Thursday, May 24, 2018
News Roundup

Prosecution wants jury to hear Zimmerman's prior calls to cops

SANFORD — Several times in six months, neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman called police to report suspicious characters in the gated townhouse community where he lived. Each time, when asked, he reported that the suspects were black males.

On Tuesday, the judge at Zimmerman's murder trial in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin listened to those five calls and weighed whether to let the jury hear them too.

Prosecutors want to use them to bolster their argument that Zimmerman was increasingly frustrated with repeated burglaries and had reached a breaking point the night he shot the unarmed teenager.

The recordings show Zimmerman's "ill will," prosecutor Richard Mantei told Judge Debra Nelson.

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara argued that the calls were irrelevant and that nothing matters but the seven or eight minutes before Zimmerman fired the deadly shot into Martin's chest.

The prosecution is "going to ask the jury to make a leap from a good, responsible, citizen behavior to seething behavior," O'Mara said.

The judge did not immediately rule on whether to admit the recordings.

Prosecutors played the calls with the jurors out of the courtroom at the beginning of a day in which a former Zimmerman neighbor testified about what she saw of the confrontation.

Also, prosecutors presented graphic photos of Martin's body, a police officer described trying to revive Martin as bubbling sounds came from his chest, and a police manager described how she helped Zimmerman set up the neighborhood watch.

In the calls, Zimmerman identifies himself as a neighborhood watch volunteer and recounts that his neighborhood has had a rash of recent break-ins. In one call, he asks that officers respond quickly since the suspects "typically get away quickly."

Zimmerman, 29, could get life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.

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