Trayvon Martin Family Attorney: Phone Call Contradicts Shooter's Claim

Attorney says teen was on phone with girlfriend moments before shooting

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The attorney for the family of a Miami high school student, who was shot and killed after a confrontation with a neighborhood watch volunteer, said the teen's final phone call with his girlfriend moments before he was shot contradicts the shooter's self-defense claim. Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for the family of Trayvon Martin, held a news conference Tuesday to discuss the teen's phone records in the hours before he was shot on Feb. 26 in a gated community in Sanford.

    The attorney for the family of a Miami high school student, who was shot and killed after a confrontation with a neighborhood watch volunteer, said the teen's final phone call with his girlfriend moments before he was shot contradicts the shooter's self-defense claim.

    Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for the family of Trayvon Martin, held a news conference Tuesday to discuss the teen's phone records in the hours before he was shot on Feb. 26 in a gated community in Sanford.

    Slain Student Called for Help: Witnesses

    [MI] Slain Student Called for Help: Witnesses
    On Friday two women who live near where Miami high school student Trayvon Martin was shot in a gated community in Sanford, Florida came forward to deny that neighborhood crime watch captain George Zimmerman acted in self-defense, saying they heard the teen calling for help. "I feel it was not self-defense, because I heard the crying, and if it was Zimmerman that was crying, Zimmerman would have continued crying after the shot went off," Mary Kutcher said.

    Crump said the unidentified girlfriend had spent nearly 400 minutes on the phone with Martin the day he was shot, and was speaking with him as he was being followed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

    The 17-year-old Martin, who was visiting with his father at his father's girlfriend's home in the community, had gone to a nearby store to pick up a bag of Skittles and an iced tea when the confrontation with Zimmerman occurred.

    Crump said Martin got caught in some rain and had put on his hoodie and was running to take cover, unaware he was being followed by Zimmerman.

    "He's just a kid trying to get home from the store and get out of the rain, that's it, nothing else," Crump said.

    But at one point, Martin spots Zimmerman.

    "I think this dude is following me," Martin told his girlfriend, according to Crump. The girlfriend told Martin to be careful and run home, and he momentarily loses Zimmerman.

    "He says,'he's right behind me again,' and she says 'run,'" Crump said. "He says 'I'm not gonna run, I'm just gonna walk fast."

    Moments later, the girlfriend hears the beginning of the confrontation.

    "He says 'why are you following me?' and Zimmerman replies 'What are you doing around here?'" Crump said.

    The girl hears what she believes is Trayvon being pushed before his earpiece falls out, Crump said. Then the phone goes out completely. Martin was shot moments later, Crump said.

    Zimmerman had called police to report a suspicious person walking in the neighborhood, and the dispatcher told him not to follow the person. The 28-year-old later told police he acted in self-defense.

    A Sanford Police report said Zimmerman's back was wet and covered with grass and he was bleeding from his nose and the back of his head.

    The report said Zimmerman claimed he was "yelling for someone to help me, but no one would help me." 

    Crump says the call shows Zimmerman was in the wrong in pursuing Martin.

    "What George Zimmerman said to the police about him being suspicious and up to no good is completely contradicting to what he was doing," Crump said. "This claim that Trayvon Martin was the aggressor is preposterous."

    Crump said the girl doesn't want her identity revealed and that she's traumatized over the incident.

    "She couldn't even go to his wake, she was so sick, she spent the night in the hospital," Crump said.

    Another neighborhood watch captain who knows Zimmerman said Tuesday that "George is no Rambo."

    "He was a caring person," Frank Taaffe said.

    Meanwhile, the Florida state attorney for Seminole and Brevard counties announced that a grand jury would be investigating the case.

    "I share in the desire of the family and the community to accurately collect and evaluate all the facts surrounding the tragic death of Trayvon Martin.  That is why I directed the expeditious review of the investigation which was delivered by the Sanford Police Department one week ago today," State Attorney Norm Wolfinger said in a statement. "I respectfully request that the public remain patient as this process continues forward."

    Wolfinger said his office has been working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on the case since last week and that the grand jury session is on April 10.

    On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI announced they had begun an investigation into the Martin shooting.

    Zimmerman hasn't been charged, but Crump made a plea to authorities to arrest him.

    "He killed this child in cold blood ... we will not rest until he's arrested," Crump said. "The more time that goes by that he's not arrested, the less likely it will be that he's ever arrested."

    Martin's parents began a petition on Change.org calling for Zimmerman's prosecution.

    In Washington, Miami Congresswoman Frederica Wilson said on the floor of the House of Representatives Tuesday that she is "tired of burying young black boys."

    "I am tired of watching them suffer at the hands of those who fear them and despise them," the Democrat said. "I am tired of comforting mothers, fathers, grandparents, sisters and brothers after such unnecessary, heinous crimes of violence."

    Wilson praised state and federal authorities for getting involved, called for an end to racial profiling, and pushed people to stand up for Martin, "for our children," and for justice.

    The chairs of the Congressional Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific American and Progressive caucuses urged the Department of Justice to investigate Martin's death as a hate crime.

    On the state level, Senator Oscar Braynon II, D-Miami Gardens, wrote to Senate President Mike Haridopolos to request that a select committee study how the 2005 "stand your ground" provisions of state law have been used by law enforcement agencies in their investigations of homicides that involve a self-defense claim, and how attorneys and courts have treated the statute.

    The law gave Floridians the right “to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force" if they felt threatened.

    Braynon said the goal of such a review "is to decrease the number of incidents like that of Trayvon's and discourage more individuals from deciding to become vigilantes, resulting in more lives lost."

    Martin was a junior at Krop Senior High School in Miami. Alberto Carvalho, the leader of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, said that as the district's superintendent, a father and an American, "I am heartbroken and deeply disturbed by the senseless and untimely death of one of my students, one of my children, Trayvon Martin."

    "The apparent failure of authorities to properly investigate such a death is utterly unacceptable," Carvalho said, noting that on the 24th day since Martin's death, no charges have been filed nor arrests made. "I join my voice with those who, in pain and mourning, demand that no stone be left unturned as state and federal entities achieve what, apparently and unjustifiably, the Sanford Police Department has not – justice."

    Attorney General Pam Bondi promised "that a complete and thorough review of the facts will be conducted" by the FDLE.

    "FDLE has skilled investigators of the highest caliber, and no stone will be left unturned," she said.

    Activist Al Sharpton will be part of a town hall meeting in Sanford Tuesday night and will be holding a rally there Thursday night.

    Crump said Martin's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, are still pushing for Zimmerman's arrest but that the process has been trying on Fulton.

    "Sybrina is emotionally and physically exhausted," Crump said. "Right now, she's just exhausted ... at this point she needs rest and prayers."

    "It's hard to continue to talk over and over and relive the story, but to bring justice for my son, if I have to do interviews everyday and relive the story, I'll do it because he's keeping me going right now," Tracy Martin said in an interview with NBC 6 Monday night.