Medical Examiner Testifies in Zimmerman Murder Trial

Dr. Bao Picture

This afternoon, Trayvon Martin’s medical examiner gave his testimony in the the George Zimmerman murder trial.

The prosecution was first to question the expert.

According to Dr. Bao, the bullet that hit Trayvon Martin entered through the right side of his chest. Bao testified that Martin was still alive for 1-10 minutes after the shot, while Martin bled out. He was still alive and able to feel pain. Dr. Shiping Bao also confirmed the victim would have not been able to move after receiving the bullet wound. This goes against George Zimmerman’s claim that the victim raised up and said, “Oh gosh you me, you got it, you got me, you got it.”

According to the medical examiner’s testimony, this would not be possible.

Dr. Bao established that the bullet that fired into Trayvon Martin’s chest was a straight shot, aimed directly at the heart. The medical examiner stated that the bullet created two lacerations on the right ventricle, adding that the damage was not survivable.

A key moment in the examination was when the prosecution began to question Dr. Bao about how far the weapon was from Trayvon Martin when the shot was fired. The medical examiner was not able to identify the distance, but only established that it was not a point-blank shot.

George Zimmerman's Lawyer

The defence began by asking questions leading to whether the weather might have comprimised the evidence at the crime scene. Don West, the defense attorney for George Zimmerman, questioned why Martin’s hands weren’t covered in order to preserve evidence on his fingers and why it took three hours to remove the body from the scene. Dr. Bao testified that he could not comment because he could not remember the day in question.

The defense followed up with questions about Dr. Bao and his team’s notes from the autopsy. Again, the medical examiner could not answer the questions because he could not remember the specific autopsy.

The court then recessed after discovery that Dr. Bao was using personal notes to answer questions. The notes had not been seen by the attorney on either side. Judge Debra Nelson called for a recess as both sides study the notes and decide how to move forward. The notes are to be destroyed after the medical examiner’s testimony.

Judge Nelson ordered a limited inquiry period (a cross examination without the jury present), investigating whether the State knew about these changes in Dr. Bao’s opinion, possibly resulting in the exclusion of this witness in the trial.

Dr. Bao Picture

This is when the examination of Dr. Bao got interesting.

In a November deposition, Dr. Bao estimated that Trayvon Martin may have been alive for 1-3 minutes after sustaining the gun shot injury. Today, Dr. Bao testified that he changed his opinion, stating that Martin could have been alive for 1-10 minutes after the trauma. When Don West, lead defensive attorney for George Zimmerman, questioned the medical examiner about it, Dr. Bao said he changed his opinion 3 weeks age, based on a similar case he worked on. He then reminded that this was just his opinion and that opinions are “no truth or false.”

The second change in opinion followed minutes later when the defense continued asking about Dr. Bao’s November deposition, concerning his opinion on whether the presence of THC or other marijuana by-products in Trayvon Martin’s blood would have an affect on his actions that night. His original statement was that it would not. Today, the medical examiner said that in the last 60, after consulting a biologist by the name of Dr. Brooks in Washington State, he changed his opinion while preparing for today’s testimony, stating that “marijuana could have no effect or some effect.”

Judge Nelson ruled that Dr. Bao was not in violation and that the information discussed during the limited inquiry period will not be presented to the jury.

After the jury returned to the court room, the defense continued its examination of the medical examiner, asking questions concerning autopsy protocol. Dr. Bao could not answer their questions because they concerned the jobs of his co-workers and were not responsibilities of his.

Moving on, West moved the focus of his questioning to the small abrasions on Trayvon Martin’s hands. Dr. Bao concluded that they could have been caused up to two hours before he met Zimmerman.

“You cannot say very specific … Could have been on the way down after he was shot.”

West presented a photo of the pants Martin wore the day of the incident. The pants had dirt or mud marks on the knees. He then asked Dr. Bao about the kinds of surfaces that would create the abrasions.
“Not wet, soggy soil?” asked West. “I don’t think so,” answered Bao.

The defense then returned to the gunshot. According to Dr. Bao’s testimony, the gun was fired from an “intermediate range,” which was determined by the 2×2 inch gunshot residue pattern found on the victim. This lead the medical examiner to the conclusion that the shot was fired from a distance between 0.4 inches and 4 feet from Martin’s body. Dr. Bao stated that he made this analysis “without very great confidence.”

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