The story of the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin, which to this day is used to fuel the narrative of a racially divided America, was in major part based on an account of a false witness, who was allowed by prosecutors to give her false testimony in court due to intentional fraud or striking negligence.
That’s according to voluminous evidence presented in the documentary “The Trayvon Hoax: Unmasking the Witness Fraud that Divided America.”
Martin’s case was used by the media, activists, and politicians as the epitome of injustice. As their narrative went, he was a 17-year-old African American in Florida who was returning home at night on Feb. 26, 2012, with a bag of Skittles candy and a soft drink when a white man, George Zimmerman, stalked him and shot him dead in cold blood as Martin was screaming for help, all because Martin was black and wearing a hoodie.
This narrative was supported partly by the court testimony of Rachel Jeantel, who said she was on the phone with Martin until moments before his death.
Yet, based on the discoveries of Los Angeles-based filmmaker Joel Gilbert, the woman who took the witness stand wasn’t the one who was on the phone with Martin.
Gilbert combined the extensive case file documents, including Martin’s phone records, with social media posts, handwriting analysis, and DNA matching to identify and track down the real witness.
He believes she refused to testify to avoid lying to prosecutors.
The filmmaker’s revelations led Zimmerman to file a lawsuit on Dec. 4 against Martin’s parents, their lawyer, the prosecutors, the alleged real and false witnesses, and others for crimes that include defamation, malicious prosecution, and conspiracy. Zimmerman is demanding $100 million in damages.
Zimmerman was eventually acquitted of all charges. Other witness and forensic evidence showed he was attacked by Martin and shot Martin in self-defense. The second-degree murder and manslaughter accusations against him severely affected his life.
Meanwhile, the false story of Trayvon Martin has been perpetuated by the media, activists, and politicians in what Gilbert believes is a manipulation of black voters through fear.
Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, who is running for Miami-Dade County commissioner, was endorsed by Hillary Clinton, who asked her 25 million Twitter followers to contribute to Fulton’s campaign. Presidential candidate Sen. Corey Booker (D-N.J.) endorsed her as well.
Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump recently came out with a book, “Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People.”
“I’m certain the [Democrats] will try to make the Trayvon Hoax a big part of 2020 to secure the black vote,” Gilbert told The Epoch Times via email.
Gilbert’s two-hour documentary explores the lives of Martin, his family, as well as the woman who was on the phone with him and whom Martin knew as Diamond—his girlfriend.
Who Is Zimmerman?
Zimmerman has gotten himself into his fair share of trouble, such as in 2005, when he shoved a state alcohol agent in a bar. Charges against him were dropped in exchange for his entering anger management classes.
Later that year, his girlfriend accused him of domestic violence, and each got restraining orders against the other. Since then, he appeared to steer clear of law enforcement until the encounter with Martin. He worked for a fraud auditor company, studied for a criminal justice degree in the evenings, and, on Sundays, mentored two black teenagers whose father was in prison for life.
In 2010, he waged a one-man flyer campaign to bring to justice the son of a police lieutenant who, while drunk, punched a homeless black man.
Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, was an Obama-voting Democrat, “a liberal social activist, both walking the walk and talking the talk,” Gilbert wrote in a book that bears the same name as his film.
Three years before encountering Martin, Zimmerman bought a gun for his wife and himself, he said, because they feared a pit bull that was running loose in the neighborhood.
A few months before encountering Martin, Zimmerman restarted a local neighborhood watch program after his wife witnessed two burglars running through her backyard and was afraid they might want to harm her, Zimmerman told Gilbert.
The Fateful Night
Zimmerman said police instructed the watch members to call the non-emergency police line about anything suspicious, even just spotting a stranger in the neighborhood.
While on his way to Target on the night of Feb. 26, 2012, he saw a hooded man in an alleyway between townhouses, so Zimmerman called the non-emergency line.
“This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about,” he told the dispatcher.
He gave an address and was asked to describe the man. Was he caucasian, black, or Hispanic, the operator asked.
“He looks black,” Zimmerman replied.
The man approached, and slowly circled Zimmerman’s car, which apparently spooked Zimmerman. The man then dashed away.
“[Expletive], he’s running,” Zimmerman said.
The operator asked about where the man was running.
“Down toward the other entrance of the neighborhood,” he replied.
“Okay, which entrance is that he’s headed towards?” the operator asked.
Zimmerman left his car.
“Are you following him?” the dispatcher asked.
“Yeah,” he replied.
“Okay. We don’t need you to do that,” the dispatcher said.
“Okay,” he replied.
