Tuesday, April 24, 2018
News Roundup

Defense rests case in George Zimmerman trial

SANFORD — After taking less than a week to call 18 witnesses, George Zimmerman's defense attorneys rested their case Wednesday 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 today. 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 he shot Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed, in self-defense while the teen straddled and punched him.

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

Still, O'Mara said his client is "worried" as he faces 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," 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 the voice yelling for help on the call was his son's.

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.

The defense attorneys rested on a day when the judge made two rulings preventing them from introducing certain evidence. The defense 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 that the animation was inaccurate and the texts were irrelevant.

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

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