SANFORD, Fla. -- A former neighbor of George Zimmerman testified Wednesday that she heard a boy's cry for help shortly before hearing the firing of a gun.
But Jayne Surdyka also testified on the third day of testimony in Zimmerman's murder trial that she heard multiple gunshots, "pop, pop, pop." Only one shot was fired in the fatal encounter between Zimmerman and 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
"I truly believe the second yell for help was a yelp," said Surdyka, who later dabbed away tears as prosecutors played her 911 call. "It was excruciating. I really felt it was a boy's voice."
Surdyka also told the court that before the shooting, she heard an aggressive voice and a softer voice exchanging words for several minutes.
Other neighbors also have described hearing cries for help which were captured on their calls to 911. Martin's parents have said they were those of their son, while Zimmerman's father has said he believes the cries belong to his son. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys believe they could show whether Zimmerman or Martin was the aggressor in the encounter at the Retreat at Twin Lakes townhome complex on Feb. 26, 2012. Defense attorneys successfully argued against allowing prosecution experts who claimed the cries belonged to Martin.
Also Wednesday, Judge Debra Nelson ruled that she would allow at trial five police dispatch calls Zimmerman made in the months prior to his encounter with Martin.
Prosecutors want to use the calls to bolster their argument that Zimmerman was increasingly frustrated with repeated burglaries and had reached a breaking point the night he shot the unarmed teenager. Prosecutors played the calls for the judge Tuesday with the jurors out of the courtroom.
The recordings show Zimmerman's "ill will," prosecutor Richard Mantei said.
"It shows the context in which the defendant sought out his encounter with Trayvon Martin," he said.
O'Mara argued that the calls were irrelevant and that nothing matters but the seven or eight minutes before Zimmerman fired the deadly shot into Martin's chest.
In the calls, Zimmerman identifies himself as a neighborhood watch volunteer and recounts that his neighborhood has had a rash of recent break-ins. In one call, he asks that officers respond quickly since the suspects "typically get away quickly."
In another, he describes suspicious black men hanging around a garage and mentions his neighborhood had a recent garage break-in.
Zimmerman, 29, could get life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder for gunning down Martin as the young man walked from a convenience store. Zimmerman followed him in his truck and called a police dispatch number before he and the teen got into a fight.
Zimmerman has claimed self-defense, saying he opened fire after the teenager jumped him and began slamming his head against the concrete sidewalk.
Zimmerman, whose father is white and whose mother is Hispanic, has denied the confrontation with the black teenager had anything to do with race, as Martin's family and its supporters have charged.
The family attorneys have finished speaking.
"Please respect their privacy," Crump said of the Martin family.
"Jurors were given packets of letters from the media containing interview requests. They expressed no interest at this time," Kennedy said.
"Anonymity order is still in effect... Any attempt to identify jurors is a violation of the current order," said Michelle Kennedy, Public Information Officer for the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit.
"For Trayvon to rest in peace we must all be peaceful," Benjamin Crump said.
"We are very, very saddened," Darryl Parks said.
"Jury has no desire to speak to media," said Michelle Kennedy, Public Information Officer for the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit.
Under Florida law, Zimmerman will get back this gun which he used to kill Trayvon Martin pic.twitter.com/gAk3uZ7ZuO— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) July 14, 2013
"[Martin's family] suffered a tragedy ... Nothing can bring back Trayvon Martin ... But I'm not going to shy away from the fact that the evidence showed George Zimmerman did nothing wrong," O'Mara said.
(Washington, DC)— Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence today called the verdict, “part of a tragic event that could have easily been prevented.”
Gross said, “There is sharp disagreement over the verdict, but there can be no disagreement over the reason why Trayvon Martin is dead. George Zimmerman had a gun that night, and the state of Florida allowed him to carry it virtually anywhere despite a violent history. Virtually anybody roaming our neighborhoods with hidden handguns is the gun lobby's vision, but it is not the vision of the rest of the American public, truly committed to safer communities. We will work as long, and as hard as it takes to prevent more tragedies like Trayvon Martin's. We recognize, at the end of the day, this is an enormous tragedy and a young man lost his life. Our sympathies continue to go out to Trayvon’s family.”
The Brady Campaign has been one of the leaders in fighting against “Stand Your Ground” or so called, “shoot first” laws like the one in Florida. As evidenced by the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin, these laws have deadly consequences. They promote a dangerous mentality and misperception about weapons, by overemphasizing their value in self-defense relative to the other dangers that they pose.
In the end, George Zimmerman's mentality, and what emboldened him to approach Trayvon, may be debatable. What is not debatable, though, is the fact that Trayvon Martin is dead because Zimmerman had a gun. Zimmerman was given a concealed carry permit by the state of Florida despite an arrest record and a history of violence, as a direct result of the influence of the gun lobby, and if it weren’t for that, this tragedy never would have happened.
The Brady Center, the legal arm of the Brady Campaign, has been at the forefront in fighting concealed weapons laws. They recently filed an amicus brief along with the parents of Trayvon Martin, asking the entire United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to review and reverse a 2-1 decision that held Illinois law restricting the public carrying of firearms unconstitutional.
“Allowing deadly semi-automatic weapons on the streets does not make a community safer. By arguing for a broad constitutional right to carry hidden handguns, the gun lobby wants to deprive law enforcement of the tools it needs to keep guns off the streets. The American people should be allowed to decide whether they want people like George Zimmerman carrying loaded guns in public places where their children walk home,” said Brady Center Legal Action Project Director Jonathan Lowy. “Most courts have properly recognized that reasonable public safety laws do not infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. Courts should listen to the parents of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, who lost their sons to people whose states entitled them to carry guns in public.”
The brief was filed on behalf of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence; Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, parents of Trayvon Martin; Ron Davis and Lucia McBath, parents of Jordan Davis; Major Cities Chiefs Association; and International Brotherhood of Police Officers by attorneys with the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and the firm Hogan Lovells US LLP. More information on this can be found at http://www.bradycampaign.org/?q=brady-center-victims’-families-law-enforcement-urge-federal-appeals-court-to-review-and-reverse.
O'Mara said the case should have never became a "focus for a civil rights event."
"He needs to get on with his life," O'Mara said of Zimmerman.
O'Mara said we'll have to wait and see "how many civil law suits are filed as a result of this fiasco."
O'Mara said he hopes, "everyone will respect the jury's verdict, as they should."
West just defended his knock-knock joke. He said, "I still think the joke was funny ... I'm sorry that I didn't tell it better."
West said he felt the prosecution of ZImmerman was "disgraceful."
"We are ecstatic with the results," O'Mara said.
O'Mara's letter to Eslinger expressed his "sincere thanks and appreciation" for their handling of the Zimmerman trial.
The State has finished their presser. O'Mara and West are now up.
"I believe the focus needs to be on how the system worked," Corey said.
"I am disappointed ... This is only my second murder case I have lost," De La Rionda said.
"You had a 17-year-old kid who gets accosted ... followed by an individual who wants to be a cop," De La Rionda said.
"Trayvon had every right to be on the premises ... as [did] George Zimmerman," Corey said.
Corey said the prosecution team has not yet spoken with Martin's family about the verdict.
"We charge what we believe we can prove ... so that's why we charged second-degree murder ... We did everything we possibly could," Corey said.
"I am disappointed, but we accept it," De La Rionda said.