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Defense rests without calling Zimmerman to testify

By Kyle Hightower & Mike Schneider

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 04:53 p.m. HST, Jul 10, 2013

SANFORD, Fla. » After taking less than a week to call 18 witnesses, George Zimmerman's defense attorneys rested their case today in the neighborhood watch volunteer's second-degree murder trial.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys planned to work out the jury instructions before they present closing arguments Thursday. Judge Debra Nelson said the case could be sent to the six jurors as early as Friday.

Zimmerman never testified. But jurors saw repeated video recordings of Zimmerman telling his side of the story to investigators. He claims that he shot Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed, in self-defense while the teen straddled and punched him.

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara told reporters that Zimmerman wanted to testify but his attorneys felt he had already told his version of events in multiple police interviews played for jurors.

"I think he really wanted to be able to interact with this jury and say to them 'This is what I did and this is why I did it. And as importantly, this is what was happening to me at the time that I decided to do what I had to do,'" O'Mara said. "So in that sense, yes, I think he wanted to tell his story."

Still, O'Mara said his client is "worried" as he faced up to a life-sentence in prison for what O'Mara called a classic case of self-defense.

Asserting that Zimmerman "believed he did what he had to do to protect himself from great bodily injury that was already been visited on him," O'Mara added, "If we presented evidence that helped the jury understand that, then we've done our job."

The defense started its case last Friday and presented half as many witnesses in half of the time that prosecutors did. Friends, parents and an uncle of the defendant testified that it was Zimmerman screaming for help on a 911 call that captured sounds of the fatal fight. Martin's mother and brother had testified for the prosecution that it was Martin yelling for help.

Zimmerman's father, Robert Zimmerman Sr., was the last witness called by the defense on Wednesday, and he said it's his son yelling for help on the call.

Defense attorneys also called a forensic pathologist who testified that the forensics evidence supports Zimmerman's account of what happened.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. On the night of the fatal scuffle in February 2012, Martin was visiting his father and his father's fiancee at the same townhome complex where Zimmerman lived.

Zimmerman observed Martin while driving in his neighborhood, called police and the fight ensued after the neighborhood watch volunteer got out of his vehicle.

Some civil rights activists argued that the delay in charging Zimmerman was influenced by Martin's race, and protests were held around the nation in the 44 days between the fatal fight and Zimmerman's arrest. Martin was black and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.

The defense rested on a day when the judge made two rulings preventing them from introducing certain evidence. Defense attorneys had wanted to present text messages from Trayvon Martin's cellphone that discussed fighting and an animation depicting Zimmerman's fatal fight with Martin. But Nelson sided with prosecutors, who had argued the animation is inaccurate and the texts were irrelevant.

O'Mara said the defense will use the animation in closing arguments.

He also explained that defense attorneys decided not to show that Martin had a small amount of marijuana in his body at the time he died, despite winning a ruling on it from the judge, because it seemed insignificant.

Immediately after the defense rested, prosecutors called their first rebuttal witness — Adam Pollock, the gym owner who had trained Zimmerman. But prosecutors decided not to question Pollock after the judge ruled he couldn't be questioned about a video put on his gym's website showing his court testimony at the trial.

Shortly after, court was adjourned until Thursday morning.

Earlier Wednesday, a former neighbor of Zimmerman's, Olivia Bertalan, described how he had helped her find a lock for her townhome's sliding door and offered any help he could after burglars broke into her home.

"I was just appreciative he was offering a hand and said I could spend time with his wife if I wanted to during the day," she said.

Defense attorneys also called public safety consultant Dennis Root to testify that Martin was in better physical shape than Zimmerman, and that the neighborhood watch volunteer wasn't any athlete.

"He would find himself lacking when compared to Mr. Martin," Root said of Zimmerman.

During cross-examination of Root, prosecutor John Guy used a life-sized foam mannequin in front of the jury to simulate the body positions of Zimmerman and Martin at the time of the shooting.

Straddling the dummy, Guy proposed a scenario in which Martin was on top of Zimmerman and asked Root if it was possible that Martin was backing away from Zimmerman at the time of the fatal gunshot.

"Yes," Root said.

Using the same mannequin during further questioning of Root, O'Mara challenged the notion of Martin retreating. Root said that while multiple gun angles were possible, he had no specific information to say what position Martin was in when he was shot.

"I think you're not going to be involved in a conflict like this without it being dynamic," Root said.

