Time to pull out the Etch-a-Sketch and try to pin down the spot where George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin.
As resources we have:
Google Maps and Zillow;
Zimmerman's call to 911 [transcript], in which he gives directions to his parked car;
film footage the night of the crime and following day from Fox Orlando;
a neighborhood shot from the Tampa Bay Times;
and MapQuest, which locates a 7-Eleven at 1125 Rinehart Rd, Sanford FL (GoogleMaps consistently overlooks this). That is about 3/4 mile from the Retreat at Twin Lakes, and the logical approach would be by way of the main gate.
The gist - Trayvon Martin seemed to have been on a logical path home, which would have ended in the back yard of the home he was visiting after passing down an open walkway. He was roughly a hundred yards from home when he was shot.
George Zimmerman parked near the intersection of a pedestrian walkway and Twin Trees Lane. He was roughly thirty yards from his car when he fired the fatal shot.
Lets start with a map of the immediate area, with some cryptic notes attached:
The main gate is at the top, cleverly labeled "Main Gate". Trayvon Martin would have come through that gate, past the clubhouse across on Twin Trees Lane. His final destination was the home he was visiting on Retreat View Circle a couple of townhouses down from 2821 Retreat View Circle, marked in red.
The blue circle is the likely location of George Zimmerman's car. Let's follow along on the 911 transcript as he describes his location to the police, with my notes embedded:
Zimmerman: If they come in through the gate, tell them to go straight past the club house, and uh, straight past the club house and make a left [onto Twin Trees Lane], and then they go past the mailboxes, that's my truck...[unintelligible]
Dispatcher: What address are you parked in front of?
Zimmerman: I don't know, it's a cut through so I don't know the address.
The obvious cut through area is circled in blue. By eerie coincidence, the Google Maps satellite picked up a truck parked there.
Now, from the cut through area, Martin had three logical paths home. He could have continued down Twin Trees Lane, cut through further down, and gotten home. Or, he could have taken the cut through halfway across, to the open commons area overlooked by townhouses on each side and gone down towards home (that is the highlighted blue path). Or he could have taken the cut through all the way across and gone down Retreat View Circle, ending up at his front door.
And keep in mind - although unpaved, there are passages between each townhouse that would allow a pedestrian to move from the commons area to either Twin Trees Lane or Retreat View Circle. Foreshadowing!
So what did Zimmerman see Martin doing? After Martin reportedly [but no verbal contact on the 911 tape?] walked by to "check me out" we hear this:
Zimmerman... Shit he's running.
Dispatcher: He's running? Which way is he running?
Zimmerman: Down towards the other entrance to the neighborhood.
Dispatcher: Which entrance is that that he's heading towards?
Zimmerman: The back entrance...fucking [unintelligible]
Dispatcher: Are you following him? Zimmerman: Yeah
Dispatcher: Ok, we don't need you to do that. Zimmerman: Ok
Dispatcher: Alright sir what is your name? Zimmerman: George...He ran.
You can trust me or look it up, but the back entrance is down near the home Martin was visiting.
If Martin disappeared I infer he did not run down Twin Trees Lane. I conclude he headed along the cut through (left to right on the picture) and then... well, we don't know.
Zimmerman presumably followed along the cut through; given the location of the final confrontation, it seems likely he headed down along the blue line marking Trayvon's path through the commons area.
So how did they meet up again? That would be a key question, and any answer would be speculative. However, since Martin was ahead of Zimmerman and headed for home, it seems likely that Martin doubled back or hid somewhere (or Zimmerman outran him? Really?)
One *POSSIBILITY* : Martin took the top cut through all the way to Retreat View Circle, then cut back into the commons area just below 2821 Retreat View Circle (marked in red). A second *GUESS* is that Martin went down the commons area (along the blue line), cut left towards Retreat View Circle just below 2821 (effectively hiding from the view of anyone coming down the commons area), then doubled back. Or, for our friends on the left, maybe he made it to the commons area before curling up in the fetal position in terror, awaiting execution by the scary man with a GUN. Maybe.
Zimmerman must have made a bit of progress down the blue line if he had time to turn back towards his truck before Martin overtook him. However, based on the map scale we are talking distances of 25-50 yards (a person walking a desultory 3 miles per hour covers about 30 88 yards per minute; adrenaline might add to that, but caution might subtract.)
Per the police report, the body was reported in the grass between 1231 Twin Trees Lane and 2821 Retreat View Circle. A straight line between those two would have the body slightly down from where I located it with the red circle. The difference is about 20 yards, but since my final spot is a bit closer to our guess for Zimmerman's SUV, it is arguably more favorable, so let me go through my arcane reasoning.
This background story on the Retreat at Twin Lakes from the Tampa Bay Times includes a photo which ought to be the commons area highlighted with the blue arrow from my map above:
Do note the left-to-right downhill grade and especially, the pooper-scooper doggie bag holder.
Now, here are some stills from the Fox Orlando footage. I assert, using my imagination and keying off of the pooper scooper, that the Fox camera was located on Retreat View Circle at the red "Fox 35" label, looking along the red arrow towards the crime scene. Here we go:
The pooper scooper is obvious, as is the sidewalk; that ought to be Twin Trees Lane in the background. Another shot:
The back of the pooper scooper is visible; the sidewalk pattern near the street jibes nicely with the Fox35 location I marked.
