Day 10 of the George Zimmerman trial began with the defense calling Sondra Osterman, George Zimmerman’s friend and wife of Mark Osterman.  On direct examination, she explained that she met George Zimmerman at work in 2006.  They both worked for a mortgage company together.  She was in processing and he was in sales.  She testified that later she met Mrs. Zimmerman and became friends with her as well.  She stated that at work they saw each other every day, but after that they saw each other at least every week.  She stated that they kept in touch over the phone or in person.  She testified that she has heard Zimmerman talk, laugh, and be frustrated.  She told the jury that she is a good friend of his.  She has previously helped the family and they’ve helped her.  She was asked the status of their relationship now, she stated that because of the case, she maintains a friendship from a far, “as far as I’m concerned.”  She was asked about lying for others, she answered, “I wouldn’t lie for him or anybody.”  The 911 call with screams for help (“the Lauer call”) was played for her.  She testified that she has listened to it a few times and that, “…definitely it’s Georgie.”  On cross-examination, she stated that she did help write her husband’s book, she doesn’t know how many copies have sold, but the money is deposited in an account for Zimmerman after all of this is over.  She testified that George Zimmerman is left handed.  She asked about the tape again, she told the jury, from “the very first time I knew.”  She stated that when she saw it on the television she was aware it was about the case, but that didn’t influence what she heard.  She stated she only listened to it multiple times because it was on the news a lot.  Bernie de la Rionda played her parts of George Zimmerman’s call, specifically where he said “these a**holes always get away” and “f***king punks.”  She identified it was George Zimmerman.  She testified she has never heard George Zimmerman scream.  On redirect, she testified that he has used words like a**hole before and that he didn’t sound like he was angry or hateful in the call.

“I felt that I knew it was him…”

On recross, she stated repeatedly that she didn’t think he sounded angry.  De la Rionda asked if it sounded like he was inviting him over?  She answered, “I didn’t say that…”  She was asked about speculation, since she wasn’t there.  She also told the jury that all she has to base her opinion on his what he (meaning Bernie de la Rionda) has and that “I guess we both are” speculating.  The defense objected as the prosecution prepared to play the parts again, their legal basis was the rule of completeness.  The prosecution was instructed by the judge to play the entire tape.  Bernie de la Rionda played his excerpt again.  She testified, “I’ve heard it three times…” she didn’t hear a turn in his voice that indicated he was upset.  He then played the entire thing as instructed.  She again positively identified it as George Zimmerman.  She testified that the screams seemed to be all the way through the Lauer call.  On re-redirect, she testified he wasn’t rude to the officer, he didn’t seem angry.  She didn’t know what the wind noise was, but she didn’t hear any ill will, spite, or hatred.  She didn’t hear anything in his voice that told her he was upset.  She clarified that she didn’t think the screams on the Lauer call were continuous, meaning one scream, but that they were multiple screams.

The next witness was Mark Osterman.  He testified on direct that George Zimmerman asked him about getting a concealed carrying permit and that him and his wife (Shellie) Zimmerman both took a safety class.  They went through the fingerprinting and everything.  He testified that George Zimmerman and him always talked about safety at the shooting range.  He stated that he consulted him on what firearm to buy because certain firearms are for competitions, others are for self-defense, others are for home defense, etc.  He stated he recommended a personal gun to Zimmerman.  He stated that the gun George Zimmerman chose was great because it didn’t have an external safety.  In a stressful situation, when you are defending yourself, your mind will lock up sometimes and it can be very dangerous for you to not be able to discharge the firearm if necessary.  He testified that all of the firearms he’s had in his law enforcement career have not had external safeties due to this reason.  He also told the jury that extended triggers are the safety alternative.  He stated that he suggested that George Zimmerman keep “one in the chamber”.  He told the jury that if you are at home with children then you shouldn’t have that, but if you are out walking around you should always have it, so that you can be ready to save yourself or someone else in need.  “It could be the difference.”  In law enforcement, it is policy to have “one in the chamber” at all times, “there is no reason not to have that.”  He testified that George Zimmerman shoots with his right hand and writes with his left hand.  Mark O’Mara tried to question him about cross pulling a gun vs. wearing your gun on the side you pull from, but two objections were sustained.  He testified that they had discussions about where to wear your gun and that he advised him to wear his gun where it is most comfortable and always in the same place he does when he practices.  He told the jury that he went to the range with him to practice firing and they also practiced firing with your non-dominant hand (in this case, the left), so that if you need your alternate hand you can use it.  In case of injury or incapacitation.  He testified that he has heard George Zimmerman in “quite a wide spectrum” of different settings, hysterical laughing, yelling from a distance, regular conversation, etc.  The Lauer call was played.

“I thought it was George” because of the volume and tone. 

He testified that your tone changes over a recording or a phone, so “it just sounded like George.”  He explained to the jury the difference between a double and single action firearm and stated that the double action has a firm squeeze, which is the “greatest safety feature.”  On cross-examination, he testified he didn’t know how many copies of his book has sold and that the money is being set aside for Zimmerman.  He stated he would defer to a firearms expert for testimony.  He told the jury that George Zimmerman didn’t consult him on what type of holster to get, but he got an internal holster.  He also testified that if it is dark out, it would be hard to see someone’s internal holster.  He stated that he told George Zimmerman to aim for center mass.  Bernie de la Rionda tried to imply that one should continue to shoot someone who is a threat until they are dead, but Osterman vehemently disagreed.  He explained that the threat isn’t that they are alive, it is what they are doing and the threat has to be neutralized, not necessarily the person.  He also testified that in his experience, depending upon the circumstance, you can still holster your weapon in the presence of someone, especially if they start cooperating.  If you can’t see their hands, as a law enforcement officer, you would keep your weapon out.  You should only shoot, as an officer, if you feel an actual threat.  Bernie de la Rionda tried to push the idea of continuing to shoot someone if they are still alive, he again said he disagreed, that if, for example, the person has a weapon, you shoot them and they drop it, then the threat is neutralized.  They can also give up.  “I’m the kind of person that would give…police commands.”  He testified he’s been trained in these areas.