Zimmerman told Gilbert that he followed the man into the dark, but said he didn’t actually see him after he left his car. He said he just wanted to get the dispatcher an answer about where the man was running. After the dispatcher said he didn’t need to follow the man, Zimmerman started to return to his car.
When he was almost back to his car, somebody called out to him, “You gotta problem?”
He said “no” and reached for his cell phone. The man closed in and punched him, breaking his nose. He wrestled Zimmerman to the ground and rained punches on him.
Zimmerman screamed for help, but the man covered his mouth, he said.
A neighbor opened a door and yelled at the man to stop, and said he was calling the police. But the man continued the assault, the neighbor later testified.
Blood from his broken nose poured down Zimmerman’s throat. He was afraid he’d lose consciousness and choke, he said.
He wrestled with the assailant to try to lift his head off the sidewalk so his face wouldn’t be smashed into it. That pulled up his shirt, exposing a handgun he had holstered at his waist. He grabbed it and fired one shot. He wasn’t sure where the shot went, but then he saw the man collapse—with a mortal chest wound.
The man was Trayvon Martin.
“Tell mama ‘Licia I’m sorry,” Zimmerman recalled as Martin’s last words.
Sanford police extensively interviewed Zimmerman and took him to the scene for a reenactment. He didn’t request a lawyer.
He told Gilbert he “was destroyed emotionally” by the realization that he had taken a life.
Less than three weeks later, the police determined Zimmerman shot in self-defense.
Martin’s parents were devastated. They got a pro bono lawyer, Crump, who framed the incident in racial terms: Martin was an innocent black child, while Zimmerman was a white “loose cannon.”
By mid-March, Martin’s story was covered more than the 2012 presidential race—the first one to get this level of attention that year.
“If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon,” President Barack Obama said, when asked about the case.
Push for Statement
The phone records of Martin’s girlfriend Diamond that were obtained by Gilbert showed that she was bombarded by phone calls and texts after Martin’s death.
Among the callers were Diamond’s best friend and two of Martin’s friends—both of whom later ended up in prison for unrelated offenses. Diamond seemed to resist, Gilbert wrote. She wasn’t responding to texts and the repeated calls often ended in less than a minute.
More calls and texts followed. Martin’s father and another friend of Diamond’s joined the barrage. Finally, she agreed to come to the house of Martin’s mother, Fulton, on March 19, 2012.
“We pushed her making a statement,” Crump later told Court TV.
According to Gilbert, Diamond, who was 16 at the time, was asked during the afternoon meeting with Fulton to come back that night for an on-camera interview with ABC’s Matt Gutman.
Fulton later told authorities she drove Diamond home and spoke to her mother, who didn’t want Diamond’s identity revealed.
Instead, Diamond talked to Crump on the phone that night. Gutman was also present and recorded the call.
In that recorded call, parts of which Crump played to the media the next day, Diamond contradicted much of the other evidence collected up to that point.
About a year later, Fulton would also reveal a letter dated March 19, 2012, and signed “Diamond Eugene” that gave an account similar to what Diamond said on the phone.
Push for Arrest
Marches, school walkouts, and demonstrations demanding Zimmerman’s arrest were organized with the help of figures such as civil rights activist and politician Al Sharpton.
“We had to march to even get a trial,” Sharpton later said.
On March 22, 2012, Sanford police head Bill Lee stepped aside and Norm Wolfinger, then the local county’s state attorney, took himself off the Martin case.
The governor at the time, Rick Scott, had then-state attorney Angela Corey take over the case. She picked then-assistant state attorney Bernie de la Rionda as the lead prosecutor.
Corey was a Republican but, according to Gilbert, that hardly made a difference at that point.
“The wheels of injustice were grinding forward like a hell-bound freight train,” he wrote.
With Diamond’s words disputing the self-defense explanation, the prosecutors filed murder charges and had Zimmerman arrested.
Who Was Trayvon Martin?
Through a public information request, Gilbert obtained a 750-page printout of information recovered from Martin’s phone, including 3,000 text messages, 3,000 photos, and 1,500 contacts. Combined with information from Martin’s social media accounts, his friends and family, as well as other public records, Gilbert was able to map Martin’s life and especially, in extraordinary detail, roughly the last nine months covered by the phone data.
Until he was 16, Martin was largely raised by his stepmother, Alicia Stanley (mama ‘Licia), and the two seemed to have a good relationship, Gilbert was able to glean.
“Until mid-2011, Trayvon’s activities seemed to revolve around school, church youth groups, and going to the movies with female friends,” Gilbert wrote.
