George Zimmerman granted $150K bond, apologizes to Trayvon Martin's family
SANFORD — At a hearing that legal experts said exposed flaws in the state's case, the Trayvon Martin special prosecutor failed Friday to convince a judge that gunman George Zimmerman should stay locked up.
The judge set bond at $150,000, meaning Zimmerman could be freed from the Seminole County Jail in a few days.
Most revealing in the hearing, though, was testimony by prosecution Investigator Dale Gilbreath, a surprise witness for the defense.
He admitted under oath that authorities do not know who started the fight between Zimmerman, a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, and Martin, the black 17-year-old whose death has spurred protests across the country.
Lawyers for Trayvon's family have insisted that Zimmerman tracked down and killed the Miami Gardens teenager because he was black.
But Zimmerman told police he fired in self-defense after Trayvon threw the first punch, knocked Zimmerman to the ground and then began pounding his head against a sidewalk.
In the courtroom, Gilbreath also testified that although the FBI has analyzed a voice heard screaming for help in the background of a 911 call, it has produced no meaningful results [who just wouldn't pipe down about that?].
Trayvon's family says the voice is that of their son. Zimmerman's family says it belongs to the defendant.
Michael Grieco, a defense attorney and former prosecutor for the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, said it appeared Gilbreath "either was unprepared or, alternatively, didn't have a whole lot to hang his hat on" in terms of evidence.
"I expected a lot more from the state," Grieco said. Though others have cautioned that significant evidence is still forthcoming, Grieco said he's not so sure. "You don't usually hold back your evidence in these types of hearings."
A bit of a skip and then this:
A few new pieces of evidence did come out Friday.
How close, asked the judge, was the gun to the victim when it was fired?
So close, said Gilbreath, that there were burns on Trayvon's sweat shirt and skin.
Gilbreath also said the state had a witness who reported seeing the shadows of two people running, one chasing the other, but could not identify who they were.
Although Gilbreath offered little evidence Friday that portrayed Zimmerman as a murderer, he said he did have evidence proving him a liar.
The powder burns will be more important than the shadows. No testimony was offered as to which shadow was black and which White Hispanic.
Their coverage omits the revelations that the lead investigator had not gotten Zimmerman's medical records and could not contradict Zimmerman's claim that he followed the dispatcher's suggestion and was headed back to his car when he was attacked.
The NY Times leads with the apology and gets to this:
As part of his effort to win Mr. Zimmerman’s release on bond, Mr. O’Mara challenged the prosecution’s case, going through the state’s probable cause affidavit line by line, turning the bail hearing into what appeared to be a foretaste of the trial.
He aggressively questioned a state investigator, Dale Gilbreath, about the accusation that Mr. Zimmerman had racially profiled Mr. Martin, and he demanded to know what evidence the state had for the statement that “Zimmerman confronted Martin and a struggle ensued.”
“Do you know who started the fight?” Mr. O’Mara asked Mr. Gilbreath.
“Do I know?” Mr. Gilbreath said. “No.”
Mr. O’Mara then asked Mr. Gilbreath if the state had any evidence to contradict Mr. Zimmerman’s statement to the police that he had been making his way back to his car when he was punched by Mr. Martin. Mr. Zimmerman told investigators he shot Mr. Martin in self-defense after Mr. Martin banged his head on concrete, covered his nose and mouth and reached for his gun.
Mr. Gilbreath responded, “No.”
Here is the AP:
The hearing provided a few glimpses of the strengths — and weaknesses — in the case being built by prosecutors.
Dale Gilbreath, an investigator for the prosecution, testified that he does not know whether Martin or Zimmerman threw the first punch and that there is no evidence to disprove Zimmerman's contention he was walking back to his vehicle when confronted by Martin.
But Gilbreath also said Zimmerman's claim that Martin was slamming his head against the sidewalk just before he shot the teenager was "not consistent with the evidence we found." He gave no details.
That gives short shrift to the defense rebuttal attempt which produced this exchange as recorded by CNN:
COSTELLO: Back live to the bond hearing in Sanford, Florida. Mark O'Mara, who is George Zimmerman's attorney is doing another redirect of the state's attorney investigator. They're talking about what injuries George Zimmerman had to his head that night. Let's listen.
GILBREATH: Managed to scoot away from the concrete sidewalk and that is at that point is when the shooting subsequently followed. That is not consistent with the evidence we found.
O'MARA: The injuries seem to be consistent with his story, though, don't they? [ABC pic]
Dale; The injuries are consistent with a harder object striking the back of his head than his head was.
O'MARA: Could that be cement?
GILBREATH: Could be.
O'MARA: Did you just say it was consistent or did you say it wasn't consistent?
GILBREATH: I said it was.
I say the AP shortchanged us.
Reuters caught the apology but missed the flaws in the prosecution case.
NBC News, aided by NBC Miami and the AP, led with the apology and found this to say about the prosecution case:
Dale Gilbreath, the investigator, said he couldn't remember who came up with the use of the word "profiling" in the document.
Gilbreath added that Zimmerman had two lacerations on his head, which could have been caused by impact with cement.
Zimmerman claims self-defense in the shooting. ABC News says it has obtained an exclusive photo of the back of Zimmerman's head, which appears bloody and may help substantiate his claims.
In a dramatic moment during the hearing, a detective, under questioning from O'Mara, admitted that it has no clear evidence that Zimmerman attacked Trayvon Martin first.
I wonder if Mr. and Mrs. America will come away from the Elite media coverage realizing just how weak a case the prosecution seems to have.