(SANFORD, Fla.) — The prosecution rested their second-degree murder case against George Zimmerman on Friday and his legal team immediately asked the judge throw out all charges, arguing that the state had failed to present evidence proving that he murdered Trayvon Martin.
The judge swiftly rejected the argument, but not before both sides made emotional legal arguments that are usually reserved for summations at the end of a trial.
In an impassioned plea, Zimmerman’s defense attorney Mark O’Mara stated that the state did not produce direct or circumstantial evidence that Zimmerman acted with “ill-will or spite,” the Florida requirements for second degree murder.
“There is not a scintilla of evidence to support that,” O’Mara said referring to the implication that Zimmerman acted out of “ill-will and spite.”
“He has the undeniable injuries that reference nothing other than an attack by Trayvon Martin,” O’Mara said.
“You cannot look at that picture of my client’s nose and say he wasn’t beaten in the face,” he said. O’Mara said the court would draw a similar conclusion by looking at the photos showing the back of Zimmerman’s bloody head.
Zimmerman “did not land one blow… all he did was scream for help,” O’Mara said.
Prosecutor Rich Mantei told the judge that Zimmerman “had enough in his heart to stop his trip to the grocery store…to get out of his car in the rain, follow him, and then as the witnesses make clear, pursue him and grab him.”
“There are two people involved here. One of them is dead and one of them is a liar,” the prosecutor said.
Mantei hammered at what he said are inconsistencies in Zimmerman’s story, saying he “flat out lied” about being unaware of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Mantei asked how could a jury be expected “to take his word about anything.”
The request to end the controversial trial followed the testimony of the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on Trayvon Martin’s body and the teens mother and brother who said they could hear him screaming for help on 911 calls made before he died.
Dr. Shiping Bao testified after Martin’s mother and brother took the stand as the prosecution neared completion of its case against Zimmerman.
Bao told the court that Martin, 17, was shot in the heart and said, “There was no chance he could survive.”
The medical examiner said that Martin would have lived anywhere from one minute to 10 minutes after being shot as his beating heart ran out of blood to pump.
“His brain is still alive?” prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda asked.
“Yes,” Bao replied.
“He can still feel pain in other words?” the prosecutor asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
De la Rionda asked whether Martin would have been able to move after he was wounded.
“From my experience and another autopsy we did three weeks ago, I don’t believe he could move,” Bao said.
Bao’s claim that Martin would have been unable to move could cast doubt on Zimmerman’s version of what happened during their violent confrontation on Feb. 26, 2012.
Zimmerman, who is being tried on charges of second degree murder, has maintained that he shot Martin after he was knocked down and beaten by Martin and the teenager went for Zimmerman’s gun. After the shot was fired, Martin sat up and said, “You got me,” Zimmerman told police and media.
Bao’s claim that the wound would have immediately incapacitated Martin is the latest example of what the prosecution says are discrepancies in Zimmerman’s version of what happened that night
But Zimmerman’s lawyer, Don West, got Bao to say during cross examination that it may have been possible for Martin to move a little after he was shot. “But only one person in this world knows,” Bao added.
Bao’s credibility took a hit when he admitted that he had changed his opinion on several elements. He originally estimated that Martin may have lived for as long as three minutes, but that was lengthened to as long as 10 minutes. He also said he changed his opinion about the effect of THC from marijuana in Martin’s body.
Bao’s testimony followed the mother and brother of Martin who both took the stand and told jurors that they could hear him scream for help on 911 calls made just before he died.
“That scream, do you recognize that?” de la Rionda asked Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton.
“Yes, it’s Trayvon Benjamin Martin,” she answered.
Prosecutors hoped that the testimony of Martin’s mother and brother may have an emotional and convincing impact on the jury and that the jurors would tie their words to the opinion of FBI audio expert Hirotaka Nakasone who testified earlier in the trial that it was not possible to definitively identify the voice using available acceptable technology.
Nakasone said the best person to identify the voice would be someone who is intimately familiar with the voice.
During cross examination defense attorney Mark O’Mara asked Fulton if she hoped it would be her son, because if it wasn’t her that could mean he was responsible for his death, O’Mara said.
“I heard my son screaming,” Fulton replied. “I didn’t hope for anything. I simply listened to the tape.”
It’s not clear what impact it could have the jury, which consists of six women.
A major point of contention in the trial is who was heard screaming for help in the background of 911 tapes the night Martin was killed. Fulton claims it was her son, while Zimmerman’s father insists that it is his son’s voice that is heard.
Moments before she began her testimony, Fulton tweeted, “I pray that God gives me strength to properly represent my Angel Trayvon. He may not be perfect but he’s mine. I plead the blood of Jesus for healing.”
Trayvon Martin’s brother, Jahvaris Fulton, also told the jury that the voice on the tape was that of his brother.
But under cross examination, O’Mara played a tape of an interview with Jahvaris Fulton in which Fulton is heard saying “I’m not sure” when asked if that was his brother screaming. The jury was out of the courtroom at the time the tape was played. It’s not clear whether they will be allowed to hear it at some point.
O’Mara had asked Jahvaris Fulton whether or not he had ever doubted that the screams were from his brother.
“When we heard it in the mayor’s office I didn’t want to believe it was him. It was clouded by shock and denial and sadness. I didn’t want to believe it was him,” the brother said.
Before the day’s testimony was over, O’Mara put Zimmerman’s mother, Gladys Zimmerman on the stand, replayed the 911 tapes and asked her if she recognized the voice that was screaming.
“My son, George,” she replied. When asked how she could be sure, she answered, “Because he is my son.”
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