Apparently, Martin was quite popular with the girls. A number of them were “making overtures” to him and sending him pictures of themselves, Gilbert found.
In November 2011, his father split with Stanley and Martin was sent to live with his mother in Miami. Around that time, problems started.
Martin was smoking marijuana, skipping school, and even got involved in gun dealing, his phone data and various social media posts indicate.
The image of Martin bringing home a fruit juice drink and Skittles candy took on a new meaning once Gilbert understood that both are ingredients for “purple lean”—a sweet drink with candy spiked with cough medicine that some youth use to get high. The texts revealed that Martin was knowledgeable about lean and was asking a friend in June 2011 how to get liquid codeine to “make some more.”
Martin was fighting too.
In November 2011, he was boasting to a friend that he “lost da 1st round .. but won da 2nd nd 3rd [sic]” in a fight. He said he wanted to fight with the person who “snitched” on him again because “he aint bleed nuff 4 me, only his nosez [sic].”
He was suspended from school three times that school year. His mother repeatedly sent him away to live with his father, who was staying in Sanford with his girlfriend.
Martin’s parents denied knowing any of this, and Gilbert acknowledged that may have been the case to some degree.
On Feb. 2, 2012, Martin started to communicate with a girl who called herself Diamond, and their relationship quickly intensified. They were exchanging hundreds of texts and spending hours on the phone with each other daily.
Gilbert described Diamond as “boastful, confident, and overtly sexual.” She was teasing Martin and he was into her. What he didn’t know, however, was that she already had a boyfriend, Gilbert found.
In her call with Crump and a letter to Martin’s mother, Diamond later offered her account of the Martin–Zimmerman encounter:
Martin was on his way from a 7-Eleven store, which was a mile away from the home Martin was staying at, when he spotted Zimmerman following him. Martin started running, and after a while, thought he shook Zimmerman off, but then looked behind him and saw Zimmerman again. He tried to walk faster but Zimmerman was closing in. He then confronted Zimmerman.
This account seemed to conflict with the timeline captured in Zimmerman’s call to the police. It took Zimmerman four minutes from the moment he exited his car, entered a cut-through perpendicular to the alleyway where Martin’s house was, and then returned almost all the way back to his car. Martin was shot at a spot that may be a 20-second run from the house he was staying at and just about 30 feet from Zimmerman’s car.
That means, as Zimmerman’s defense stressed in court, that Martin had plenty of time to just go home. He must have hung around in the dark for several minutes before confronting Zimmerman.
In the recording of Crump’s call with Diamond, it looked to Gilbert like Crump was “leading the witness.”
“Say it in your words and say it loud and slow,” Crump requested at one point.
“He ain’t do nothing,” she said. “He was just like going to get his little brother a little Skittle and a Arizona ice tea. That’s it.”
In many cases, Diamond just agreed with whatever Crump said.
“Did Trayvon sound scared?” Crump asked.
“Yeah,” she replied.
“Did Trayvon sound normal throughout the whole day since you had talked to him from that morning?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she said. “Yeah, he sound real happy.”
Yet Martin’s texts indicate he was far from sanguine that day. And Diamond “had been the one making him unhappy!” Gilbert wrote.
The day of his death, he texted her that she made him feel like she didn’t want him. Apparently, she told him he was a waste of her time.
“It wat it is [sic],” she texted.
He said she “really hurt” his feelings.
“It whatever [sic],” she replied.
“U done with m?? [sic],” he asked.
She replied with an expletive-laced insult.
Gilbert didn’t have access to recordings of the calls themselves, but what he could glean from call patterns and texts suggested that Martin was trying to convince Diamond not to leave him.
Crump had Diamond affirm that after learning of Martin’s death, she was so sick that she couldn’t attend his wake and had to be taken to a hospital and had spent the night there, missing the funeral too.
That didn’t square with Diamond’s tweets from those days, Gilbert pointed out. She was tweeting about craving donuts, going to China Town to order food, as well as meeting her (other) boyfriend.
“Why Everybody Want Ihop? Dennys Wayyyy Better [sic]!” she wrote on the day of Martin’s funeral.
Comparing pictures of Diamond from Martin’s phone with high school yearbook photos, Gilbert found Diamond’s real name—Brittany Diamond Eugene.
Aided by public records made available through services such as Instant Checkmate, he was able to find her relatives, the address where she lived, her social media, and, eventually, her online boutique. By making a sizable order from her store, he was able to set up a meeting in person, which allowed him to obtain a voice sample. By having her write and seal in envelopes several greeting cards, he also obtained handwriting and DNA samples.
