Associated Press Enlarge
SANFORD, Fla. — Several friends of George Zimmerman’s testified today at his second-degree murder trial that he’s the one screaming for help on a 911 call —and not 17-year-old Trayvon Martin — in the latest testimony concerning the crucial piece of evidence.
Convincing the jury of whose voice is on the tapes is important to both sides because it would help them decide who was the aggressor in the confrontation that left Martin dead. Relatives of Martin’s and Zimmerman’s have offered conflicting opinions on previous days about who is heard screaming.
Prosecutors were also seeking today to stop defense attorneys from presenting an animated depiction of the fatal fight between the neighborhood watch volunteer and the Miami teen.
The 911 call containing the screams was played in the courtroom multiple times while the witnesses were on the stand.
After the call was played for Sondra Osterman, defense attorney Mark O’Mara asked who it was.
“Yes, definitely. It’s Georgie,” said Osterman, who testified she first met Zimmerman in 2006 while working with him at a mortgage company. Osterman and her husband, Mark, describe themselves as the best friends of Zimmerman and his wife.
The emergency call captured the confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin shortly before Zimmerman fatally shot the teen. Zimmerman’s mother and uncle testified last Friday it was Zimmerman screaming. Martin’s mother and brother also took the witness stand last Friday to say the voice belongs to Martin. Prosecutors had wanted to introduce two witnesses who said the voice belonged to Martin and ruled out Zimmerman’s voice. But Judge Debra Nelson prohibited the audio experts from testifying, saying their methods were unreliable.
Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and says he shot Martin in self-defense during a scuffle in the townhome complex where he lived. Martin was there visiting his father and his father’s fiancee.
Prosecutors contend that Zimmerman was profiling Martin and perceived the teen as someone suspicious in the neighborhood, which had been the site of a series of break-ins.
Prosecutors also have filed a motion requesting that the animation not be mentioned or played at Zimmerman’s trial, claiming it would only confuse jurors. They said the animation doesn’t show a murder weapon, only approximates positions based on witness accounts and artificially depicts lighting conditions.
Defense attorneys hadn’t immediately filed a response. Prosecutors said in their motion that the animation commissioned by the defense was created by employees of the animator re-enacting the fight wearing motion-capture suits.
Under cross-examination, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda implied that Sondra Osterman and her husband, Mark, had a stake in the outcome of the trial because they had written a book about Zimmerman’s case and were donating the proceeds to their friend.
Mark Osterman took the witness stand after his wife to testify about how Zimmerman had chosen and purchased his firearm. He testified that Zimmerman could shoot with both hands, and he also said he recommended keeping the gun loaded.
He said it was Zimmerman’s voice screaming when the 911 call was played for him in the courtroom.
Former co-worker Geri Russo also testified it was Zimmerman yelling on the call, as did John Donnelly and Leanne Benjamin, a married couple who became good friends with Zimmerman and his wife.
The prosecutor also played for Sondra Osterman a nonemergency police call Zimmerman made to report Martin walking through his neighborhood. In the call, Zimmerman uses the words, “F------ punks. These a-------. They always get away.” Sondra Osterman identified the voice as Zimmerman’s.
When asked by O’Mara if she detected ill will, spite or hatred in his voice, she answered no.
Prosecutors must show that Zimmerman acted with ill will, spite or a depraved mind in order to get a second-degree murder conviction.
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