Bernie de la Rionda asked him if there was a difference between officers and citizens, he agreed.  He agreed “100%” that “the authority is much different.”   He was questioned about teaching Zimmerman about arresting or restraining someone, he testified that he wouldn’t need to know that.  He again testified that the only reason to keep your firearm out is for an active threat and that you don’t shoot someone who is giving up.  He told the jury that George Zimmerman was not proficient, only “familiar” with using his left hand for shooting.  On redirect, Mark Osterman testified about the difference between a legal and illegal carry when you have a concealed carrying permit.  He testified about how police officers are trained to “double tap” or shoot someone twice who remains an active threat.  He testified that someone may not give up or follow commands after the first shot because they may be too large for a small caliber or be on drugs that enhance their strength.  On recross, he testified that he did practice the “double tap” with George Zimmerman, but that sometimes it could take more than that.

The next witness was Gerri Russo.  She works for Digital Risk, where George Zimmerman used to work.  She testified that she is his coworker and friend.  She stated that she’s heard George Zimmerman speak in English and Spanish, in normal conversation (both personal and work), and laugh, but she’s never heard him yell.  She testified that she did speak to him after the incident, “my best estimate would be a couple of months…” after.  She testified she’s heard the Lauer 911 call before, it was played in court.  She stated she’s heard it less than half-a-dozen times.

She testified that it was George Zimmerman yelling, “…I recognized his voice…I have no doubt…my immediate reaction was that’s George’s voice.”

She stated that the first time she heard it, she was by herself and it was on in the background.  On cross-examination, she was asked about how good of friends they are.  She stated that they texted each other “occasionally” outside of work.  The prosecution asked her where she thought George Zimmerman was when he didn’t come to work?  She testified that she couldn’t recall if she knew that he was under investigation.  She knew that he had shot someone, but she thought he was out on sick leave.  She later found out it was for a different reason.  The prosecution asked her if she wanted to believe it was Zimmerman, she answered, “there was no matter of believing or wanting to believe.”  She was asked if she was trying to tell the jury that she didn’t know he was under investigation for murder?  She testified that she would be guessing if she said yes or no, but that the assumption would be since it was on the news that he was, but she couldn’t actually recall, specifically.  She testified that she’s never heard Trayvon Martin’s voice.  On redirect, she was asked if she understood what it meant to be under oath, she affirmatively replied.  She also told the jury that she would not testify that it wasn’t George Zimmerman if she didn’t think it was.

The next witness was Leeann Benjamin.  She testified that she met George Zimmerman in late 2002, early 2003.  She stated that he was working for a mortgage company and she was a real estate broker.  She referred all of her clients to him.  Their relationship began as a business relationship and grew into a personal friendship.  She testified that her friendship started out just with Zimmerman, but grew to include his wife.  She told the jury that her office was in the same building as his office was.  She stated that there was a fridge and microwave in her office and they opened it up to everyone in the building and George Zimmerman used to come over and hang around, on numerous occasions.  She said he started inquiring about starting a business, like she did.  He had a “keen interest” in it.  She said after that they started being more social outside of work, mostly going out to eat.  She told the jury that about that time, a mutual friend was wanting to get into politics, her husband, her, and George Zimmerman all volunteered to help the campaign.  Their relationship has been more or less intermittent over the last few years.  She testified that everyone has a relationship like that where you don’t see someone a lot, but you can just pick up where you left off.  She also said that her father got ill and moved in with her that same time and it took her attention.  She told the jury that she encouraged George Zimmerman to go to college.  She felt like there was time for him to start a business after education.  She was a teacher before she was a real estate broker, “it is a love I have.”  She also said she volunteers a lot and she was proud that Zimmerman started mentoring young people.  She testified that her father being ill took her attention and at the time, she didn’t realize he was involved in anything and that she didn’t watch the news much either.  She stated that a couple weeks after the event George Zimmerman called her and they talked, she didn’t know about any of the circumstances or conditions.  She told the jury it was important to her to offer support.  She wanted to help and she was mostly just there for him to talk to.  Her husband did help George Zimmerman financially.  He noticed the website and donated to it.  She also took Mr. Zimmerman and his wife some food.  She also told the jury that her husband took Zimmerman to get suits for trial.  She stated that her relationship doesn’t affect her testimony, “I believe in telling what I know.”  She has listened to the Lauer call before.  It was played in court.  She positively identified that as George Zimmerman screaming for help.  She said she knows his screaming voice because they worked on the campaign together and it gets loud and exciting.

