Wednesday, December 13, 2017
News Roundup

Martin's dad says he didn't deny it was son's voice on 911 call

SANFORD — Trayvon Martin's father testified Monday that he never denied it was his son's voice screaming for help on a 911 call, contradicting police officers' earlier testimony at George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial.

Tracy Martin was the latest in a series of witnesses called by lawyers on both sides who are trying to prove who was the aggressor in the confrontation that left Trayvon Martin dead. Later in the day, the judge ruled that defense attorneys may present evidence to the jury that Trayvon Martin had marijuana in his system when he died.

The teen's father testified that he merely told officers he couldn't tell whether a voice he heard was his son's after his first time listening to the call that captured audio of the fight between Martin and Zimmerman.

"I never said that wasn't my son's voice," said Tracy Martin, who added that he concluded it was his son's voice after listening to the call as many as 20 times.

Before Tracy Martin took the witness stand, the lead investigator probing Martin's death testified that the father had answered "no" when the detective asked whether the screams belonged to Trayvon Martin. Officer Chris Serino played the 911 call for Tracy Martin in the days immediately following Trayvon Martin's death in February 2012.

"He looked away, and under his breath he said, 'No,' " Serino said of Tracy Martin.

Officer Doris Singleton backed up Serino's account.

Convincing the jury of who was screaming for help on the tape is important to both sides 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.

Late in the day, Judge Debra Nelson made a key ruling out of the presence of the jury.

The judge denied a prosecution request to keep out parts of a toxicology report that shows Trayvon Martin had small amounts of marijuana in his system. Prosecutors argued that the information would be prejudicial. But defense attorneys said it was relevant, since Zimmerman believed Martin was under the influence at the time he spotted him in his neighborhood. Nelson had ruled before the trial that the mention of marijuana wouldn't be allowed in opening statements.

Most of the day was taken up by a series of Zimmerman's friends called to testify that the screams on the recording were his, and the 911 call was played multiple times in the courtroom.

The emergency call captured the confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin shortly before Zimmerman fatally shot the teen. Zimmerman's mother and uncle testified Friday that it was Zimmerman screaming. Martin's mother and brother also took the witness stand Friday to say the voice belonged to Martin.

Zimmerman himself once said during a police interview that the screams didn't sound like him, though he and his family later said the screams were his.

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.

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.

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