George Zimmerman’s self-defense claim could be hurt by his own witnesses, who have changed their accounts since they were interviewed early on in the Trayvon Martin case.
Four witnesses’ statements regarding the Feb. 26 killing changed significantly when they were interviewed a second time in March. The statements are included in the collection of evidence officially released by the State Attorney’s Office last week.
Here is an overview of the key changes in their accounts.
A young woman who lives in the Retreat at Twin Lakes community, where Trayvon was killed, was interviewed twice by Sanford police and once by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
She told authorities that she had taken out her contact lenses just before the incident. In her first recorded interview with Sanford police four days after the shooting, she told lead Investigator Chris Serino, “I saw two guys running. Couldn’t tell you who was in front, who was behind.”
She stepped away from her window, and when she looked again, she “saw a fistfight. Just fists. I don’t know who was hitting who.”
A week later, she added a detail when talking again to Serino: During the chase, the two figures had been 10 feet apart.
That all changed when she was reinterviewed March 20 by an FDLE agent. That time, she recalled catching a glimpse of just one running figure, she told FDLE Investigator John Batchelor, and she heard the person more than saw him.
“I couldn’t tell you if it was a man, a woman, a kid, Black or White. I couldn’t tell you because it was dark and because I didn’t have my contacts on or glasses. … I just know I saw a person out there.”
Witness 12 was interviewed on March 20, saying she “didn’t know which one” was on top of the other during the scuffle. Six days later, she said she was sure it was Zimmerman on top.
Witness 6 lived close to where the incident occurred. On the night of the shooting, he told investigators that Martin was on top, “just throwing down blows on the guy, MMA-style,” the paper reported. He also noted that Zimmerman was calling for help. But three weeks later, the witness said he wasn’t sure who was calling for help.
Witness 13 said he spotted Zimmerman with “blood on the back of his head,” he told police. Zimmerman allegedly told the witness that Martin “was beating up on me, so I had to shoot him.” In two interviews after that one a month later, the witness described Zimmerman’s demeanor as nonchalant, “… More like, ‘Just tell my wife I shot somebody’ like it was nothing.”
The witnesses are expected to be interviewed at least once more before Zimmerman’s trial.
This week, security video was released showing Trayvon Martin at a Sanford, Fla. 7-Eleven the night he died. The teen purchased a bag of Skittles and an Arizona iced tea, a short time before he was killed.
The evidence from that night — and the dialogue surrounding it — has grown increasingly complex. Last week, it was revealed that Zimmerman really did sustain injuries to his face and head during the incident. In addition, information from Martin’s autopsy report was leaked just one day after medical records from Zimmerman’s family physician were released.
Zimmerman has been charged with shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on the evening of Feb. 26 in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch volunteer called 911 and told a police dispatcher that the teen, who was returning from a trip to a nearby convenience store, “looked suspicious.” After an altercation, Zimmerman shot Martin in the chest, subsequently telling local police that he acted in self-defense.