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Archive for May, 2012

Big raw scene map

May 30, 2012 Leave a comment

For anyone interested in making their own crime scene map, there’s a high res wide-area aerial view of The Retreat here:
http://www.mediafire.com/?pyyt1nb74t1wqk6

It doesn’t have a scenario on it. There are labels for some of the key locations, but it’s a Photoshop file with everything in layers so it’s easily editable. The locations are marked in color and the underlying map is in black and white, but there’s a color layer under that, so you can just turn off the b+w layer to see things in color.

There are also ardage scales running from the clubhouse over to East RVC, down the vertical leg of TTL, and down the ‘alley’ sidewalk. This should make it easier to calculate total distances TM or GZ would have traveled, moving at different speeds along those routes, matching those to the time info embedded in the calls, etc.

I’ll be using it in future posts myself.

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There’s one person who isn’t screaming for the charges to be dropped

May 29, 2012 Leave a comment

After the document dump, the usual suspects from the right-wing blogs on one side, and Alan Dershowitz et. al. on the other have opined that the State has no case at all, and the charges against George Zimmerman must absolutely absolutely be dropped immediately lest all justice be extinguished on Earth. Yet one voice is absent from this chorus: Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Meara. He has cautioned everyone to stay calm. He seems quite sure Angela Corey is still holding onto her ‘good stuff’. He intimates that he will not be surprised at all if some material quite detrimental to his client materializes. And he maintains, as he has all along, that he expects the case to go to trial.

Really smart guy, that Mark O’Mara. Keeps his powder dry (so to speak), won’t shoot till he sees the whites of their eyes (ok enough gun tropes), knows when to hold, knows when to fold ’em. I wonder if he likes George Zimmerman. I’m sure he’ll never tell. But I have the feeling that right now he’s the only person in the world actually looking out for George Zimmerman the human being, as opposed to George Zimmerman the cause, or George the prodigal son. I kind of want to see him in action in the courtroom, but then I feel foolish because what I really want is for Bill and Ted to show up back on February 26th, waylay Trayvon Martin for a few minutes with some excellent humor, so George Zimmerman goes onto Target to buy whatever he needed to buy, and Chad Green gets to taste some of those tangy Skittles.

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Depraved Mind? Consider me skeptical

May 29, 2012 Leave a comment

I have to confess that as time goes on the Old hippie inside me is getting a higher level of Bad Vibes from George Zimmerman. But this blog isn’t about vibes. In the post below, I brought up the possibility, just a possibility, that Trayvon Martin might indeed have spent the last 45 seconds of his life screaming for help while staring at the barrel of George Zimmerman’s 9mm pistol. Now, if that did in fact happen, would that mean George Zimmerman cold-heartedly executed Trayvon Martin? Not at all.

Back down in the Two Narratives post I noted that personal histories are among the evidence we have to consider in this case. George Zimmerman is a far from perfect guy. He’s got some “issues.” Could he have snapped and done something unthinkably horrible? I suppose. Is it likely given what we know about him? I highly doubt it. Perhaps I’ll put it anecdotally and say that I’ve known quite a few people who are more screwed up than George Zimmerman, and along some similar lines, and none of them are violent.

So lets just follow the chain of events of the possible explanation I offered below. The scenario makes no assumption about who started the fight. It suggests that at the beginning of the struggle Trayvon Martin had the upper hand, and was able at least to knock Zimmerman down, possibly causing the larger cut on the back of his head as the older man’s head the ground, and he got at least one good pop in on Zimmerman’s nose. A few additional blows may have caused Zimmerman’s other various cuts, scrapes and scratches. All of this damage could have been inflicted very quickly, in less than 10 seconds. Then, the hypothesis goes, Zimmerman uses his superior weight and upper body strength to engineer a reversal, and having gained the advantage unholsters his pistol and points it at Martin to stop the fight.

