Jurors in the George Zimmerman murder trial were shown photos today of Trayvon Martin's body lying in the grass shortly after he was killed, spurring his father Tracy Martin to walk out of court, visibly shaken,
Martin's mother, who remained and looked away as the photos were shown, walked out shortly after.
The startling photos were shown on the second day of testimony in Zimmerman's trial. Zimmerman, 29, is accused of second degree murder for shooting Martin, who was 17, on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman claims he shot him in self defense.
The pictures appeared on a large screen as Sgt. Anthony Raimondo of the Sanford, Fla., police department told the court how he tried to save the teenager's life. The sergeant said he tried to revive Martin, but could hear bubbling sounds coming out of Martin's chest as he attempted CPR.
He asked people who emerged from their homes after the shooting for Saran wrap and Vaseline to plug the wound and a man gave him a plastic grocery bag. Raimondo said he moved Martin into a sitting position so he could try to seal the exit wound.
During his testimony, several photos appeared, including one of the teenager lying face-down and another with Martin lying face-up. There were also pictures of his gunshot wounds which clearly rattled the courtroom. In addition, the jury viewed photos of Martin's hooded sweatshirt with a bullet hole in it and Zimmerman's Kel-Tech 9 pistol.
Raimondo was asked by prosecutors about the rain the night of the shooting. "It was drizzling," he responded.
Zimmerman had told a police dispatcher that Martin looked suspicious because he seemed to be loitering in the rain.
Later, the jury also saw photos of injuries Zimmerman had on his head that he claims were caused by Martin.
The police officer's testimony followed a woman who coordinated the neighborhood watch program and trained Zimmerman.
Wendy Dorival says she trained participants to avoid following or confronting suspicious individuals, but to be the "eyes and ears" of the police. In a pamphlet handed out it specified that "neighborhood watch is not the vigilante police."
"He seemed like he really wanted to make changes in the community to make it better," said Dorival.
Earlier Judge Debra Nelson listened to tapes of the former neighborhood watch captain calling police in the months and years prior to shooting Martin in which Zimmerman complains about strangers, often black, in his neighborhood.
The tapes were played without the jury present so the judge could decided whether the jury will be allowed to hear them. Prosecutors want jurors to hear the tapes, but Zimmerman's legal team argued that they are irrelevant to the case.
The judge listened to Zimmerman tell police about black males he deemed suspicious. In one call he told police about a black man he had seen before on trash day.
"He keeps going to this guy's house. I know him. I know the resident. He's Caucasian," said Zimmerman. "He's going up to the house and going up to the side of it and coming to the street and going to the side of it. I don't know what he is doing. I don't want to approach him."
During the calls, Zimmerman referred to the strangers at times as black, another time as African American or "a gentleman."
In dismissing defense objections to the calls, prosecutor Richard Mathias said, "The defendant made the calls, he created these tapes, he created these situations. He shouldn't complain."
Prosecutors believe the calls speak to Zimmerman's mindset the night he encountered Martin, a 17-year-old black teenager.
"We are talking about the bare relevance of his state of mind….motive and intent are classic jury questions. What was the motive for seeking out these individuals?" Mathias asked the judge. "I think the state should be allowed to establish through relevant evidence if he thought [Martin] was suspicious because he was walking out in the rain or were there other things."
Zimmerman's lead defense attorney Mark O'Mara said the calls are irrelevant and would confuse jurors.
"We know now they have little or any evidence to suppose second degree murder," said O'Mara. "They are trying to set up a circumstantial evidence case....They are not acts that show ill will or second degree. They will show he was acting fine."
Judge Nelson said she will listen to the tapes and review case law before issuing the ruling.
The racially charged case has revolved so far around Zimmerman's calls to police.
In the opening day of testimony both sides parsed a call Zimmerman made to a non-emergency police number to report what he said was a suspicious black teenager in his Sanford, Fla., neighborhood.
Sean Noffke, the dispatcher who answered Zimmerman's call, is heard instructing Zimmerman to "let me know if this guy does anything else."
During the call Zimmerman can be heard grumbling "F***ing punk" and telling the dispatcher "these a**holes always get away."
At one point Zimmerman tells Noffke that Martin has started running.
"Why did you ask 'Are you following him?'" prosecutor Richard Mantel basked Noffke.
"It sounded like movement and wind coming through the phone," Noffke said.
Under cross examination Noffke said Zimmerman did not sound hostile or angry despite the epithets he used. He conceded Zimmerman may have misinterpreted his instructions or felt compelled to follow Martin.
"I want to be clear, did you hear any of that hostility in the conversation?" asked Zimmerman's lead defense attorney Mark O'Mara.
"No sir," Noffke responded.
The non-emergency call is the first key piece of evidence that was brought before the court. Prosecutors allege Zimmerman overstepped his role as neighborhood watch captain by profiling, and following Martin despite being told not to by Noffke.
The trial opened with fireworks. O'Mara argued that Martin's parents should not be allowed in the courtroom since Zimmerman's parents were on the prosecution's list of witnesses and were therefore barred from watching the proceedings.
To bolster his argument, O'Mara put on the stand Tim Tuchalski, a friend of Zimmerman who said Martin's father, Tracy Martin, had cursed at him two weeks ago. The judge dismissed the argument.
In opening statements, prosecutor John Guy told the jury of six women, "George Zimmerman did not shoot Trayvon Martin out of self-defense. He shot him for the worst of all reasons, because he wanted to."
Zimmerman's lawyer Don West told the jury that he objected to repeated descriptions of Martin being an unarmed teenager, saying he armed himself with concrete when he allegedly slammed Zimmerman's head against the pavement.
At one point, a tape of a 911 call was played and screams for help could be heard in the background. Trayvon Martin's father wept and his mother stormed out of court while the tape was played.
Prosecutors claims that was Martin yelling for help, but Zimmerman claims those screams for help came from him.
- Crime & Justice
- Society & Culture
- Trayvon Martin