The Forensics Behind the Death of Trayvon Martin

An expert gives a testimony that's consistent with George Zimmerman's account of the attack.

Posted: 07/09/2013 06:05 PM EDT
The Forensics Behind the Death of Trayvon Martin

Who was the aggressor, George Zimmerman or 17-year old Trayvon Martin? That’s the key question both the defense and prosecution are trying to answer as the day’s proceedings at the State of Florida v. George Zimmerman trial conclude on July 9.     

Taking the stand for the defense Tuesday was Dr. Vincent Di Maio, a forensic pathologist and former chief medical examiner. Proving to support the defense, Dr. Di Maio testified on the science behind Martin’s gunshot wounds. His analysis indicated that Martin’s wounds were consistent with Zimmerman’s account of the attack. According to Dr. Di Maio, the analysis suggests that Martin was leaning over the defendant at the time of the shooting. 

"If you lean over someone, you notice the clothing tends to fall away from the chest," He said. "If instead you're lying on your back and someone shoots you, the clothing is going to be against your chest." Di Maio, however, could not state the angle at which Martin hovered over Zimmerman. Factors such as gravity, wet clothing and the iced tea in his pocket contributed to the separation of the victim’s sweatshirt and body.  Based on analysis of the evidence, Di Maio believes that Martin died within one to three minutes after he was shot, but was only able to move and speak for 10-15 seconds after the shooting.

Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, left the courtroom as the jury saw graphic photos of her son’s gunshot wounds.

During cross-examination, Di Maio further explained that the hole in Martin’s shirt showed that the muzzle of Zimmerman’s gun was against Martin’s clothing, and that the wound on Martin’s chest showed that his skin was about two to four inches from the muzzle. Di Maio said he based his conclusions on analysis of debris from the gunshot, including what he called “powder tattoo marks” surrounding the wound. Such marks, he said, would not be present if the muzzle had been held against Martin’s skin. “So … the muzzle of the gun was against the clothing. But the clothing itself had to be two to four inches away from the body at the time Mr. Martin was shot,” he said.

Following Di Maio were Norton Bonaparte, the Sanford City Manager, and Heloise Dilliguard, George Zimmerman’s neighbor. Bonaparte testified about the procedure used to introduce the family to the 911 calls before they were released to the media.  Dilliguard, who doesn’t purport to be a close friend, also believes the voice calling out for help on the 911 call was that of her neighbor, George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin.

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(Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images)

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