By Barbara Liston
SANFORD, Florida (Reuters) – Jurors are expected to hear neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman’s description of how he shot unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in a Florida murder trial that moved into the second week of testimony on Monday.
Zimmerman gave several statements to police, including one just after he shot Martin during a fight in a gated community in the central Florida town of Sanford on February 26 last year, and another taken during a videotaped re-enactment the next day.
It is not yet known whether Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, will testify at his trial on a charge of second-degree murder in the racially charged case that triggered civil rights protests and debates about the treatment of black Americans in the U.S. justice system.
The trial resumed on Monday morning in a Seminole County criminal courtroom with testimony from an FBI voice analysis expert, Hirotaka Nakasone. He testified that a recorded 911 emergency call “is not fit for the purpose of voice comparison” to determine who was screaming for help – either Zimmerman or Martin – during the scuffle that ended with Martin’s death.
The trial is scheduled to run through Wednesday then take a break on Thursday for the Independence Day holiday. Circuit Judge Debra Nelson said court would resume on Friday.
Zimmerman, 29, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and could face life in prison if convicted. He says he killed Martin in self-defense after Martin attacked him and smashed his head into a sidewalk at the Retreat at Twin Lakes community.
Martin, 17, was a student at a Miami-area high school and a guest of one of the homeowners. He was returning after buying snacks at a convenience store when he was shot in the chest during a confrontation with Zimmerman.
Zimmerman was a member of the neighborhood watch and called police to report a suspicious person. Prosecutors claim he profiled Martin and chased after him vigilante-style rather than wait for police to arrive.
In order to win a second-degree murder conviction, prosecutors would have to convince the six women on the jury that Zimmerman acted with “ill will” or “hatred” and “an indifference to human life.”
Four former neighbors testified last week about what they could see and hear during the fatal argument on a rainy, dark night. Three said they thought Zimmerman was on top during the scuffle and one said Martin was on top.
None said they heard a crude death threat that Zimmerman says Martin made moments before he shot him.
Jurors also heard from a childhood friend who was talking on the phone with Martin moments before his death. She quoted Martin as saying a “creepy” man was following him and that she heard Martin yell “get off, get off” before the call went dead.
But the 19-year-old admitted lying when she said she was a minor and when she said she had missed Martin’s funeral because she was in the hospital.
Jurors were expected to hear this week from the lead police investigator in the case and the coroner who conducted the autopsy on Martin’s body.
(Writing by Jane Sutton; Editing by Grant McCool)
[A picture of George Zimmerman on the night of the Trayvon Martin shooting is projected for the jury in this State evidence video in Sanford]