New evidence released in Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case

Prosecutors in the case of George Zimmerman, who is charged with second degree murder in the February 26th killing of Trayvon Martin, released new evidence Thursday, including Zimmerman’s college records, and the 911 call Martin’s father placed to Sanford, Florida police when his son failed to return to the house where the two were visiting.

The 76 pages of new evidence — part of which the state tried to recall shortly after releasing it to members of the news media — also included photos taken by a witness of the back of Zimmerman’s head on the night of the shooting inside the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community, and a grainy, barely distinguishable picture of Trayvon Martin’s body, also apparently taken by the witness at the shooting scene.

The document release included an evidence receipt, listing items including the medical blanket used to cover the Miami teen’s body after the shooting, Zimmerman’s car keys, blood evidence collected from the bag of Skittles candy Martin was carrying at the time of his confrontation with Zimmerman and from a flashlight found at the scene, audio recordings of witness interviews, and photos of Martin taken during the autopsy.

Martin was carrying the candy, a can of Arizona iced tea, and just over $40 on the night of the shooting. A note regarding DNA tests points to the possibility of an “additional contributor” to the DNA found on the Skittles, but indicates that no blood evidence was found on the flashlight. Zimmerman is believed to have been carrying a flashlight on a key ring on the night of the shooting. A second flashlight found at the scene is believed to have belonged to a witness, who was the first person to talk to Zimmerman after the shooting.

Zimmerman in 2008 applied for the Seminole County Sheriff’s “Citizens Law Enforcement Academy.” His application, also included in the state’s release, includes his explanation of his July 2005 arrest for assault on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence. In his explanation, Zimmerman says says both charges were dropped, and explains the incident as “an altercation with an undercover officer that was taking part in an ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms] sting for underage drinking” at the University of Southern Florida. Zimmerman explains that the officer “never told me he was an officer and assaulted me first.”

“Shortly after that in September of 2005 the same unit was conducting a sting at UCF and an officer was killed by an OPD officer because he discharged his weapon and did not identify himself,” Zimmerman wrote, adding that his father is a retired Virginia magistrate judge and his mother a former deputy clerk of the court. “I hold law enforcement officers in the highest regaurd [sic] as I hope to one day become one,” he continued, stating that he would “never have touched a police officer” and that “prior to and since that incident” he had not been arrested.

The application was filed on December 11, 2008. Zimmerman did not disclose in his application prior accusations of domestic violence by a former girlfriend, who alleged that he “open hand smacked” and pushed her. The woman and Zimmerman filed competing protective orders against one another in August 2005.

Zimmerman’s application to the Sheriff’s program was approved a week after it was filed, with Roger Larsen of the Seminole Sheriff’s Domestic Security/Crime Prevention unit calling his admitted prior arrest “unusual.” Zimmerman was told that the next class would take place January 7, 2009, at 100 Bush Boulevard in Sanford — just down the street from the John E. Polk Correctional Facility, where Zimmerman would briefly be incarcerated after turning himself in for the Martin shooting, in April of this year.

Also included in the release: records from Zimmerman’s time at Seminole State College, where he was studying criminal justice in 2009 and 2011. In the earlier year, Zimmerman earned As in English and Litigation, Bs in basic algebra and “intro to oral communication,” a C in general psychology and intermediate algebra, and a D in U.S. women’s history. Zimmerman resumed his classes in 2011, but his grades foundered, including earning D’s in “juvenile delinquency” and college math. Zimmerman’ fall 2011 Associate in Arts degree was denied by the college, because he failed a required course. Zimmerman had written to the college expressing concern that he was “getting the message from financial aid” that the class he planned to retake in the spring of 2012 would not be covered.

Zimmerman has previously claimed he graduated from the college.

Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda has, in previous hearings, sought to undercut the defense portrayal of Zimmerman as unsophisticated, and therefore not culpable for he and his wife misleading the court about their finances. De la Rionda in the July 29 bond hearing, cited Zimmerman’s study of criminal justice, and his familiarity with law enforcement, in making the case that the 28-year-old — as the judge later concurred, in setting a $1 million bond — attempted to manipulate the system to his benefit.

Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, has called for the judge in the case, Kenneth Lester, to recuse himself, something the judge has declined to do. O’Mara plans to appeal that decision, and also indicated this week that he will seek a “stand your ground” hearing, at which the defense will try to prove that Zimmerman acted in self-defense in shooting Martin to death, and therefore the charges should be dismissed.

No date for such a hearing has been set, and even a formal motion is thought to be months away.

Follow Joy Reid on Twitter at @thereidreport.