The State of Florida v. George Zimmerman case continued today in Seminole County.  Day 2 started at 8:30 a.m. with a hearing, as a continuation of yesterday, about previous non-emergency calls made by Zimmerman.  The prosecution wants to play 5 of 6 recordings.  The defense does not believe they are relevant and they suspect they may in fact be backdoor “bad act” evidence.  The prosecution accused the defense of changing their objection from relevancy to a different Florida Rule of Evidence, but they then proceeded to change their reasoning for introducing it.  The prosecution started out their argument for the admissibility of the evidence by saying it would establish their motive, which is mounting frustration, which would then prove his state of mind.  The prosecution went on to say that they should be allowed some leeway because they must prove self-defense is not true and they also must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman committed second-degree murder.  The defense argued that the prosecution has a circumstantial case and has little direct evidence against George Zimmerman.

“State of mind does not negate the rules of evidence,” said O’Mara.

The defense went on to argue that the acts are in fact not even prior “bad acts”, but “good acts” and that the prosecution wants the jury to “make a quantum leap from good responsible citizen behavior” to seething anger underneath it.  The state then changed their approach by saying that the defense should have brought these issues up before this moment and that they’ve had plenty of notice.  Both sides explained the case law that supports their arguments and then, out of the presence of the jury, the previous calls were played.  The calls were very calm and reported several suspicious individuals in the neighborhood.  Some of the calls mentioned the previous break-ins and one mentioned that they “always run”.  The calls ranged from August of 2011 until two weeks before the February 26th incident in 2012.  Judge Nelson deferred her ruling until she could review all case law and testimony from Mr. Noffke, the 911 dispatcher who testified yesterday.

The first witness was Ramona Rumph, who was recalled.  She identified all the 911 calls from that evening made by witnesses.

The next prosecution witness was Wendy Dorival who was the volunteer program manager at the time.  She coordinated several programs including the neighborhood watch programs in the area.  She also testified to having previous neighborhood watch experience when she worked in the Northwest.  She testified that George Zimmerman contacted her and told her about the recent break-ins and that he was interested in starting a neighborhood watch program.  She said that she used crime-mapping software to check on what Zimmerman said and found that indeed the area had had burglaries in the summer of 2011.  She testified that the neighborhood watch program presentation was given in Zimmerman’s community in September of 2011.  She testified about what instructions are given during the presentation and what feedback she received.  She said that most people present at the meeting complained about the burglaries and about the community perimeter not being secure enough, as well as being concerned about their sliding glass doors being too easy to break into.  She also explained what a “suspicious person” is (i.e. someone you don’t recognize, someone who is walking somewhere not typical, someone walking in between buildings, someone looking in windows, etc.).  She testified that people are advised to get to know their neighbors so that they feel more invested and want to help more and so that they can identify a suspicious person.

She seemed more like a defense witness than a prosecution witness.  She testified that George Zimmerman was the liaison between the community and the police.  She testified that Zimmerman didn’t set off any red flags; he seemed like a regular concerned citizen who only wanted to help.  She said that he was so polite and courteous and he was also studying criminal justice, so she wanted him to join the citizen police, which is a step up from neighborhood watch.  They get uniforms and patrol cars and get more authority as well, but he declined to do so.  She even said that the feel she got was that Zimmerman was “meek”.  George Zimmerman even wrote a letter praising Dorival’s work to then-Police Chief Lee, but it was not admitted into evidence.  She testified that Zimmerman was in charge of recruiting block captains, but he never contacted her about that.  She also said that she always tells people that it’s better safe than sorry and so they should report anything they see that is suspicious and if they aren’t sure whether to call emergency or non-emergency opt for emergency.  She also stated that less than 10% of the citizens were interested in the watch program (about 25 out of a couple hundred).

The next witness was Donald O’Brien, the HOA President.  He testified that the HOA was started around the same time as the burglaries and the neighborhood watch program.  He didn’t add much to anyone’s case.  He did testify that some construction workers had seen the suspected burglar right before a burglary.  When they caught another glimpse of a person matching his description on a different day, they followed at a safe distance, so that the police could arrest him.  He said that he sent an email to Zimmerman to be distributed to the community, praising what the construction workers did.  He also testified that police told them it was okay to follow a “suspicious individual” at a safe distance to report to police their movements.

The next witness was Sgt. Raimondo, who was one of the first responders.  He mostly described the scene and what he did to try to revive Trayvon Martin.  He testified that the lighting was poor (basically pitch black) and that it was drizzling.  He also testified that he looked for an exit wound in Martin’s back and could not find one.

