SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman‘s attorneys are finishing up their defense of the Florida neighborhood watch volunteer charged with killing Trayvon Martin, though the judge first must rule on two requests by defense attorneys.
Zimmerman, so far, hasn’t testified. But jurors saw repeated video recordings of Zimmerman telling his side of the story to police investigators. The defense started its case last Friday. If it keeps to the schedule anticipated by defense attorney Mark O’Mara, its presentation will take about half of the time of the prosecution and call on about half as many witnesses.
Judge Debra Nelson still has to decide on two requests by the defense. One is whether to allow jurors to view an animation that depicts Zimmerman’s fight with Martin, the teenager killed in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., last year. The second issue is whether she will allow Martin’s text messages that purportedly deal with fighting. The judge said she would rule on both matters Wednesday.
Martin was unarmed and returning from a store when he was fatally shot by Zimmerman on a dark, rainy night in February 2012. Martin was black and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic. Some civil rights activists argued that the initial delay in charging Zimmerman was influenced by Martin’s race.
Prosecutors opposed the introduction of the animation, which shows Zimmerman’s version of the confrontation, saying it was inaccurate and would confuse jurors. Prosecutors also don’t want jurors to learn about the texts, claiming they are misleading and prejudicial.
Defense attorney Don West argued late Tuesday that the texts were relevant because “it relates to his physical capabilities, his knowledge of fighting.”
As an evidence hearing with jurors out of the courtroom dragged past 10 p.m. Tuesday, defense attorney Don West complained that the defense hadn’t been given Martin’s cellphone data by prosecutors in a timely manner, which would have allowed them to authenticate the messages.
“It’s simply unfair for Mr. Zimmerman not to be able to put on his defense because of these tactics,” West said.
When a frustrated Nelson abruptly told the attorneys that she would rule Wednesday, West continued to address her after she’d officially adjourned court for the evening. He complained about a schedule that had lawyers working weekends and taking multiple depositions during the trial, for which jurors have been sequestered.
Prosecutor John Guy said jurors shouldn’t be presented with the text messages and photos of a gun found on Martin’s phone, as well as a Facebook posting from a half-brother asking Martin when he was going to teach him how to fight.
Jurors spent a significant part of Tuesday listening to a defense expert on gunshot wounds testify that the trajectory of the bullet and gunpowder on Martin’s body support Zimmerman’s account that the teenager was on top of the defendant when he shot and killed Martin.