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It’s the forensics, stupid

It’s the forensics, stupid

Piers Morgan interviewed crime writer Patricia Cornwell as to how critical forensics — such as bullet distance and trajectory — will be.

Since no one, except perhaps the investigators, has that evidence so far, anyone who is speculating on what happend is just speculating.

The transcript is here, and includes a segment with Alan Dershowitz for which I have not been able to find a video.


And remember, there are really two versions of what happened here and they’re both rather extreme….

But when the forensics come out finally, and when the autopsy comes out, we’ll find it’s a much more nuanced case.  And it will turn largely on who hit the first blow.  And since there are no real witnesses to that, there may, inevitably, be reasonable doubt under Florida law.

*     *     *

PATRICIA CORNWELL, BESTSELLING AUTHOR:  That’s exactly right and Mr. Dershowitz is exactly right.  What we’re waiting for now is what did the medical examiner really find?  What is the trajectory of the bullet?  Was it a contact wound?  Was it a slightly distant wound?  Is the location of the wound consistent with the handedness of the shooter and what he says about where he was positioned at the time of the shooting?  Such as if he says he was on his back or they were standing up or who knows what?

But there’s — in addition, the gun.  Does it have Trayvon’s DNA on it?  Does it have his fingerprints on it, on it or the holster that might indicate he was grabbing for it?  What’s on the — the iced tea bottle?  What’s on the cell phone?  For example, maybe there was some sort of struggle.  The alleged wound to the back of the head.  How do we know that wasn’t caused by maybe somebody who was frightened and hit somebody with their phone because it’s all they’ve got in the hand or a bottle.  Those should be checked for DNA, for evidence.  The clothing should be checked for trace evidence.

This is a rare bit of media sanity in otherwise insane coverage.


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“Time will tell”.

Which, in our current world of instant gratification and one-hour crime melodramas…

and hyper-polarization.

Is like gargling broken glass. Justice moves rather slowly, and with deliberation.

    Browndog in reply to Ragspierre. | April 3, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    NO TIME!

    Bill O’Rielly was off his meds (again) last night and said (paraphrasing)

    Zimmerman will be arrested soon; and should be-because he has to be. Otherwise there might be race riots will happen, or something-

      Ragspierre in reply to Browndog. | April 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm

      I still like that presumption of innocence thingy…

      Meds or not.

      And I still insist on law being as apolitical as we can make it be.

“…a rare bit of media sanity in otherwise insane coverage.”

But where would we be without No Drama Obama?

Uncle Samuel | April 3, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Patricia Cornwell – Alan Dershowitz – I’ve read both of their works. I love his novels with stories about Israel and Jewish history. Her books are raw and graphic, especially the series with the woman pathologist/coroner.

HOWEVER – I really resented some of the things they said in this interview… some of the adjectives and statements seemed like agenda-laden talking points, intended to be prejudicial and shape public opinion. They went beyond speculation into insinuation and assertion, IMHO.

“Well, unfortunately, because Florida has this absurd “Stand Your Ground” law which makes it very, very difficult to successfully prosecute even people who may have deliberately and willfully shot because all they have to do is raise a plausible claim of self-defense and all kinds of restrictions kick in.”

“The Zimmerman account is equally simple minded. That is, the young man Trayvon hit him from behind.”

I hope they photographed those injuries because the medical expert needs to look at those to say, how do you know they’re not self-inflicted? How do you know that somebody didn’t want to try to make it look like they’ve been attacked and sort of waiting for the police and there’s a dead body on the ground?

“…my view, Alan, from the start of this has been a kind of incredulity, I guess. That George Zimmerman wasn’t arrested on the night.”
“But to let the guy just go home in the clothes he was wearing, with the — you know, with no apparent legal process even being commenced.”

My comments:
Dershowitz ignores the fact that the police cuffed Zimmerman, presumably took him to the hospital for stitches. Since he does not have steri-strips and bandages, the gashes were likely deep enough and bleeding sufficiently so that they needed to be stitched. Paramedics and nurses do not do sutures, as far as I know. I’m not sure even PAs do sutures.

Second, Zimmerman was interrogated for five hours after he got to the police station from the hospital. The police report was not filed until 3-4am. It is likely that the prosecutor’s office was consulted before he was released. We don’t know what he was wearing that night at the time of the fight, nor do we know what he actually wore home. His original clothing could have been confiscated before he actually got to the hospital…which would have been the thing to do if they were going to check for the infamous powder burns on Zimmerman and his clothing.

On the surface, it looks as though things were done by the book, even if the Sanford PD do not have a CSI, homicide department, and other big city resources.

