The Ground

UPDATE:  June 25th, 2012 – If you are reading this message, it means that the information  below may have been overtaken by events – the release of the statement & videos of  walk-through, interviews  and other material by the defence.
This text is being put into each page of the blog before I start changing things.
If you are reading this, I’m about to change it significantly within hours.

Any page that does not carry this message is the new updated version.





Zimmerman and Martin in the Central Path Area

This page is focussed on what we have information on or can deduce about what happened from the time they both entered the this area up until the shot.

What sort of place have they come into?

This is a screenshot from the video mentioned above with Frank Taaffe’s recounting of what he says Zimmerman told him about that night.
It is taken from the T-Junction at the Northern end of the central pathway area and looks South. This is where both Zimmerman and Martin arrived, 31 seconds apart.

Central Path, looking South from T-junction

To the left of the picture, the path runs East to meet the roadway of Retreat View Circle.
To the right of the picture, the path runs West back to Twin Trees Lane and Zimmerman’s truck, with the Clubhouse beyond it.
South down that path and nearly at the end on the left hand side is the house where Martin is staying.
About 50 feet down that path and on the grass to the right is where Martin’s body will end up.

It’s very dark.
Officer Sorino’s report includes:
“The only ambient lighting was produced by the porch lights of several residences, and overall the location can best be described as dark.”

A short way down, a boy has noticed that the rain has stopped, and in a few minutes he will take his dog out onto that path for a walk, shortly or just before the struggle starts.
Here is a link to a TV interview with the boy.
He says it was very dark in the area.
“The sun goes right down. There was no moon as it had been raining. Only one porch light was on.”
He says that only one of the porch lights is lit. We assume that he will turn on his own porch light as he emerges. That would make two porch lights lit just before the struggle starts.
If they were up in the top third of that central area, both Zimmerman and Martin would certainly notice a light coming on, if that’s when it was lit.

The fact that the rain had stopped is echoed in the account of the girl reporting her conversation with Martin. He had left the mailbox area as the rain eased. It was still raining just a little then and he had put on his hoodie.

To the right of the picture, in the first house (on the corner) a couple are watching TV. Their back porch door is open. After the struggle starts, they will report hearing what seems to be an argument. The woman will mute the TV to listen more closely. She will them make the first 911 call. They won’t see anything as they have heavy dark blinds in their porch area.
That call was connected at 19:16:11.
Perhaps we allow those 11 seconds as time for her to react and call 911.
So estimate the noises of the struggle to start at 19:16:00
When the 911 operator answers, the recording shows that the noise of the struggle has become what sounds like repeated cries for help. The call will record the sound of the shot 45 seconds into it – about 56 seconds after the struggle is estimated to have started.

The sound of their TV might be audible outside. If it is, it is not loud enough to be picked up by Zimmerman's phone.
If Martin is nearby, perhaps behind one of the short barriers that separate back porches in this area, any conversation with his girlfriend my be inaudible because of a combination of distance and the noise of the TV.

Martin starting in the central path area

Zimmerman reports Martin running at 2:07 in the recording. Maybe he’s past the sight line, about 16 feet down the path at 2:09
The call started at 19:09:34, so he’s there at 19:11:43
The struggle is estimated to start at 19:16:00
There’s 4 minutes and 17 seconds to go for him before the struggle starts.

As  we will see below, Zimmerman arrives at the top of the area 31 seconds after Martin arrived.
Depending on where Martin is, he might or might not be able to overhear the content of Zimmerman’s conversation with the Dispatcher.
Alternatively, he might hear the voice, but be unable to make out the words.
He will probably hear Zimmerman slapping something. If that’s a faulty flashlight, he will very likely see some flashing bright or dim.
He won’t know for sure that it’s the guy from the truck, but his arrival so soon and the fact that he’s stopping there, perhaps with a flickering flashlight, will most likely have him assume so.

