Archive for May, 2012

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As countries surrounding the freshly exposed waters in the Arctic region are poised to claim the areas for commercial fishing and other exploits, more than 2000 scientists have signed an open letter begging for a moratorium on the use of natural resources in the area, until ecological studies are completed. The warming climate trend has melted a 2.8 million km square of ice in an international waters area, and raised policy concerns.

In a document titled Expanding the EU’s Institutional Capacities
in the Arctic Region
Policy Briefing and Key Recommendations
, Roderick Kefferpütz & Danila Bochkarev state:

According to the recent U.S. Geological Survey, the region holds significant oil and natural gas
reserves. Melting ice cover would facilitate the exploitation of these resources and open up access
to fish stocks and particularly new shipping routes, which promise shorter distances for trade between
Europe and East Asia. On the other hand, the melting of the Arctic’s ice cap, while increasing
the region’s geopolitical and geo-economic importance, significantly exacerbates its environmental
fragility, threatens the traditional way of life of the indigenous population and increases the
potential for conflict in the region.

What countries stand to profit from Arctic ice melt? Kefferpütz and Bochkarev explain:

Besides the Arctic 5 countries (A5) that encircle the North Pole (United States, Canada, Russia,
Norway, Denmark and Greenland), the European Union has signalled a clear interest in the region.
Commissioners Piebalgs and Borg have both stressed the need to tap the region’s natural resources
while the EU’s High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana,
acknowledged the Arctic in his recent report on climate change and international security.

The authors point out that the mixture of power and resources could well result in militarization of the new Arctic zone, meaning that climate change and international security will likely be connected in the future. China and Japan are also involved, with Japan funding research for Arctic-class tankers. Legal issues, area governance and regulations are complex and will likely be the topic of concern and discussion among policymakers and international lawyers. Currently, no clear regulations are in place.

Meanwhile, the newly exposed area contains a new and fragile ecosystem. Scientists have insufficient data at this point on what is in the ecosystem, let alone the impact of removing what is there through commercial fishing, for example.

The authors note that the New Arctic zone has fish stocks, metals and likely the world’s largest untapped hydrocarbon (oil) reserves. They also predict “Heavy militarisation, a relic of the Cold War, remains an important challenge for the foreseeable future, particularly in the context of policies pursued by Russia, the U.S. and Canada.”

Will the scientists be kicked to the curb in the name of money? Will the Arctic be kicked to the curb in the name of money?

Sources:

http://www.oceansnorth.org/arctic-fisheries-letter


http://www.boell.ru/downloads/Arctic_Web-Version-3.pdf

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/04/scientists-call-for-no-fishin-zone-in-arctic-waters.html

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by Frederick Leatherman with thanks to Firedoglake/MyFDL Editor for providing and sizing the image.

Cross posted from Frederick Leatherman Law Blog.

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting today that three more witnesses have changed their stories in the Zimmerman case.

Protest Banner: We Are Trayvon Martin

Photo by Werth Media

Witness 2

She originally told the police she saw one person chasing another person, who was about 10-12 feet ahead, up the sidewalk between townhomes in the direction of the T-intersection with another sidewalk that connects Twin Trees Street with Retreat View Circle (this is very close to the location where Zimmerman shot Martin). She now says that she only saw one person running. She originally said she could not identify either individual because it was dark and she had taken her contacts out before it happened. That part of her story remains the same.

She changed her story when John Batchelor of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement interviewed her on March 20th.

Witness 12

Witness 12 is a young mother who did not give a recorded statement to the Sanford Police. The Orlando Sentinel reports,

During that session [with an investigator of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on 3/20/2012 when she gave her first recorded statement], she said she saw two people on the ground immediately after the shooting and was not sure who was on top, Zimmerman or Trayvon.

“I don’t know which one. … All I saw when they were on the ground was dark colors,” she said.

Six days later, however, she was sure: It was Zimmerman on top, she told trial prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda during a 2 1/2-minute recorded session.

Since she saw the two individuals after the shot was fired, and we know that Trayvon Martin was shot, we can infer that she must be right. Zimmerman was on top.

She explained that the person on top was definitely bigger than the person on the bottom and when she saw pictures of them on TV after the shooting, she realized Zimmerman was the guy on top because he is much bigger than Martin (he’s 2 inches shorter but 42 lbs heavier).

