The “new” George Zimmerman photo

Photo of George Zimmerman taken at the scene

Photo of George Zimmerman taken at the scene

This week George Zimmerman’s defense team released a graphic photograph of Mr. Zimmerman from the night he shot Trayvon Martin.  I’m skipping all the mentions of “alleged” as the Zimmerman team has conceded that he shot and killed Mr. Martin.  The question is whether or not the killing was justified.  The photo is not new, it was contained in the discovery that was provided to the defense team months ago, but this is the first time the image has been released in full, bloody color.

The earlier disclosure had been just a black and white copy, which does not reflect the severity Mr. Zimmerman’s injuries.  Fox News prepared a handy side-by-side comparison.  The color image shows a significant amount of blood coming from Mr. Zimmerman’s nose.  The nose itself appears extremely swollen and discolored.  There are also other markings on his face consistent with injury.  You really cannot identify these details in the black and white photograph without referring to the color picture.

These injuries are significant.  When Mr. Zimmerman’s self-defense claim was first being discussed in the media, reports that his nose were broken were met with skepticism.  This photograph bolsters that claim, which in turn bolsters his credibility regarding his version of events.  This picture cannot tell us exactly how the confrontation went down, but is suggests injuries that are consistent with Mr. Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense.  They bolster his argument that he was in fear for his life or great bodily harm.

Something else that’s troubling about the photo’s release is the timing.  While the photo was initially released months ago, the Defense indicates they only recently received the digital, color copy of the image.  They have complained about the State’s reluctance in cooperating with their discovery requests, and this picture was only released as past of the State’s 9th supplemental discovery disclosure.  The delay gives the impression that the State is either playing games with discovery, or deliberately obfuscating the discovery process.  Either possibility is quite troubling.

Florida has very broad rules and a very open discovery process.  The system is designed so that everything gets out on the table well in advance, so that both sides are able to prepare for trial.  There is no valid reason to hold back the digital copy of a photograph.  Further, this image is potentially exculpatory for the Defendant.  As such it is Brady material: exculpatory information that the State is required to disclose immediately.  It is a major violation to withhold Brady material.

Whether there was intentional discovery violations or not, it gives the appearance of impropriety.  It would be a shame to think the prosecutor would be playing games in the discovery process of one of the most discussed cases in the country, especially when they evidence is consistent with the very real possibility that Mr. Zimmerman is innocent of criminal activity.  I have previously criticized the prosecutor appointed on this case, Angela Corey, for the aggressive prosecutorial approach that contributed to a brutal murder conviction being overturned just a few weeks ago.  Allegations of misconduct could call into question any conviction she may acheive in this case as well, though more and more evidence has become public that suggest her decision to prosecute the case, and to charge second degree murder instead of manslaughter is questionable.

One response to “The “new” George Zimmerman photo

  1. Pingback: Why Did the Jury Acquit George Zimmerman of Killing Trayvon Martin? #Zimmermantrial | crimcourts : A Criminal Law Blog

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