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January 26, 2015

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Zimmerman jury to ponder conflicting testimony


rlando Sentinel, Gary W. Green / AP

Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, takes the stand during George Zimmerman’s trial in Seminole County circuit court, Friday, July 5, 2013, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

George Zimmerman Trial

George Zimmerman, left, stands with defense counsel Mark O'Mara during closing arguments in his trial at the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center, in Sanford, Fla., July 12, 2013. Launch slideshow »

SANFORD, Fla. — Jurors in the George Zimmerman trial are heading into their weekend with a lot of courtroom drama and conflicting testimony to digest.

Friday's action-packed session saw the prosecution rest its case, and the judge reject a defense request to acquit Zimmerman of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year.

The mothers of both Martin and Zimmerman listened to the same 911 recording of someone screaming for help, and each said she was convinced the voice was that of her own son.

The question of whose voice is on the recording could be crucial to the jury in deciding who was the aggressor in the confrontation between the neighborhood watch volunteer and the teenager.

"I heard my son screaming," Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, said firmly after she was played a recording in which distant, high-pitched wails could be heard in the background as a Zimmerman neighbor asked a dispatcher to send police. Moments later on the call, there was a gunshot and the crying stopped.

Gladys Zimmerman, though, testified she recognized the voice all too well: "My son." Asked how she could be certain, she said: "Because it's my son."

Martin's half brother, 22-year-old Jahvaris Fulton, testified that the cries came from the teen. And Zimmerman's uncle, Jose Meza, said he knew it was Zimmerman's voice from "the moment I heard it. ... I thought, that is George."

After Friday's session was over, defense attorney Mark O'Mara told reporters "there will be a lot of other witnesses" who will testify that the voice on the call is George Zimmerman's.

"But we'll just present the case," he said. "We're just getting started."

Gladys Zimmerman was the defense's first witness. O'Mara said he expects to call "several" of the state's 38 witnesses back as well when trial resumes Monday, and he left open the possibility that he would try to introduce toxicology evidence showing Martin had marijuana in his system at the time he died. Judge Debra Nelson has denied the admission of that evidence for the time being.

O'Mara may also call witnesses who he says have stated that Zimmerman was not a racist. Part of the prosecution's theory is that Zimmerman profiled Martin as one of the young black men he'd called law enforcement about as being possible suspects in burglaries in his townhome community weeks prior to the shooting.

O'Mara said he could rest his case as soon as next week.

Immediately after the state rested Friday, he asked Nelson to acquit Zimmerman, arguing that the prosecution had failed to prove its case.

O'Mara said an "enormous" amount of evidence showed that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, and he argued that Zimmerman had reasonable grounds to believe he was in danger, and acted without the "ill will, hatred and spite" necessary to prove second-degree murder.

But prosecutor Richard Mantei countered: "There are two people involved here. One of them is dead, and one of them is a liar."

Mantei told the judge that Zimmerman had changed his story, that his account of how he shot Martin was "a physical impossibility," and that he exaggerated his wounds.

After listening to an hour and a half of arguments from both sides, Nelson refused to throw out the murder charge, saying the prosecution had presented sufficient evidence for the case to go on.

Earlier in the day, Sybrina Fulton introduced herself to the jury by describing herself as having two sons, one of whom "is in heaven." She sat expressionless on the witness stand while prosecutors played the 911 recording.

"Who do you recognize that to be?" prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda asked her.

"Trayvon Benjamin Martin," she replied.

During cross-examination, O'Mara suggested — haltingly, in apparent recognition of the sensitivity of the questioning — that Fulton may have been influenced by others who listened to the 911 call, including relatives and her former husband.

O'Mara asked Fulton hypothetically whether she would have to accept that it was Zimmerman yelling for help if the screams did not come from her son. He also asked Fulton whether she hoped Martin didn't do anything that led to his death.

"I would hope for this to never have happened and he would still be here," she said.

O'Mara asked Jahvaris Fulton why he told a reporter last year that he wasn't sure if the voice belonged to Martin. Jahvaris Fulton explained that he was "shocked" when he heard it.

"I didn't want to believe it was him," he said.

The doctor who performed an autopsy on Martin also took the stand. Associate Medical Examiner Shiping Bao started describing Martin as being in pain and suffering after he was shot, but defense attorneys objected and the judge directed Bao away from that line of questioning.

He later estimated that Martin lived one to 10 minutes after he was shot, and said the bullet went from the front to the back of the teen's chest, piercing his heart.

