. With no single, clear witness to contradict his version of what led up to the deadly confrontation, it could be tough for prosecutors to establish that he's guilty of murder.
The two most interesting interviews in the new evidence come from neighbors who called police after the shooting. One woman said Zimmerman started fights and "does not like black people." Another Middle Eastern man who worked with Zimmerman said he'd taunted him with a Jeff Dunham skit called "Achmed the Dead Terrorist."
Who does it help? Prosecutors. Combined with Zimmerman's old MySpace account, they shouldn't have trouble showing a jury that the neighborhood watchman wasn't the most racially sensitive character.
As the new evidence came out, the New York Times published an in-depth report into the Sanford police's investigation of the shooting. Basically, they found that Gomer Pyle would have done a better job. The Sanford cops didn't canvas the neighborhood, didn't secure the crime scene or Zimmerman's car, didn't test the shooter for drugs or booze, and took just one photo. (Though the lead investigator did ultimately conclude that the shooting was "ultimately avoidable" if Zimmerman had just stayed in his car and waited for police.)
Who does it help? Zimmerman. Anything the muddies the water about what happened that night helps the defense and the police did their best not to figure out what actually happened that night.
Martin's pot smoking
The teen's autopsy found trace amounts of THC in his blood and urine, suggesting he'd smoked pot sometime in the recent past.
Who does it help? Conservative dbags and Twitter jokers, mostly. Why does it matter if Martin smoked pot? Yet take a look at the New York Daily News or watch Fox programming today, and you'd think the THC test was the only piece of evidence released yesterday. It has given rise to at least 100,000 would-be hilarious Tweets this morning, though:
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As most of the wishy-washy headlines in the non-Fox media world show this morning, the evidence is a seriously mixed bag. Zimmerman's attorneys feel good that witness reports are muddled and that his injuries were documented, but prosecutors are thrilled with reports of the shooter's racism and the the lead investigators conclusion that the shooting was "ultimately avoidable." It still looks like a tough battle for prosecutors to win a murder verdict.