The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

July 10, 2013

Judge rules against George Zimmerman on defense evidence

SANFORD, Fla. — A central Florida judge ruled this morning that Trayvon Martin’s cellphone texts on fighting and a defense animation depicting the fight between Martin and George Zimmerman won’t be introduced as evidence at Zimmerman’s trial.

Judge Debra Nelson made her ruling this morning, a day after she heard arguments on the matter. Prosecutors had claimed the texts were irrelevant and taken out of context. They also objected to the computer animation, questioning its accuracy and saying it would mislead jurors.

“This is a murder trial. This isn’t ‘Casablanca.’ This isn’t ‘Iron Man,’” prosecutor Richard Mantei said.

The judge seemed concerned about the animation’s accuracy during arguments. While the animation can’t be introduced as evidence that can be reviewed by jurors during their deliberations, defense attorneys may be able to use it during closing arguments, she ruled.

“To have an animation go back into jury room that they can play over and over again gives a certain weight to something that this court isn’t exactly certain comports with the evidence presented at trial,” Nelson said Wednesday night.

The judge agreed with prosecutors’ concerns about introducing the 17-year-old’s text messages. But defense attorney Don West had argued the texts were relevant since they showed Martin’s interest in fighting and physical capabilities.

Martin was unarmed and returning from a store when he was fatally shot by Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, during a struggle on a dark, rainy night in February 2012. Martin was black and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic. Some civil rights activists argued that the initial delay in charging Zimmerman was influenced by Martin’s race. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and says he shot Martin in self-defense.

Jurors spent a significant part of Tuesday listening to a defense expert on gunshot wounds testify that the trajectory of the bullet and gunpowder on Martin’s body support Zimmerman’s account that the teenager was on top of the defendant when he shot and killed Martin.

Dr. Vincent DiMaio, the forensic pathologist, also used photographs of Zimmerman to point out where he appeared to have been struck. Defense attorneys were hoping DiMaio’s testimony would help convince jurors of Zimmerman’s claims that he shot Martin in self-defense.

DiMaio said the muzzle of Zimmerman’s gun was against Martin’s clothing and it was anywhere from 2 to 4 inches from Martin’s skin.

“This is consistent with Mr. Zimmerman’s account that Mr. Martin was over him, leaning forward at the time he was shot,” said DiMaio, the former chief medical examiner in San Antonio.

DiMaio testified that lacerations to the back of Zimmerman’s head were consistent with it striking a concrete sidewalk, as the defendant has claimed. Later, when looking at photos of Zimmerman’s injuries taken the night of the shooting, DiMaio identified six separate impacts to Zimmerman’s face and head. He said he believed Zimmerman’s nose had been broken.

“It’s obvious he’s been punched in the nose and hit in the head,” he said.

Under cross-examination, DiMaio conceded that the gunshot could also be consistent with Martin pulling away from Zimmerman, and that he reached his conclusion without factoring in statements from some neighbors who say Zimmerman was on top of Martin. DiMaio, who has testified at high-profile trials including that of record producer Phil Spector, said witness accounts are often unreliable. The pathologist said he had been paid $2,400 by the defense.

DiMaio’s testimony also addressed the difference between Zimmerman’s account that he had placed Martin’s arms out to his sides and a photo taken after the shooting that shows Martin’s arms under his body. The pathologist said Martin would have been conscious for 10 to 15 seconds after the shooting as a reserve supply of oxygen ran out of his body, and during that time he could have moved his arms.

After DiMaio testified, the 911 calls that captured sounds of the fatal encounter were discussed again. Defense attorneys called Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte to the witness stand to describe the circumstances of how Martin’s family came to hear the 911 tapes. Bonaparte said he played the 911 tapes while members of Martin’s family sat together at City Hall. He played them as a courtesy before they were released publicly.

Defense attorneys are trying to show that Martin’s family members may have influenced each other in concluding the screams are those of the Miami teen. Police officers testified for the defense that it’s better for someone who is trying to identify a voice to listen to it alone.

Convincing the jury of who was screaming for help on the tape has become the primary goal of prosecutors and defense attorneys because it would help jurors evaluate Zimmerman’s self-defense claim. Relatives of Martin’s and Zimmerman’s have offered conflicting opinions about who is heard screaming.

1
Text Only
News
  • Director hired for Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area

    BURNSIDE — An Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area committee member with experience in the ATV industry was named the operations director of the park during Monday night’s authority meeting.

    July 22, 2014

  • Line Mountain hires expert to test gauge that failed

    MANDATA — Members of the Line Mountain school board Tuesday unanimously approved hiring an engineering expert to test a pressure gauge and fuel system that failed at the former Dalmatia Elementary School in February.

    July 22, 2014

  • 'Greatest con artist' gets 2 more years behind bars

    WILLIAMSPORT — The “greatest con artist” Senior Judge Robert Sacavage said he has ever seen was sentenced Monday to 2 more years in prison after he traveled outside the U.S. Middle District of Pennsylvania without permission and failed to report to his probation officer.

    July 22, 2014

  • 1obamanew.jpg Conflicting rulings on Obamacare

    A federal appeals court has delivered a serious setback to President Barack Obama’s health care law, potentially derailing subsidies for many low- and middle-income people who have bought policies.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • bearden9.jpg Bail reduced for Bearden

    Jasmine Bearden, who was arrested earlier this year on criminal attempted homicide charges for the alleged abuse of her six-week old baby, had her bail reduced in Union County on Tuesday morning.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • US airlines scrap Israel flights

    Two U.S. airlines cancelled all flights to Israel until further notice, after a rocket landed near Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport.

    July 22, 2014

  • 1flag.jpg Mysterious white flags appear atop Brooklyn Bridge

    Someone has replaced two American flags on the Brooklyn Bridge with mysterious white flags.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • bass22.jpg Mifflinburg honors its national fishing champs

    MIFFLINBURG — More than 50 friends, fans and relatives gathered in front of Mifflinburg Area High School on Monday night to celebrate the homecoming of juniors Nick Osman and Garrett Enders, newly crowned winners of the BASSmasters National High School Championships, held last week in Tennessee.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Newport official succeeds Snook in $94G-a-year post

    Newport School District’s director of educational services is slated to be hired tonight by the Midd-West School Board to fill the vacant director of curricular and instruction position.

    July 22, 2014

  • Report: Retaliation by supervisors common at VA

    A pharmacy supervisor at the VA was placed on leave after complaining about errors and delays in delivering medications to patients at a hospital in Palo Alto, California.

    July 22, 2014

The Daily Marquee
Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.