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Intermediate Range: The Forensic Evidence in the Killing of Trayvon Martin Paperback – October 18, 2012
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About the Author
Michael A. Knox is a forensic consultant in Jacksonville, Florida, who specializes in reconstructing crime scenes, especially those involving gunfire. Mr. Knox spent over 15 years working as a police officer and detective with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office before going to work as a full-time consultant in 2010. Mr. Knox has reconstructed crime scenes around the United States and has testified as an expert numerous times in state and federal courts. He has taught crime scene technology courses to law enforcement officials in the United States, Peru, the United Arab Emirates, and the Republic of Georgia. Mr. Knox is board certified as a crime scene reconstructionist with the International Association for Identification. He holds a Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of North Florida and a Master's degree in forensic science from the University of Florida.
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I just finished reading this book and found it both informative and well written. There were a few places in the book that I found a bit too technical but once I was able to puzzle them out, they made sense. Knox certainly has the credentials to be considered an expert in the field of forensic science and the ability to write clearly for the lay person. I enjoyed the book, learned from it, and would recommend it to anyone interested in the Zimmerman case, unless you're utterly convinced that Zimmerman is guilty and nothing will change your mind. In that case, don't waste your money on a book that will not agree with your uninformed belief.
This is not a trivial mistake for a forensic examiner, as the watermelon drink is one of the ingredients, along with Skittles (the other being over-the-counter cough medicine) for Trayvon Martin's favorite street drug: Purple Drank. Proper identification of the drink he was carrying that evening is corroborating evidence for the other circumstantial indicators of Martin's propensity to use drugs, and of course was consistent with the state toxicologist's determination that Martin had enough THC in his blood to alter his behavior and indicate recent illegal drug use (also supporting Zimmerman's observation that "he's on drugs or something").
The second glaring indication of a profound lack of evidentiary objectivity or even basic forensic knowledge on the part of author Michael A. Knox is in the opening section, in which he uses as examples of ignoring evidence and objective research methods the thoroughly-researched and extraordinarily well-documented grassy knoll shooter in the JFK assassination (seen by more than a dozen witnesses) and the controlled demolition of the WTC towers on 9/11 for which there is hard physical proof detailed in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
It remains to be seen if Knox maintains anything approaching either factual accuracy or evidentiary objectivity in the rest of the book, but with such a beginning the reader should remain highly skeptical.
Edit: Update after finishing the book - rating revised from one star to four stars.
There are two other glaring problems with a book of this type: no table of contents and no index. As what might be the definitive "reference manual" for the Zimmerman-Martin incident and trial, these omissions are unforgivable, and it is for this reason (and the mistakes and bias mentioned above) that I give the book four, rather than five, stars.
However, and in spite of those not insignificant failings, this is likely the first and only truly objective analysis and evaluation of the physical and forensic evidence, witness statements and police investigative procedures regarding this incident.
Just as importantly, Knox offers the same kind of dispassionate and thorough analysis of the media coverage of the event and its role in misleading the American people about the facts, as well as the role played by the Martin family attorney, Ben Crump, in propagating some of that disinformation to the public.
Ultimately, what Knox is able to demonstrate is that, though there are reasonable questions about some of the discrepancies in Zimmerman's account of the event, the overwhelming majority of both evidence and witness statements either supports Zimmerman's story or fails to adequately refute it.
Knox concludes with what we "do know" from the evidentiary trail: that Zimmerman noticed Martin and judged his behavior to be suspicious, that he called the police to report this, that he tailed Martin in his vehicle and then on foot but did not appear to chase or pursue him, that Martin ran but did not go to his destination where he would have been safe from harm and either hid in the darkness or doubled back, that Zimmerman spent more time outside his truck than his story accounts for but apparently never left the upper cross of the "T", that Martin accosted Zimmerman at the T and a physical confrontation occurred that had Zimmerman on the ground and getting pummeled and left him with a broken nose, black eyes and scalp lacerations, that Zimmerman repeatedly yelled for help, and that Zimmerman ended the confrontation with a single fatal shot to Martin's chest approximately one minute after it began.
The other relevant conclusion from this forensic crime scene reconstruction expert is that the state of Florida has little to no case sufficient to prove criminal activity or intent on Zimmerman's part and the trial outcome will very probably be Zimmerman walking as a free man.
Of course, we know that the trial ended exactly as Knox predicted, however the freedom of a man whom the media turned into the most hated man in America is the only element that remains in doubt.
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