SANFORD, Fla. – A world-renowned forensic pathologist testified Tuesday that he believes that George Zimmerman’s gun was very close to Trayvon Martin’s body at the time it was fired and that Martin was likely on top of Zimmerman at the time of the shooting.
“It’s my opinion that the muzzle of the gun was 2 to 4 inches away from the skin,” testified Vincent di Maio.
Di Maio, the former chief medical examiner for San Antonio, Texas and a widely cited forensics expert, said that he believes the gun’s muzzle was in contact with Martin’s clothing based upon “powder tattooing.”
Prosecutors in the case want to show that Zimmerman was at a greater distance from Martin, hoping to prove that Zimmerman could have retreated.
“No,” said Di Maio when asked by Zimmerman attorney Don West if the evidence in the case was difficult to analyze. “Basically 101.”
Di Maio also said that the bullet entered from Martin’s left and moved slightly rightward. Zimmerman told police that he fired his gun with his right hand which di Maio said is consistent with the evidence.
Di Maio also said that the fact that Martin’s clothing was wet and that a 23 ounce can of Arizona iced tea was in the front pouch of his hoodie was “consistent with somebody leaning over the person doing the shooting.”
Last week, the medical examiner who performed Trayvon Martin’s autopsy testified that he relied on di Maio’s textbook to develop some of his opinions on the case.
Dr. Shiping Bao said that he believed that the distance between Zimmerman’s gun and Martin’s body at the time of the shooting was between 0.4 inches and 4 feet, but that he couldn’t say for certain.
Di Maio also said that the absence of bruising on Martin’s knuckles did not necessarily indicate that he had not been punching Zimmerman. “You can punch someone and not get bruises…it’s just too variable.”
The absence of bruising on Martin’s hands has been held up as evidence that any damage he may have done to Zimmerman was minimal.
Di Maio testified that internal injuries could have had more impact on Zimmerman.
“If intercranial injury is severe enough, it can kill you.” He also said the type of head trauma Zimmerman suffered could have a “stunning effect.”
Diana Tennis, an Orlando-area defense attorney, says di Maio is a significant witness for the defense. “Di Maio is huge and his books on gunshot wounds set the standard and are relied upon by all experts, lawyers on both sides, and law enforcement,” Tennis told The Daily Caller.
She contrasted di Maio’s expertise to that of Dr. Bao, who was at times hesitant to offer his opinion on key elements of the case. “A pathologist who won’t give an opinion is basically a paperweight as far as moving a homicide case forward.”
Richard Hornsby is a Florida attorney also watching the case. He says “it is most likely that the jury will simply disregard Dr. Bao’s testimony outright and accept Dr. di Maio’s testimony as the authoritative opinion to consider during their deliberations.”