On cross-examination, she testified that she doesn’t know the amount of money her husband donated, he was in charge of all of that.  She testified that the first time she heard it, it was on the news.  She also told the jury, when she realized what was happening, she tried to avoid all extraneous information because she had prior jury duty and didn’t want to watch too much.  She stated it was “probably” this year she heard the recording for the first time.  She stated it was on in the background, but couldn’t recall specific circumstances.  She stated she heard the Lauer call twice on the news and once in the deposition and she may have been cooking at the time.  She told the jury she’s never heard Trayvon Martin’s voice.  She told the jury that when she heard it, it was similar to the “whooping it up” that happens in campaigns.  It is “definitely” George Zimmerman’s voice and “it’s hard to tell” whether the yells are continuous because of the person who is calling talking over top of it.   She testified that she could hear the screams “clearly”.

She was questioned as to wanting to believe it was George Zimmerman, she responded, “It is George Zimmerman.”

She testified that she tried not to discuss the case with her husband and he donated money before he told her.  She testified she didn’t recall ever hearing Zimmerman’s 911 call, probably because she avoided media coverage and her work schedule.  The prosecution played her his call.  She stated she realized she’s heard clips, but never the whole thing.  She testified that “to me maybe like he’s walking…or it’s windy.”  She said Zimmerman’s voice changes after he says “he’s running”.

“It sounds like maybe the environment he is in was changing.”

“His voice seems more matter of fact to me…it may have been outside.”  Bernie de la Rionda replayed the excerpt with “these a**holes always get away.”  She stated that she didn’t agree that his voice changed “right there”, but later on.  The prosecution played the “f***ing punks” excerpt to her.  She testified that she didn’t hear it, so they played it again.  After it was played again, she testified that she didn’t think he was angry, “…I don’t take it that way…I thought it was more of an observation…a comment he was making.”  Bernie de la Rionda asked if it was an observation about the person he was “following or chasing”?  Her response was, “I don’t know how to answer that…I don’t think he was in an extremely excited state based upon my experience.”  The prosecution asked her why she closed her eyes while listening, she responded it was to concentrate.  Bernie de la Rionda asked if she did that when she first heard the Lauer call, she answered no.  “I heard those words, but I don’t think it was in a heightened state of alert.”  She testified that she’s encountered people that have used that kind of language in everyday conversation, especially her children and it doesn’t mean hatred or anger.

“Cussing, it does not always indicate an alarming situation…”

The prosecution asked if he just wanted to make sure the person didn’t get away this time?  She answered, “I don’t know that…”  Bernie de la Rionda asked, “If he was making an observation why didn’t he just say he is a black male f***ing punk?”  The defense objected and it was sustained.  On redirect, she testified that she didn’t hear any ill will, spite, or hatred.  She was asked what was the difference between what the prosecutor said when asking his questions and what George Zimmerman said?  She answered that it seemed more like Bernie de la Rionda was trying to highlight the words and that George Zimmerman was just making a “comment.”  Were those words used in hatred?  “Not at all.”  She testified that she didn’t hear “f***ing punks” the first time and had to listen really closely.

“I think Mr. Zimmerman said it more of like a matter of fact, casual comment…Mr. de la Rionda was highlighting it.”

She told the jury it didn’t seem like Zimmerman’s emotional status changed, just his location.  She testified that she didn’t think the screams for help were one continuance scream, but multiple segments in cadence.  On recross, Bernie de la Rionda claimed he was only saying it louder so that she could hear him and he asked if she was testifying that Mr. Zimmerman was trying to purposefully say it under his breath because he knew he was being recorded?  She responded, “I don’t know that.”  On re-redirect, Mark O’Mara asked her what she would do if she knew she was being recorded and wanted to say something under her breath, would she just whisper it?  She testified that she would remove the phone from her head completely.

The next witness was John Donnelly, Leann Benjamin’s husband.  He testified that he is a retired Physician’s Assistant and now does litigation consultations for medical malpractice cases.  He told the jury that his office is within his wife’s office and that the building is ranch style, and the insurance company that George Zimmerman worked for is also there.  He testified that George Zimmerman would come over for snacks and some soda.  Zimmerman handled all of the mortgages for his wife’s business, he “helped us out with that.”

            “He was a very smart, sharp young guy…”

He testified that one time, George Zimmerman came in and asked him how to tie a Windsor knot in his tie.  He told the jury that touched “a part of my heart” and “he’s been there ever since.”  He stated he’s been in and out of court, not testifying, which can be a “terrifying experience”, but for his clients.  He told the jury his clients have informed him that you are supposed to dress up out of respect for the process, so he took George Zimmerman to buy some suits.  He stated he only listened to the Lauer call recently.  He testified that before he was a PA, he was a combat medic in Vietnam.  There was an objection from the prosecution, a sidebar, and then Mr. Donnelly was allowed to continue his testimony, the objection was overruled.  He testified that you are with between 60 and 100 men and he was deployed for about a year.  He stated there were 2 to 4 medics depending on the mission and that you always wanted at least 2 medics for 40 men depending on availability.  He told the jury that you are with these men all the time, eating, sleeping, showering, everything.  He testified that when you are at base camp there is nothing to do, but talk and care for your equipment.  He testified he’s heard people talk, laugh, joke, be drunk and in combat, voices change.  There was another objection, another sidebar, and another overruled ruling.

He told the jury that in the midst of combat there are a lot of people yelling and a lot of noise.  People yell for help, for a medic, for ammo, and orders.  When you are in a situation like that you develop an ability to distinguish screams.  It’s your job to grab your gear and get to the person who needs help.  You develop this knowledge of who it is before you get there.  He testified that he generally tried to tune out the news and walk away, it can be very “distressing” to hear people screaming.  He said he didn’t want to hear anyone he knows screaming that’s why he didn’t listen to the call until recently.  He told the jury he took it upon himself to listen to the recording this past Saturday.  He stated he found it on the Internet and listened to it by himself, “exactly twice.”  The Lauer call was played in court.  He positively identified it as George Zimmerman based upon his knowledge of him and his life experiences.