We don’t have anything to go on time-wise from the girls account. All that can do is give us a general idea, and words at the end.
I suspect that there is some repetition in what she is saying in her interview describing this stage. The language is English, but the use of it would be strange to many ears. It’s a mistake to take things literally, anytime.
He enters running, but then relaxes because he’s lost the guy. Logically, he would slow down almost immediately.
She urges running, but he says no because he’s near his father’s place. She uses “right by”, but that does not necessarily mean outside the door. It could mean anywhere in that central pathway that is familiar territory for him. The guy is in the truck after all, and he’s off the roadway.

She describes him as saying he can't run because he's tired. Maybe he is 'stoned'?.

Some time later, his voice goes low and this indicates fear to her. Then he says that the guy is getting close to him. There appears to have been more running. Then she reports Martin as saying "Why are you following me for?" and being answered by a man saying "What are you doing around here?". She hears the sounds of a scuffle and the line drops.

That’s all we know.

Zimmerman  starting in the central path area

We have Zimmerman saying “OK” at 2:28 in the recording, then moving for a further 12 seconds to arrive at the top of the area, where he slows and maybe stops. That would be 2:40 in the recording., so he’s there at 19:12:14
He has arrived 31 seconds after Martin arrived there.
There's 3 minutes 46 seconds to go for him before the struggle starts.

We know about the first 1 minute 27 seconds of that interval, as this is the end of his call to the Dispatcher.
The section of the recording that takes place in the central path area is from 2:40 in the recording.

After the call ends, there's 2 minutes and 19 seconds before the struggle starts.

Where was Zimmerman when the call ended?

 At 3:35 in the recording, haven spoken his home address to the dispatcher, he says "Oh crap. I don't want to give that all out. I don't know where this kid is."
This indicates that he's in a place where it is possible that he could be overheard by Martin.
Calculated speeds had him slowing just about the house corner as he comes up the path and has the first opportunity to try and look down the central area.
It does not sound like he is walking from then on. He may have moved on slowly and stopped at the T-junction.

An interesting observation here is that Zimmerman is aware of being in a place where the suspect could be quite near - close enough to overhear him.
Martin had disappeared from view at the time Zimmerman was getting out of the truck.
Zimmerman had moved at least 180 feet to get here, with no guarantee that the punk was not in wait for him around the corner.
To even come here is reckless. Now that he actually says something that indicates he knows the possibility of a confrontation, to remain here is doubly so.

At 3:49, he suddenly changes from a plan to meet the patrol at the mailboxes into one of the patrol calling him. He intends to be moving.
At that stage there are just 17 seconds left to run in the call.
If he started moving just then, the 17 seconds at a fast walking pace of 5.8 feet/sec would get him just over the 95 feet to the end of that East-West path where it meets Retreat View Circle. This so far would be consistent with his story that he actually did that in order to get an address.

If he ended the call there, he has 2 minutes 19 seconds before the struggle starts.

A normal walking pace of 4.3 feet/sec would have him back at the T-junction in 22 seconds.
If his story of being accosted at the T-junction while walking back to his truck were true, then he would need to hang around for 1 minute 57 seconds before heading back to the truck past the T-junction.


Searching for a house number

There are strong indications that Zimmerman's explanation for this time is that he was looking for a house number. The 'house number' element appears to be confirmed by his father, who might be expected to have discussed this with him
The story is that on his return from that search, as he neared the pathway T-junction, Martin came up on him from behind.

Fox News had an interview with Zimmerman's father on March 29th 
  1. "He called the non-emergency number first, and they asked him where he was, because he was at the rear of the town houses and there was no street sign," said Robert.
  2. Even though a dispatcher told George Zimmerman not to follow Martin, his father said his son continued his pursuit to locate an address to give to police.
  3. "He lost sight of the individual, he continued to walk down the same sidewalk to the next street, so he could get an address for the police," he said.
  4. "He went to the next street, realized where he was and was walking to his vehicle. It's my understanding, at that point, Trayvon Martin walked up to him and..........