“I think we all want to make a difference in our community, sir.  You do what you can, when you can, and you just try and influence the audience you have in front of you,” said Raimondo.

On cross-examination, Raimondo testified that Martin was face down.

The next witness was Diana Smith, a Crime Scene Technician.  She went over all the documentation for all the evidence and the procedure she went through, as well as the location for all the items and the crime scene photos she took.  She testified she also took photos the next day when it was light out and the ground was still wet.  They found the bullet casing using a metal detector.  She testified that she and a couple other officers looked for blood at the scene, but couldn’t find any, including around the body.  She also explained packaging all the evidence and collecting it, as well as taking photos of Zimmerman’s injuries later at the police station.  She processed the gun for touch DNA in three places (the slide, grip, and trigger).  She also swabbed the Skittles bag and flashlight for DNA.  She also took scrapings from under Martin’s fingernails.  She was only able to lift one latent fingerprint from Zimmerman’s gun.  She didn’t find any fingerprints on the plastic bags (including the one a neighbor retrieved for an officer during CPR) or the flashlight/keys.  She testified that she did the latent fingerprint examinations after the DNA swabbing.

On cross-examination, she was unable to tell the jury the distance between Zimmerman’s flashlight/keys and Trayvon Martin’s body.  She stated that the flashlight on the key chain was on, but the regular flashlight wasn’t.  She also testified that she did not attempt to use any chemicals to check for blood at the scene.  The defense made major progress with the CST when they went over the injuries to Zimmerman that night (several abrasions, cuts, and lumps or knots).  She testified that she wasn’t sure if Zimmerman had been cleaned up before the pictures and that it was sometime between 11 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. when she took the pictures.  Zimmerman’s injuries were to his face and head.

“You see the lumping? You see the lumps around the abrasions and in general on the back of his head?” asked West.

“Yes, I do,” said Smith.

The prosecution’s final witness today was Selene Bahadoor, an eye/ear-witness that night.  She testified that she was home that night with her sister and her sister’s daughter and her friend.  She stated that she was downstairs in the kitchen, which is near the sliding glass doors, which open into the shared backyard where the incident occurred.  She said she heard a noise that sounded like a “No” or “Uhhh” and that she also heard running.

“It sounded like something hitting the concrete, it sounded like running,” said Bahadoor.

She said she then looked outside and couldn’t see anything because her view was obstructed, so she moved to the sliding glass doors.  She could see “figures” and “arms flailing”.  She testified that they looked like they were in a standing position, but it was too dark to identify anyone.  She testified that the sound of the movement was from “left to right.”  She also remembered seeing two other neighbors and one saying something like “What is going on out here?”  She said she went back into her home to turn off the stove in the kitchen and she heard the gunshot.  She looked back outside and saw a “body in the grass…face down.”  She then went upstairs where her sister was.  She also testified that she had met Zimmerman before when he introduced himself as a neighborhood watch volunteer.

On cross-examination, Mark O’Mara attempted to impeach her, but the prosecution didn’t believe the transcripts he had were accurate, so official court ones were retrieved.  She never told anyone before that day, except for her sister, that the movement she heard in the backyard was from left to right.  This includes 3 interviews with police, prosecutors, and a deposition with the defense.  She also testified that she didn’t think what she saw was significant.  Mark O’Mara had her demonstrate the arm flailing and she stated it was “fast-paced”.  Also, it was exposed that Bahadoor had “liked” the Justice for Trayvon Facebook page and signed the arrest the “murderer of our son Trayvon Martin” petition.  She stated that she had “sympathy for both” though.

She went on to say that she only came forward when police held a meeting in the community and that she didn’t want the spotlight.  Mark O’Mara asked her about a TV interview she did that never aired.  She said that she only did it to “bring attention to what had happened.”

The jury can believe all, some, or none of any witnesses testimony.  It will be interesting to see whether or not this seemingly prejudicial bias and the inconsistent testimony will affect her eye/ear-witness reliability.

Testimony will resume tomorrow, Wednesday, at 9:00 a.m.

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Comments
  1. thomas says:

    “this is very interesting. thanks for that. we need more sites like this. i commend you on your great content and excellent topic choices.”

    Like

  2. Jorge says:

    Thank you for what to my eyes looks like an unbiased summary of what has been happening in court. I thought of watching the actual video, but I fell asleep several times.

    Like

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