“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that is George Zimmerman and I wish to God, I didn’t have the ability to understand that.”

On cross-examination, he agreed that there was nothing in his deposition that said he listened to the call because he listened to it on Saturday, which was after deposition.  He also testified it wasn’t asked of him either and at the time he didn’t want anything to do with it.  He clarified that it was July 6th, in the morning that he took it upon himself to listen to it.  He put himself in a quiet setting and “felt like” he had to listen before he testified.  He stated he didn’t know why he listened twice.  He told the jury he donated $2,500 to Zimmerman’s defense fund, then another $500 to George Zimmerman himself, and then spent $1,700 on Zimmerman’s suits.  He reiterated that wearing nice clothes shows respect for the system.  “He is my very dear friend…like a son…”  The prosecution played George Zimmerman’s 911 call for him.  He testified that he may have heard snippets, but never heard the whole thing before.  During the recording, it was stopped and he was asked if the first part sounded like a regular conversation, he responded affirmatively.  Then, it was stopped after, “these a**holes always get away,” and he was asked about, based upon his experiences, George Zimmerman’s voice being more excited?  He responded that he didn’t agree with that.  He testified that everyone has different tones to their voice, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything.  He told the jury he thought Zimmerman was just trying to give information to law enforcement.

He reiterated that the screams in the Lauer call were “absolutely” George Zimmerman.  He stated that he heard other voices, but he knew “the screams in particular…”  He testified in combat, you have screaming, mortars, gun fire, rockets, everything going on at once, but you have the ability to pick out the people you know.  He stated that he’d been with those men for months and he agreed that had a new man joined the platoon, he would not have recognized his voice necessarily, but that after “February, we had a lot of new guys.”  On redirect, he clarified that all the screams were George Zimmerman, he didn’t mean to imply that there were screams that weren’t him.  He testified that he contacted the defense after listening to the call on Saturday, in the afternoon or the evening.

He testified that he would never skew his testimony because “this courtroom is about truth…even though this is personally very hard for me, this is the place truth is supposed to come out.”

On recross, he was questioned about whether or not it was the defense’s idea he listen to the call, he responded it was his alone.

The next witness was Doris Singleton.  She testified that she was present when Detective Serino played the 911 call for Tracy Martin.  There was an objection from the prosecution, it was overruled, but she was instructed to testify only to what she observed and the circumstances of what occurred.  She told the jury that Tracy Martin and his girlfriend came to the station two days after the incident.  He met Det. Serino at his desk, which is in a set of cubicles.  She stated that Mr. Martin was concerned about the fact there was no arrest and Det. Serino was trying to explain to him what was going on.  She stated that she was in the hallway where the cubicles end near the walled offices, maybe 8 to 10 feet away from them.  She stated that Det. Serino played the Lauer call for them.  After it was played, Tracy Martin hung his head and seemed upset and sad.  He cried and he did respond to Det. Serino when asked to identify the voice.  There was no cross examination.

The next witness was then-Lead Detective Chris Serino.  He testified that he met with Tracy Martin and his girlfriend in his office to bring them up to speed on the investigation.  He stated that they had concerns about there being no arrest.  He stated it was either the day after or two days after the incident.  He told the jury the meeting happened in the conference room, but he played the Lauer call for them in his cubicle.  He stated that he was sitting facing his monitor and Tracy Martin and his girlfriend were directly behind him.  He played all the recordings for Tracy Martin.  He couldn’t recall the volume, but it was as clear as possible and it was “audible”.

He testified that Tracy Martin’s response was emotional and he asked him, after the recording, if that was his son’s voice.  He stated that Mr. Martin gave a verbal and non-verbal response, he turned away and under his breath, said no.

He never asked for the recording to be played again and he never indicated he couldn’t hear it.  Detective Serino couldn’t recall whether his girlfriend gave any response and he also testified he saw a sergeant walk passed and stop and listen as well.

On cross-examination, he testified he didn’t see Detective Singleton there.  He also testified that there is nothing more difficult than speaking to someone whose loved one has died other than initially notifying them.  He stated he tries to be as sensitive as he can.  He testified he didn’t recall preparing them for the Lauer call before playing it, but they were emotional.  He testified that Mr. Martin didn’t react out of the ordinary.  “In my opinion, it was hard for him to listen to.”  He just wanted answers like anyone else.  He never stated he wanted to stop or leave, “it was just very emotional…”  He stated he played all the recordings, all the way through and his objective was to share everything he had with him.  “It was trying for me…”

He told the jury he either said, “…do you recognize the voice or is that your son’s voice in the background?”  He reiterated that Tracy Martin turned away like he didn’t want to deal with the situation.  He told the jury that he “saw the movement of his mouth,” he said no.

