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Sanford, FL - State Winding Down In George Zimmerman Trial

Published on: July 4, 2013 08:34 PM
By: AP
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Defense attorneys Mark O'Mara, left, Don West, center, stand with George Zimmerman during Zimmerman's trial in Seminole circuit court, in Sanford, Fla., Wednesday, July 3, 2013. Zimmerman is charged with 2nd-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen, in 2012.  EPA/JACOB LANGSTON / POOLDefense attorneys Mark O'Mara, left, Don West, center, stand with George Zimmerman during Zimmerman's trial in Seminole circuit court, in Sanford, Fla., Wednesday, July 3, 2013. Zimmerman is charged with 2nd-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen, in 2012.  EPA/JACOB LANGSTON / POOL

Sanford, FL - Prosecutors are winding down their case in George Zimmerman’s murder trial after presenting forensics evidence and testimony aimed at refuting Zimmerman’s claim he was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot Trayvon Martin.

It is still to be seen if they will call one or both of Martin’s parents to the witness stand to testify about whose voice is on 911 recordings of a fight between Zimmerman and Martin that preceded the shooting.

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Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, contend it is their 17-year-old son screaming on the calls, while Zimmerman’s father has said it is his son. The screams are crucial pieces of evidence because they could determine who the aggressor was in the confrontation. An FBI expert testified earlier in the week that a person familiar with a voice is in the best position to identify it.

Testimony resumes and prosecutors are expected to rest their case Friday, after jurors return from the Fourth of July holiday.

On Wednesday, prosecutors called forensics experts and college professors who they hoped would weaken Zimmerman’s claims of self-defense and professed ignorance of Florida’s “stand-your-ground” defense law.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement DNA expert Anthony Gorgone on Wednesday testified that Martin’s DNA was not found on the grip of George Zimmerman’s gun, and Zimmerman’s DNA was not found under the unarmed teen’s fingernails. Zimmerman says he shot Martin in the chest to protect himself as Martin reached for his gun during a fight.

While cross-examining Gorgone, defense attorney Don West focused on the packaging of the DNA samples, suggesting they could have led to the samples being degraded. Gorgone told him Martin’s two sweatshirts had been packaged in plastic while wet, instead of a paper bag where they can dry out, and when he opened the samples they smelled of ammonia and mold.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement analyst Amy Siewert also testified that tearing and residue on Martin’s clothing showed the gun was directly against him when it fired.

The forensic experts’ testimony came on the same day prosecutors presented evidence about Zimmerman’s work in a college criminal justice course, which they say shows the former neighborhood watch volunteer knew about Florida’s self-defense law and had aspirations of becoming a police officer. They also showed he had applied for a police officer job in northern Virginia and applied to go on ride-alongs with Sanford Police officers.

Prosecutors have sought to portray Zimmerman as a vigilante who profiled Martin as the teen walked through the central Florida gated community on a rainy night.

Zimmerman had maintained in an interview with Fox News last year that he did not know about the law. Prosecutors say he did have knowledge of it, however, because the subject was covered in the college class. They called as a witness Alexis Francisco Carter, the military attorney who taught Zimmerman’s class that covered the “stand-your-ground” law, which says a person has no duty to retreat and can invoke self-defense in killing someone if it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm. Carter described Zimmerman as one of his better students and said the neighborhood watch volunteer got an “A’’ in his class.

Under cross-examination, Carter gave two definitions of legal concepts that seemed to bolster the defense’s case. He explained that a person can make a self-defense argument if the person has a “reasonable apprehension” of death or great bodily harm.

“It’s imminent fear. The fact alone that there isn’t an injury doesn’t necessarily mean that the person didn’t have a reasonable apprehension or fear,” Carter said. “The fact that there are injuries might support there was reasonable apprehension and fear.”

Carter also explained the concept of “imperfect self-defense,” when a person is being threatened but then counters with a force disproportionately greater than the force used against them.

“They would have the right to defend themselves?” said defense attorney Don West.

“Right,” Carter said.

