(SANFORD, Fla.) — George Zimmerman studied self defense, including Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground Law and got an A in the course, his college instructor told a courtroom Wednesday, appearing to contradict Zimmerman’s claims shortly after he killed Trayvon Martin.
Capt. Alexis Francisco Carter testified Wednesday that he taught Zimmerman criminal litigation back in 2010 at Seminole State College. Carter, who is now an Army prosecutor, called Zimmerman one of his “better students,” noting that Zimmerman received an A for his work.
The testimony is aimed at undermining Zimmerman’s credibility because he has denied prior knowledge of self defense laws.
When asked by Fox News’ Sean Hannity “prior to this night, this incident, had you even heard stand your ground?” Zimmerman responded “No Sir.” Again Hannity asked, ” You have never heard about it before?” Again the same answer: “No.”
Zimmerman, 29, is on trial in a Florida courtroom, charged with second degree murder in the shooting of Martin, 17, on Feb. 26, 2012. He maintains he killed Martin in self-defense.
Carter’s testimony was made possible after Judge Debra Nelson handed the prosecution a legal victory before court resumed Wednesday by allowing Zimmerman’s criminal justice course load, and his failed application for a Virginia Law enforcement job, to be entered into evidence. The ruling opened up Zimmerman’s past to scrutiny.
It was the first time in eight days of testimony that jurors heard about Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
Zimmerman had waived a pre-trial immunity “Stand Your Ground” hearing before a judge, which would have exonerated him from all future criminal and civil proceedings if a judge ruled in his favor. Zimmerman’s attorney had argued that the former neighborhood watch captain wanted this case decided by a jury.
During cross-examination, defense attorney Don West asked Carter to give the jury an impromptu lecture on self defense. Carter noted that in a fight an initial aggressor can become the victim.
“It’s imminent fear, so the fact alone that there isn’t an injury does not necessarily mean that the person doesn’t have a reasonable apprehension of fear,” Carter told the court. “The fact that there were injuries has a tendency to show or support that that was an apprehension of fear.”
West hammered at the point.
“You don’t have to wait until you are almost dead before you can defend yourself?” asked West.
“No, I would not advise to do that,” responded Carter, causing Zimmerman to laugh.
Carter’s testimony during the cross helped blunt the prosecution’s attempt for the second straight day to raise questions about Zimmerman’s credibility.
On Tuesday, a medical examiner who reviewed video and photographs of Zimmerman’s injuries suffered during his fatal confrontation with Martin called Zimmerman’s wounds “insignificant” and “non-life threatening.”
Dr. Valerie Rao testified that Zimmerman was struck as few as three times by Martin during the fight. She also asserted his head may have only been slammed on the concrete a single time. Zimmerman said Martin repeatedly slammed his head on the concrete.
“Are the injuries on the back of the defendant’s head consistent with one strike against a concrete surface?” asked prosecutor John Guy on Tuesday.
“Yes,” Rao said.
Rao’s testimony could contradict Zimmerman’s assertion that he was involved in a potentially life-threatening struggle with the Florida teenager.
Zimmerman claims he shot Martin in self defense as Martin repeatedly banged his head against the pavement and reached for Zimmerman’s gun.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Robert Jimison, CNN
Christopher Dawson, CNN
Carole Mikita, KSL.com
Debra Goldschmidt, CNN