He stated that in his experience, some people say that they can’t believe it or they are in denial and saying no, “could be construed as denial.”  On redirect, he told the jury he was asking Tracy Martin, so that he could find out whether it was or was not Trayvon Martin.  “It became significant in the investigation…” that he said no it was not his son.  He testified that he had Officer Smith’s statements, witness statements, including John Good’s account, and 911 calls that all backed up that the screaming was George Zimmerman and Mr. Martin’s response fit that.  Detective Serino testified that Mr. Martin never stated he wanted to rehear it, he never changed his mind either, even later.  His girlfriend never expressed disagreement.  He told the jury he had no concern even though Mr. Martin was emotional that he understood his question and he said no.  On recross, he agreed that he recalled George Zimmerman saying, “that doesn’t even sound like me.”  He testified that everything involved in this case has been draining to him personally.  On re-redirect, he clarified that it is typical for people not to realize that they sound different on recordings and when they hear themselves they’ll say something to that effect, he didn’t think George Zimmerman was denying it was him.

The next witness was Doris Singleton, recalled.  She testified that she wasn’t part of the meeting between Martin and Serino.  She felt like “he needed his space.”  She said she remembered Serino asked if Mr. Martin recognized the voice and he responded that it wasn’t his son.  His girlfriend was rubbing his shoulders and comforting him, she didn’t recall her saying anything.  He put his head down and was crying.  On cross examination, she said that she didn’t recall the exact words said.  While listening, Tracy Martin began crying, “I was choked up myself…I could feel how he must feel…I have children too…I felt horrible for him.”  She testified she didn’t remember any other recordings being played, but that one stood out to her because it captured the gun shot.  She told the jury it was painful, “he was very sad.”  He was “wiping tears from his eyes,” but he didn’t lose it.  He kept himself together.  “I can’t imagine having to go through that.”

On redirect, she was asked if she had any doubt Mr. Martin said it was not his son, she responded, “There is no doubt…”

The next witness was Adam Pollack.  He owned the gym where George Zimmerman went.  He testified that he has owned his own gym for 14 years.  He’s been in gyms since he was 4-years-old.  He stated that he has been in competitive sports since he was younger, he played basketball and racquetball.  He testified he played racquetball professionally for awhile.  He told the jury he’s been around weightlifting his whole life as well, his brother is a champion bodybuilder.  He also told the jury he’s been around fighting sports since before he was 18, he boxed and he did Muay Thai fighting competitively starting when he was 18.  He also testified that he has never boxed professionally, but he’s been the corner man numerous times.  He testified that MMA or mixed martial arts has become popular in recent years.  It’s a mix between all sorts of professional fighting techniques including boxing, wrestling, kickboxing, and jiu-jitsu.  He testified that the “beauty of a mixed sports” is that it allows for people who are not good at certain things to still have a chance.  He testified that he’s never competed in MMA, but he has trained others to compete at “high levels.”

He told the jury that a ground-and-pound is when you get your opponent on the ground and then keep them there, while hitting them downwards.  He also testified that making the first hit is critical to take control of a fight and gain the upper hand.  If you do it effectively then you will be in a better position throughout the fight.  He stated that professionally, MMA usually occurs in a cage, like the Octagon, and a referee is present.  A bell signals the fight to begin and there are multiple ways to give or tap out.  He demonstrated the mounted position vs. the guard position on Mark O’Mara for the jury.  He testified that the mounted position is more effective because it prevents the person on the bottom from using their legs in defense, it also gives you the dominant position to control.  Mounted is outside the legs of the person on the bottom, guard is inside the legs of the person on the bottom.  He testified that the position is powerful and makes the person on the bottom “quasi-helpless” because gravity helps them punch downwards.  He told the jury there are multiple ways to try to get out of a mounted position, such as shrimping or pushing upwards, so that the person’s legs come down away from your hips.

He testified that he met George Zimmerman in October of 2010.  He came to the gym to lose weight.  He stated that he put him on a program of diet and exercise.  He told the jury he put him in a grappling class because it fit into his schedule better.  He testified that Zimmerman was interested in boxing, but the class wasn’t available when he was.  He testified that George Zimmerman picked his classes according to his free time, not his interests.  He told the jury that grappling is like wrestling, only the goal is to complete submissions.  He testified that Zimmerman trained 2-3 times a week, classes are usually 2 hours each day.  He testified that he supervises all his classes and that Zimmerman was a “beginner”.  He told the jury that athletes not only have to practice to hone their skills, but they also have to have natural abilities, like athleticism.  Usually, an accomplished athlete will have a history of athletics from a young age.  An adult that doesn’t have that kind of exposure will “probably” never get to that level.  He testified that on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most athletic, he felt George Zimmerman was a “0.5” when he first came to the gym.  He stated that Zimmerman was a member for about a year, but put his membership on hold for some time during that period.  He elaborated that George Zimmerman did grappling and some boxing and he occasionally used the facilities by himself.  Starting in November of 2011 until January of 2012, George Zimmerman didn’t come into the gym.  He testified that George Zimmerman when he left the gym was at about a “1”, there wasn’t much progress.  He testified that it was a tremendous amount of work and it takes a lot of dedication to be in shape and there is a “certain strength level he didn’t have.”  He told the jury he was very coachable and pleasant to work with.  He told the jury that George Zimmerman had the same level of proficiency in boxing, a “1”.  He basically just took classes, he was a “hard worker”, but with no background it takes more time to develop.  Mr. Zimmerman was working on it.  He did calisthenics, then he moved to the bag and shadowing boxing, normally, you would then move to sparring with a partner and then movement training.  He testified that George Zimmerman never made it passed the heavy bag.

“He didn’t know how to effectively punch.”