Another instructor, Seminole County State College professor Scott Pleasants, testified that Zimmerman had taken his online criminal justice class. Pleasants’ testimony via Skype from Colorado, broadcast live on television, was interrupted when he started getting inundated with Skype calls.

Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Martin last year. Martin was black; Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic. The case sparked nationwide protests after there was a 44-day delay in Zimmerman’s arrest, and it touched off a debate about race and self-defense.

Prosecutors said Zimmerman’s ability to understand criminal investigations and desire to be a police officer doesn’t show wrongdoing, but is relevant to Zimmerman’s state of mind on the night Martin was killed.

“He has applied to be a police officer before, he still wants to be one, according to some of his homework assignments. ... This wasn’t some sort of passive thing,” said prosecutor Richard Mantei, who noted Zimmerman took a course on how to be a good witness and expressed a desire to go on police ride-alongs. “This is simply a fact the jury ought to know.”

When he was interviewed by detectives, Zimmerman spoke “in written police jargon” and talked about “justifiable use of force.” He also said he “‘unholstered my firearm,’ not ‘I pulled my gun,’” Mantei said.

Defense attorney Mark O’Mara argued the items are irrelevant and asked the judge not to allow them.

“There is no relevance and the suggested relevance will be far more outweighed by the prejudice,” O’Mara said.

O’Mara said Tuesday that if prosecutors start bringing up Zimmerman’s past, the defense will dig into Martin’s past, including fights. The judge had ruled previously that Martin’s past fights, drug use and school records couldn’t be mentioned in opening statements.


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1

 Jul 04, 2013 at 10:21 PM Smokey Says:

Enough doubt has already been established to free Zimmerman. His blood on Trayvon Martin's shirt is his ticket to freedom.

2

 Jul 04, 2013 at 11:03 PM Myself Says:

I held along every day with the court session. I think most of the witnesses the prosecution brought is working out better for the defense. But again, this all depends on how the jury looks at the whole picture. (downside of having a jury).
The jury might be scared their identity will be blown & they will convict him on all charges.
The judge seems like to be okay.

3

 Jul 04, 2013 at 11:10 PM puppydogs Says:

Reply to #1  
Smokey Says:

Enough doubt has already been established to free Zimmerman. His blood on Trayvon Martin's shirt is his ticket to freedom.

Agreed, in addition to "stand your ground" and the prosecutions witness that couldn't read her own letter that she supposedly wrote, this is becoming a slam dunk case.

4

 Jul 04, 2013 at 11:35 PM PMOinFL Says:

Reply to #1  
Smokey Says:

Enough doubt has already been established to free Zimmerman. His blood on Trayvon Martin's shirt is his ticket to freedom.

True there was a drop or two of Zimmerman's blood on Trayvon.

However, the DNA evidence was overwhelmingly supportive of the prosecution.

If Trayvon was really on top, punching zimmerman in the face and bashing his head into the ground, why was the only two drops of DNA found on Trayvon's TORSO. Why was there no DNA under his fingernails? Why were there no abrasions on his knuckles? Why was there no blood or other DNA on the sleeve/cuffs of his hoodie or shirt? The evidence shows a couple of drops of Zimmerman's blood did end up on Martin's shirt, but whether it was before or after his death, we'll never know.

What they proved is that Zimmerman is once again lying about the events of that night.

The defence wanted to claim that Martin's DNA could have been wiped off the gun or washed off in the rain (to support their claim he tried to grab the gun), but then why is Zimmerman's DNA still there? I find it hard to believe that any and every trace of Martin's DNA was "washed away" but not Zimmerman's. Will they claim that rain was trying to frame him too?

I'll admit, the case against GZ was looking weak, but DNA evidence does not lie. Facts are facts.

5

 Jul 04, 2013 at 11:41 PM Mark Levin Says:

The more this goes on, the more it seems as the state really didnt want to prosecute BUT the DA was being pressured to bring the case to trial. Well, he gave the People what they deserved.

6

 Jul 05, 2013 at 12:01 AM Realistic Says:

Reply to #1  
Smokey Says:

Enough doubt has already been established to free Zimmerman. His blood on Trayvon Martin's shirt is his ticket to freedom.