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manakuke wrote:
Rules of Evidence are very strict.
on July 10,2013 | 06:20AM
loquaciousone wrote:
yikes. You haven't been watching enough Andy Griffith. If you have ten judges rule on the same thing you might get ten different interpretations. They send people to law school for 8 years to learn that.
on July 10,2013 | 07:19AM
allie wrote:
Few are reporting the growing tensions on the mainland between Latino and Blacks. Why did Zimmerman assume the black teen was a criminal. Partly because of this tension. It needs to be addressed honestly. Just as Micronesians and their hostile reaction to Hawaiians needs to be honestly addressed out here. It is a real problem.
on July 10,2013 | 10:18AM
Carang_da_buggahz wrote:
Seems like, once again, the Judicial system is stacking the deck due to enormous political pressure being brought to bear. Sadly, this has come to symbolize what has become of "Justice" in this country. Politics.
on July 10,2013 | 06:28AM
copperwire9 wrote:
Such as?
on July 10,2013 | 02:24PM
soundofreason wrote:
"The judge says she agrees with prosecutors' objections to introducing the 17-year-old's text messages.">>> Yeah;,why should one's character be relevant? :/ Especially when they, themselves, portray it. Isn't it common practice to bring in "character witnesses"? I guess not when HE is his own worst enemy........in text.
on July 10,2013 | 06:41AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I guess the defense team want to get in their tv time but they should just rest and let it go to the jury. If the prosecution team were captaining a boat they would be on the Titanic. Stick a fork in them, they're done.
on July 10,2013 | 06:52AM
allie wrote:
No murder verdict is possible but manslaughter might be. Tragic that Zimmerman brought a gun to the scene. Without the gun it is a shoving match at most. Same as the tragic Deedy affair.
on July 10,2013 | 10:19AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Why? He legally possessed the gun. Without the gun, maybe he gets a cracked skull. Nothing like the Deedy business from what read.
on July 10,2013 | 11:38AM
808comp wrote:
I think he will get manslaughter. If Zimmerman had listen to the 911 dispatcher about not following Martin this may not have happen. If he gets off he may have to be living like Casey for awhile.
on July 10,2013 | 12:25PM
nitpikker wrote:
looking at this trial from my viewpoint, the actions of both victim and aggressor are questionable, HOWEVER.....zimmerman was told from the start to stop following martin so he bears most of the fault.
on July 10,2013 | 07:08AM
allie wrote:
maybe..but the gun is the real problem. We need strict gun control in this country
on July 10,2013 | 10:20AM
cojef wrote:
The prosecution thus far according to some of the telecast I've seen, have been shooting temselves in the foot. The defense's expert testimony from a world renown forensic pathologist unequivocally put the accused on the bottom and indicated that Zimmerman was being pummeled and his head pounded into the concrete curbing. The question in this case is wiil the jury believe that the accused feared for his life and had justification to defend himself by using deadly force??? Several liberal broadcast reporters have been intimating or inciting public opinion, forecasting that a bloody race riot will ensue if Zimmerman is found not guilty. These scoundrels should cease and desist such rantings.
on July 10,2013 | 08:00AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Hispanics against African-Americans? Is that the race riot you refer to?
on July 10,2013 | 10:17AM
cojef wrote:
The radio commenters are mouthing that the Blacks will be out in the street rioting, not against any other race, but for the ruling not in their favor. Like they are hopeful if it occurs, or instilling ideas, one way or the other. They should keep their big mouths shut........
on July 10,2013 | 10:33AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Those that keep referring to Zimmerman as a white racist didn't watch his mom and uncle testify.
on July 10,2013 | 12:52PM
primowarrior wrote:
I think they need to tweak the title to this story...just a little.
on July 10,2013 | 08:38AM
bluebowl wrote:
I still wonder why Martin would want to go to the store while it was raining? I am sure there was food at the apartment.
on July 10,2013 | 08:49AM
allie wrote:
oh brother....
on July 10,2013 | 10:20AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Skittles caused this tragedy. If Trayvon had just overcome his desire for skittles, none of this would have happened.
on July 10,2013 | 11:39AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
It's those darn poopin' unicorns.
on July 10,2013 | 12:38PM
Iuki wrote:
Oh, so that's why Zimmerman was packing a gun? He really wasn't big enough or strong enough to take on a 17-year-old kid? Give me a break. He wasn't even in his own neighborhood. Martin was--he was visiting his father, who lived there. Like any kid, he walked to the store to buy a snack and a soft drink. And then he was stopped and killed because he was a black boy wearing a hoodie.
on July 10,2013 | 09:02AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Zimmerman was in his own neighborhood where he was part of the neighborhood watch.
on July 10,2013 | 11:40AM
Iuki wrote:
No. Zimmerman did not live in that particular townhouse area where Martin's father lived.
on July 10,2013 | 12:49PM
Dolphin743 wrote:
Another issue that hasn't gotten much attenntion here or in other forums: The confrontation occurred 14 minutes after the initial call by Zimmerman. The neighborhood isn't that big. What path was Martin travelling that took him around and through the neighborhood for that long before the altercation? If he's going through yards and back and forth around the neighborhood...you'd think that was suspicious too.
on July 10,2013 | 10:00AM
bumbye wrote:
Re: the headline -- how can Zimmerman be in worse shape? Martin is dead!
on July 10,2013 | 10:02AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Cannot see how the prosecution gets past reasonable doubt in this case. George walks, imho. But juries are unpredictable critters.
on July 10,2013 | 10:16AM
808davo wrote:
Am I hearing wrong, or does Zimmerman keep saying yes sir everytime the female judge asks him a question? That is funny.
on July 10,2013 | 11:33AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Have you seen the judge? I would call her sir too.
on July 10,2013 | 12:54PM
Pacej001 wrote:
And now we discover that a Department of Justice organization was involved in facilitating the demonstrations that took place in Fla. prior to Zimmerman being charged. Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the DOJ on April 24, 2012. According to the documents JW received, a little-known DOJ unit called the Community Relations Service deployed to Sanford, FL, to organize and manage rallies against Zimmerman.----- What the BLANK? How does DOJ have a legitimate role in this matter outside of the judiciary????
on July 10,2013 | 11:36AM
64hoo wrote:
I listened to the news this morning that the defense wanted to see his I pad or something that shows trayvon martin was not really and innocent kid but had put stuff on that I pad that may have made him out as a radical kid. the reason the judge will not allow that is because Obama told the judge not to release that. because it would show Obama up. remember when this first happened Obama said I wish I had a son like him.
on July 10,2013 | 05:34PM
Iuki wrote:
The President said, "He could have been my son."
on July 10,2013 | 08:27PM
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