Witness 13

(more…)

By Frederick Leatherman with many thanks to editor at Firedoglake/MyFDL for providing and sizind the image.

Cross posted from Frederick Leatherman Law Blog

Summary of DNA and GSR Evidence*

A DNA Double-Helix

Image by Keith Ramsey

1. Trayvon Martin’s shirt (ME-8)

Four stains tested positive for blood. Trayvon Martin is the source of two stains. George Zimmerman is the source for another and the fourth stain is a mixed sample containing DNA from both individuals.

2. Trayvon Martin’s hoodie (ME 12)

Two stains test positive for blood. Trayvon is the source of one and no DNA result on the other.

No DNA results foreign to Trayvon Martin are found on both lower sleeves.

Two holes were discovered in the area of the “upper left chest” (one in each item of clothing) that exhibited characteristics consistent with a contact gunshot.

3. My thoughts

Given the lack of George Zimmerman’s DNA on the hoodie, the presence of blood contributed by George Zimmerman on the shirt that he was wearing underneath the hoodie indicates the hoodie was not covering the portion of the shirt where the bloodstain was located. Difficult to draw any additional conclusions without knowing the location of the bloodstains on the shirt (e.g., whether the hoodie was pulled up exposing the shirt or the shirt was extended below the hoodie or how this could have happened)

No DNA results foreign to Trayvon Martin are found on both lower sleeves suggesting that Trayvon was not beating Zimmerman.

The two holes obviously came from the same shot and there is a potential conflict between the location of the wound (1 inch left of the midline and 1/2 inch below the nipple) and the location of the two holes (upper chest area).

There also is a potential conflict created by the medical examiner’s conclusion that the muzzle of the gun was 2 to 4 inches away (an intermediate distance) when the fatal shot was fired compared the firearm’s analyst who concluded that the muzzle of the gun was in contact with the clothing.

Marilyn, who comments at my law blog, suggested Zimmerman was restraining Martin by gripping his clothing with one hand and fired the gun with the other as Martin was attempting to get away. This could explain how the upper part of both items of clothing could have been pulled down as well as a few inches away from Martin’s chest when Zimmerman fired the fatal shot. It also might explain how Zimmerman’s blood might have gotten on the shirt, but not the hoodie.

I think we lack sufficient evidence to draw that conclusion at this point, but it’s certainly possible. Might also explain how the shot went straight in without angling up or down, left or right.

Of course, if it happened this way, the shooting definitely was not in self-defense.

4. George Zimmerman’s shirt (DMS-16) and jacket (DMS-19). (more…)

Petition For Certiorari

In my legal case, Kentucky issued a published opinion affirming. My case sets a new precedent in Kentucky. After the conclusion of my trial, the court issued an opinion denying a motion to suppress. The court relied on absolutely nothing from the suppression hearing. Rather, it relied on ‘evidence’ introduced at trial. The ‘evidence’ at trial differed factually and materially from the evidence presented at suppression. Is this proper?

Very sorry, I am having trouble with the link to the original pdf document. I will notify readers as soon as I can fix this issue.

UPDATE: It should be fixed now.

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by Frederick Leatherman

Cross Posted From Frederick Leatherman Law Blog

(h/t to Marilyn who reported this story in the Orlando Sentinel)

The witness named John, who identified Zimmerman as the man screaming for help, recanted that part of his statement when he was interviewed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on March 20, 2012.

He said it was too dark to see the mouths of the two individuals and he had just assumed that the man on the bottom was the one screaming.

However, his description of the fight also has changed:

“The black guy was on top,” he told FDLE Investigator John Batchelor. “The guy that was on the ground, under him at that point, wrestling, was definitely a lighter color.”

It was dark outside, he said, and at first, he thought he was witnessing a dogfight. When he stepped to the door, he realized it was two people on the ground wrestling.

The person on top was either hitting or pinning the other to the ground, he said. The person on the bottom was struggling to get up.

He yelled at them to stop, he said, “Hey, cut it out,” and thought they would, but they didn’t, so he stepped inside and headed upstairs to call 911.

He heard a loud pop, “like a rock hitting a window,” he said.