#2 what I'm still struggling to understand, why did he follow him? Why shouldn't Martin be afraid of a "Hoody" following him.

The whole discussion boiled down to what happened once they got entangled, as if Zimmerman was there by accident.

If he is let free, I would be scared to hell, since anyone with a weapon can follow me in a dark ally, and scream and make some noise, and if he gets even the slightest injury be set free by invoking the stand your feline law, and the victim is not alive to tell his story.

7

 Jul 05, 2013 at 12:18 AM PaulinSaudi Says:

All that proves is that Martin was unwilling to die without a fight. I am eager to hear the defense's case, but at this point I would vote to convict.

8

 Jul 05, 2013 at 12:26 AM bigwheeel Says:

Here. the deck is stacked against George Zimmerman. While the judge ruled that Trayvon Martin's delinquency record can't be brought up in court for the jury to hear, the prosecution goes all out to make George Zimmerman's past and background an integral pert of the trial. With the record supposedly pointing toward his vigilantism and probable guilt.

9

 Jul 05, 2013 at 02:49 AM TexasJew Says:

Thank G-D I'm white.

10

 Jul 05, 2013 at 09:04 AM puppydogs Says:

Reply to #8  
bigwheeel Says:

Here. the deck is stacked against George Zimmerman. While the judge ruled that Trayvon Martin's delinquency record can't be brought up in court for the jury to hear, the prosecution goes all out to make George Zimmerman's past and background an integral pert of the trial. With the record supposedly pointing toward his vigilantism and probable guilt.

This is grounds for the trial to be overturned if GZ is convicted.

11

 Jul 05, 2013 at 09:06 AM Just Wondering...... Says:

Reply to #7  
PaulinSaudi Says:

All that proves is that Martin was unwilling to die without a fight. I am eager to hear the defense's case, but at this point I would vote to convict.

Do you also watch half a ball game and then declare a winner? I could see Met fans liking you.

12

 Jul 05, 2013 at 10:39 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
Just Wondering...... Says:

Do you also watch half a ball game and then declare a winner? I could see Met fans liking you.

And that is what everyone is doing when they comment on how the case is going for either side...

13

 Jul 05, 2013 at 10:54 AM Nobody Says:

Reply to #4  
PMOinFL Says:

True there was a drop or two of Zimmerman's blood on Trayvon.

However, the DNA evidence was overwhelmingly supportive of the prosecution.

If Trayvon was really on top, punching zimmerman in the face and bashing his head into the ground, why was the only two drops of DNA found on Trayvon's TORSO. Why was there no DNA under his fingernails? Why were there no abrasions on his knuckles? Why was there no blood or other DNA on the sleeve/cuffs of his hoodie or shirt? The evidence shows a couple of drops of Zimmerman's blood did end up on Martin's shirt, but whether it was before or after his death, we'll never know.

What they proved is that Zimmerman is once again lying about the events of that night.

The defence wanted to claim that Martin's DNA could have been wiped off the gun or washed off in the rain (to support their claim he tried to grab the gun), but then why is Zimmerman's DNA still there? I find it hard to believe that any and every trace of Martin's DNA was "washed away" but not Zimmerman's. Will they claim that rain was trying to frame him too?

I'll admit, the case against GZ was looking weak, but DNA evidence does not lie. Facts are facts.

Why was there no DNA under his fingernails?
Because he was punching, not scratching. Typically it is the defender that ends up with DNA under their fingernails.
Why were there no abrasions on his knuckles?
There were.

Why was there no blood or other DNA on the sleeve/cuffs of his hoodie or shirt?

If Zimmerman attacked Martin, why were there no injuries on Martin other than his hands? And how did Zimmerman's head get bloody? That was obviously from Martin, even according to the prosecution.

Anyway, the only eye witness so far who saw the fight put Martin on top pounding Zimmerman, and that was a state witness.

14

 Jul 05, 2013 at 11:04 AM awacs Says:

Reply to #4  
PMOinFL Says:

True there was a drop or two of Zimmerman's blood on Trayvon.

However, the DNA evidence was overwhelmingly supportive of the prosecution.