Dershowitz’ contempt for the Stand Your Grown law was obvious. Was that a paid political announcement? A personal agenda (as a liberal, is he anti-gun?) or just a professional opinion?

    Ragspierre in reply to Uncle Samuel. | April 3, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Cromwell is the hawtness, too…!!! (I am an old guy, so that population is larger for me!) Fine mind…if a little dark.

    “Stand Your Ground” was VERY well supported in Florida. Even Michigan has one! Heh…!!!

      Browndog in reply to Ragspierre. | April 3, 2012 at 6:43 pm

      Yes, we do-

      Based on settled law that dates back to the Caveman Manifesto of 2189 B.C.

      jimbo3 in reply to Ragspierre. | April 4, 2012 at 10:01 am

      The Michigan law requires both an “honest and a “reasonable” belief that “the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent death of or imminent great bodily harm to himself or herself or to another individual.” The Florida law also requires a “reasonable” belief that the use of deadly force was needed.

      That’s a jury or judge question.

      And several of you gave me crap about the value of searching Zimmerman’s gun for fingerprints or something else to indicate that the kid had reached for it. Looks like Cornwall disagrees with you: “But there’s — in addition, the gun. Does it have Trayvon’s DNA on it? Does it have his fingerprints on it, on it or the holster that might indicate he was grabbing for it?”

        SmokeVanThorn in reply to jimbo3. | April 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm

        Do you know what Cornwell’s credentials really are? She’s not Scarpetta.

        SmokeVanThorn in reply to jimbo3. | April 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm

        And, by the way, you did not advocate “searching Zimmerman’s gun for fingerprints or something else.” You took the (flat wrong) position that if Martin’s fingerprints weren’t found on the gun that would disprove Zimmerman’s account.

    Estragon in reply to Uncle Samuel. | April 4, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Well, as far as “how do we know [Zimmerman’s wounds]aren’t self-inflicted?” We don’t. We don’t know that an escaped orangutan didn’t jump into the fight, grab the gun, and shoot Martin, either. All we know is there isn’t any evidence supporting either scenario.

    It isn’t really even a case of the “Stand Your Ground” law as I read the facts. According to all available evidence, Zimmerman had no chance to retreat. There is nothing in the police reports, 911 calls, witness statements, or physical evidence to show otherwise. That makes it classic self defense.

    There is also no evidence of the “tea and Skittles,” which may be a fabrication. The nearest convenience store is over a mile away, and it was raining. No sign of any tea, Skittles, package, receipt, or convenience store video in the time frame of the purchase. Some say it is drug slang.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Uncle Samuel. | April 4, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Regarding Cromwell, the “expert” – I think somebody needs to explain Occam’s Razor to this chick.

We SO need a facepalm icon…


The only reason we have reached this singular moment of media sanity is due to the fact that the false narrative that was being spun has crashed and burned so spectacularly.

Now it’s all just walking back the cat.

    Trucker20 in reply to ThomasD. | April 3, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Nah, the ‘media sanity’ if there is such a thing anymore has been reached by the fact that it’s been an entire day with nothing new happening in the case to talk about it.

    Nothing has ‘crashed and burned’, the ‘injuries’ if that’s what they were, still aren’t significant enough to support having one’s head smashed against the concrete repeatedly.

    If Zimmerman had been taken to the hospital by police, the media sniffers would have found some nurses to interview by now…they’ve dug up old co-workers and other more distant connections.

    Whether Zimmerman will be arrested is unclear. But if and when he is, there will be a trial and he will get off easily. Reasonable doubt will be easily established, and he will go free, whether or not the ‘stand your ground’ bs is involved or not.

      Estragon in reply to Trucker20. | April 4, 2012 at 1:38 am

      Zimmerman was treated at the scene by EMTs and declined to go to the hospital – he went to his own doctor the next day. Instead he gave the police a full statement at the scene and then in five hours at the station, all without an attorney present. A guilty man with a broken nose and banged up head who had just shot someone to death who speaks freely to the police for nearly seven hours (total) without an attorney and gives them no probable cause for an arrest in that time is a master criminal.

      Most innocent people would give incriminating evidence against themselves in that time. No kidding:

      It’s not a question of “reasonable doubt” at all. It’s now a question of “probable cause to arrest” which is required under Florida criminal law. The police and prosecutor in this case acted thoroughly and properly as far as is known. The “special prosecutor” was named for political reasons, to buy time so the riot-mongers go back to their holes or MSNBC gigs.