He wasn’t “physically accomplished” to get in the ring.  He testified he doesn’t put people in the ring before they are ready because he doesn’t want them to get hurt.  He knows other gyms do that, but he doesn’t.  He testified that George Zimmerman did improve his physicality, he lost a lot of weight, but the athleticism wasn’t there.  He told the jury that George Zimmerman was obese when he got to the gym and he did very well with that goal.  He testified that in his gym, everyone goes step-by-step, so since George Zimmerman couldn’t punch correctly, then he couldn’t learn kicking or other disciplines.  He testified that George Zimmerman came in very inconsistently to do some weight training.  He told the jury he saw him a couple days after the incident with 2 black eyes, scrapes, bruises, he looked “emotionally traumatized”.  “I’ve seen that in people…a state of shock…”  He testified it was different than a trained fighter.

He told the jury, he doesn’t like to say this about people, but George Zimmerman was “soft”.  He was an overweight, fat man with little muscle, but a nice guy.

On cross-examination, the prosecution asked him if George Zimmerman went to another gym during the hiatus or trained at home.  He testified he didn’t think Zimmerman attended another gym (“Not to my knowledge”) and that “it wouldn’t make a lot of sense…he was a loyal type of individual…”  The prosecution asked him if he encourages people who go to his gym to exercise at home.  He responded that he doesn’t encourage his students to do that because the classes are the best place to learn and that he doesn’t want them to learn bad habits or hurt themselves.  He testified that George Zimmerman lost “50 to 80 pounds.”  He told the jury that he doesn’t teach people strategy if they can’t get the basics.  “You can turn on the TV and figure some things out…” but that isn’t the way to learn.  The prosecution asked him about teaching Zimmerman grappling and positions on getting out of mounted positions.  He responded that in a mounted position, grappling doesn’t work unless the person on the bottom is extremely skilled.  There is “no way” that George Zimmerman could arm bar someone who mounted him.  He told the jury that George Zimmerman wore the light gloves about 4 to 6 ounces in weight.  He testified that you can hurt yourself if you don’t have your proper and appropriate support for wrists and hands.

He told the jury that at the beginning, they work on feet, then on structure, then on jabs, then on hooks, then on combinations.  They also work on hands.  He testified that George Zimmerman didn’t make it past jabs.  He testified that he thinks George Zimmerman at maximum spent 6 hours at the gym a week.  He did tell the jury that sometimes people do try to do things they aren’t ready for, but he doesn’t allow that at his gym.  On redirect, he testified that Zimmerman wasn’t proficient in anything.

He was doing good in his own scope with “stretches and exercise.”

He was in class when other people learned arm locks, but he wasn’t anywhere near ready for that.  He testified that just grabbing someone’s arm is not a trained arm lock or bar, it is a “reflex” and completely different than what people do at the gym.  He testified that Zimmerman still had progress to make, he could have lost more weight and gained muscle, but he wasn’t ready to be competitive “by any stretch.”  He told the jury today, he would still consider him “soft.”

The next witness was Tracy Martin.  He testified that he went to the police department to verify that Serino identified Trayvon Martin.  He listened to some tapes, including the Lauer 911 call.  He stated that Serino asked him “as best as I recall” do you recognize this voice?

He stated that he didn’t say it wasn’t his son, but he did push away from the desk and shake his head and stated he “couldn’t tell.”

He testified he didn’t even know that Det. Singleton was in “the vicinity.”  He testified that he had “no knowledge of a cleaned up version” or “an enhanced version” of the Lauer 911 call.  He stated that he didn’t tell his ex-wife, Ms. Fulton about hearing the tape because “a lot of emotions” were at play and “you just don’t think of every detail.”  He told the jury he didn’t tell anyone what they were going to hear at the mayor’s office because “everyone knew why we were there.”  He testified that he listened to the Lauer call in the mayor’s office about “20 times” that day.  On cross examination, he testified that “it’s very difficult to believe that Trayvon is not living…he was my best friend…”  He also told the jury that “it is still hard to this day.”  He testified that on February 27th, Det. Serino showed him a photograph of the unknown deceased and he identified him as Trayvon Martin.  He told the jury that the next day, at the station, he was played several calls, “to my recollection, I don’t think Detective Serino played all the calls in their entirety…”  He told the jury he was in denial and he was “very emotional”.  He said that he realized the gun shot in the recording was the shot “that killed my son…”  “My world was…just turned upside down.”  He testified, “I was listening to his life being taken…trying to come to grips…it was tough.”  He told the jury he couldn’t remember whether it was all the 911 calls that were played at the mayor’s office or just the Lauer call.  He told the jury he took the mouse and he rewound the tape and played it multiple times, “…I was just trying to figure out what happened that night…why did the defendant get out of his vehicle and chase my son?”

On redirect, he acknowledge that he hadn’t hired Benjamin Crump yet.  He also testified that he didn’t instruct Benjamin Crump to say that the police lied about him saying it wasn’t his son’s voice or that he ever listened to a cleaned up version and could hear it better.

The last witness of the day was Billy Ray Lee Jr, the then-Police Chief of Sanford.  He testified that he was aware that the tape was going to be played for the Martin family and be released to the public.  He testified that “generally…you would show…that piece of evidence…individually…so their decision is not influenced…”  He testified that you don’t want others being biased by someone else, you want their honest identification.  He stated that “it was my understanding that it was played in a group setting” and that no law enforcement were present.  He stated that in his experience, these matters are handled by law enforcement not mayors.  He testified that he offered to be present, but was excluded.

