Tag Archive: Norman Wolfinger


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/post/george-zimmermans-crumbling-story-part-3-the-detective/2012/03/29/gIQA3NvAjS_blog.html?tid=pm_opinions_pop

The killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman — the case where nothing makes sense, nothing —  gained greater clarity in the past couple days. The story put forth by the Sanford Police Department (SPD) and by Zimmerman “friend” Joe Oliver is starting to crumble.

The SPD video that ABC News aired last night raised serious doubts about Zimmerman’s account of a life-and-death struggle. Then, the mortician  who prepared Trayvon’s body for burial told MSNBC last night that the 17-year-old’s body didn’t show any signs of violence to support Zimmerman’s account. Now, the work of the lead detective on the Zimmerman case looms large. Justice might be blind, but she’s not dumb. And Investigator Chris Serino set out to prove it.

Serino didn’t believe Zimmerman’s version of events and recommended a manslaughter charge. But he was overruled. And according to a report from Joy-Ann Reid of the Grio yesterday, the decision came from atop the law enforcement food chain: the state attorney.

A source with knowledge of the investigation into the shooting of Trayvon Martin tells the Grio that it was then Sanford police chief Bill Lee, along with Capt. Robert O’Connor, the investigations supervisor, who made the decision to release George Zimmerman on the night of February 26th, after consulting with State Attorney Norman Wolfinger — in person.

Wolfinger told Serino that he didn’t think there was enough evidence to charge Zimmerman. According to ABC News, Serino then filed an affidavit the night of Feb. 26 stating he didn’t believe Zimmerman. And we are now finding out that Serino then set out to bring the neighborhood watch volunteer to justice.

In an interview with the Rev. Al Sharpton and later with Lawrence O’Donnell, Cheryl Brown, the mother of a 13-year-old eyewitness said that Serino told her that he didn’t believe Zimmerman’s self-defense claim.

[Serino] told me that he and the other officer with him felt that it was not self-defense and that they needed to prove it wasn’t self-defense. And he said that I needed to read between the line because there was some stereotyping going on…. I took it to mean that he felt that George Zimmerman committed this crime based on whether it’s stereotyping or racial profiling or whatever you want to call it. But those were his words. Stereotyping.

Serino was the one who recounted Zimmerman’s version of events for Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father. Martin told us in a meeting yesterday at The Post that he asked Serino if a background check was done on Zimmerman. Yes, one was, he was told, and he was “squeaky clean.” But Martin had another question. “By Zimmerman being ‘squeaky clean,’ ” he wanted to know, “did that give him the right to shoot and kill my son?” What Martin said Serino said next fits an emerging pattern. “[H]e said it certainly didn’t. That he was going to do everything that he could do to catch this guy in a lie.”

Despite being overruled by superiors, Serino, it appears, never gave up on trying to have Zimmerman arrested. He filed that affidavit hours before delivering the tragic news to Martin and said what he would try to do. And it wasn’t until March 5 that he would pay the 13-year-old and his mother a visit. Serino felt he was onto something. And now we all know why with greater clarity than we did a week ago.

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Killer of Florida teen told police he was attacked first

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/26/us-usa-florida-shooting-idUSBRE82O0F820120326

By Barbara Liston

SANFORD, Florida |         Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:58pm EDT

SANFORD, Florida (Reuters) – The man who shot and killed an unarmed Florida teenager in a case that has sparked widespread public outrage told police the victim had punched him, knocked him down and slammed his head into the pavement repeatedly before he fired the fatal gunshot.

The account of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, was published for the first time on Monday in the online edition of the Orlando Sentinel.

Police in Sanford, Florida, the Orlando suburb where 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot dead on February 26, confirmed that the newspaper report appeared to be based on leaked information from someone inside the police department.

“The information in the article is consistent with the information provided to the State Attorney’s office by the police department,” the police said in a statement.

Zimmerman, a 28-year-old white Hispanic, has been widely criticized for following Martin, who was African American, and ignoring a police request that he stop doing so after calling the 911 emergency number to report that the young man in a “hoodie” hooded sweatshirt looked to be “up to no good.”

But in own his version of events, as outlined in the Sentinel report, Zimmerman had given up the chase and was walking back to his sport utility vehicle when Martin approached him from behind.

The two exchanged words before Martin punched the burly Zimmerman in the nose, sending him reeling to the ground. The teenager then began pummeling him and slammed his head into the sidewalk several times, the newspaper said.

At least one witness told police he saw Martin on top of Zimmerman who was calling for help, the newspaper said. It noted, however, that other witnesses had disputed who the cries were coming from.

ABC News quoted a police source as saying that Zimmerman, in a written statement, claimed that Martin also tried to take his gun before the shot was fired.

Zimmerman’s attorney has said his client acted in self-defense. He has not been arrested and Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which broadened the legal definition of self-defense when it was passed in 2005, provides people with immunity from detention or arrest if they use deadly force in their own defense without clear evidence of malice.

RAINY EVENING

Whatever happened on that rainy February 28 evening in Sanford it came as Martin returned from a convenience store carrying a bag of Skittles candy and a can of Arizona iced tea.

Florida law enforcement has been under fire for weeks as protests decrying inaction in the case have spread to cities across the country.

More than two million people have signed an online petition calling for justice in the case, prompting Florida Governor Rick Scott on Monday to caution against a rush to judgment and say state authorities were still gathering facts.

“Justice will prevail,” Scott said in an interview with Reuters Insider in New York. “That’s what we all want. We want the … facts and we want to know that justice happens.”

Last Thursday, Scott said State Attorney Norman Wolfinger had agreed to remove himself from the investigation. Scott appointed another Florida prosecutor, Angela Corey, to handle the case. He also created a task force to study crime prevention and specifically the state’s Stand Your Ground law.

Asked if the case rose to the level of a possible hate crime, Scott said such a judgment would be premature.

Corey called for patience on Monday as her team of investigators continues looking into Martin’s killing.

“Justifiable use of deadly force has been asserted in this case, will continue to be asserted, which will make our job more difficult,” Corey told CNN, referring to the Stand Your Ground law.

Martin, a Miami high school student, was in Sanford, staying at the home of a friend of his father, because he had been suspended from school shortly before his death.

On Monday, a family spokesman said the 10-day suspension came after school officials discovered marijuana residue in a plastic bag inside Martin’s book bag.

“Regardless of Trayvon’s suspension, it had nothing to do with what happened on February 26,” Ryan Julison, the family spokesman, told reporters.

Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, suggested in comments at a news conference that the marijuana residue report was aimed at smearing her dead child.

“They’ve killed my son and now they’re trying to kill his reputation,” she said.

(Additional reporting by Edith Honan and Dan Trotta. Editing by Tom Brown and Christopher Wilson)

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