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Monday, March 26, 2012

'He thought it would all blow over': Friend defends Zimmerman as new witness reveals how shooter 'refused to help dying Trayvon'


  • New witness said Zimmerman pinned Trayvon face-down after shooting and did nothing to help

  • However, long-time friend Joe Oliver said Zimmerman 'couldn't stop crying' after the fatal shooting incident last month

  • Zimmerman's lawyer says only one side of the story is being told and that more will be revealed at grand trial

  • Justice Department may bring hate crime charges against Zimmerman

  • Rev Jesse Jackson called teen a 'martyr' and said 'blacks are under attack'


  • Parents warn against fake websites claiming to collect money for the caseA woman has stepped forward, saying she witnessed the final moments of Trayvon Martin’s life.
    In an interview set to air on Dateline tonight, Mary Cutcher said that she and her roommate ran out after hearing the shot.
    She said that Zimmerman had ‘his hands pressed on his back’ and ‘never turned him over or tried to help him.’
    The version of events relayed the witness strongly contradicts the characterization of Zimmerman by his long-time friend Joe Oliver who said that he is surprised that it has turned into such a national issue.
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    Stepping forward: Mary Cutcher said in a Dateline interview that she and her roommate saw Zimmerman holding Trayvon down and did not try to help him
    Stepping forward: Mary Cutcher said in a Dateline interview that she and her roommate saw Zimmerman holding Trayvon down and did not try to help him; the full interview airs tonight on NBC
    Trayvon MartinGeorge Zimmerman
    Killing: Trayvon Martin, left, was shot dead by George Zimmerman, right, in a gated community in Florida
    'Because he was there and he knows what happened...he's been very confident - naively - that this would all blow over,' Mr Oliver said in an appearance on ABC.
    On both Good Morning America and the Today show, Mr Oliver said Zimmerman was in shambles after the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.
    Speaking on Good Morning America , Joe Oliver said: ‘After this started – the reports I got – (Zimmerman) couldn’t stop crying.'

    He also confirmed that Zimmerman is in hiding and is fearful for his life, especially after yesterday, when the Black Panthers placed a $10,000 bounty on his 'capture.'
    'He's moved, they've disconnected their phone numbers. They're in hiding. They're fearful,' Mr Oliver said.
    The interviews comes the same day as a new report says that Justice Department investigators may try to charge him with a hate crime, and they are thought to be using the alleged murmuring on the 911 call to argue he said a racial slur before fatally shooting the 17-year-old.
    Different account: Speaking on Good Morning America today, long-time friend Joe Oliver, left, and legal adviser Craig Soner, right, said only one side of the story is being told
    Different account: Speaking on Good Morning America today, long-time friend Joe Oliver, left, and legal adviser Craig Soner, right, said only one side of the story is being told
    'If that was a racial epithet that preceded the attack on Trayvon Martin, we definitely have a hate crime,' said Drexel University law professor Donald Tibbs.
    'It sounds pretty obvious to me,' he told the Associated Press.
    'At that point, either George or Trayvon was going to die.'
    -Joe Oliver, George Zimmerman's friend
    Even if Zimmerman is not charged, the entire Sanford police department may be investigated regardless to see if they destroyed or hid any evidence during their initial investigation.
    Mr Oliver also identified the voice screaming in the now-infamous 911 tapes as the Neighbourhood Watch captain, not of Martin as the teen's parents claim.
    ‘From the clips that I’ve heard online, I heard George. That sounded like someone who was in dire need of help. It sounded like George.’
    'At that point, either George or Trayvon was going to die.'
    Protests in churches across the country: Members of the congregation at Middle Collegiate Church in New York wear hoodies as part of protests at the shooting of Martin
    Protests in churches across the country: Members of the congregation at Middle Collegiate Church in New York wear hoodies as part of protests at the shooting of Martin
    Fired up: The Rev. Jesse Jackson delivered a sermon about the death of Trayvon Martin at the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Eatonville, Florida today
    Fired up: The Rev. Jesse Jackson delivered a sermon about the death of Trayvon Martin at the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Eatonville, Florida today
    Worship wear: Church-goers at Middle Collegiate Church in New York's East Village were invited to wear hoodies to services today to show their support for justice
    Worship wear: Church-goers at Middle Collegiate Church in New York's East Village were invited to wear hoodies to services today to show their support for justice