On cross-examination, he told the jury that the city manager, who is his boss, declined to allow him there.  The prosecution asked if in a photo lineup, you want to show one or multiple photos for identification?  He testified that you don’t want to show one photo, that defeats the purpose.  He testified that it was “possible” that people could be influenced by seeing news stories about suspects on TV.  He told the jury that you want to do a lineup where everyone shares a similar feature with the suspect description or else, it is suggestive and defeats the purpose.  He also stated that if you can get multiple recordings that share similar features that would be even better for identification purposes.

On redirect, he testified that indications in the investigation told them who was screaming, but there was an objection, which was sustained so he wasn’t allowed to testify to who that was George Zimmerman or Trayvon Martin.  He told the jury that they wanted more corroboration or non-corroboration.  He reiterated to the jury that in investigations, it is best practice to have people identify things individual as to not unduly influence them.  He also stated that in emotional situations, “it’s possible…” that the chance for suggestion is greater.  He told the jury that city managers do not usually make police investigative decisions.

They recessed early for the day and argued legal matters outside the jury’s presence.  The prosecution withdrew their motions to have Det. Serino and Det. Singleton’s testimonies stricken because Tracy Martin was called to testify.  A Richardson Hearing was held on striking Mr. Donnelly’s testimony.  The prosecution argued that it was “uncomfortable” to confront the witness while they are testifying, they didn’t have time to investigate his basis or his claim that he did it without prompting.  The state said they believed it was “by design to help the defense.”  He also told the judge that he couldn’t investigate Mr. Donnelly’s military past or verify reports that he was present during testimony in violation of the court order of sequestration.

Judge Nelson asked the prosecution if the tape was played in court, for the first time, how would that be any different then what happened?  Mr. Mantei responded that it would have been risky for the defense.  Judge Nelson then asked him what would the state have done differently, why is this prejudicial?  The testimony most likely would have been the same.  Mr. Mantei argued that there are a number of ways to approach information and the other side wouldn’t know in open court either, so the advantage disappears.  The prejudice is that, according to him, the prosecution couldn’t “artfully” prepare their questions.  He stated that the prosecution could have argued that he never heard it and then he can come in and just know automatically who is screaming?

The defense responded that the prosecutors, being good ones, didn’t play the tape for him in deposition.  The defense never requested that he listen to the tape.  Mark O’Mara stated that he thought the cross-examination was quite good for, apparently, not being prepared.  He also stated that the case law says that courts must take the least restrictive remedy necessary.  The prosecution argued that there are two types of violations:  willful or inappropriate, here it was inappropriate.  The time, place, and manner to address questions is before trial during depositions and not to risk a jury misperception during open court questions.

Judge Nelson stated that the prosecution couldn’t say that they didn’t have the opportunity to pursue his background, their deposition shows they didn’t ask anything like that.  She stated that they may not have known it was relevant, but they had the opportunity to ask him.  She ruled that the defense didn’t tell the state, which they should have done and they acknowledge that, but the state has failed to show that there is prejudice and certainly that there is a need to strike testimony.  The testimony was not stricken from the record.

The next motion was the defense wanted to renew their motion to admit the toxicology report as evidence.  The prosecution argued that the defendant didn’t know Trayvon Martin or his state.  That it is unduly prejudicial for the defense to introduce this, the amounts are so small and they haven’t shown that it affected him.  He said that he wants the judge to stay with her original decision.  The judge corrected Mr. Guy that she ruled to bar its mention from the opening statements, but deferred her ruling on admissibility and relevance during trial.  Don West argued that the case is at the point where self-defense is being argued in front of the jury.  Dr. Bao changed his testimony and now says that there was enough THC in Martin to have some effect.  We know from the Zimmerman 911 call that he didn’t know Martin, but that he observed him under the influence.  In the 7-11 video, he was swaying.  We know that Martin was found with a lighter.  It is relevant for the jury to consider this as well as probative.  This supports self defense.  His behavior is just has probative as Mr. Zimmerman’s.  The prosecution originally argued that there was no evidence that he ingested marijuana recently, but Dr. Bao refutes that.  Their toxicologist, Dr. Goldberg, also refutes that in his deposition.  He testified that it was ingested within a few hours of Martin’s death.  Our expert will testify to how it may have affected Trayvon Martin.  According to case law, the defendant is given wide latitude when there is a theory of self defense.  All questions must be resolved in favor of the accused.

The prosecution responded that the 7-11 video is interpretable and that the court shouldn’t take the defendant’s word for anything because he “said a lot of thing about Trayvon Martin.”  Mr. Guy told the judge that the defense was trying to backdoor “very negative” character evidence and that no one has come before the court to testify about the effects, therefore the admission has no value.

The judge responded that the defense wants to do that, admit an expert to talk about the effects.  She stated that the prosecution has the opportunity to cross-examine and to call rebuttal witnesses and to not allow this would be a “reversible error” according to case law, therefore she denied the state’s motion in limine and will allow the testimony.

The next motion was about a law enforcement expert named Mr. Root.  The defense wanted him to testify to a few key points.  The defense argued that they wanted him to testify not only to violations of law and use of force, shooter trauma and memory problems, and his other experiential and educational expertise.  He has viewed all the evidence and he never spent time with George Zimmerman, so his conclusions are purely from analysis of the evidence.  These are not common sense issues for the jury, the jury has no experience with these issues.  And these are not ultimate fact issues either, even if they were, they are not necessarily improper, you just can’t invade the jury’s providence.  The state argued that they had a problem with the three opinions he expressed in his deposition and that they are not appropriate for testimony.  As to the other issues, they agreed he understood law enforcement reactions, but not civilian reactions and he wasn’t present that night.

