Dominion of New York

The 411

March 29, 2012

Top 5 Unanswered Questions About Trayvon Martin Case

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Written by: Kelly Virella

Trayvon Martin


oNY has been following the Trayvon Martin homicide case daily since the early days of it, and even as leaks occur regularly, some very basic questions remain unanswered. These are the 5 that trouble me most. Use the comment section to tell me what yours are.

What is the relationship between George Zimmerman’s father, a retired Virginia judge, and the prosecutors and law enforcement? The decision not to charge Zimmerman was made by the Seminole County State’s Attorney Norman Wolfinger, against the advice of the police. The state’s attorney — not an assistant — also appeared at the scene of the killing, an unusual move for the top prosecutor in a county. Who told him that he should come and why, on a Sunday night, did he agree to it, as The Grio has asked? Did someone tell him that the killer was the son of a retired judge? Does he know Zimmerman’s father personally? When Wolfinger announced that he was stepping down from the case last Thursday, he said he was doing it to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. What was the potential conflict of interest that made him step down?

Why was no background check conducted on Zimmerman? How did the state’s attorney decide to trust Zimmerman’s account of the killing without so much as conducting a background check on him? In the day’s immediately following the killing, Sanford Police reported that Zimmerman was “squeaky clean.” Within days, we learned that he had been arrested more than once, but the charges were dropped. Why didn’t these revelations lead the state attorney’s office to reconsider its decision?

After Wolfinger had already decided against charging Zimmerman, why did Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee say the investigation was being turned over to the state attorney’s office? Lee urged everyone to be patient while the investigation continued at the state attorney’s office, but the state attorney’s office had already made a decision. Did Wolfinger’s office plan to actually investigate anything, or was that just a ruse?

Why did the city manager say police believed Zimmerman’s story, when the lead detective actually didn’t, but was being forced to accept it by the State’s Attorney? City manager Norton Bonaparte released a statement effectively saying police believed Zimmerman’s self-defense claim and that the evidence corroborated it. That was false. a mischaracterization of the situation. Why didn’t he say what the lead detective really believed? Further, why the did the police release a new statement yesterday saying again that Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

What is the relationship between Zimmerman and the one eyewitness who allegedly corroborated his account? An eyewitness who has only been identified in media reports as John claims that he saw Zimmerman getting pounded by Trayvon Martin. A Florida Fox News affiliate interviewed the witness, but he refused to show his face on camera. It’s unclear where John was standing during the incident and whether he saw how it began, but he says that after he noticed it, he ran upstairs in his apartment to call 911 and heard a gun shot while he was running. Who is this witness on whom it appears Wolfinger hinged his belief in Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense? Is he a friend of Zimmerman’s?

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About the Author

Kelly Virella
Kelly Virella lives in an East Harlem walk-up with her husband, her bicycle and her books. She's worked as a journalist for 11 years and started this website during the summer of 2011. She fell in love with New York City during her first visit here as a 16-year-old and finally made good on her promise to move here in April 2010.


Official portrait from his tenure as US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.