    In prayer: Senior Minister Jacqueline Lewis, right, prays with other congregants during the Middle Collegiate Church service
    In prayer: Senior Minister Jacqueline Lewis, right, prays with other congregants during the Middle Collegiate Church service
    However, several people who witnessed the deadly shooting last month said the shrieks were that of a teenager.
    But Mr Oliver, who has known Zimmerman for the better part of a decade, insisted that the cries were those of someone seeking help, and added that in the duration of their friendship, has not seen the man with a Peruvian mother and white father acting in a racist manner.
    He said given the history in Sanford, Florida, the reason that Zimmerman is not in jail is because he’s not guilty. ‘They don’t have evidence to arrest him,’ Mr Oliver said.
    He also noted that the Virginia-native was only now coming to terms with the vast scope and severity of the case that even garnered the attention of President Obama.
    Mr Oliver said: ‘Just now, he’s becoming aware of how big this has gotten. It’s just starting to sink in. Up until this point…he’s been very confident- naively – that this would blow over.’
    Too young: Trayvon Martin, seen here in a family photo from a ski trip, was simply holding Skittles when he was shot
    Too young: Trayvon Martin, seen here in a family photo from a ski trip, was simply holding Skittles when he was shot
    Zimmerman’s legal advisor Craig Sonner also spoke on the show, saying that only half of the story has been painted by the evidence available.
    ‘That’s only a small snippet of anything that happened that evening,’ Mr Sonner said, also noting that he did not want to litigate the case publicly. ‘There’s more evidence that will be released when the case comes forward on April 10.’
    'If it's a moment, we go home. If it's a movement, we go to war... there is power in the blood of the innocent.'
    -The Rev. Jesse Jackson
    'George Zimmerman suffered a broken nose, and had an injury to the back of his head, he was attacked by Trayvon Martin on that evening.
    'The evidence will show that this was a case of self defense.'
    Referring to the controversial Stand Your Ground law which allows people to fight back when attacked, Mr Sonner said that it 'is going to be applicable in this case'.
    Speaking today to a crowd of about 1,600 at the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Eatonville, Florida, civil-rights activist Jesse Jackson called Martin a ‘martyr.’
    ‘If it’s a moment, we go home. If it’s a movement, we go to war,’ he said, the Orlando Sun-Sentinel reported. ‘There is power in the blood of the innocent.’
    He added: ‘Blacks are under attack.’
    Congregants wear hoodies during a service in New York to show their support for justice in the case of Martin
    Congregants wear hoodies during a service in New York to show their support for justice in the case of Martin

    Senior Minister Dr. Jacqueline Lewis at a special service for Martin at Middle Collegiate Church in New York City
    Senior Minister Dr. Jacqueline Lewis at a special service for Martin at Middle Collegiate Church in New York City

    Hoodies for Trayvon: Several hundred people wore hoodies in solidarity for Trayvon in Chicago's Daley Plaza yesterday
    Hoodies for Trayvon: Several hundred people wore hoodies in solidarity for Trayvon in Chicago's Daley Plaza yesterday
    Speaking out: A man, centre, spoke at the Washington rally yesterday before the group marched to Freedom Plaza
    Speaking out: A man, centre, spoke at the Washington rally yesterday before the group marched to Freedom Plaza