"There was no chance he could survive," Bao said.

With jurors out of the courtroom, Bao acknowledged under defense questioning he had changed his opinion in recent weeks on two matters related to the teen's death — how long Martin was alive after being shot and the effect of marijuana detected in Martin's body at the time of his death.

Bao said last November that he believed Martin was alive one to three minutes. He also said Friday that marijuana could have affected Martin physically or mentally; he said the opposite last year.

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  1. I think the verdict is already in, PBHO and America is racist by choosing a color other than red-white-and blue.

    Anyone who has an inkling of common scene and understanding of law knows that abuse of power has taken place.

    Moreover, this trial is and will always be a slap in the face of justice and the Hispanic people. To think that the overwhelming Hispanic vote for PBHO put him into office and he orders AG Corey to force a trial, this is lunacy of infinitival proportions that the Hispanic's continue to stand by him or do nothing in the way of protest.

  2. Gunslinger, once the race baiters got on the public airways saying it was a travesty that GZ had not yet been arrested and effectively turned the whole case into a racial issue, GZ's life was in great danger.

    Although I believe GZ has been wrongly accused, and I hope he will be found not guilty, the importance of the trial has become readily apparent to me.

    GZ will always be in danger no matter the outcome of the trial, but I believe the danger will be reduced as a result of the trial, unless of course he is found guilty.

    Then, god help him when he gets to prison.

    I do not see the decision to go to trial as a slap to Hispanic people.

    If there are any slaps to account for it is the slap to all citizens in the USA when our congress decides to give amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants in a shameless attempt to gain their vote. Now that is a true slap in the face.

  3. How did I miss that about the Dream Act, TB. I was not addressing that, nor do I dilute the point by wondering from it.

    Amnesty for 11 mil. is off topic unless you know how they may be trying to sway this case.

    How would you feel if you were in GZ' position, well within the law and then forced to trail by the PBHO. Do you think for a moment the POTUSOA didn't choose a side. Just imagine if the POTUSOA were to take the side of GZ and pardoned him for manslaughter if convicted. Would that not be a slap in the face of colored folks.

    I'm sorry you don't get it, or for whatever reason you feel like my point is less than yours.

    I try very hard not to get emotional about issues on here and keep my eye on the prize, hint.

    "There is no justice for a roach in a court of crows".

  4. Shameful that so many turn to racism. I firmly believe Z acted ONLY in self defense--actually he was patient by yelling for help when the out-of-control attacker kept assaulting and attempting to kill him. I AM FORMER LAW ENFORCEMENT and have substantial background.... I'm sickened that so many call names and point fingers accusing "bigotry" and "racism" whenever I speak my mind in support of anyone when my position is NEVER based on race, color, ethnicity..... I am of VERY MIXED DNA and support your freedom to pursue.... Martin's parents need to deal with reality: their kid was not a choir boy in any respect. Sure, it's difficult to accept that he died because he smoked week and acted like a fool. The parents have an OPPORTUNITY to tell their community what NOT to do as parents--instead they should promulgate that if they had a chance to do it over, THEY WOULD teach their son how to behave in a rational manner even if he perceived an UNCOMFORTABLE situation. We have put Z through enough chaos and stress. DISMISS THE CHARGES.

  5. Apologizes, above should say "weed" not "week." For the Einstein posters, it does NOT MATTER if Z lied or misunderstood or didn't recall something--Z WAS ATTACKED and had every right to act in self defense. How hard, how many times was your head banged into the concrete? Blood flowing out the back of your head while you swallowed the blood flowing down your throat from facial injuries...., pounded senseless...

  6. Roslenda - "I firmly believe Z acted ONLY in self defense--actually he was patient by yelling for help when the out-of-control attacker kept assaulting and attempting to kill him."

    You don't know that Zimmerman was yelling as a fact, and being involved in enforcement doesn't mean you aren't already biased. You also assume Zimmerman was attacked, but why was he stalking Martin? It's possible he attacked Martin and got his arse kicked by the 17 year old. Zimmerman was told by police to back off but yet he continued to follow Martin. If he didn't stalk Martin there would never have been a shooting.

    For years I shot thousands of rounds at gun ranges and quite often I would come across a wanna be cop/vigilante who couldn't wait to shoot someone. Zimmerman strikes me as being that type of person.

  7. chuck333 - "Bullcrap, GZ was told by a dispatcher that it wasn't necessary for him to follow Martin."

