Opening statements begin Monday in George Zimmerman trial

Zimmerman charged in death of Trayvon Martin

SANFORD, Fla. - Opening statements will begin Monday in the trial of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who is accused of killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The shooting death of Martin touched off civil rights rallies across the country until Sanford police arrested Zimmerman 44 days later.

SPECIAL SECTION: George Zimmerman Trial

In a videotaped reenactment, the Sanford neighborhood watch coordinator said he shot the unarmed Miami Gardens teenager in self-defense after a scuffle.

"My head was on the cement and he just kept slamming and slamming," said Zimmerman.

On that February night, Martin was walking back from 7-Eleven to his father's place with a bag of Skittles and an Arizona-brand fruit drink when he caught Zimmerman's eye.

Martin was on his cell phone with a young woman identified solely as "Witness 8."

"He said this man is still following him behind the car," the witness said.

Here's what she told prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda (BDLR) about that phone call:
BDLR: What do you hear Trayvon saying?
Witness 8: Why are you following me for?

Next thing she knows, the phone cuts off. In the meantime, dispatchers received a 911 call capturing cries for help and the confrontation's deadly ending.

Zimmerman is now on trial for second-degree murder. It took 9 days for both sides to settle on a jury of 6. All are women and all but one are white.

GUIDE: George Zimmerman trial jurors' profiles

"We believe that this case has always been about equal justice," said Martin family attorney Ben Crump. "Equal justice under the law is not a black value, it's not a white value, it's an American value."

In an order released Saturday morning, Judge Debra Nelson ruled that two state audio experts will be excluded the from trial after finding how they applied their techniques is not generally accepted by the scientific community.

It includes one expert who said he could hear Trayvon Martin saying, "I'm begging you" in the short bursts of screaming heard on the 911 call, and another who concluded the screams were not made by George Zimmerman.

The calls can be played for the jury, however, and people familiar to the defendant and Martin are allowed to testify to the identity of the screams.

MORE: Experts opine on judge's order: 'A victory for the defense'

Opening statements begin Monday and Orlando-based criminal defense attorney Diana Tennis explains what you can expect from both sides.

Reporter's Notebook: What to expect from opening statements

Local 10's Christina Vazquez has been covering the Zimmerman trial since the start of jury selection. She will report live from Sanford on Local 10 News.

SPECIAL SECTION: George Zimmerman Trial

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