      It was an obvious move, but maybe not the smartest. Now they will be faced with the choice of charging and prosecuting a man they know they haven’t enough evidence to arrest, much less convict, or inciting the mob to claim a cover-up, white-wash, or whatever race-baiting nonsense Crump and Sharpton plan next.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Trucker20. | April 4, 2012 at 2:00 am

      Thank God one of us has a copy of the responding paramedics’ reports. Please, please share it with us?

BannedbytheGuardian | April 3, 2012 at 10:04 pm

I don’t are what anyone says . I am waiting for the gal with the mega straight long thick pony tail from Miami CSI. She must definitely have swiped the formaldehyde & not given any to the leading man who is the only person in TV land who has not gotten younger.

I read elsewhere an interesting POV. That Zimmerman is just another who plays minority victim. His father is a judge or so -presumably the bigger financial & cultural family influence. His mother is Peruvian & by the look of Zimerman (squat & squarish build ) is more Native Peruvian than Spanish .

He is a Democrat & I am guessing as is his father. He allegedly is a community organiser/agitator for other victims eg black homeless men being kicked by bad police offspring. All ethnic but he wants white bread suburban security.

George -you have been punked.

Yeah…SYG was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and in response to idiotic laws in other gun-free areas that require victims to RUN. My understanding on GZs gun…it was only fired once, the clip was full and nothing was in the chamber. Firearms people can correct me if I’m wrong but after a 9mm fires, the next bullet is fed up. If there is no bullet, the chambering mechanism must have been held so that it could not chamber the next round. Like someone having their hands on it holding it during a struggle. Please let the truth of this sordid mess come out soon. So.tired.of.armchair.quarterbacking.

Did I read that correctly -” Forensics expert Patricia Cornwell examines the ….”

Love the Scarpetta series which obviously took a lot of research into forensics, and stints as a technical writer and computer analyst for a coroner count a little, but …… a forensics expert? A novelist? Wow! Wow!

Where’s the precedent for setting such a low standard for an “expert”? What? All the JournoList that cover Global Warming and offer their “expert” opinion? Ok, you got me.

Could have been worse. CNN might have interviewed either William Peterson or Mark Harmon.

    caambers in reply to MaDr. | April 4, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Well, the media trotted out a guy with a BA in History as some sort of voice expert…cuz he said so himself….to prove that wasn’t GZ yelling for help. It’s like they are trying to throw anyone up to bolster their original narrative and it still falls apart.

Has it been established there actually was an Ice Tea, and Skittles? And that Martin was actually returning from a 7-11?

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to hglaske. | April 4, 2012 at 1:17 am

    No it has not. I’ve been al around he Pro Trayvon sites & have not found any confirmation.

    Further I read elsewhere that there was no adult in the house that night. Yet again somebody here said there was a 13 year old brother . Then again (elsewhere ) he was said to have only an older brother.

    Seems the “tea” & ‘skittles’ is just what someone said somewhere. My guess is the lawyer & that it was a euphemism for kids heading out of the house -which is what they want to do all the time. Besides a 17 year old would not get just one drink & a litlte bag -they would get a huge bottle & several bags of snacks. They eat big.

    On with the show. I am beginning to enjoy it .

      The other kid was Martin’s father’s girlfriend’s son, who didn’t mention to them when they got home that Trayvon had never come home, or that there were cops all over the neighborhood for a couple of hours earlier.


      No tea or skittles was ever found, nor evidence he had been to convenience store, even.

        caambers in reply to Estragon. | April 4, 2012 at 7:46 am

        That’s because St. Skittles wasn’t supposed to leave the house as he was grounded. I just read something this am about what the father said the night he and the GF returned home about Trayvon not being there. That he thought he must have gone to the movies and turned his phone off. Either Martin had wings or something is really getting hinky with the father’s stories. The nearest convenience stores are a good distance away to be sure, but the closest movie theater is miles away–near the mall. Who did Martin know in this area? I always assumed he didn’t know anybody as he wasn’t from these parts but now I’m beginning to wonder if he did meet someone, if they picked him up or what did he do that night? I do know one thing, it’s been long enough for the tox screen to come back so where is that? And if the media can get their hands on PD film, why haven’t they been able to get their hands on any video from the convenience stores that would verify he was shopping that night?

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to hglaske. | April 4, 2012 at 1:34 am

    Patricia has a degree in English.

    All this DNA stuff – the holy grail of crime fiction – might be evidence. But then again Wasn’t it raining?

    It is really a shame it all took so long. Otherwise they could have lifted his body through the streets Islamic style & wailed . It could have toured the country. Urban Stigmata would be the rage.

    What about the bullet ? Did it go straight through & if so where is it?

    Gotta be a mini series in this. Miami Roots-taken from his home ……shot & killed …..