When he looked again, the person who had been on top, he said, was “in the grass not moving while the other gentleman has his hands in the air … The one guy that was on the bottom said, ‘I shot the other guy in self-defense. The gun is on the ground.’ “

No wonder the prosecutors charged him with second degree murder. This is a different case.

article by Frederick Leatherman with thank you to the editor at Firedoglake/MyFDL, for providing and sizing the image.

Why Is Trayvon Martin Dead?

(photo: werthmedia/flickr)

Cross posted from Frederick Leatherman Law Blog.

I apologize for the length of this article, but there is a lot of information to cover. Includes lots of new information that came out this week.

Many lawyers, including myself, have focused the discussion in the George Zimmerman case on who initiated aggressive physical contact, because there is no law that prohibits a person from approaching another person and asking them what they are doing.

Nevertheless, as I also have pointed out, Zimmerman’s intent when approaching Martin is relevant regarding who threw the first punch.

Keep in mind that it is after dark and raining.

What Was Zimmerman’s Intent?

As Zimmerman sat in his vehicle talking to the dispatcher, we know he was suspicious about Martin’s presence and intentions.

When he called the non-emergency number for the Sanford Police Department seven minutes before he shot and killed an unarmed teenager named Trayvon Martin, he said,

7:09:00: Zimmerman: Hey we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there’s a real suspicious guy, uh, [near] Retreat View Circle, um, the best address I can give you is 111 Retreat View Circle. This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

7:09:25: Dispatcher: OK, and this guy is he white, black, or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

Dispatcher: Did you see what he was wearing?

Zimmerman: Yeah. A dark hoodie, like a grey hoodie, and either jeans or sweatpants and white tennis shoes. He’s [unintelligible], he was just staring…

7:09:42: Dispatcher: OK, he’s just walking around the area…
Zimmerman: …looking at all the houses.

Dispatcher: OK…

Zimmerman: Now he’s just staring at me.

He also was concerned about Martin approaching him and possibly being armed.

Zimmerman: Yeah, now he’s coming towards me.

Dispatcher: OK.

Zimmerman: He’s got his hand in his waistband. And he’s a black male.

7:10:03: Dispatcher: How old would you say he looks?

Zimmerman: He’s got button on his shirt, late teens.

Dispatcher: Late teens ok.

Zimmerman: Somethings wrong with him. Yup, he’s coming to check me out, he’s got something in his hands, I don’t know what his deal is.

7:10:20: Dispatcher: Just let me know if he does anything ok

Zimmerman: How long until you get an officer over here?

Dispatcher: Yeah we’ve got someone on the way, just let me know if this guy does anything else.

Martin, evidently, walks past him without stopping or speaking.

As Zimmerman identifies himself to the dispatcher and provides directions to his location , he expresses frustration three times that Martin will get away before the police officer arrives [See italicized material below — the bracketed descriptions of background sounds within the quoted material were provided by Wikipedia]. He gets out of his vehicle, follows Martin and acknowledges the dispatcher’s instruction not to do that with a simple “OK.”

Yet, he appears to continue looking for Martin, instead of returning to his vehicle. When the dispatcher asks him where his vehicle is parked, he says he cannot because it is parked in front of a “cut-through” or pedestrian walkway “between buildings” (townhomes). He does not appear to be in or near his vehicle because he neither provides any addresses to be used as landmarks near his vehicle, nor does he describe his vehicle or provide explicit directions to find it. Instead, he tells the dispatcher to instruct the officer en route to call him on his cell phone after he arrives in the neighborhood.

Zimmerman: Okay. These assholes they always get away. When you come to the clubhouse you come straight in and make a left. Actually you would go past the clubhouse.

7:10:39 Dispatcher: So it’s on the lefthand side from the clubhouse?

Zimmerman: No you go in straight through the entrance and then you make a left…uh you go straight in, don’t turn, and make a left. Shit he’s running.

7:11:08: Dispatcher: He’s running? Which way is he running?

[Ambient sounds are heard which may be Zimmerman unbuckling his seat belt and his vehicle’s “open door” chime sounding. The change in his voice and the sound of wind against his cell phone mic indicate that he has left his vehicle and is now walking. The dispatcher seems to pick up on these changes and sounds concerned when he later asks Zimmerman if he is following Martin.]

