Over the course of 24 years, Miami defense attorney Tony Moss has tried dozens of cases, including more than a dozen homicides. But he said he’s never seen anything like the investigation into the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
“Never in my experience has someone involved in a shooting been allowed to just leave the scene with the evidence,” Moss said, referring to George Zimmerman, 28, who police claim had grass stains oh his back from having fought with Martin, 17.
“This level of ineptitude, for lack of a better word, is mind bogging,” Moss said of the Sanford police investigation, which lasted just hours after the shooting, before Zimmerman was released, still wearing the red jacket police reports say he was wearing on the night of the shooting, February 26th.
“There is forensic evidence to be found on that jacket, there are ballistics tests, gunshot residue and, potentially, DNA that have now been lost,” said Moss.
WATCH RACHEL MADDOW’S COVERAGE OF THE STRAND YOUR GROUND LAW:
Moss said lawyers looking at the case could ask a number of questions:
- Why did police fail to preserve the shooting scene, “which is standard procedure,” Moss said.
- Did the bullet “pass through” Trayvon’s body or become lodged, which would be crucial to knowing whether the chest wound police reported was an entry or exit wound. Moss said the autopsy, which has not been released, could shed significant light in what happened on the night of the shooting.
Moss compared the push by Zimmerman’s supporters and members of the Sanford police department to leak information to the media to the days when then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was accused of allowing negative information to be leaked about the victims of police shootings.
This included the leak of Patrick Dorismond’s juvenile record when undercover police shot Dorismond to death in 2000. Dorismond got into a shoving match with an officer ater taking offense at being asked where undercover cop could buy drugs.
“This kind of thing isn’t new at all,” Moss said.
Moss said that he sees three possible outcomes in the Zimmerman case: a manslaughter or second degree murder charge, a civil suit by the family, or possibly, Zimmerman being cleared outright under Florida’s often broadly applied Stand Your Ground law.
Indeed, it’s not difficult to find cases in which the law has been applied to seemingly absurd ends, like the case last week where a Miami-Dade judge cleared a man under Stand Your Ground after he chased a burglar for more than a block and stabbed him in the back, killing him. The stabbing was caught on surveillance video. Since the law took effect in 2005, the average number of homicides ruled justifiable has jumped from 12 to 33.
Or the 2009 case of a car chase and shoot-out in broad daylight, in Miami, that seemed to include an execution, but no prosecution, because of Stand Your Ground.
Even worse, Moss said, is a new Indiana law that allows people to use force, including deadly force, against police officers who enter their home, if they feel they are endangered and believe the officers entered the home illegally.
“That is what the NRA (National Rifle Association) has brought us to in this country,” Moss said.
Moss said that, as desperately as Trayvon Martin’s family want to see a prosecution in their son’s killing, “whether or not criminal charges are filed, if nothing else, as painful and tragic as Trayvon’s death has been for his family, at least we can start a conversation we should have had seven years ago when Stand Your Ground sailed through the state legislature.”
And Moss said Martin’s loved ones and supporters may have to prepare themselves for the possibility they fear most,
“It could be that this case has been botched so badly that a conviction [of George Zimmerman] is not possible.”
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