The prosecution in the George Zimmerman trial is expected to rest its case Friday after jurors hear from the medical examiner who performed Trayvon Martin’s autopsy and the late teen’s mother.
In the event you are just joining our coverage now, here’s a recap of the first two weeks of trial:
For two weeks the prosecution has introduced witnesses and presented evidence they believe show that George Zimmerman acted with ill will, hatred, spite (conditions for 2nd degree murder) when he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
Through past calls Zimmerman made to police reporting suspicious persons the state has argued that the neighborhood watch coordinator was a frustrated, “seething wanna be cop" who was criminally profiling Martin as the Miami Gardens teen was walking back from 7-eleven to his dad’s girlfriend’s Sanford townhouse in the same gated housing community where Zimmerman lived.
Prosecutors have argued that Zimmerman’s own words to a non-emergency police dispatcher, “f******* punks”’ and “these a****** , they always get away” are examples of Zimmerman criminally profiling Martin. Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda would also showcase for jurors how Zimmerman described Martin as a “suspect” in his hand-written statement for police.
The state’s key witness was Rachel Jeantel, the young woman Martin was on the phone with moments before the deadly confrontation. She would testify she heard Martin say “why you following me for?” and “get off, get off."
During a passionate opening statement Assistant State Attorney John Guy would tell the jury of 6 women that Zimmerman considered it his “right to rid his neighborhood” of people he believed didn’t belong.
“He did not see a young man walking home.” Guy would end his passionate opening statement declaring that Zimmerman did not shoot Martin because he had to but “because he wanted to.” By introducing evidence related to Zimmerman’s Seminole State College criminal justice courses the state aimed to demonstrate that Zimmerman knew how to manipulate the system because he understood police procedures and jargon and studied Stand Your Ground as well as traditional self defense scenarios.
The highlight of this trial has been the success of the defense to communicate their self defense narrative through cross examination of state witnesses. This includes state witness John Good, a neighbor who would tell jurors he saw a person with dark colored clothing straddling and punching a “lighter-skinned” person beneath him.
Then there was Jonathan Manalo, the neighbor who arrived on scene before police and testified Zimmerman told him he shot Martin because he was defending himself. Sean Noffke was the dispatcher Zimmerman was speaking with the night of the shooting who said he did not think Zimmerman was angry.
There were the Sanford investigators who didn’t find any significant inconsistencies in the various statements Zimmerman made to police. Lead detective Chris Serino would take it a step further and say he thought Zimmerman was telling the truth.
A comment the state argued was “improper” prompting the Judge to instruct the jury to ignore it which meant they got to hear it again as it was struck from the record. During its hours-long cross examination of the state’s star witness Rachel Jeantel defense co-counsel Don West would seize upon the words she said Martin used to describe Zimmerman: “creepy a** cracker”.
“It was racial because Trayvon Martin put race into it,” he declared. The jurors also received a college lecture-style explanation about what they need to consider when deciding if someone was acting in self defense by way of state witness Captain Alexis Carter, a US Army prosecutor and former Zimmerman criminal justice professor at Seminole State College.