Zimmerman: Down towards the other entrance to the neighborhood.

Dispatcher: Which entrance is that that he’s heading towards?

Zimmerman: The back entrance…fucking [disputed/unintelligible]

[This section of the recording has been the subject of much speculation. Some suggest that Zimmerman has just made a racial slur, but the audio is not clear.]

7:11:22: Dispatcher: Are you following him?

7:11:25: Zimmerman: Yeah

7:11:26: Dispatcher: Ok, we don’t need you to do that.

7:11:28 Zimmerman: Ok

Dispatcher: Alright sir what is your name?

Zimmerman: George…He ran.

Dispatcher: Alright George what’s your last name?

[A clicking or knocking sound can be heard here]

Zimmerman: Zimmerman

Dispatcher: And George what’s the phone number you’re calling from?

[Clicking or knocking sound is heard again]

Zimmerman: [phone number redacted]

Dispatcher: Alright George we do have them on the way, do you want to meet with the officer when they get out there?

Zimmerman: Yeah.

Dispatcher: Alright, where you going to meet with them at?

[For the remainder of the recording, Zimmerman sounds distracted. The knocking sound occurs several times during the final exchange with the dispatcher]

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, and then they go past the mailboxes, that’s my truck…[unintelligible]

7:12:10: 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.

Dispatcher: Okay do you live in the area?

Zimmerman: Yeah, I…[unintelligible]

Dispatcher: What’s your apartment number?

Zimmerman: It’s a home it’s 1950, oh crap I don’t want to give it all out, I don’t know where this kid is.

7:12:40 Dispatcher: Okay do you want to just meet with them right near the mailboxes then?

7:11:42 Zimmerman: Yeah that’s fine.

7:12:43: Dispatcher: Alright George, I’ll let them know to meet you around there okay?

Zimmerman: Actually could you have them call me and I’ll tell them where I’m at?

7:12:49: Dispatcher: Okay, yeah that’s no problem.

Zimmerman: Should I give you my number or you got it?

Dispatcher: Yeah I got it [redacted]

Zimmerman: Yeah you got it.

Dispatcher: Okay no problem, I’ll let them know to call you when you’re in the area.

7:13:02 Zimmerman: Thanks.

Dispatcher: You’re welcome. – Call Ends 7:13:07

The Critical Three Minutes

Zimmerman shoots and kills Martin three minutes after the phone call ends.

How do we know that?

All 911 calls are timed and this is how we know that Zimmerman’s call ended at 7:13 pm. During another timed 911 call from the resident of a townhouse reporting a fight between two individuals in the yard behind the townhouse, a shot abruptly punctuates a terrified scream for help at 7:16 pm.

Martin’s girlfriend calls him at 7:12 pm, which has been verified by cellular phone records for both phones.

Through counsel for Martin’s parents, she provided a statement in which she said Trayvon expressed concern about a man following him. She told him to run. Then she heard Martin say,

What are you following me for?

This was followed by a man’s voice responding,

What are you doing here?

She said that she heard the sound of pushing and then Trayvon said,

Get off me, get off me.

Martin’s headset suddenly went silent. She attempted to call him back immediately, but was unable to reach him.

That call ended at 7:16 pm.

What Happened Next

Officer Timothy Smith of the Sanford Police Department was the first to arrive at the scene of the shooting at 7:17 pm.

Police recovered Martin’s cellphone from the wet grass near his body. The Arizona Iced Tea and Skittles were found inside the pouch pocket of his hoodie.

The Autopsy Report

According to the autopsy report, the fatal shot was fired straight-on from an intermediate distance and entered Trayvon’s chest 1 inch to the left of the midline and 1/2 inch below his left nipple. It perforated the right ventricle of his heart and perforated his left lung, collapsing both lungs. There was no exit wound. The trajectory of the shot was front to back, neither up nor down, neither to the left nor to the right.

Based on the 2 inch X 2 inch smoke ring with stippling around the 3/8 inch entry wound, Dr. Vincent J.D. di Maio, the former Medical Examiner for Bexar County (San Antonio) estimated that the muzzle of the gun was 2 to 4 inches from Trayvon’s chest when Zimmerman fired the fatal shot.

The Assistant Medical Examiner who performed the autopsy also reported that Martin had severe global edema (i.e., swelling) to both hemispheres of his brain.