    More of your biased nonsense, you have a hearing problem.

    07:11:58 time stamp

    Quote, Police - "Are you following him?"

    Zimmerman - "Yeah"

    Police - "OK, we don't need you to do that."

  8. The grown men who repeatedly mention Trayvon Martin's height and refer to him as a "thug" are basically admitting that they are afraid of black men. They relate to Zimmerman because they are as gutless as he is. Pathetic.

  9. "GZ's testimony on the events of that night were called credible and believable by the lead investigator."

    That is true, but then Zimmerman has yet to tell the same story twice. He was attacked from the bushes until he was in the scene and saw how impossible that was. It's his voice on the recording, yet his mouth and nose were covered. He was walking back to his truck until we hear him tell the dispatcher to call him, rather than meet him at his truck. Zimmerman circles his truck and confronts him until the 911 tape has no such confrontation. He has never even heard of "stand your ground" until we find out he aced a class on just that subject.

    But go ahead and believe the lying liar whose been caught lying.

  10. Comment removed by moderator. Personal Attack

  11. I prefer to think of it more like "FACT BAITING."

    I see you didn't even address the numerous lies your cowardly "hero" has told since the moment he fired the fatal shot.

  12. Comment removed by moderator. Personal Attack

  13. Comment removed by moderator. Personal Attack

  14. Comment removed by moderator. Personal Attack

  15. liljoe...Ok President Obama EXACT quote ""If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," "When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids"

    I didn't realize you were such an Obama fan. I don't see how 20 words spoken at a press conference a year ago effects Zimmerman's guilt or innocence. You must have a lot of respect for the man to believe those 20 words would actually sway a jury pool filled will registered Republicans. Twenty words that would have been long forgotten if not for those who continue to repeat them.

    (False) Zimmerman has not testified.
    "I wasn't aware he pleaded the 5th when giving statements to police." That's because he didn't. He gave a statement, but he has yet to testify, which would require him to sit in the witness box, swear to tell the truth and make himself available to cross examination.

    "Forensic evidence clearly shows Zimmerman was pinned on the grass," (false)

    from the NYT
    A partially redacted police report detailing the initial investigation in the Feb. 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin has surfaced.

    "While I was in such close contact with Zimmerman, I could observe that his back appeared to be wet and was covered in grass, as if he had been laying on his back on the ground."

    While a partially redacted report published in the NYT is not a fact in evidence in this case, I'll still address it. How exactly did the person making this observation determine the grass attached itself to Zimmerman at the moment he fired the gun? Was their GSR on the blades? This is evidence that Zimmerman at some point was on his back on the grass. The forensics don't support his claim he was as close to or beneath Martin when he fired.

    "Zimmerman was also bleeding from the nose and back of his head." Yes I've seen the pictures. I've also experienced head injuries. If Zimmerman had suffered the trauma he claimed, the amount of blood would have been exponentially more than the little scratches he sported. Had he endured the head trauma he claims he would not have been as coherent as every eyewitness described.

    While the two clearly exchanged blows, all that proves is the two struggled, which we already know.

    Unsubstantiated redacted police police reports are not FACTS in this case. The facts are what have been testified to in court.

  16. @tomd..."Witness has provided testimony that TM was on top of GZ."

    I guess that's my bad. I missed this testimony. Could you please tell me the name of the witness who testified they saw Trayvon Martin on top of George Zimmerman when the fatal shot was fired. If you could provide a link and the exact quote that would help clear things up for me.

    You see I recall a witness trained in MMA fighting state he saw one person on top of the other in what he immediately recognized as the MMA pound and ground position. And of course we all know the Martin had been taking MMA classes for quite some time, right?

    Wait, that doesn't seem accurate. Oh well, I'm sure you'll clear it up with the witness statement I asked for earlier.

  17. "GZ says he started walking back and then was physically attacked from the left rear by TM. If you have evidence or testimony that refutes that, please provide it."

    Zimmerman told the dispatcher to have the officers call him when they arrived at his truck rather than meet them there. He was not planning on returning to his truck.

  18. bghs1986 - "I don't see how 20 words spoken at a press conference a year ago effects Zimmerman's guilt or innocence."

    ODS ... Obama Derangement Syndrome

  19. It's not about guilt or innocence, it's about a kangaroo court that is wasting money and making people feel powerless against a federal government that over-rides the locale government and forces a trail for the sake of preventing riots and the like by a group that needs appeasement.

    A sad commentary.