If Trayvon was really on top, punching zimmerman in the face and bashing his head into the ground, why was the only two drops of DNA found on Trayvon's TORSO. Why was there no DNA under his fingernails? Why were there no abrasions on his knuckles? Why was there no blood or other DNA on the sleeve/cuffs of his hoodie or shirt? The evidence shows a couple of drops of Zimmerman's blood did end up on Martin's shirt, but whether it was before or after his death, we'll never know.

What they proved is that Zimmerman is once again lying about the events of that night.

The defence wanted to claim that Martin's DNA could have been wiped off the gun or washed off in the rain (to support their claim he tried to grab the gun), but then why is Zimmerman's DNA still there? I find it hard to believe that any and every trace of Martin's DNA was "washed away" but not Zimmerman's. Will they claim that rain was trying to frame him too?

I'll admit, the case against GZ was looking weak, but DNA evidence does not lie. Facts are facts.

But the DNA stuff is equivocal. Saying you DON'T find something, does not mean it wasn't there.

And, the defense hasn't even opened its case yet.

Remember, the defense doesn't have to prove innocence - it just has to prove a reasonable doubt. Smart money: acquittal (whether he's guilty or not).

Can you buy riot insurance in Florida, PMO?

15

 Jul 05, 2013 at 12:27 PM Anonymous Says:

Zimmerman will be charged with the lesser manslaughter.

We know he is lying about certain things including:

- Getting out of his car in order to identify a non-existent street sign (there are a whopping three streets in the entire subdivision).

-Claiming he was jumped when phone records prove that Martin was on the phone at the time, and the phone ended up 40 feet from his body.

-A lack of DNA on the sidewalk where he claimed his head was bashed in a number of times

He also a character problem. He was arrested 3 times, all of them for assault/battery and has a prior restraining order. Additionally he lied to the judge about his finances during the bail hearing.

Problem is, there simply is not enough evidence to convict him of second-degree murder. Even if Zimmerman did instigate the fight, he was technically allowed to use his firearm if he felt his life was in danger, so he will instead be charged with manslaughter.

16

 Jul 05, 2013 at 02:13 PM Realistic Says:

Reply to #8  
bigwheeel Says:

Here. the deck is stacked against George Zimmerman. While the judge ruled that Trayvon Martin's delinquency record can't be brought up in court for the jury to hear, the prosecution goes all out to make George Zimmerman's past and background an integral pert of the trial. With the record supposedly pointing toward his vigilantism and probable guilt.

since what's important is Zimmerman's actions and his use of judgement (if he had racial biased, why he followed him, was he a trouble seeker) don't forget, he is a sure killer, who tries to use his judgement as a basis for self defense.

There is no reason to bring up Martin's past, since Zimmerman didn't know it, and it couldn't be used as a basis of Zimmerman's judgement. Zimmerman didn't explain (so far) any reason why he followed him (besides being a hoody) and only actions that he could of known then may be used to answer Zimmerman's miss-judgement.

Remember, he is a sure killer, and his story has to stick. If people could simply be let free after a murder, on shady explanations (when the victim is dead, and can't tell different) everyone's life is in danger.

17

 Jul 05, 2013 at 03:01 PM PMOinFL Says:

Reply to #13  
Nobody Says:

Why was there no DNA under his fingernails?
Because he was punching, not scratching. Typically it is the defender that ends up with DNA under their fingernails.
Why were there no abrasions on his knuckles?
There were.

Why was there no blood or other DNA on the sleeve/cuffs of his hoodie or shirt?

If Zimmerman attacked Martin, why were there no injuries on Martin other than his hands? And how did Zimmerman's head get bloody? That was obviously from Martin, even according to the prosecution.

Anyway, the only eye witness so far who saw the fight put Martin on top pounding Zimmerman, and that was a state witness.

It is interesting that you know better than the experts do. There was no trace of Zimmerman's DNA on Trayvon's hands, and the Medical Examiner testified there were mild abrasions on his hands which could have also been from him defending himself. Experts here in FL seem to say that the lack of Zimmerman's DNA on Martin's hands, wrists and sleeves make it more likely that Martin was the DEFENDER.