Her voice matched the one on the call with Crump; her writing matched the word “Eugene” in the signature on the letter to Fulton; her personality matched the girl Gilbert knew from Martin’s texts; and her DNA proved with higher than 99 percent probability that she was a half-sister of Rachel Jeantel, whose DNA sample Gilbert obtained from her trash.
The last time Diamond went on record regarding the case was on March 29, 2012. After many calls and texts, ABC’s Gutman was finally able to land a phone interview with her that day. They spoke for 49 minutes, but ABC has only ever aired a few minutes of the interview.
Three days later, prosecutors went to interview Diamond themselves. Fulton took them to Diamond’s address, but the person who answered the door sent them to a different address, case files indicate. Upon arrival at the second address, they asked for Diamond. The person who came to the door was Jeantel.
Jeantel was nothing like the girl Martin was exchanging sexual messages with. She was perhaps 100 pounds heavier than him, two years older, and due to her learning disability was reading at a third- or perhaps a fourth-grade level. At 18, she was still in the ninth grade.
She was claiming to be the one on the phone with Martin. In her subsequent testimony, Jeantel said she was just pretending to be a 16-year-old for “privacy” reasons and that Diamond was her nickname.
In a March 2013 deposition, she mentioned that she gave Fulton a letter. This was the first time the defense learned of the letter’s existence and Fulton was forced to produce it. Jeantel then claimed in court that a friend wrote the letter for her and that she couldn’t read it because she couldn’t read cursive. She claimed to be the one who signed it, “Diamond Eugene.”
A forensic handwriting expert hired by Gilbert determined that Jeantel wasn’t the one who signed it. It appeared “Diamond” was written by Fulton and “Eugene” by Diamond.
Fulton said she didn’t reveal the letter previously, not even to her lawyer, saying she deemed it “personal and sentimental.”
There was no personal or sentimental language in the letter. It was a terse account of what Diamond said she heard from Martin on the phone. It wasn’t addressed to anybody in particular, started with a date, and concluded with “Thank you, Diamond Eugene.”
Gilbert has a theory of what actually happened the night of Martin’s death and after.
He knew that Martin texted Diamond that he smuggled marijuana with him when he came to Sanford. Marijuana was found in his system after his death. When he went to the convenience store, it seemed from the security camera footage, that he wanted to buy a blunt—a cigar that can be filled with marijuana—but was turned away. Another person then bought two blunts while Martin waited outside. Gilbert believed Martin asked the person to buy one for him.
When Martin walked back to his home, still on the phone with Diamond, he was looking for a place to wait for the rain to ease. That’s when he spotted Zimmerman watching him. Already on his third suspension from school, being spotted smoking marijuana was likely an unpalatable prospect for Martin.
Gilbert thinks Martin suspected Zimmerman was “snitching” on him smoking and decided to give him what “snitches” get in the ghetto—”stitches.”
He further opined that Diamond didn’t want to be questioned about what really happened under oath and so had her half-sister take her place. She may also have wanted to prevent her other boyfriend from finding out about her relationship with Martin.
Eugene, Jeantel, Crump, Corey, and de la Rionda didn’t respond to requests by The Epoch Times for comment. Attempts to reach Fulton for comment were unsuccessful.
For Gilbert, Martin’s case was ground zero of the inflammation of racial relations in America. It happened at a critical time of Obama’s reelection year, in the most critical battleground state.
The case was used to jump-start the Black Lives Matter group and movement that, on its face, demanded police accountability, but in its wake, left communities torn by riots and powerful anti-police sentiment. Police departments, accused of “systemic racism,” scaled back proactive enforcement. Murder rates spiked 20 percent between 2014 and 2016—the fastest increase in decades.
“It is not at all a stretch to think that if one of those who knew the truth had stood up before the verdict and said, ‘This is all a hoax,’ thousands of black lives might have been spared. But as history records, none of them did,” Gilbert wrote.
Zimmerman acknowledged that after his trial, he was in a dark place.
He lost his job and was kicked out of college. It would be hard to quantify the number of threats he received or the amount of hatred directed toward him. One man in 2016 was convicted of attempting to murder Zimmerman.
“I kind of internalized all this negative attention on me,” he told Gilbert. “If people are going to label me as such a bad person, such a jerk, I was going to show them that I could be.”
He was accused of assaults and domestic violence by his estranged wife, girlfriend, and ex-girlfriend. However, all charges against him were dropped.
“I took me a few years to work through it and to go back to being the person that I was,” he said.