    Also today, other evidence shows Zimmerman in a different light. According to the New York Post, Zimmerman had delusions of grandeur and dreamed of a life in law enforcement. On top of that, the paper noted, he had cases of extreme paranoia.
    According to the Post, Zimmerman twice enrolled at a program at Seminole State to pursue a vocational certificate, once in 2003, and again in 2009.
    However, he was kicked out the last week of the program because of safety concerns, the Los Angeles Times said.
    Thus, he acted out his police dreams by obsessively patrolling the gated community of the Retreat at Twin Lakes, where both he and Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, live.
    'From the clips that I’ve heard online, I heard George. That sounded like someone who was in dire need of help. It sounded like George.'
    -Joe Oliver
    Records show Zimmerman called the police at least 46 times within the last year – many of those times were to report ‘suspicious’ African-Americans within the subdivision.
    Often, the calls were focused around fear of burglaries.
    The case has become a national issue, and the slain teen's parents have both quit their jobs to help see that the fight for justice continues. In that effort, they have allowed their lawyers to set up a donation fund for the legal costs, but now they fear that other fake sites have sprung up, hoping to profit from the national outrage.
    The case certainly continues to raise public ire, as multitudinous crowds gathered throughout the nation in a wide sweep of protests against the killing.
    About 400 people rallied Saturday in downtown Chicago to protest Martin's killing.
    In a racially divided city beset by shootings, gang violence and run-ins with police, the teen's death brought to mind the 1955 slaying of Emmitt Till, a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago who was shot and bludgeoned to death while visiting Mississippi for supposedly whistling at a white woman. His body was found in the Tallahatchie River.
    No one was ever convicted, but Till's killing galvanized the civil rights movement.
    'It's a precedent that with the right excuse it's OK to gun down black males,' protester Ashten Fizer said of Martin's killing. 'It's a return of Jim Crow.'
    In Washington, a large crowd gathered in Freedom Plaza to call for justice in the shooting.
    Rallying: People gather for a rally for slain teenager Treyvon Martin in Washington
    Rallying: People gather for a rally for slain teenager Treyvon Martin in Washington
    Sombre: People gathered at the 'Stand Up for Trayvon Martin' rally in Washington yesterday with a gloomy sky as backdrop
    Sombre: People gathered at the 'Stand Up for Trayvon Martin' rally in Washington yesterday with a gloomy sky as backdrop
    Distraught: A demonstrator weeps in New York's Union Square at the end of a march from Zuccotti Park
    Distraught: A demonstrator weeps in New York's Union Square at the end of a march from Zuccotti Park
    Among the demonstrators Saturday was Jimmy Neal, a District of Columbia resident who said his daughter has been asking him questions he didn't want to answer.
    'She's asked me the question ... `Why, daddy, when he was carrying candy and a soda or iced tea and why did the man kill him?' I had to explain that to her. And those are discussions you don't plan to have with your kids,' Neal said.
    'Hoodie Marches' were organized Saturday in two South Carolina cities over social media. Many of the people participating carried bags of Skittles and wore hooded sweat shirts, like the one Martin wore when he was killed.
    Martin was holding a bag of the candy while walking to his father's fiancée's home from a convenience store when Zimmerman started following him, telling police dispatchers he looked suspicious.
    At some point, the two got into a fight in the gated community and Zimmerman pulled out his gun.
    Meanwhile, authorities say a Florida man is charged with threatening the police chief who temporarily stepped down from the investigation.
    The Seminole County Sheriff's Office says John Carnduff Stewart of Melbourne Beach emailed Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee on Friday, saying Lee and his family should be killed. Melbourne Beach is nearly 70 miles south of Sanford.
    The sheriff's office says Stewart has sent threatening emails previously, including to Penn State University assistant football coach Mike McQueary.
    Stewart was placed on electronic monitoring as a condition of his $10,000 bond.
    Defiance: Protests have demanded that George Zimmerman be prosecuted over the shooting
    Defiance: Protests have demanded that George Zimmerman be prosecuted over the shooting
    March: A seven-year-old protester eats Skittles at a demonstration in Washington, D.C.
    March: A seven-year-old protester eats Skittles at a demonstration in Washington, D.C. Trayvon Martin had gone to buy a bag of Skittles when he was shot by Zimmerman
    On Saturday, protesters gathered in New York bolstered by campaigners from Occupy Wall Street, and marched from Zuccotti Park to Union Square, with many activists dressed in hoodies to represent the clothes Martin was wearing when he was shot dead by George Zimmerman.
    The witness, known only as John, told Sanford police that he saw Martin on top of George Zimmerman shortly before the fatal shot that has led to a national outcry, including a huge 'hoodie' march in Philadelphia last night. He recounted the details to Fox 35 News in Florida.
    Meanwhile, the Rev Al Sharpton said today that activists are planning a ‘wave of civil disobedience.’
    Speaking outside of his New York City headquarters today, Rev Sharpton said that it is important to show ‘sustained indignation’ over Martin's death.
    He also appeared on the Today show this morning and said that the legal system failed Trayvon Martin and his family.
    In reaction to Mr Obama’s comment, he said: ‘He expressed himself when asked a question as the president.’
    Hoodie: Martin's choice of attire has been mentioned as one possible reason he attracted suspicion
    Hoodie: Martin's choice of attire has been mentioned as one possible reason he attracted suspicion
    No bias: Speaking on CBS, Zimmerman's attorney Craig Sonner said that the Neighbourhood Watch volunteer isn't racist
    No bias: Speaking on CBS, Zimmerman's attorney Craig Sonner said that the Neighbourhood Watch volunteer isn't racist

    Rev Sharpton’s projection isn’t far from truth. Already, thousands of people across the country have joined rallies and protests – many of these demonstrations are encouraging protesters to wear a hoodie like Martin was when he was shot.