The judge granted the state’s motion and ruled that Mr. Root cannot testify to 1.) use of force being appropriate in the situation, 2.) that George Zimmerman used restraint before firing his gun, and 3.) George Zimmerman did not violate any Florida laws.  This would be bolstering of a witness, George Zimmerman, and improper hearsay.

The last motion was the “animation” motion.  The defense argued that they have talked with the state and made changes to address their concerns.  Mr. Mantei argued that the animation is in its 3rd version and their original objections, mostly stand.  The court discussed holding a Daubert hearing (earlier this month, Florida finally changed from the Frye standard to the Daubert standard).  After a long break and the prosecution meeting with the expert who made the animation, the prosecution requested a Richardson Hearing about disclosure or notice time.  They argued that the version was just given to them today and they haven’t had a chance to explore it.  They would like to re-depose two defense witnesses who have yet to testify.  Mr. Mantei told the judge that he didn’t mind doing the Daubert admissibility hearing, but felt like the defense could meet that satisfaction.  There was a misunderstanding, the court thought the prosecution wanted an admissibility hearing and the prosecution thought the court wanted it.  The prosecutions objections were not based on anything to do with Daubert.  The judge asked if they wanted to go through with a Pierce hearing instead?  Mr. Mantei responded he wanted to re-depose first.

The judge ordered that the deposition be taken tonight and the issue be taken up tomorrow.  Court will resume tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.

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Comments
  1. Corazon says:

    Superb! This blog presents useful information, keep it up.

    Like

  2. DaveH says:

    I have been on a jury and understand well how the jury’s impressions can be quite different from the outside observers. None the less I think that 2nd Degree murder is very unlikely at this point. In Florida what options are open to a lessor charge? Is manslaughter a possible verdict or is it off the table?
    Based on what I have seen and heard so far it sounds like self defense to me. I agree that it was a poor decision to get out of the car on the part of George but Trayvon had plenty of time by all accounts to go back to his house and didn’t. He could have easily avoided any confrontation.

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    • The prosecution has mentioned manslaughter in legal argument during the trial, but they haven’t mentioned it as a charge. It is highly likely that they will have it as a lesser included at the end of trial though.

      I understand that a lot of people think juries are wrong because they are in a vacuum, but the truth is that the public is often wrong because they are exposed to such a vast amount of misinformation and lies and opinions certainly based upon agendas and even greed. A jury is kept from those types of things and aren’t bound by being “entertaining”. The public isn’t concerned with justice or fairness, but the jury is, that’s an important difference.

      Like

  3. Lon Spector says:

    You have to understand that people on either side of the racial divide can not ‘hear’ what the other side is saying. The crazed activists of the media-T.V. and talk radio- are playing with fire. They would LOVE to see a repeat of the L.A. riots of 1992, because it would confirm their beliefs about this country. As usual, the media creates the very story that it reports on. I’m praying for a Zimmerman conviction. It’s a lot easier going out and about in an atmosphere
    of uneasy calm, then dodging rocks and brickbats. I can attest to this fact because I was on locale to witness the events at the Wisconsin State Fair a couple of summers ago. Not only did the story NOT go national, but even the local news reports didn’t capture the scope of the carnage.

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    • The Wisconsin State Fair and the LA Riots are two of many examples of what people call “senseless violence”, which of course is a misnomer because all violence is senseless. I understand that in the grand scope of things that it would be “easier” to just throw people in prison to avoid radical people and their insane asylum outbursts, but it is wrong to give in to others tyranny. Besides, when you give someone an inch, they take a yard. No one should have to serve as a sacrificial lamb. America is supposed to be about equality and justice, not about reality shows and polls. It actually doesn’t matter what these people think and we all should be glad that they are not on the jury because we want a fair verdict, not a lie. I don’t know what that verdict will be, but I don’t think anyone should want Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman to be objects for others’ political beliefs or an excuse for people to hurt each other. That’s what Rodney King became. Instead of a beacon for change due to LAPD’s misconduct in the African American community, he came to stand for not civil rights changes, just carnage and no one deserves that. People can believe lies about you, but that won’t change the truth. You can’t will something into truth, but you can convince yourself of a lie. The right thing to do isn’t always easy, but it’s always right. If a not guilty verdict is right, then it is right regardless of misinformation and vice versa. You just can’t treat people like this, it’s wrong. The bullying, hate, and lies that have become of our so-called news industry and just the nonsense on social media is deplorably sad and a really bad commentary on us as people. Why do Americans want their news to lie to them? And why do they support this level of barbarianism and shamefully word choices? The most un-American thing I can think of is a false infringement on freedom. Apparently popular opinion these days goes against second chances or open-mindedness. We might be moving toward same-sex marriage, but we certainly are less tolerant these days then ever before when it comes to one another.

      People on social media threatened to kill George Zimmerman, they use language fit for XXX movies right on twitter in cases like Jodi Arias. The selfishness of one’s opinion is destroying the meaning of truth. You could be wrong, period. People should listen more and not talk so much. It surprises me that people are shocked by our bullying epidemic in our schools. It starts with parents watching and being like people like Nancy Grace. You are right Lon, it is sad that more people don’t realize that the media literally makes things up, that isn’t what was meant by freedom of press. As human beings we are blessed with the ability of mind and body to see and learn so much, so why would you just believe other people? The truth lies where there are no agendas and that isn’t in the media or on social media.

      Like

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