Note that I numbered the points above for ease of reference in the following:
The actual sequence of the events was
  • (3) He lost sight of the individual while still at his truck.
  • (2) When the dispatcher said "We don't need you to do that", Zimmerman was still on the roadway in Twin Trees and just starting on the path. If he wanted an address at that point, then to his immediate right, at a distance of no more than 50 feet was the front door of a house.
    (2) At the time that the dispatcher said "We don't need you to do that", Zimmerman had not been asked for any address. His purpose in continuing onwards was not to get an address.
  • (1) 52 seconds after Zimmerman responded "OK" to "We don't need you to do that", and after Zimmerman gave directions to where his truck was, the dispatcher asked "OK. What address are you parked in front of?" That was the only address that Zimmerman was ever asked for.
    Pedantically speaking, the truck is not parked in front of a house. It was parked across the road from the front of a house at a slight diagonal. The front door of the house was about 40 feet from the truck.
    (1) The Dispatcher's request for an address outside of which the truck was parked became moot anyway, when Zimmerman agreed to meet the incoming patrol at the Mailboxes.
  • (4) "went to the next street, realized where he was" - He's the community Neighbourhood Watch Captain in a small gated community comprising a single perimeter road and two cut-through roads. He's not a tourist.

The road network inside the gated community is a single road around the perimeter, with just two "cut through" roads. The implication certainly seems to be that Zimmerman didn't know the name of Twin Trees.
If he walked North from his truck through the gap between the Retreat View Circle townhouses, he would have a choice of two Retreat View Circle house numbers on either side of him.
He would also have view of the patrol car coming in the gate if they arrived while he was still up there, and would only be 100 feet from his truck. If he were back at his truck, he could tell them "I'm at the rear of #xxxx Retreat View Circle", and they would be with him


Big hole in the "Lost" story

The father says "He went to the next street, realized where he was and was walking to his vehicle"
There is an implication that Zimmerman had no idea where he was in relation to Retreat View Circle when he went into Twin Trees.
The choice of parking spot and the orientation facing the Clubhouse is distinctly odd, but would be explained by familiarity with the unique sight-lines from that particular spot. The implication of that is he's been there before and in daylight for the purpose of scanning the area.

Look at the map. The place is just one circular road with two cut through roads to access the  interior. How hard is that to understand?
He does appear to have a problem with spacial cognition, but this is a very simple road layout, particularly for someone who patrols the neighbourhood in a Neighbourhood Watch role.


The quest for a house number is indicated in the videoed re-enactment that Martin did with police the day after the shooting: The New York Times reported
The day after the shooting, George Zimmerman, according to his father, returned with at least three police officers to the Retreat at Twin Lakes, back to that grassy area where plaintive cries for help had gone unanswered. The investigators, accompanied by someone with a video camera, wanted him to re-enact the events of the night when the two strangers had stood their ground.

Mr. Zimmerman’s father watched from nearby. “They started where his vehicle was,” he recalled. “They walked him down the sidewalk and to the end of the sidewalk, to the street where he got an address and then walked him back towards his vehicle, near where the incident occurred.”
That seems simple and straightforward. Along the path from Twin Trees - past the T-junction and onwards to the road at Retreat View Circle, turn right and go down to the first house - read the house number - return.
Let's do our Google Earth Ruler thing again, and see how that stands up.

A round trip from T-junction to the road and then to the house is 95+30+30+95 = 250 feet.
At our standard walking pace of 4.3 feet per second, this would take 58 seconds.

My estimate of where he would have slowed and stopped during the call put him perhaps slightly beyond the corner of the house - a maximum of 20 feet short of the t-junction.
If he finished the call standing there, a trip to the house and back to the T-junction would be 270 feet.
That would take about 1 minute and 3 seconds.

