Trayvon Martin Case Update: George Zimmerman Murder Trial Highlights From First Week Of Proceedings In Sanford, Fla. Courtroom
The trial of George Zimmerman, the 29-year-old neighborhood watch coordinator who shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26, 2012, resumes this week. The prosecution will continue its case against Zimmerman, who faces second-degree murder charges for the teen's death.
The court will hear testimony this week from the lead police investigator, the medical examiner who performed Martin's autopsy, and Martin's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton (for a livestream of the trial, click here).
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The first week of the Trayvon Martin case court proceedings wrapped up Friday, June 28. The court heard testimony from about 20 witnesses. The prosecution maintained that Zimmerman was a disgruntled wannabe cop who profiled Martin and approached him simply because he was black. The defense holds that Zimmerman was attacked by Martin, and that he shot the 17-year-old out of self-defense.
The Trayvon Martin case is expected to last two to four weeks. The jury will be sequestered during that time, meaning they will have little to no contact with the outside world.
Here are highlights from each day of the first week of the Trayvon Martin murder trial.
Monday, June 24
The George Zimmerman trial began Monday, June 24 with opening statements. Prosecutor John Guy and defense attorney Don West gave their initial remarks to the jury and alluded to the evidence that would be presented to the court over the upcoming weeks. Guy began his address to the jury of six women and to the packed courtroom by quoting something Zimmerman said over the phone on Feb. 26, 2012.
"[Expletive] punks. These [assholes], they always get away," Guy said, quoting Zimmerman.
He went on to say that the defendant profiled Martin, who is black, and he murdered the unarmed teen after using hate-filled words to describe the young teen. He said that phone records, including 911 calls made by neighbors who witnessed the scuffle between Zimmerman and Martin, would prove the defendant's guilt.
The jury then heard from defense attorney Don West. West said that while Martin's parents are grieving, Zimmerman's parents are grieving too.
"I think the evidence will show that this is a sad case. That there are no monsters here," he said. He then launched into telling a knock-knock joke.
"Knock, knock. Who's there? George Zimmerman, Zimmerman who? OK, you're on the jury," West said.
West then went on to say that he will demonstrate throughout the trial that Zimmerman was attacked by Trayvon Martin and that he shot the teen out of self-defense. He mentioned his defendant's wounds, including lacerations to his face and bumps to the back of his head, which his client had following the encounter with Martin. He said that Martin used the sidewalk as a "deadly weapon" against Zimmerman.
In a bizarre twist to the first day of proceedings, the defense attempted to have the Martin family booted from the courtroom. The defense called attention to an incident that occurred a few weeks earlier in which Trayvon Martin's father, Tracy Martin, cussed at one of Zimmerman's supporters as he was leaving the courtroom.
"He seen me and seen my badge and said motherf***er under his breath," Tim Tuchalski, a friend of Zimmerman's, told the court.
The judge ruled that Tracy Martin could stay in the courtroom because a Florida statute allows the parents of a victim to be present during the proceedings.
Tuesday, June 25
Tuesday's proceedings focused on the neighborhood watch program that Zimmerman was a volunteer for. The court heard testimony from Wendy Dorival, the accreditation manager for the Sanford Police Department, who was familiar with Zimmerman's involvement with the program.
Dorival was asked mainly about a PowerPoint presentation she gave to prospective neighborhood watch volunteers. The prosecution was particularly interested in one slide titled "Not the vigilante police." The prosecution focused on this slide in order to highlight that Zimmerman acted more like a vigilante law enforcement officer, even though he was told not to approach anyone. Rather, neighborhood watch volunteers were to be the "eyes and ears" of the community, and were told to simply report what they saw to the police if they witnessed any suspicious activity.
Later, Sergeant Anthony Raimondo, who arrived on the scene shortly after Zimmerman shot Martin, testified that he tried to resuscitate Martin with mouth to mouth. This is when the jury saw graphic photos of Martin's body. They were shown the clothing that Zimmerman and Martin were wearing that day.
The final witness for the day was Selene Bahadoor, who lived in one of the homes along the scene of the shooting. She said she saw out of her sliding glass window a struggle, with "arms flailing." She then turned around to turn off her stove, and that's when she heard the gunshot.
The defense pointed out that Bahadoor had "Liked" a Facebook page called "Justice For Trayvon Martin."
She ended her testimony by saying "I was just saying what I remember," referring to an interview she did with a reporter following the shooting last year.
Wednesday, June 26
The court heard from more neighbors who said they heard and saw the struggle between Zimmerman and Martin. One witness, a neighbor named Jayne Surdykas, said she heard "pop, pop, pop," which she believed were three gunshots (although evidence shows there was only one bullet fired from Zimmerman's gun). The court heard the 15-minute 911 call Surdykas made.
The prosecution's star witness took the stand. Rachel Jeantel, a friend of Martin's who was on the phone with him when Zimmerman approached him, said she heard Martin ask Zimmerman, "Why are you following me for?" and then heard "What you doing around here?" from a man she described as hard-breathing.
She said Martin told her a "creepy" white guy was following him.
The defense then grilled Jeantel about why she had previously lied about her age and why she didn't attend Martin's funeral.
Thursday, June 27
Rachel Jeantel took the stand again Thursday for more questioning from both the prosecution and the defense. She was on the stand for more than six hours. At times, the exchanges between Jeantel and defense attorney Don West were heated, and Jeantel appeared to get aggravated with his line of questioning.
Friday, June 28
More witness testimony. Sanford police officer Timothy Smith showed the court the gun that was used to kill Trayvon Martin.
Officer Ricardo Ayala also took the witness stand, and described the fatal chest wound that he observed on Trayvon Martin.
One witness was a neighbor who saw the struggle between Zimmerman and Martin. Jonathan Good said that he saw the two fighting "MMA-style." He said he thought the person on top during the fight was Trayvon Martin. This testimony could support Zimmerman's case that he was attacked by Martin.
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