Amateur Internet Sleuths Analyze George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin Encounter


While other people watch reality shows, a marketing specialist in Michigan who goes by the name “Bcclist” spends time in his yard, calculating Trayvon Martin's last steps with a tape measure and smartphone stop watch, reports the Miami Herald. He is joined on the Internet by Dave Turner, an Illinois man who had his sons yell in the dark from a distance of 30 feet to see whether he could tell which one cried for help. Both men are guided by the work of “Tchoupi,” an engineer with a Ph.D. in physics who has spent countless hours making maps, analyzing witness statements and fleeting headlight patterns in surveillance videos to compute George Zimmerman's moves the night he killed Martin in February.

The three are among a growing group of people on the Internet so fascinated by the mystery of the killing that captivated the nation that they are out to crack the case themselves. They listen to jailhouse calls, pore over witness statements, study evidentiary documents, and measure walking speeds. After hundreds of hours going through the records, some believe they have debunked Zimmerman's account of what happened that rainy Feb. 26 night in a gated community, when the former neighborhood watch volunteer says he was jumped by Martin and was forced to kill him during a struggle. Others say the same evidence points a finger at the 17-year-old high school junior who they believe contributed to his own death. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder. The amateur sleuths may very well be the new-media reality for high-profile criminal cases in Florida, where extraordinary public records laws make evidence widely available before trial.

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