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Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 09/30/2012

George Zimmerman’s DNA problem


George Zimmerman is in a bloody mess. The killer of Trayvon Martin claims that he was in a life-and-death struggle with the unarmed teenager. But DNA tests are not exactly bearing that out. Yes, they prove the two were in close proximity. One stain on the shirt that Trayvon wore underneath the hoodie was a DNA match to Zimmerman. But these tests raise more questions about (or poke more holes in) Zimmerman’s story.

Despite claims that Trayvon grabbed Zimmerman’s gun, Trayvon’s DNA was not found on the weapon or its holster. Despite claims that Trayvon pummeled Zimmerman in the face and the head, none of Zimmerman’s DNA was found on Trayvon’s hoodie. Not even on the cuffs or the sleeves.

And then there are Zimmerman’s shirt and jacket.

There were 47 stains tested for the presence of blood on Zimmerman’s shirt and jacket. Of the 16 on his shirt, 14 “gave chemical indications for the presence of blood.” All matched Zimmerman’s DNA profile. Of the 31 stains tested on the jacket, 17 “gave chemical indications for the presence of blood.” Nine of the 17 matched Zimmerman’s DNA profile. The remaining eight are nothing short of curious.


George Zimmerman, in a photo provided by the Florida State Attorney’s Office on Feb. 27. (ASSOCIATED PRESS )

“Stain E” on the jacket showed the presence of “at least two individuals.” The major contributor was Zimmerman. The profile of the minor contributor “could not be determined.”

“Stain I” showed the presence of “at least two individuals.” Zimmerman was the major contributor, but Trayvon was “excluded as a possible contributor to the mixed DNA profile.” So, who is this second person?

“Stain N” showed the presence of “at least two individuals.” Zimmerman was the major contributor. The “partial minor DNA profile match” was that of Trayvon.

“Stain U” showed the presence of “at least two individuals.” Trayvon is “a possible contributor” to the DNA mix. But “no determination” could be made about the “possible contribution” of Zimmerman to the DNA profile.

“Stain BB” showed the presence of “at least two individuals.” The major and minor contributors to the DNA profile could not be determined, but Zimmerman is “included as a possible contributor. “No determination” could be made about the possible contribution of Trayvon.

The DNA data from “Stain V” were deemed “insufficient for inclusion purposes.” While the results were “consistent with the presence of a male individual,” no determination could be made on whether that male was Zimmerman or Trayvon.

The DNA data from “Stain Z” and “Stain G” were “not interpretable.” While there was the “presence of a male individual” in “Stain Z,” there was also the “possible presence of non-human DNA.” How odd. Is this the result of contamination?

Of the 47 stains tested for the presence of blood on Zimmerman’s shirt and jacket, Trayvon was a “partial minor DNA profile” in one stain and a “possible contributor” in another. He was “excluded as a possible contributor” in a third. That’s just three stains out of 47.

“Unless Trayvon Martin was wearing gloves and a bonnet, it would normally be expected that there would be some evidence of him on the garment,” said Kendall Coffey, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

As I mentioned previously, Coffey noted that ambiguities in DNA evidence could undermine Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense. But Coffey was cautious in assessing the DNA evidence after I read results to him. “This is nobody’s silver bullet,” he said. “All of these things standing alone are explainable. But when assembled at trial, they can provide meaningful support for the prosecution’s case.”

When Zimmerman takes the stand in his second-degree murder trial next year, he will tell his story of a life-and-death struggle once more. How he was cold-cocked by Trayvon. How his head was repeatedly slammed into the sidewalk. How he stopped Trayvon from using his gun on him. This time Zimmerman will tell his version of events under oath before a jury. And upon cross-examination, he will have to explain why and how there’s precious little DNA evidence to back it all up.

By  |  06:00 PM ET, 09/30/2012

Tags:  Trayvon Martin

 
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