Lead Detective in Trayvon Case Wanted to Charge Zimmerman

Wednesday, 28 Mar 2012 11:30 AM

By Martin Gould

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The lead detective in the Trayvon Martin case wanted to charge his alleged killer with manslaughter, but prosecutors overruled him, ABC News reports.

Investigator Chris Serino did not accept neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman’s account of the shooting and thought there was enough evidence to make an arrest, according to the ABC report.

Serino said in an affidavit taken on Feb. 26, the night of Martin’s death, that he did not believe Zimmerman’s version that Martin felled him with a single punch from behind and was shot during a violent struggle on the  street in Sanford, Fla.

But the state attorney’s office insisted that there was not enough evidence to justify holding Martin, ABC reported.

Norman Wolfinger, the attorney heading the department, stepped down from the case last week “to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest,” and Florida Gov. Rick Scott appointed special prosecutor Angela Corey.

Wolfinger refused to comment on the ABC story. Corey told the Los Angeles Times that people need to be patient. “We stepped into this case Thursday night. We're asking — we're begging people — just give us a chance," she said.

But Corey hinted that Zimmerman could be charged, and she might even bypass the Seminole County grand jury that is scheduled to be convened on April 10. "It's possible that we’ll just make a decision without the grand jury," she said.

Corey insisted that her decision will not be based on political or community pressure. "The only commitment I made to our governor is that I will determine the facts and give Trayvon Martin's family the answers they deserve," she told the Times. "But we want to give them complete answers.

"Controversy doesn't fit well with justice," Corey said. "Justice has to be determined from the truth. You've got to close out everything that is going on outside."

The Martin case has hit the headlines and roiled race relations throughout the country. The 17-year-old was shot dead in a gated community in Sanford, an Orlando suburb, as he was walking back to his father’s house after going to the store to buy Skittles and an Arizona iced tea. He was staying in Sanford after being suspended from high school in Miami after a bag was found with traces of marijuana in it.

Zimmerman, 28, called 911 to report a suspicious person. The dispatcher told him not to follow Martin, advice that Zimmerman apparently ignored. Zimmerman contends that he got out of his SUV but lost sight of Martin, who then approached him from behind and decked him with a single punch and then began pounding his head on the sidewalk.

The dead teen’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, went to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday for a forum organized by House Democrats. Fulton appealed for supporters to refrain from violence in the case, especially after the New Black Panthers group put a $10,000 bounty on Zimmerman’s head.

“We recognize that a lot of people are doing things on behalf of Trayvon Martin,” she said. “We’ve decided that we want things to be done peaceful.”

Zimmerman has been in hiding since the shooting, which his supporters have claimed was justified under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. His friend Joe Oliver, who is black, told Robin Meade of the cable channel HLN that Zimmerman is being treated for post-traumatic stress syndrome, depression, and insomnia.

“He can’t eat. He cried for days after the shooting. He is extremely remorseful,” Oliver said. “Now he is living in hiding because he has become the scapegoat for what ails this country as far as racial relations go.”


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