This is not a TV cop show or an action movie. This is real life. I’d guess George Zimmerman has never pointed a loaded pistol at another human being in anger before. I’d guess that Trayvon Martin has never seen a loaded pistol pointed at him in anger before. I’d guess that both men are scared absolutely out of their minds, and are acting anything but cool, calm and collected. I’d guess Zimmerman is so shaky he can’t say anything, much less “I’m the Neighborhood Watch captain and the Police are on the way!” And I’m guessing that Trayvon can only see a gun as imminent death, and he totally freaks out and just starts screaming. He expects Zimmerman to fire immediately, but Zimmerman doesn’t, because, well, he doesn’t want to kill the punk asshole kid,  just hold him until the cops come. But this delay just confuses Trayvon even more, freaks him out even more. Zimmerman is confused as well: the punk is not acting like a punk on TV, he’s screaming and hollering like a crazy man, like HE’S the victim, like he thinks George is some deranged pervert serial killer. ( Certainly one element of this incident is that Zimmerman had No Clue Whatsoever as to the kind of assumptions a teenager might make about the intent of a burly intimidating looking man, who, after watching him with the evil eye for awhile, began chasing him.) So Zimmerman’s basically frozen, not knowing what to do about this wailing psycho skell he’s captured, and he just keeps pointing the gun at him, hoping the cops arrive. Damn, they never get here on time!

And then I’d guess, figuring it’s his last and only chance to survive, Trayvon does finally try to take Zimmerman’s gun away. It doesn’t work. Zimmerman reacts by reflex and fires into Trayvon’s chest.

Now, again, this is all just wild conjecture about a way things might have occurred differently from how Team Z has presented them. My point being that unless someone comes up with a substantive offer of proof that George Zimmerman had worse intent on his mind, what I’ve offered above is basically the worst case scenario for Zimmerman’s culpability that makes sense to me, knowing what I do about the man’s history and temperment. And I don’t see a depraved mind there. I just see a guy who’s seen too many Law and Order reruns and gotten in way over his head.

If anything like this did happen, I’ll blame George Zimmerman less than I’ll blame the people who allowed him and encouraged him to carry a 9mm pistol on a shopping trip to Target.

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Who was screaming? Another take.

May 28, 2012 1 comment

All the commentary on ‘who was screaming’ seems to based on attempts to identify the screaming voice by comparing it to the voices of the two men. So Sybrena Fulton hears Trayvon, Robert Zimmerman Sr. hears George, etc. etc. But there’s another way to look at it, or rather to listen to it.

The last scream for help begins (that is the ‘h’ becomes audible) exactly 1.1 seconds before the shot is fired. Thus, it would seem Zimmerman has to have the gun in his hand before that scream is uttered. Why would you yell for help one second before your finger closes on a trigger? I mean, you’re sort of past the ‘help’ stage at that point. You might yell, “Stop or I’ll shoot!” But there’s nothing like that on the recording.

I’m sure Team Z will retort, ‘well there was a struggle for the gun.’ Perhaps, there was, but I can’t see how that would be possible if the Team Z account of the struggle is correct. George Zimmerman’s arms were supposedly pinned down by Trayvon Martin as Martin dealt repeated concussive blows to his skull by slamming it against concrete, one more blow away from a persistent vegitative state according to Robert Jr… That might be an exaggeration, but we might expect a person to be somewhat weakened and woozy from taking multiple blows to the head against a hard surface. So how does a groggy GZ manage to free his arms and unholster his gun, against an opponent who supposedly has had complete physical control over him, and how does the wounded GZ manage to win the struggle for the gun against this superior antagonist to the point where he is able to put a bullet directly into Trayvon Martin’s heart from a few inches away? Well, the logical answers are “he doesn’t.”

If there was a struggle for the gun, they Trayvon Martin lost. And if Trayvon Martin lost that means Zimmermans arms were not pinned under Trayvon Martin’s legs. It also means that Zimmerman had unholstered the gun and had a good grip on it before the last cry for help went out. Which means there’s good reason to suspect that this cry did not come from George Zimmerman. And since all the cries sound like they’re coming from the same person, that means there’s good reason to suspect none of the cries recorded on the 911 call belong to Zimmerman.

