OTR Interviews

Medical report: The key to finding the truth in the Zimmerman trial?

A breakdown of the injuries to Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman and what they reveal about their deadly confrontation

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 2, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Right now, the forensic evidence, Zimmerman's defense lawyer questioning the lead investigator about the fatal gunshot.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The medical examiner's report and its findings were consistent with Mr. Zimmerman's story, were they not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. As far as how he shot him, correct, where he shot him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the distance between the muzzle of the gun and the clothing, correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And also that there was a gap of a few inches between the clothing and Mr. Martin's chest, correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Evidencing that the muzzle of the gun was up against the chest -- up against the shirt, that the shirt was not up against the chest, that there was a few inch difference?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right? And didn't that support the contention that Mr. Martin was hanging over Mr. Zimmerman, his shirt coming forward when the shot was fired?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because had he been standing up as I am now, the shirt would be up against the chest, probably, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if I lean over, my shirt is going to fall apart from my chest a few inches, and that seems to be how it was, correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The medical examiner's report, however, does not support a contention, an allegation that Mr. Zimmerman pressed that gun against Trayvon Martin's chest before he fired it, does it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not from the (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Matter of fact, the known evidence completely contradicts that type of a suggestion, doesn't it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From what I understand, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So no pressing of the gun against the chest, was there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not based on evidence that I read, no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden joins us. Before we even get to the merits of this, I got to tell you, Dr. Baden, is that why in the world the prosecution didn't object to this -- this witness clearly was not qualified to testify as he was testifying as to what the medical examiner said someplace else.

But I don't know where the prosecutors are. They must be sleeping. And then the oldest trick in the book, they let the defense lawyer -- he kept holding up his hands to show the gap between the sweatshirt and the body, as though the guys was wearing a 3X and he was a small guy, you know, a big huge sweatshirt, which is the oldest trick in the book.

But anyway, that's another issue. Tell me the importance of that -- of the study of that sweatshirt and the bullet wound.

DR. MICHAEL BADEN, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Yes, the problem is -- to begin with, Greta, you're absolutely right. There's nothing mention of the clothing in the autopsy report. The body is received nude. The clothing got to the M.E. office, but there's a separate receipt for the clothing. But nobody in the M.E. office seems to have looked at the clothing. So all of what the detective was agreeing to was not true.

What is true is that it was not a contact wound. The muzzle was not up against the skin at the time the autopsy was done. We can see that. But it was within two or three inches away. The stippling was about two inches in diameter, and that would be about two or three inches away. But that has to be evaluated by the criminalist, who does test firing of the weapon, and we have nothing about that. So far, there's been nothing in the records about the clothing.

VAN SUSTEREN: And if you look at the defense lawyer on the screen, he's holding up his fingers as though it's about six inches, this big gap. And the jury's looking at him as he's doing this. And the prosecution's sitting there, not complaining! I can't for the life of me think -- - I mean, aren't they paying attention?

But let me ask you the question. I mean, can you examine the sweatshirt and the wound on the decedent's body and make a determination to see if that sweatshirt was away from the body? And can you estimate the damage? But you can estimate -- but can you look at that and estimate that?

BADEN: Yes, the criminalist will probably do that. The medical examiner can also see the spread of the stippling and the soot that comes out of the muzzle of the gun and how wide it is on the outermost clothing.

The hoodie probably is the most important piece of the clothing to be able to measure that, and that will tell you how far away the muzzle is from that outer garment because once it hits clothing, the stippling spreads in different directions, so that what winds up on the skin is not necessarily the distance from the muzzle of the gun.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, but just so I'm clear, can you establish whether there's a gap between the sweatshirt and the body? Because that's -- if he's leaning over and on top of George Zimmerman, you would expect the sweatshirt to drop a bit.

BADEN: Yes. No, you can't tell the distance of the outermost garment, which is what's most important, from the skin, except by the medical examiner. You can by common sense perhaps, but by determining the ballistics tests, which aren't in evidence at all yet, one could get a good idea of how far the muzzle is, the gun is from the clothing at the time of discharge and the direction it's going in. So it gives you the idea of the general...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that's not...

BADEN: ... positions of the two people.

VAN SUSTEREN: But that's not what they're trying to establish.

BADEN: Right. Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, I'll ask you later, but that's not what they're really trying to establish. They're trying to establish the gap. But let me ask you about something else...

BADEN: You can't tell the gap from...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... I don't want to run out of time, but -- can you tell the fact of a gap? Maybe you can't measure the precise gap, but the fact of a gap?

BADEN: Yes, you could tell that. The clothing -- the spread on the clothing is different than the spread on the skin. So you can say there was a gap, but you can't tell how much of a gap.

VAN SUSTEREN: Great. OK. Now, here's the Florida medical examiner testifying today in court about Zimmerman's injuries.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are the injuries to the back of the defendant's head consistent with having been repeatedly slammed into a concrete surface?

VALERIE RAO, MEDICAL EXAMINER: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not?

RAO: Because if you look at the injuries, they're so minor that to me, the word "slam" implies great force. And this -- the resultant injuries are not great force.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Dr. Baden, your thoughts? And I should say -- I should mention the fact that this doctor looked at photographs, didn't actually examine George Zimmerman right after the incident. But tell me whether -- what do you think about her testimony?

BADEN: I think that her testimony was very reasonable because she did look at medical records and the EMS records and doctor records that we received.

And what it is, he has multiple injuries on the back of the head and the nose. But nothing was serious enough, as thought by the EMS people, by the doctors who -- doctors who examined him to require stitches, to require an X-ray, to require further evaluation, that he was not disoriented, he was walking, talking immediately after this. His blood pressure was fine. He wasn't breathing hard. All of this would indicate that the injuries themselves were minor.

However, we can't tell how many injuries. We can tell at least one or two injuries, or three to the head. But many injuries don't leave any marks on the body, so we can never tell the total number of injuries.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, in terms of those injuries, could they be sustained by someone punching someone in the face and the person falling, or do you have to be -- do you have to sort of at least multiple times have to hit that head, and maybe even be on that person?

BADEN: Well, I think that a fall, a punch in the face and a fall down and hitting the head against the concrete would create -- could create all the injuries, actually, because of the shape of the head.

But there could be many impacts that don't leave an injury, so we can't identify those. We know they weren't serious. And there was a discussion about the shape of the head. Everybody's head is different. They're not perfectly round. So we have lumps and bumps. And there was a fellow, Lombroso, who thought they could tell criminality from the bumps on the head, the natural bumps on the head. And that's what appeared to be...

VAN SUSTEREN: Would those bumps hurt?

BADEN: ... what was pointed out. They can hurt. Sure, they can hurt.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do those injuries look like they hurt? They can hurt?

BADEN: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: Dr. Baden, thank you, sir.