Next point: Just because Zimmerman MAY have been beaten up (same head injury could have happened from falling backward) but that doesn't mean Martin ATTACKED him.

As for the witness, the witness only saw the END of the fight. That tells us that Zim was losing... nothing more.

If I pick a fight with someone and find myself losing, am I allowed to pick up a gun and shoot the person? His lawyers couldn't claim "stand your ground" as they are basically conceding that Zimmerman took the first aggressive act (stalking is a CRIME here in FL), but that he is innocent because TM was winning the fight and Zim was afraid he would be killed. Zim claims TM grabbed his gun, but there is ZERO dna to show that. His lawyer wants us to buy that rain washed of TM's DNA but not Zim's. LOL

18

 Jul 05, 2013 at 03:19 PM PMOinFL Says:

Reply to #14  
awacs Says:

But the DNA stuff is equivocal. Saying you DON'T find something, does not mean it wasn't there.

And, the defense hasn't even opened its case yet.

Remember, the defense doesn't have to prove innocence - it just has to prove a reasonable doubt. Smart money: acquittal (whether he's guilty or not).

Can you buy riot insurance in Florida, PMO?

I take your first point. It is certainly possible that the rain could have washed away Trayvon's DNA from the gun and holster. But, they DID find plenty of Zimmerman's DNA, as well as MULTIPLE OTHER PEOPLE (not TM). That seems suspicious. Are we now going to claim that the rain was conspiring against Zimmerman too? I suppose it is possible that just the right drops of rain landed in just the right spots on two different objects, but that doubt is not even close to "reasonable".

Right now we know this:
1. Zim was following TM in a way that seems to fit the legal definition of "stalking" (likely why he couldn't claim a SYG defense).
2. TM had 2 abrasions on his hands, but no DNA under his fingernails or on the cuffs of his shirt.
3. The 2 drops of blood on the torso of the sweatshirt could have been post-mortem when Zim was standing over the body with a bloody nose.

Zimmerman has to answer the following:
1. Why was he armed in violation of the rules he agreed to follow (even if not illegal)?
2. Why did he lie about TM grabbing his gun?
3. Why did he pursue him on foot?
4. What was so "suspicious" about TM?

I don't live near Sanford... I'm not worried. :-)

19

 Jul 05, 2013 at 03:28 PM PMOinFL Says:

Reply to #15  
Anonymous Says:

Zimmerman will be charged with the lesser manslaughter.

We know he is lying about certain things including:

- Getting out of his car in order to identify a non-existent street sign (there are a whopping three streets in the entire subdivision).

-Claiming he was jumped when phone records prove that Martin was on the phone at the time, and the phone ended up 40 feet from his body.

-A lack of DNA on the sidewalk where he claimed his head was bashed in a number of times

He also a character problem. He was arrested 3 times, all of them for assault/battery and has a prior restraining order. Additionally he lied to the judge about his finances during the bail hearing.

Problem is, there simply is not enough evidence to convict him of second-degree murder. Even if Zimmerman did instigate the fight, he was technically allowed to use his firearm if he felt his life was in danger, so he will instead be charged with manslaughter.

There is no lesser-charge included here. He is either guilty of Murder 2 or he walks.

The defense couldn't pull off the SYG defense because stalking is a crime in Florida and does seem (at this point) that Zim is guilty of at least that (but I'm willing to be proven wrong). However, it begs the following question:

Let's say I come up to you and your wife on the street, and punch your wife in the face. You then, being a chivalrous gentleman, begin beating me up in defense of your wife. Feeling that I am losing the fight, I pull out a gun and shoot you in the head. Am I now allowed to claim that I felt you were going to kill me for assaulting your wife and therefore I was in my rights to kill you?

There was a pre-requisite criminal act. In my example it was the assault on your wife. In the case it is Zim stalking Martin.

Are we really willing to say that I can start a fight with you, just to get you to start punching me, just so I can kill you and claim self defense? That is how we are being asked by the defense to interpret the self defense laws.

It is not nearly has simple, as EITHER SIDE is wanting to make it out to be.

20

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