This does not, of course, ‘prove’ that Zimmerman did not cry for help. He clearly did receive injuries after all. The 911 call does not record the beginning of the fight, which according to the witnesses who made the first call, had been going on for a fair number of seconds before they realized the seriousness of the situation by virtue of hearing the first screams and then picked up the phone. It is entirely possible that W6 John observed the beginning of the fight, at a point where Martin was on top, and that Zimmerman did call out to John for help. John went inside immediately, and saw no more of events until he looked out his upstairs window well after the shot went. So, it’s possible that after taking a shot to the nose and a couple bangs to the back of his head, which would only have taken a few seconds, Zimmerman was able to use his superior weight to engineer a reversal, and wind up on top of Trayvon Martin, 9mm pistol in hand, and all the screaming we hear in the 911 call comes after that point. I’m not saying I can prove this is what happened, or that I want to claim this is what happened. I’m merely saying it’s a possibility that cannot be ruled out. It would also help reconcile John’s testimony of Trayvon-on-top, which does seem to correspond to an early part of the fight, to other witnesses testimony of Zimmerman-on-top, all of which seem to correspond to points just before or just after the shot was fired.

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The forensic audio ‘experts’ reports of who was screaming

May 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I was surprised to see Tom Owen and Ed Primeau’s names on the prosecutions preliminary witness list. These are the two ‘forensic audio experts’ hired by the Orlando Sentinal to offer an opinion regarding who was screaming in the background of the first 911 call. Both men said they were quite sure the voice did NOT belong to George Zimmerman. When these guys were interviewed on one of the cable shows (I forget, and I’m too lazy to look it up right now), the host asked them if they expected to appear at a trial, and Owen replied that he expected both the prosecution and defense to hire their own experts. Well, the prosecution seems not to have done that,  just listed the two guys engaged by the Sentinal. We’ve since learned that the prosecution passed the call along to an FBI audio lab, which reported back that they couldn’t tell anything, either about who was yelling or the “mystery word.” I find that odd, since the mystery word, at least, is pretty easy to parse. It’s also odd that they asked the FBI lab only for their own independent opinion, and not to comment on Owen’s methodology.

I don’t think Primeau’s testimony would be worth a hoot, since it seems to be completely subjective, based solely on “critical listening skills.” Unless he can explain exactly what “critical listening skills” are, and demonstrate precisely step-by-step how they lead to valid conclusions, I remain completely unpersuaded. Owen employs a more sophisticated technical analysis, based on computerized comparisons of audio waveforms. But this still has the same issue: can you demonstrate in general that the method works? What Owen did for the Sentinal does not even remotely follow the protocol for a valid scientific experiment. The issue is NOT, as many people have assumed, that Owen did not have a sample of Trayvon Martin’s voice to compare to George Zimmerman’s. It’s that he doesn’t have any ‘controls’ at all, no other comparisons to establish a baseline for his Zimmerman-to-scream comparison. At a minimum, in order to establish some scientific validity to his claim, he would need to do the following:
1. Repeat the test comparing the screams against several other samples of Zimmerman’s voice, for example the earlier 911 calls that have been released.
2. Repeat the test comparing the screams against several other voices that are NOT George Zimmerman’s, but in a similar vocal range.
3. Conduct a new experiment, in which several test subjects (I would guess a minimum of 5, again with voices similar to Zimmerman’s tonally) would re-enact his police call from transcripts, recorded via the type of cellphone Mr. Zimmerman owned, and would also scream for help, recorded via the type of cellphone used by the 911 caller at a similar distance and in a similar environment.

Number 3 would test if the method had any reliability. If Owen says Zimmerman’s vocal print has only a 48% match with the screams, and he would have expected a 90% match under the circumstances, that remains just his assertion. He should be able to demonstrate it by showing he can get something like a 90% match on a majority of comparisons recorded under similar conditions. By the same token, different samples of Zimmerman’s voice should produce roughly similar match levels to the screams, and the selection of voices that are NOT George Zimmerman should also produce roughly similar match levels with the screams. (If the non-GZ voices match up at either 5% or 75%, something’s wrong with the method.

All of this testing would have to be witnessed, step-by-step, by both an independent expert (say a professor of audio engineering, not one of Owen’s ‘forensic expert’ colleagues) and a qualified expert hired by the defense. If you did all that, and Owen’s conclusions stood, you’d have a something. Unless you do all that, if Owen goes on the stand, all Mark O’Mara has to do is ask him whether he applied any measure of scientific checks on his conclusions, and Owen goes “uhhhh…” and you’ve got a nothing.

