By Rene Stutzman, Orlando Sentinel
10:57 PM CDT, March 27, 2012
The Trayvon Martin case has generated thousands of news stories and scores of speeches and public proclamations. Sometimes the facts get confused. Here are a few examples:
The Volusia County Medical Examiner refused to release Trayvon's body to his family for three days, an unusually long wait.
Not true, according to the medical examiner. It picked up the body at the scene just after 10 p.m. Feb. 26 and notified a Fort Lauderdale funeral home 39 hours later that the body was ready. The funeral home, Roy Mizell and Kurtz, did not pick up the body for an additional 24 hours, the medical examiner reported.
Volusia County spokesman David Byron said it would be impossible to find out the average length of time the medical examiner there keeps bodies, but said it can vary by several days, depending on circumstances — for example, if there's a dispute among family members about what to do.
Dr. Jan Garavaglia, medical examiner for Orange and Osceola Counties, said her office generally releases bodies in 24 to 36 hours.
The Medical Examiner's Office in Monroe County — the Florida Keys — said the average there is five days.
Sanford police failed to collect key evidence in the case: the clothing of George Zimmerman, the gunman who killed Trayvon.
Not true, police said. They took his clothing as well as Trayvon's and packaged it for crime-lab analysis. A spokeswoman for Special Prosecutor Angela Corey would not disclose Tuesday where the clothing is now, but she wrote in an email that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement "is assisting with the processing of physical evidence."
Typically, evidence from Seminole County crime scenes is analyzed at the FDLE lab in Orlando.
Neighborhood Watch captain George Zimmerman wasn't arrested because he has a relative on the Sanford police force.
Police have no one named Zimmerman on the payroll nor anyone related to him, Bill Lee Jr. said earlier this month before stepping down temporarily as police chief. That rumor may have started when an Orlando television station misidentified Sanford police spokesman Sgt. David Morgenstern as David Zimmerman.
Police should have simply arrested Zimmerman and let a judge sort it out.
Zimmerman has not been arrested because he told police he acted in self-defense, and then-Chief Lee said police did not have probable cause. Florida Statute 776.032 expressly prohibits police from arresting someone who had a reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm. Police may investigate, the statute says, "but the agency may not arrest the person" without probable cause.
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