Projected photo of George Zimmerman entered as evidence during his murder trial (Pool/Getty Images)

(The Root) — For the first time in the second-degree-murder trial of George Zimmerman, jurors Monday heard a gripping narrative in the defendant's own words about his fatal shooting of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin.

But much of what was presented in audio and video recordings of his statements to police investigators didn't quite add up. A close listen to Zimmerman's version of the events reveals contradictions and seemingly implausible facts.

The tapes start with Zimmerman acknowledging that he followed the 17-year-old as he tried to give the boy's location to a police dispatcher on the phone. He said the altercation began when Trayvon "jumped out of the bushes" and said, "What the [expletive] is your problem, homey?" before saying, "You got a problem now" and punching him in the nose.

The prosecution played the four statements, including Zimmerman's video re-enactment on the day after the shooting, in its effort to highlight inconsistencies in his account that he shot Trayvon in self-defense. Jurors also were presented with the written statement Zimmerman provided to police in which he repeatedly refers to Trayvon as a "suspect."

In all the interviews, Zimmerman said he was driving when he saw Trayvon looking "suspicious" while walking through his subdivision on the night of Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman said he was concerned in part because Trayvon was outside a home that had been burglarized weeks earlier. Zimmerman added that he'd called police before about someone loitering outside the house.


He called police and reported Trayvon but lost sight of the teen as he darted between homes, Zimmerman said. Then Trayvon doubled back toward Zimmerman's truck and circled it, he told police. Zimmerman again lost sight of Trayvon and exited his truck and followed him on foot, he said. Seeing no sign of Trayvon, Zimmerman said he began to walk back to his truck when Trayvon appeared and confronted him.

As they exchanged words, Zimmerman said that he reached in his pants pocket for his cellphone to dial 911. That's when Trayvon punched him, Zimmerman claims. Zimmerman fell on his back, and Trayvon straddled him and began punching him and slamming his head against the sidewalk, Zimmerman told police.

"I could see people looking," Zimmerman told Sanford, Fla., police Officer Doris Singleton in his first statement just after the shooting. "Somebody yells out, 'I'm calling 911.' I said, 'Help me, help me. He's killing me.' He puts his hand on my nose and on my mouth, and he says, 'You're gonna die tonight' … I still couldn't breathe, and he still kept trying to hit my head against the pavement …


"When he said, 'You're gonna die tonight,' I felt his hand go down on my side. I thought he was going for my firearm. So I grabbed it immediately, and as he banged my head again, I just pulled out my firearm and shot him."

Zimmerman said he then got on top of Trayvon and spread the teen's arms, pinning him to the ground. He said he told Trayvon, "Stay down, don't move."

Here are some other contradictions across Zimmerman's various statements and how they conflict with other testimony and evidence:

* Zimmerman said in his first statement to police, about 90 minutes after the shooting, that he'd exited his truck to check the street name and give the dispatcher an accurate location for police. But in an interview three days later, as lead police investigator Chris Serino pressed Zimmerman about whether he'd pursued Trayvon, Zimmerman said, "I wasn't following. I was just going in the same direction." Serino replied, "That's following, man."


* Witnesses testified to having heard a longer, louder exchange than what Zimmerman described. In his statements, Zimmerman has changed the alleged words Trayvon used.

* Zimmerman claims that he screamed repeatedly for help but also that Trayvon used a hand to cover his mouth and nose, cutting off his air supply. Serino played one of the 911 calls for Zimmerman and asked if the screams heard in the background were his. "No, sir," Zimmerman said. Serino also said, "That's you. Are you hearing yourself?" Zimmerman said, "Um, it doesn't sound like me." In the same interview, Officer Singleton said that if Zimmerman's mouth was covered, the screaming would have stopped.

* Zimmerman said that Trayvon landed up to 30 punches, a claim Serino said in testimony that he didn't believe because his injuries were "minor." He also testified that he doubted Trayvon knocked Zimmerman to the ground with one punch, in part because Zimmerman outweighed the teen by roughly 50 pounds.


* Zimmerman has said he "felt" Trayvon's hand "go down my side" toward his 9 mm handgun tucked in his waistband, leading him to pull the gun himself and fire it. He has also said that Trayvon saw the gun and reached for it and that he grabbed Trayvon's hand. Zimmerman then used his other hand to pull his gun and fire, he said.

* Zimmerman said that after shooting Trayvon, he spread his arms and pinned them to the ground. But the first neighbor and first officer to arrive both testified that Trayvon's hands were underneath his body, which was lying facedown.

* During the video re-enactment at the scene on the following day, Zimmerman told investigators about his injuries. A pair of bandages covered two lacerations on the back of his head allegedly caused by the fight. Zimmerman said, "I could use stitches, but she'd rather not put them in. As long as I didn't mess with my head … she said she didn't have to put stitches in right away." He was referring to physician's assistant Lindzee Folgate, who treated him after the shooting. Folgate testified that she didn't stitch the cuts, neither of which was longer than 2 centimeters, because they weren't large or deep enough to require them.


And for someone who claims to have nearly died from a vicious beating — during which, he says, he yelled, "Help, help me. He's killing me" — Zimmerman appeared unusually poised and calm in the recordings. Even in his first statement to police recorded just 90 or so minutes after the shooting, his demeanor didn't at all suggest that he'd suffered such a trauma. That may be the biggest contradiction of them all.

Corey Dade, an award-winning journalist based in Washington, D.C., is a former national correspondent at NPR and political reporter at the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe and other news organizations. Follow him on Twitter.

Corey Dade, an award-winning journalist based in Washington, D.C., is a former national correspondent at NPR and political reporter at the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe and other news organizations. Follow him on Twitter.