So at this point, I’m guessing Owen and Primeau are on the witness list as a bluff, Corey’s taking the FBI expert to be definitive (perhaps unwisely), and she has no actual plans to call either Owen or Primeau. IMHO, she ought to be following up with Owen to see if he can substantiate his findings along the lines I’ve suggested. If he can’t, as an officer of the court she would be obliged to disclose that to the defense. So what? Prosecutors are supposed to seek the truth, not just convictions, and even if Owen can’t back up his finding, we’re still where we are now, with no one able to say with any objective evidence, who exactly is screaming.

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GZ’s injuries: Is there a Doctor in the house?

May 28, 2012 1 comment

Sometimes what is absent can be as telling as what is present.  We’ve had the cell phone pic of GZ’s back-of-the-head injuries for over a month,

and the discovery dump contains a thorough selection of clear photos of his head from every angle. Yet, while we’ve heard a gaggle of lawyers and pundits weigh in opining either that these injuries are serious enough to prove a self-defense claim, or that they are too superficial to support Team Z’s story of how Mr. Zimmerman was beaten, AFAIK not one qualified Medical Doctor has weighed in on the evidence. (Please do correct me if I’m wrong here, and post a link.) Now certainly, all the networks have a variety of medical experts on call, none of whom seem to have been brought in. Beyond that, I would guess any good ER doc would have an opinion about the kinds of wounds one would receive in a fistfight, and a look through the Yellow Pages in any major city ought to identify a specialist or two in Traumatic Brain Injury. What have we heard from such qualified folks? Nada, AFAIK.

Nor does any such expert show on the prosecution’s witness list. At first I thought this extremely odd, but as we have now heard that anything related to George Zimmerman’s statements to the police has been redacted, that may explain that. But why then are ‘forensic audio’ guys Tom Owen and Ed Primeau on the witness list? (Well, they rate their own post…)

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George Zimmerman’s psych meds: no there, there

May 27, 2012 Leave a comment

A number of folks on Team T (mainly in the form of blog comments) have been trying to make a big deal of the fact George Zimmerman’s medical records show he has prescriptions for the benzodiazapene Temazepam and the stimulant Adderall. This is like the reflection of the Team Z BS that asserts Trayvon Martin was some kind of crazed junkie because there were traces of THC metabolates in his system. I.e. its just BS. Adderall is typically prescribed for ADHD, and Temazepam as a sleeping aid or anti-anxiety med. (Insomnia is not a ‘nothing’ in psych terms, there are reasons perople can’t get to sleep). Adderal is in the same family as Ritalin, and Temazepam is in the same family as Valium (Diazepam), Klonopin (Clonazepam) and Xanax. All of these drugs have been stigmatized because some people use them recreationally or too excess. However, they are very commonly prescribed, the minor mental health issues they treat are very common, and the vast vast majority of people who receive prescriptions for these meds do not abuse them. The stigmatization of pysch meds (including SSRI antdepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa and Lexapro) is part and parcel of the stigmatization of minor mental illnesses: ADHD, anxiety disorders, depression. In calling these minor I don’t mean to belittle them. Depression can be fatal, of course. I happen to suffer from a persistent chronic generalized anxiety disorder and I can report that it’s a real bitch, and I’d one of my left limbs to get rid of it forever if I could. But people who suffer these afflictions can function pretty well in the world, and more importantly pose no danger to anyone but themselves, at least as far as their mental health issues or their meds are concerned. Yeah, you’ve heard the horror stories about someone who started taking this or that med and went barking mad, but those are like one-in-a-million occurances, and even then they’re pretty much restricted to teenage patients, not 28 year olds like Mr. Zimmerman.

The fact that Mr. Zimmerman was on both an upper (Adderal) and a downer (Temazepam) makes me think his psych issues are something more than trivial, because I am on a similar cocktail, with Ritalin as my upper and Clonazepam as my downer, and my doctors wouldn’t have me on that mix if could be functional without it. But there’s nothing, Nothing NOTHING in this combo that has any connection in and of itself to violence or aggression. In fact, given the background on Zimmerman that suggests he’s shown a short fuse in the past, I’d be more worried about him if he wasn’t on meds like these than hearing that he takes them. No, I’m not a psychiatrist. I just have a 20 year plus history with depression and anxiety, and the curiosity to ask my doctors what’s going on in my head, and do independent research into reliable sources on the effects of the meds I’ve been prescribed.

Trust me. There are plenty of real issues in this case. George Zimmerman’s psych meds is NOT one of them.

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