How much time between the end of the call and the start of the struggle?  2 minutes 29 seconds.

If Zimmerman actually stood still at the house corner, and spend the final 1 minute 27 seconds of the call just standing still there, and then spent the remainder of the time up to the struggle began by going in search of that house number then:
a) He must have stood still somewhere for one whole minute +
b) He should change his name to George Zimmerframe

Quite apart from the time problem, there is the matter of the quest itself.

The idea is that he wants an actual house number that he can give as a meeting place for the incoming patrol car.
Once he gets the house number, on a road that he demonstrably knows the name of, why doesn't he ring the non-emergency number again and give the dispatcher the number?. The patrol can go there straight away to meet him.
No. It's OK. The arrangement was changed so that the patrol car will ring Zimmerman when they get to the area, so that Zimmerman can give them the address where he will meet them.
So having got the address, he waits there for the patrol car to ring him, and....*sigh*
Nope! He maybe stands there for one whole minute+ and then heads back to the truck.

This does not sound like a great plan.
The reason for going to find this Retreat View Circle house number is that he can't give an address for where his truck is parked.
Instead, he walks to a part of Retreat View Circle that is 300 feet from his truck. And then ( incredibly) .... he heads back to the truck.
His brilliant plan being that when the patrol rings him , he can give them an address on a different road that is 300 feet away from where he will be standing! Once they arrived at that address, it would have taken him 34 seconds to jog at a speed of 8.8 feet per second to get over to meet them.  This is not a great plan.

The house number story is not the only problem.
The next section is on The Struggle and where it started and ended.


Comments are open on all pages. If you wish to comment, please keep it strictly to the topic of the page. If you have an alternative take on the content, please try to support this with some reference to a report that is as close to first-hand as possible or is an interpretation of the recording of the call.

It might seem painful to split your input over different pages. but it allows people to understand and follow the structure of the site as a whole.
It helps to avoid the thing becoming a disorganised jungle.

I will repost and/or split comments if I feel they belong in different page(s).


  1. I think you meant to say Zimmerman here:

    "The quest for a house number is indicated in the videoed re-enactment that Martin did with police the day after the shooting:"

  2. It would have been nice if SPD had noted the location of his truck before it was removed from the scene. What evidence do we actually have that Z parked his truck where he said he did? What corroborating evidence is there for any of the locations he says he was in? Does the clubhouse video footage back his story in any way? We're all assuming he was at the clubhouse when he connected to the dispatcher, but what evidence is there of it?

    I've got this feeling that Z was never up at the T until after the shooting, when he began placing his clues, and instead he approached TM from south of where he was hiding and waiting for Z to give up looking for him. When TM saw Z heading in his direction with a flashlight, he realised it was pointless hiding anymore and asked Z "Why are you following me?"

    A less tolerant person might have marched right up to Z and said something far more hostile and threatening, but Trayvon wasn't that kind of person and he was also green enough to let Z get within grabbing distance. If witnesses closer to the T intersection heard the sounds of conflict getting NEARER, the conflict couldn't possibly have started near them and moved away.

  3. I have seen a report that officer (?have to look it up) recorded vehicles parked in the area. I have not located the detail of that. If that list exists, it is perhaps the only un-sloppy decision they made that night. It might have been done after Z's truck was moved that night by Z's wife and/or his friend Mark Osterman.
    We don't know exactly when the truck was removed or where it was at the time of the shooting.

    My impression from the sounds on the NEN call is that Zimmerman moved fast from the truck and slowed down as he got to the top of the walkway area. It sounds as if he finished the call while staning near the T-junction.
    Right at the end, something happened. It made him abandon the agreement to meet at the truck/mailboxes.
    I think he heard Martin/phone - or the phone flashed.
    For the next 2 minutes, Zimmerman was hunting.
    He may have gone East to RVC , gone down RVC and then back into the walkway area after the first townhouse block. That would put him South of where I suspect Martin had gone to ground.