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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lead Homicide Investigator In Tayvon Martin Case Recommended Manslaughter Charges Be Brought Against George Zimmerman In DISBELIEF Of His Story, Florida State Attorney Nixed Idea!

Report: Investigator Had Wanted Manslaughter Charge For Zimmerman
The latest development comes as leaks from both sides attempt to reshape the public narrative of Trayvon Martin's death.
By Josh Voorhees and Abby Ohlheiser

UPDATE: ABC News with the latest scoop: The lead homicide investigator in the shooting of Trayvon Martin originally recommended that police charge George Zimmerman with manslaughter the night of the shooting.

The network, citing "multiple sources," reports that Investigator Chris Serino was instructed, however, not to press charges against Zimmerman because the Florida state attorney's office had determined that there wasn't enough evidence to lead to a conviction.

ABC News also reports that Zimmerman was brought to the police station for questioning "for a few hours" on the night of the shooting, despite his request for medical attention first, and that Serino filed an affidavit on the night that Martin was killed that stated he was unconvinced by Zimmerman's version of events.

The state attorney's office declined to comment when asked about the affidavit by ABC on Tuesday. Read the full ABC News story here.

Tuesday, March 27 at 12:37 p.m.: As federal investigators continue to look into the Trayvon Martin case, the media's attention appears to have shifted somewhat to the 17-year-old's apparent troubled past.

The Miami Herald reports that Martin was suspended from school three times over the past year, including once last year for spraying graffiti on school grounds. According to the paper, in the aftermath of that incident, a school police officer who confronted Martin the following day found a dozen items of women's jewelry and a screwdriver in his backpack.

The officer described the screwdriver as a "burglary tool" in his police report, although Martin was never charged or specifically disciplined for that incident.

Here's more on the incident from the Herald:

Trayvon’s backpack contained 12 pieces of jewelry, in addition to a watch and a large flathead screwdriver, according to the report, which described silver wedding bands and earrings with diamonds.

Trayvon was asked if the jewelry belonged to his family or a girlfriend.

“Martin replied it’s not mine. A friend gave it to me,” he responded, according to the report. Trayvon declined to name the friend.

Martin had never been arrested, according to police and his family. However, he was also suspended from school after being caught with an empty plastic bag with traces of marijuana in it, and once for tardiness and truancy.

A family lawyer, Benjamin Crump, confirmed the suspensions to ABC News on Tuesday, but called the information "irrelevant" to the case. He likewise cast doubts on the Sanford police leak confirming much of Zimmerman's account of the lead-up to the shooting, calling it a "conspiracy" to further cloud the case.

Tuesday, March 27: As George Zimmerman and Sanford police defend themselves in the face of growing outrage over Trayvon Martin's death, the 17-year-old's parents are visiting Capitol Hill Tuesday to attend a racial profiling hearing organized by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee.

As CNN reports, a march is also planned in Washington for Tuesday outside of the White House, calling for a civil rights investigation into Martin's death.

Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, shot and killed Martin last month, claiming self-defense. As details of the case spread over social networks and national media outlets, many advocates have increased calls for Zimmerman's arrest and have claimed that his actions, along with the Sanford police's decision not to arrest him, were racially motivated.

The Justice Department and a Florida grand jury are examining the evidence in the case.

After President Obama offered his first public comments on the case—"If I had a son he would look like Trayvon," he said—new information that appears to support Zimmerman's version of the incident began to emerge this week.

Zimmerman reportedly told police that he was approached from behind by Martin, and then attacked after a brief exchange of words. Sanford police say they have witness accounts that corroborate much of this version of the story, but few specifics have so far emerged, including when Zimmerman pulled his gun. Further clouding the issue is the fact that the Sanford police department itself is under scrutiny for its decision not to arrest Zimmerman, raising questions about the timing and the veracity of the leaked info.

Meanwhile, GOP hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have spoken out against Obama's remarks on the case, which they say are dividing Americans by bring racism into the discussion. On Sunday, Gingrich said Obama's words were "disgraceful" and "appalling."

And as Politico points out, Santorum has been saving his harshest remarks about the race discussion surrounding the Martin case for the conservative airwaves. He told Laura Ingraham on Monday, referring to Obama's remarks about Martin, that "to introduce this type of rhetoric that is clearly meant to bring up these very sensitive issues I just think is out of line for this president."

Editor's note: Check out Florida's homicide statute here, (which includes manslaughter); and, read Zimmerman's account here.

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