New evidence in the Trayvon Martin case shows no indication that he touched the gun George Zimmerman used to shoot him to death during their altercation in February.
Lab technicians at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement tested the firearm used in the shooting, a black Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm semi-automatic pistol, but none of the Miami teen’s DNA was found on the gun. The neighborhood watch volunteer has claimed that that he shot only after Martin reached for Zimmerman’s weapon, which was in a holster on his waist. In the account he gave to police, Zimmerman said that Martin began to pummel him, bashing his head against the ground and breaking his nose. He said the two struggled on the ground until a single shot went off. Trayvon Martin died of a gunshot wound to his chest.
But the DNA evidence does not prove that Martin ever got hold of the weapon. Tests, which came from swabs collected from the gun’s grip, found Zimmerman’s DNA and that of other handlers, but none from the teen. It is still unclear if any of Martin’s DNA was found on the holster, and DNA swabs collected from the trigger were not interpretable.
The documents, released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, were among a new group of discoveries in the case, including a recorded statement from the 7-11 store clerk that sold the 17-year-old the Arizona Iced Tea and Skittles he possessed when he was killed, plus photos taken on the night of the shooting and others from a private investigator, Martin’s school records, and incident reports. On the whole the newest evidence, which had been presented to Zimmerman’s defense lawyers a month ago, does not reveal much that was not already known from earlier discovery releases — with the exception of the DNA results.
Other records were not released because they are protected under Florida public disclosure laws.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in Martin’s death, which took place on Feb. 17 in a Sanford, Fla. gated community. He was released on a $1 million bond in August. He has pleaded not guilty and is maintaining self defense. His defense team, led by attorney Mark O’Mara is attempting to argue that Zimmerman is protected by the state’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows someone who feels lethally threatened by an assailant to use deadly force. The team is attempting to get a hearing on their client’s rights under that law, which would determine if he were justified under that statute to shoot Martin.
Since Zimmerman’s release, Florida Circuit Court Judge Ken Lester was recused from the case due to fears of judicial bias and replaced with Deborah Nelson, a Florida bench veteran appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush.