Friday, April 20, 2012

Did George Zimmerman Lie Today In Open Court (About Trayvon Martin's Age)?


Today during his bail hearing, George Zimmerman issued an unwanted apology to Trayvon Martin's parents. Zimmerman said: "I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am, and I did not know if he was armed or not."

Zimmerman is essentially trying to elicit sympathy from the judge, potential jurors, the public and Martin's parents. Also, his lawyer is attempting to humanize him. If Zimmerman actually thought the 17-year-old Martin was an adult, then perhaps he had a reason to fear him.

But, is Zimmerman telling the truth? Zimmerman is 28. Today he said he thought Martin was just a bit younger than he. But during a 911 call made moments before Martin's death, Zimmerman said he believed that Martin was in his late-teens. Thus, Zimmerman was pretty accurate about Martin's age. The audio tape of the 911 call appears below this post.

video

30 comments:

JustOneGroup said...

Excellent point.

Tom Maguire

mik said...

What, pic of 5 year old Trayvon was not available?

Pic of Obama at 5 is an excellent substitute, in it Obama looks like Tray's younger brother.

mik said...

An interesting but rather easy to deal with point.

Zimm could have changed his guess about Tray's age between the call and the fight: he heard T deep voice, he has seen how strong T was, etc.

Besides, does Prof deny that black teens kill hundreds of people a year in the USA and therefore should cause as much concern as 10 year old white girls?

Perhaps spending some time with FBI crime stats will do Professor world of good.

Kent said...

You raise an excellent question and reasonable doubts. Unfortunately for the prosecution, if GZ says he changed his mind during the subsequent encounter, it will be difficult to prove him wrong. Photos of Trayvon Martin prove little, as Trayvon Martin's most recent photo in Facebook looks much older than the photo you posted of a pre-adolescent Trayvon. The latter could not reasonably be mistaken for an adult man; the former could. A jury will likely see both.

gadfly said...

Ummm ... I think you are splitting hairs by commenting on the difference in Trayvon's actual age of 17 and GZ's 911 comment where he guessed T's age as "late teens." After all, if "late teens" is defined as 19, then there is 2 years or a 10+% "guesstimate" error from GZ's original perception.

You are attempting to read George's mind as to how much error that he believes is significant in order to determine if a "lie" occurred on the witness stand - and a lie for what purpose? This was an apology, after all, addressed to the Martin family and not the court.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Yes - he lied. The only ones "splitting hairs" are those of you who are desperately trying to reconcile the comments. He said he didn't know how old he was - but he did! Why bring up the age thing if he was so accurate?

Also, black crime stats have nothing to do with this case. If you read my blog, I have discussed all manner of criminality -- including blacks. So, you'll have to use that tired argument somewhere else.

Finally, for those of you complaining about Trayvon's picture, that too is irrelevant and nonresponsive. It does not change Zimmerman's lie, and it will not prevent the prosecutor from using it to impeach his credibility at trial. I HOPE HE KEEPS TALKING!

Unknown said...

"Unfortunately for the prosecution, if GZ says he changed his mind during the subsequent encounter, it will be difficult to prove him wrong."

I'm not an attorney, but it seems to me the above point is irrelevant. It seems to me if the prosecution uses Zimmerman's "change of mind" about Martin's age at trial, it would be to cast doubt on his credibility or truthfulness, not to prove it absolutely one way or the other. You don't have to prove that Zimmerman is lying to make him look bad for saying Martin was in his late teens on the 911 tape and then saying today that he thought he was only a couple of years younger than him. Zimmerman looks like he's just saying whatever he thinks will help him in the particular moment, regardless of what he said before.

Unknown said...

"Unknown" is me, Kathy Kattenburg. I picked Google account to sign in and I'm identified as Unknown -- why?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Hi - Kathy, you are correct. The inconsistent statement would be introduced for impeachment purposes - not to prove anything (other than Zimmerman lies).

Unknown said...

Thanks, Darren, it's nice to get confirmation from someone who knows what he's talking about.

On a different subject, have you considered changing your commenting system. Blogger is incredibly cumbersome and clunky to use. I must have typed in the "Prove you're not a robot letters" 12 times before they took, even when the letters looked perfectly clear to me. Obviously the system thought I was wrong. :-)

Kelly said...

Actually, he said he was a teen in the beginning and then just after the third minute in the recording when he confirmed his race and was closer he called him a "kid".

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Thanks, Kelly. I will listen again.

M. Simon said...

Darren,

I note in your "favorite" list you make no mention of Drug Prohibition. (I have only read the headlines).

And yet the Drug War was racist in its inception and continues to be racist in its execution:

Drug War History

A high ranking Black police officer explains the current Drug War racism:

Corrupting Every Level Of Government

I do not get why Blacks AND the Left are not all over this. I do get Republicans - they are idiots.

Me? I'm in both camps - sorta. I'm libertarian.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

M. Simon - just 2 days ago, I wrote an article on drugs and race. READ.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Kelly - Not sure what you're getting at, but the recording itself is less than 3 minutes. Zimmerman's testimony at the bond hearing suggested that he made a mistake and wrongfully believed Trayvon was much older than he actually was. This tape confirms, however, that he knew exactly Trayvon's age range. I notice that a conservative blogger linked to this post. I have no problem debating with people who have different views, but I do have problem with people distorting the facts.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Another thing, M. Simon - blacks have been complaining about the drug war for decades. Are you sure you pay close attention to advocacy by blacks?

JustOneMinute said...

Re: "Why bring up the age thing if he was so accurate?"

That was addressed in the post-hearing scrum by defense counsel O'Mara. Zimmerman's intention was to respond to the questions posed by Sybrina Fulton in her Today interview:

"I would ask him, did he know that that was a minor, that that was a teenager, and that he did not have a weapon?"

As to whether Zimmerman was "lying" about his perception of Martin's age or simply revised his (ex post accurate) first impression after eventually hearing Martin's voice and gauging his strength and ferocity, well, a jury will have a chance to mull that over.

I assume the prosecution will want to introduce it; as to first impressions are inviolate or subject to revision, a jury will decide.

Unknown said...

As to whether Zimmerman was "lying" about his perception of Martin's age or simply revised his (ex post accurate) first impression after eventually hearing Martin's voice and gauging his strength and ferocity, well, a jury will have a chance to mull that over.

"After gauging his strength and ferocity," LOL. I don't think I have any special talent for estimating age ranges more than anyone else, but I think I would be able to tell the difference between a tall teenager with a deep voice and a tall man in his late 20s with a deep voice.

I attained my full height when I was still in high school; so did my daughter. Many people, men and women, have either attained their full height by 17 or attained it much earlier. Heck, there are 12-year-old boys who are six feet tall.

As for voice, I can differentiate between a very young man's voice and the voice of a fully grown adult, even if they both have deep voices. I can differentiate between the voice of a young man or woman in high school or college and the voice of a middle-aged man or woman. You can usually tell whether someone is younger or older by the voice alone. It has nothing to do with whether the voice is deep or high.

Zimmerman told the 911 dispatcher that the man he was following looked to be in his late teens. There is absolutely no plausible reason why he would suddenly think he was in his mid-twenties when they were face to face because Martin was very tall and had a deep voice.

Kathy Kattenburg

JustOneMinute said...

"Zimmerman told the 911 dispatcher that the man he was following looked to be in his late teens"

Do we agree that he made that ID in the dark, in the distance, in the rain, and while Trayvon was wearing a hoody (possibly down)?

In that context, just how might one distinguish with confidence between a "late teens" and "mid-twenties" when the person in question is 6'2"?

I would think he took a guess based on, I don't know, mid-twentyish people tend to drive their cars in the rain. But I doubt he was admiring his baby-smooth skin or comparing tastes in rock and roll.

"As for voice, I can differentiate between ..."

Well, then, if you were on the stand you would be lying (maybe - I may come back to that). But are you sure that everyone shares your perspicacity? I am saddened to think that no one has ever remarked on your special gifts and insights. (Hmm, could I find research indicating women are more attuned to voices than men? I bet I could...)

"There is absolutely no plausible reason why he would suddenly think he was in his mid-twenties..."

Seriously? Numerous studies have documented that eyewitness evidence is unreliable for a number of reasons, including that people see what they expect to see.

Try a little pop neuro-psych - the subconscious filters sensory input through a number of values and expectations before presenting a 'director's cut' to the conscious mind.

So imagine that Zimmerman believes that (a) no mere teenager could beat him up, and (b) he is not the kind of guy to shoot a teenager.

At the critical juncture, Zimmerman's subconscious is grappling with serious cognitive dissonance and a clash of sensory inputs and values/expectations. The resolution - Martin is older!

And that belief is, to the conscious mind, utterly sincere.

So, we have at least three theories on offer:

1 - he always believed Martin was a teen but lied for reasons we would have to guess at;

2 - he initially believed Martin was a teen and revised that upwards with new information;

3 - his subconscious re-wrote or re-assessed the evidence to make Martin older, so he sincerely, if improbably, believed Martin was older.

I have no doubt you are clever enough to come up with a fourth alternative, and could do so if you were so inclined.

As to how to weight the probabilities of the three above, I certainly wouldn't give any of them a zero or a one.

Unknown said...

It appears no other legal expert finds this point in the least bit important. What is important is the fact the prosecution knows Trayvon started the fight and are banking on the idea Zimmerman's
account of the veracity of the attack was greatly exaggerated and his response was unjustified. Zimmerman walks on this- if it even goes to trial.

Florida said...

I honestly wish you were adding to the media misinformation... try using a current picture of Mr. Martin... he was not a YOUNG teen as depicted in your picture... if you are going to do this... be completely honest... there is a perfectly acceptable recent picture of Trayvon available... by using this much younger image of him you yourself aren't presenting the FACTS

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Just 1 Min - That's exactly why he brought it up - to say he didn't know he was a kid. But he did know he was a kid - as he stated on the 911 call.

Your revisionist take doesn't make sense. Why would have say - I'm sorry; I didn't know how old he was -- if he had 2 different conclusions from which to choose? He absolutely meant to convey he didn't know Trayvon was a kid. This is a lie. Are you saying he wanted to convey that he thought he was an adult? That would be a lie too.

Also, the defense attorney seems inept. Why allow him to testify on trial-related issues during a bail hearing? And then explain them later? That's really stupid on his part.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Kathy - thanks for responding to that post. It doesn't really make much sense to me. His defenders are saying he thought Trayvon was a kid. Then he thought he was a man. Then he told his parents he didn't know he was a kid. Sorry - but that's wishful thinking on their part.

Also, the prosecutor would only bring this up to impeach his testimony at trial. I am sure that the prosecutor considers Trayvon's age irrelevant to his killing. It is relevant for sympathy but not to Zimmerman's defense.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Unknown - that other lawyers are not commenting on this does not mean it is meaningless. It is probably because the media has not covered it. Of course, the media always covers really important things. [sarcasm]

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Florida - perhaps you are the person who has emailed me. Trayvon's age is not important to my article. That Zimmerman possibly lied about his own impression is the most important issue. In a situation like this, a lawyer could impeach someone's testimony by showing that the witness made a prior inconsistent statement. The prior statement is not used to show the truth of the substance of the comment (hearsay), but to show that the witness is a liar. So, whether Zimmerman is a liar is much more important than how old Trayvon looks on my blog.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

I am generally confused by people who are upset with younger pictures of Trayvon. This is a lovely picture of one moment in his life. It is the first photo I saw of him. There are many others -- including older pictures of him -- that I would be proud to post. Other murder victims have a variety of pictures online. But with Trayvon - this causes head explosion. I guess it's so irritating to see a cute black kid.

Unknown said...

"Kathy - thanks for responding to that post. It doesn't really make much sense to me. His defenders are saying he thought Trayvon was a kid. Then he thought he was a man. Then he told his parents he didn't know he was a kid. Sorry - but that's wishful thinking on their part."

Thanks for the thanks, Darren, but to be truthful, I'm feeling a bit sheepish that the point you made did not occur to me. I didn't need to go into all that stuff about how teenage voices and adult voices sound different, because even though it's true, it's completely irrelevat once one considers the point you made. Zimmerman said he revised his idea of TM's age during the bon hearing -- he never said anything like that before. So maybe NOW he's trying to convince himself, or has convinced himself, that BACK THEN he thought TM was older, but he told the 911 dispatcher differently. And he could not have had *two different opinions* about TM's age when the shooting actually happened. He's trying to go back and have what he believes now be what he believed then.

Plus, as you say, it makes absolutely no difference to his guilt or innocence. Murder doesn't morph into justified homicide depending on the age of the victim.

Kathy Kattenburg

Unknown said...

"I am generally confused by people who are upset with younger pictures of Trayvon. This is a lovely picture of one moment in his life. It is the first photo I saw of him. There are many others -- including older pictures of him -- that I would be proud to post. Other murder victims have a variety of pictures online. But with Trayvon - this causes head explosion. I guess it's so irritating to see a cute black kid."

I have also seen Martin's skin tone change from photo to photo. His skin's shade of brown seemed to get darker as time went by. I'm not sure what that's about.

Also, please forgive any typos. I saw some in my other comments after I posted. My excuse is that the type size in this comment box is microscopic, and my eyes are 61 years old. :-)

Unknown said...

"I am saddened to think that no one has ever remarked on your special gifts and insights."

Sigh. Tom, my entire point, which I clearly stated, is that I *don't* have special skills and insights into people's relative ages. If you have the normal ability most people have to distinguish younger from older voices, you should be able to agree with me when I tell you that if you were to speak to me on the phone, not knowing who I was, and then if you were to speak to my daughter on the phone, also not knowing who she was, you might not be able to say that I am 61 and my daughter is 22 -- but you certainly would be able to tell that my voice sounded like that of an older woman, and my daughter's like that of a young woman. If you doubt that you could hear a 61-year-old person's voice and a 22-year-old person's voice and not say which was the older one, then there's something wrong with you. And I don't intend that as an ad hominem -- I really believe that it would be extremely odd if you could not tell that my daughter sounds like a young woman and I sound like an older woman.

Kathy Kattenburg

jazzer said...

TheRealGeorgeZimmerman.com.

TheRealGeorgeZimmerman.com.

TheRealGeorgeZimmerman.com.

Is this really a legit site for Mr. Zimmerman to raise living expenses and legal expenses!?

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