Zimmerman’s Statement

Zimmerman claims he followed the dispatcher’s advice and was returning to his vehicle when Martin approached him from behind his left shoulder and asked him,

Why are you following me?

[Note the use of the present tense, which suggests he has not given up looking for Martin, is not returning to his vehicle, and is not approached from behind (h/t KrisAinTX)]

Martin’s girlfriend corroborates Martin’s question and use of the present tense, if not the context in which Zimmerman claims it was asked.

Zimmerman claims he then asked Martin,

What are you doing here?

Martin’s girlfriend corroborates Zimmerman’s response.

Zimmerman’s Arrest

When Officer Smith arrived at the scene at 7:17 pm, a minute after the shooting, he saw Martin lying face down in the grass and Zimmerman standing nearby.

Zimmerman was not attempting to aid or provide CPR to Martin and there is no reference in Smith’s report to Zimmerman being upset or crying.

After retrieving Zimmerman’s gun and holster from inside his waistband, he arrested and handcuffed him with his hands behind his back and placed him in the back seat of his patrol vehicle.

Cool As A Cucumber

When an EMT checked Zimmerman in the patrol vehicle at 7:41 pm his pulse, blood pressure, and all of his vital signs were normal. Here is his report:

Assessment 1941 [7:41 pm]

Patient Conscious
Breathing Quality Adult Normal 12-20 [which is normal, not panting or out of breath]

No External Hemorrhage noted; Mucuous Membrane Normal

Central Body Color Normal

Extremities Normal

Within Normal Limits (Airway, Breathing Quality, Accessory Muscle Use, Chest Rise, Radial Pulse, Skin Temp, Skin Moisture [not sweating], Skin Turgor [not showing signs of dehydration], Cap Refill [blood circulation is normal], Pupil Size and Reaction.

[Or as Crane Station, a former RN says, He’s cool as a cucumber, which seems unusual for a person who minutes earlier killed someone and is now under arrest while sitting in the rear seat of a police vehicle with his hands handcuffed behind his back ]

Cause of Injury [to Zimmerman]: Struck by blunt/thrown object. (9640) [Emphasis supplied]

Mechanism of Injury: Blunt

Patient says he was assaulted and his head was struck on the pavement.

Pt’s GCS = 15 [Glascow Coma Scale, which is a level of consciousness scale and 15 is normal] and he is warm and dry with normal skin color. Pt has abrasions to his forehead + bleeding/tenderness to his nose and a small laceration to the back of his head. All injuries have minor bleeding. Pt also denies LOC [loss of consciousness], neck/back pain, and he has + PMS [pulse motor sensory function] X 4 [in all extremeties] with – paresthesia [no tingling]

[That means his pulse, motor, and sensory functions were all okay and functioning normally]

Crane-Station’s Take

Crane-Station put it best,

How could a guy be talking to his girlfriend and killing somebody at the same time?

Who Screamed For Help?

The FBI Digital Examination Laboratory has reported that identification of the person screaming for help during the 911 call is not possible due to the poor quality of the original recording.

Zimmerman, backed by his father and unidentified family members, claims he is the person screaming for help. A neighbor named John claims he saw Zimmerman calling for help.

Martin’s mother claims Trayvon is the person screaming for help. Two audiologists working independently of each other using different methodologies to clean up background noise and focus on clarifying the scream have excluded Zimmerman as the source of the scream to a reasonable scientific certainty.

The Witness Named John

Claims that he saw Martin on top of John beating him about the head and heard Zimmerman calling for help. He shut and locked his sliding glass door and went upstairs to call 911. He heard the shot as he was going up the stairs. When he looked out a bedroom window, he saw Martin lying face down in the grass, apparently dead, and Zimmerman standing next to him.

He did not see the beginning or the end of the fight and that also appears to be the case with the other witnesses.

Other Witnesses

Other witnesses reported bits and pieces of this tragic event. I am still reviewing their statement but have nothing definitive or new to report yet.

Conclusion

Given Zimmerman’s state of mind and intent, I believe he was the aggressor and did not act in self-defense. I also believe he attacked Martin while Martin was talking to his girlfriend and Martin may have struck him with the cell phone several times in self-defense causing the injuries treated by the EMT.