Written by Donald Joy on July 10, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 9.29.55 PMDr. Vincent Di Maio took the stand for most of today’s testimony, commanding the entire room with his august yet easy confidence and candor, and reducing the prosecution’s interference to only sparse, feebly-muttered objections for the entire lengthy phase of the defense attorney Don West’s initial question-and-answer.

In his thoughtful answers, Di Maio curtly supported George Zimmerman’s version of the incident in question–specifically, how Zimmerman received his injuries, and how Trayvon Martin died–by mere virtue of his unimpeachable assertions about everything in evidence being consistent with Zimmerman’s story of what happened.

Having graduated medical school in 1965, Di Maio has been practicing forensic pathology for 48 years.  His testimony today seemed to go on for about the same length of time.  But he certainly isn’t a boring guy to listen to; he’s been boning up on broken bones, broken skin, behavior of bullets when fired, and everything having to do with injuries to, and deaths of, human beings for so long that when he answered questions about it all, it was in such a knowledgeable, conversational tone (with just enough gallows-directness) that you couldn’t help but be somewhat amused at some of his revelations.

For example, when discussing different kinds and causes of head injuries, Di Maio would first spend some time precisely, clinically clarifying the exact nature of the event, then would bluntly blurt out the bottom line:  “We’ve seen people who have this particular type of brain trauma under the surface, which isn’t apparent at all from the exterior, and you’re walking around with no problem–but then a few days later you suddenly drop dead.”

Another highlight was when Di Maio explained about how a person suffering a gunshot wound straight into the heart can continue to live, talk, and move for at least 10-15 seconds afterward, and up to as much as 1-3 minutes, if enough oxygen is still available to the brain.  He gave the case example of a man who had taken a point-blank shotgun blast which had completely shredded his heart; the man was still able to run 65 feet, rounding the corner of a building before dropping.

Most importantly, Di Maio debunked multiple previously existing prosecution myths, which had been enabled in part by incompetent testimony from his comparatively incompetent medical inferiors put on the stand by the state, regarding the circumstances and implications of both Zimmerman’s injuries and Martin’s expiration.

Instead of speaking in haltingly broken English, like so many other physicians we find on witness stands and in our society nowadays (this trial included), Di Maio’s words flowed comfortably, and without any confusion about pronunciation or meaning at all.  And like detective Chris Serino of the Sanford police department, who projected the prototypical “NYPD Blue” flatfoot, Di Maio came across like a character right out of central casting–the classic worldly, case-cracking, old-school Sherlock in a lab coat who could just as easily have filled the lead in the TV show “Quincy, M.E.” as did actor Jack Klugman (speaking of Klugman, same also played the role of one of the jurors in the brilliant, original cinematic version of “12 Angry Men”–a fitting minor happenstance here, because of the parallel courthouse suspense and painstaking jury deliberation drama which exonerates an falsely-accused man in that classic film).

Enlightening also was the way Dr. Di Maio brought lessons for those who might have thought some of the other state witnesses even knew what they were talking about or doing in their jobs.  For instance, when going into minute detail about Zimmerman’s injuries, Di Maio made it clear that emergency room doctors and nurses (as well as paramedics and EMTs in the field) often fail to adequately document a patient’s wounds accurately, to the point where he just doesn’t consider their work in general reliable in that respect–“They screw it up all the time.”

When mildly challenged on that by the prosecution, he frankly explained again and again how such medical professionals are really mainly oriented to treating patients, but not especially interested in or geared toward meticulously documenting, in fine detail, their patients’ injuries.  Given that the exact location on the body, and the precise, miniscule aspects of injuries, are what wind up being vetted in an alleged murder case such as this, Di Maio not only made clear the supreme value to the court of his diligent expertise, he then proved his point on the spot:  He turned to one of the images of George Zimmerman’s battered and lacerated head projected onto the courtroom wall screen, and convincingly pointed out how the physician assistant Lindzee Folgate (who saw and treated Zimmerman the day after the incident, and who had testified in court last week) had failed to actually document Zimmerman’s injuries exactly and completely.

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Following his service in the United State Air Force, Donald Joy earned a bachelor of science in business administration from SUNY while serving in the army national guard. As a special deputy U.S. marshal, Don was on the protection detail for Attorney General John Ashcroft following the attacks of 9/11. He lives in the D.C. suburbs of Northern Virginia with his wife and son.