Finally, the Fox report concludes with a chat with Trayvon's dad and his significant other; they take a quick walk down the commons area, turn, and look dramatically at... well, not much, but the situation strongly suggests it is where Martin was killed.
That is just down from the walkway.
That is plenty for now; even more can be gleaned from the Fox 35 video but it all leads to this location.
However, a perusal of the basic geography says two things: *IF* Zimmerman left his SUV as I have placed it, the idea that Zimmerman cornered Martin is hard to picture. There are lots of open spaces, lots of ways from A to B, lots of places that are accessible by foot but not so much by car - running away with commitment and purpose should have been a fool-proof strategy. If, that is, calling 911 or screaming for help was for some reason off the board. The idea that Zimmerman overtook a scared kid in flight is hard to sustain.
That said, what if Zimmerman parked a bit down Twin Trees Lane towards the informal, unmarked cut through. Now after he sees Martin run and gets out of his car, maybe he heads up the commons area while Martin was headed down it. I score that as 'hmmm', because the police surely know where they recovered his car [LATE UPDATE: Zimmerman's wife collected the car and drove it home that night so the cops were left guessing].and the revised location doesn't jibe with the 911 call (he couldn't see the club house from down on Twin Trees, and the mailboxes he mentioned are central for the complex and near the clubhouse). Still, cars can roll - we hope the police have thought this through.
LET ME ADD: The elder Mr. Zimmerman describes Zimmerman's path as basically crossing the "T" - he purportedly entered the cut through near where I located the SUV, followed it from left to right to the Fox35 marking to confirm the street address, then doubled back, whereupon he met Martin.
As a plausibility check, Zimmerman claimed to be checking for an address. It should be true that the townhouses to Zimmerman's left as he walked towards Retreat View Circle were unnumbered, since he was looking at the backs of the houses. Heckuva job by the neighborhood patrol - did he really only learn that night that the cut through opened onto Retreat View Circle?
"He called the non-emergency number first, and they asked him where he was, because he was at the rear of the town houses and there was no street sign," said Robert
That is consistent with being on Twin Trees Lane, at the back of the townhouses that face Retreat View Circle.
"He lost sight of the individual, he continued to walk down the same sidewalk to the next street, so he could get an address for the police," he said.
"He went to the next street, realized where he was and was walking to his vehicle. It's my understanding, at that point, Trayvon Martin walked up to him and asked him, 'Do you have a [expletive] problem?' George said, 'No, I don't have a problem,' and started to reach for his cell phone... at that point, he (Martin) was punching him in the nose, his nose was broken and he was knocked to the concrete."
HA! The Fox interviewer asks about two gunshots on the 911 tape; the father says that the police have confirmed that the first gunshot is a slamming door, and only one shot was fired. His cheap shot - nobody heard two shots except the Martin family lawyers. Uh huh, and the NY Times. Well, nobody likes an I told you so, which is why nobody likes me. Just like they told me they wouldn't.
THE OTHER FATHER: Brevity another day; here is Trayvon Martin's father recreating the police version of Zimmerman's alibi told to him a few days after the killing. Unless he had notes I wonder how much detail he was taking on, since he had to be shaken up. Regardless, the police told a tale of two encounters:
According to Tracy Martin, the Sanford, Fla., detective recounted this sequence of events: Trayvon Martin walked up to Zimmerman’s vehicle and asked why he was following him. Zimmerman denied following the youth and rolled up the car window. Minutes after Trayvon walked away, Zimmerman got out of his vehicle.
Surely that would be on the 911 tape where Zimmerman says Martin is "checking me out"? But I don't hear it. Mute button, bad audio, BS? Why would Zimmerman make that up - he had to know he had been calling 911? Oh, well, head trauma, PTSD. Or, why would the cops make that up - to get dad to back down? How's that working?
Then came the second encounter, according to Tracy Martin’s recollection of the detective’s account. Trayvon Martin appeared from behind a building in Zimmerman’s gated community, approached him and demanded, “What’s your problem, homie?”
When Zimmerman replied that he didn’t have a problem, Martin said, “You do now.” The unarmed teenager hit Zimmerman, knocked him to the ground, pinned him down and told him to “shut the [expletive] up.”
During the beating, Zimmerman pulled his gun and fired one shot at close range into Martin’s chest. “You got me,” the teenager said, falling backward.
"You got me"? They lost me. Save it for the screenplay.
IF I WERE THE KING OF FLORIDA: If I ruled Florida, I would say Ixnay on the pro-ImmermanZay leaks, and let's leak all the pro-Martin stuff. That ought to quiet the mob and assure them that We Get It. Well, as King, I Get It.
Later I would let the professionals do their job, which will probably include pulling the rug out from under the pro-Martin side.
For example, let's play along and pretend that we believe this mortician because we figure he is so honest and stupid that he would come out publicly in support of Zimmerman if that was where the chips fell. Even so, his claim that he found no signs of a scuffle on Martin does not prove no scuffle occurred; it just proves Zimmerman didn't fight back effectively. If there are other, more compelling witnesses maybe this guy could ice the cake; otherwise, he won't be nearly enough. (And where is the medical examiner? Surely the Sanford PD has a serious report - if it is consistent with this story, why hasn't it been leaked yet?)