Dr. Vincent Di Maio, Forensic Pathologist
It seemed to take the entire first hour of Dr. Di Maio’s testimony simply to work though his background and credentials. He has spent on the order of 40 years working as a forensic pathologist, having personally conducted some 9,000 autopsies and overseen tens of thousands more. Defense attorney stepped through these qualifications in his usual deliberative manner.
In addition to his work conducting autopsies, Dr. Di Maio had also served in the military in a capacity in which he was able to study terminal ballistics and gun shot wounds. He stepped through the process by which a gun fires a cartridge, focusing particularly on the matter ejected from the muzzle, including the hot expanding gases, the bullet, and unburned gun powder.
Zimmerman’s Muzzle Not Pressed Into Martin’s Body
He noted that the autopsy report noted a 2″ x 2″ area of gun powder tattooing (from unburnt gun powder) around the gun shot wound on Trayvon Martin’s chest. He was able to determine from this that them muzzle of the Mr. Zimmerman’s Kel-Tech PF9 had been between 2″ and 4″ from Mr. Martin’s chest. He was also able to definitely exclude the State’s claim that the muzzle of the gun had been pressed against Martin’s chest, because in that case the unburnt gun powder would have ended up in the wound rather than on Mr. Martin’s skin.
ME Bao’s Collection and Preservation of Evidence Disastrously Flawed
West also had Dr. Di Maio testify as to matters of evidence collection and preservation, particularly the wet clothes that had been stored in plastic bags (thus degrading any DNA that might have otherwise been detectable), the failure to bag Trayvon Martin’s hands in order to properly preserve any evidence there (such as Mr. Zimmerman’s DNA on Martin’s knuckles), and the fact that the photos taken by Medical Examiner Bao were only taken after Martin’s body had already been washed. This undercuts a variety of State claims, including that the lack of Zimmerman’s DNA on Martin’s hands suggests that Martin did not, in fact beat Zimmerman around the head. In essence, this line of questioning should have destroyed whatever little remaining confidence the jury might have still held in the testimony of Dr. Bao.
Martin Would Have Been Able to Pull Hands Under Body After Shooting
Dr. Di Maio further testified as to how long Mr. Martin might have been able to have controlled movements considering the injuries caused to his heart by Mr. Zimmerman’s bullet, indicating a minimum period of 10 to 15 seconds. This would have been more than enough time for Martin to pull his hands in under his body. This undercuts the State’s argument that Zimmerman must be lying when he said he moved Martin’s hands away from his body.
Injuries to Zimmerman’s Head Were Potentially Life Threatening
Further testimony from Dr. Di Maio emphasized the life-threatening danger of blows to the head. He noted that intracranial bleeding is hidden, and often does not cause death until some hours after the injury that caused it. He also noted that axonal injury can occur even besides bleeding, causing brain damage. This undermines the State’s arguments that the blows to Zimmermans’ head were inconsequential and could not h ave represented the reasonable threat of death or grave bodily harm necessary to justify Zimmerman’s use of deadly force in self-defense.