SANFORD, Fla. -- Testimony in the second week of the George Zimmerman trial begins Monday with an expected shift by prosecutors toward witnesses that will testify on the scientific evidence they have against a former neighbor watch leader charged in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.
Prosecutors have yet to call forensics experts or investigators that performed testing on the handgun Zimmerman used to shoot the teenager during an altercation between the two last year.
That testimony will shed more light on the positioning of Martin and Zimmerman at the time of the shooting.
More than 20 witnesses testified during the opening week of a trial that has opened up national debates about race, equal justice, self-defense and gun control.
Zimmerman has said he fatally shot 17-year-old Martin in February 2012 in self-defense as the Miami-area black teenager was banging his head into the concrete sidewalk behind the townhomes in a gated community. Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder and has pleaded not guilty.
Zimmerman defense attorney Mark O'Mara said at the end of last week that the trial was progressing at a faster pace than anticipated, but that he was reserving judgment on the prosecution's case so far.
"We're in the middle of it. They've got a lot more to show. These things build up slow, and it's sort of like pieces of a puzzle," O'Mara said. "People say, `wait a minute, I can't see the picture yet.' They're very good prosecutors, they're gonna do very good job, and they're gonna put on their evidence. We'll see how it goes. We're certainly ready to respond to it."
Zimmerman, 29, could get life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder. The state argued during its opening statement that Zimmerman profiled and followed Martin in his truck and called a police dispatch number before he and the teen got into a fight.
Zimmerman has denied the confrontation had anything to do with race, as Martin's family and their supporters have claimed.
Over the first five days of testimony, jurors heard 911 calls from neighbors that included cries for help and the fatal gunshot. Zimmerman's attorneys are adamant that he is the one screaming on the recordings, while Martin's parents have said it's their son.
Jurors also listened to more than six hours of testimony from Martin's friend Rachel Jeantel, who testified that she was talking on the phone with the teen as the fight started.
She testified that Martin told her he was being followed by "a creepy-ass cracker." But it was her testy cross-examination exchanges with defense attorney Don West that commanded the most attention.
West attacked inconsistencies in multiple statements she gave attorneys and law enforcement officials about what she heard, including whether she heard Martin say "Get off! Get off!"
There also was conflicting testimony from neighbors that witnessed parts of the struggle between Martin and Zimmerman. Some said it appeared the larger Zimmerman was straddling Martin, but neighbor Jonathan Good said it appeared Martin was on top.
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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.