    BLACK PANTHERS OFFER BOUNTY

    Mikhail Muhammad leads a protest by the New Black Panther Party
    Mikhail Muhammad, leader of the New Black Panther Party, led a protest over the weekend
    The New Black Panther Party has offered a $10,000 reward for the 'capture' of George Zimmerman.
    The group's leader Mikhail Muhammad said the bounty was 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth'.
    At a rally for slain teenager Trayvon Martin, the Black Panthers called for 10,000 black men to hunt down Zimmerman, Martin's shooter who has not been charged over the killing.
    Mr Muhammad said at the gathering in Sanford that his group was planning to apprehend the killer itself.
    'If the government won't do the job, we'll do it,' he said.
    Speaking today, Zimmerman's long-time friend Joe Oliver said he is in hiding and fearful for his life.
    In addition, members of the Black Panther Party are offering a $10,000 reward for Zimmerman’s ‘capture,’ the Orlando Sentinel reported.
    Leader Mikhai Muhammad said at a Sanford protest today after the group called for 5,000 new recruits to capture him.
    The group chanted: ‘Justice for Trayvon!’ as well as ‘Black Power!’
    Mr Muhammad told the paper that the group would commence their search in areas that Zimmerman was known to have work ties – in Jacksonville and Maitland.
    The witness told FOX 35 in Orlando that he saw evidence of a fight between Martin and Zimmerman, which could lend credence to the gunman's claim that he was acting in self-defence.
    'The guy on the bottom who had a red sweater on was yelling to me: "Help, help… and I told him to stop and I was calling 911,' he said.
    Zimmerman was wearing a red sweater; Martin was in a grey hoodie.
    He added: 'When I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on top beating up the other guy, was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point.'
    This account is drastically different from the portrait painted of Martin by his friends and acquaintances.
    Friends of the slain 17-year-old say they cannot imagine him getting involved in a fight, and insist that he was not violent.
    'There's no way I can believe that, because he's not a confrontational kid,' said Jerome Horton, who was one of Martin's former football coaches and knew him since he was a small child.
    'It just wouldn't happen. That's just not that kid.
    Sustained protests: Rev Al Sharpton today called for civil disobedience and more protests to show outrage over the case; he is pictured speaking at a rally yesterday
    Sustained protests: Rev Al Sharpton today called for civil disobedience and more protests to show outrage over the case; he is pictured speaking at a rally Friday

    Chants: The rally chanted their frustration with racism and discrimination believed to have led to the teen's death
    Chants: The rally chanted their frustration with racism and discrimination believed to have led to the teen's death
    The attorney hired to represent Zimmerman is echoing claims of the Neighbourhood Watchman’s father – that he’s not racist.
    Speaking on CBS This Morning: Saturday, attorney Craig Sonner said: ‘I don’t believe there’s any racial motivation on the behalf of George Zimmerman… That’s the issue that we wanted to address today, is that this was not a racial issue in what happened that day.
    'Basically, Mr Zimmerman claims he was attacked by Trayvon Martin and he was defending himself. That’s the gist of the investigation.’
    He also noted that he is at the moment only advising Zimmerman, as he has not been criminally charged.
    Though he has remained resolutely silent throughout the ordeal, even as national protests are held calling for his arrest, Zimmerman did place a call to a neighbour nearly a month after the incident, thanking him for his support.
    In the call, the Neighbourhood Watch captain left a message for Frank Taaffee, one of Zimmerman’s most vocal supporters to date.
    ‘Hey, Mr Taaffee. This is George. Um, first and foremost, I wanted to say I am very sorry for the loss of your son, and, um, I can't imagine what you must be going through.
    'Um, secondly, I wanted to thank you for doing everything you've been doing.
    'Um, I know you don't have to, and I appreciate it, and you're truly setting an example for me for the future of, uh, doing the right thing even when it's tough, and, uh, I appreciate it.
    'I'll talk to you soon,’ Zimmerman said in the message.
    Final stop: Trayvon shopped at this 7-Eleven in Sanford before he was shot by Zimmerman; he bought Skittles and an iced tea
    Final stop: Trayvon shopped at this 7-Eleven in Sanford before he was shot by Zimmerman; he bought Skittles and an iced tea

    Place of death: The area behind Twin Trees Lane, where slain teenager Trayvon Martin's body was found
    Place of death: The area behind Twin Trees Lane, where slain teenager Trayvon Martin's body was found
    Residence: The home of George Zimmerman at the Retreat of Twin Lakes neighbourhood
    Residence: The home of George Zimmerman at the Retreat of Twin Lakes neighbourhood

     












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