(SANFORD, Fla.) — The George Zimmerman murder trial resumes on Monday, with the defense presenting their case that the Sanford, Fla., neighborhood watch captain was in fear for his life when he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin to death during a violent struggle on Feb. 26, 2012.
Last Friday, the prosecution rested their case after nine days of testimony.
Zimmerman’s legal team immediately asked Judge Debra Nelson to throw out second-degree murder and all other charges, contending that the state had failed to present evidence proving that he murdered Martin. Nelson swiftly rejected the motion, but not before both sides made emotional legal arguments that are usually reserved for summations at the end of a trial.
In an impassioned plea, Zimmerman’s lead defense attorney, Mark O’Mara, stated that prosecutors did not produce direct or circumstantial evidence that Zimmerman acted with “ill-will or spite” — the Florida requirements for second-degree murder.
However, prosecutor Rich Mantei hammered at what he said are inconsistencies in Zimmerman’s story, saying the defendant “flat-out lied” about being unaware of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows a person to use deadly force if they feel their life is being threatened. Mantei asked how could a jury be expected “to take his [Zimmerman’s] word about anything.”
The request to end the sensational trial followed the testimony of the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on Martin’s body. Dr. Shiping Bao told the court that Martin was shot in the heart, and said, “There was no chance he could survive.”
The medical examiner said that Martin would have lived anywhere from one minute to 10 minutes after being shot, as his beating heart ran out of blood to pump while he bled.
Bao’s additional claim that Martin would have been unable to move after being shot could cast doubt on Zimmerman’s version of what happened during their confrontation nearly 17 months ago.
Zimmerman has maintained that he shot Martin after he was knocked down and beaten by Martin and the teenager went for Zimmerman’s gun. After the shot was fired, Martin sat up and said, “You got me,” Zimmerman told police and media.
Bao’s claim that the wound would have immediately incapacitated Martin is the latest example of what the prosecution says are discrepancies in Zimmerman’s version of what happened that night.
But Zimmerman’s lawyer, Don West, got Bao to say during cross examination that it may have been possible for Martin to move a little after he was shot. “But only one person in this world knows,” Bao added.
The medical examiner’s testimony followed that of Martin’s mother and brother, who both told jurors that they could hear Trayvon scream for help on 911 calls made just before he died.
Prosecutors hoped that the testimony of Martin’s mother and brother may have an emotional and convincing impact on the jury and that the jurors would tie their words to the opinion of FBI audio expert Hirotaka Nakasone, who testified earlier in the trial that it wasn’t possible to definitively identify the voice using available, acceptable technology.
Nakasone said the best person to identify the voice would be someone who is intimately familiar with it.
Before the day’s testimony was over, O’Mara put Zimmerman’s mother, Gladys Zimmerman, on the stand, replayed the 911 tapes and asked her if she recognized the voice that was screaming.
“My son, George,” Mrs. Zimmerman replied. When asked how she could be sure, she answered, “Because he is my son.”
Gladys Zimmerman was the first witness for the defense.
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