On Monday, prosecutors in the 2nd degree murder trial of George Zimmerman continued to present evidence for the second week with the State of Florida calling witnesses Hirotaka Nakasone—an FBI medical examiner, Sanford Police officer Doris Singleton, and lead Sanford Police investigator Chris Serino. But it was the voice of the accused that actually took center stage for much of Monday.
Prosecutors introduced into evidence four statements Zimmerman gave to police, including a video-recorded walk-through of the Retreat at Town Lakes in Sanford, Florida on February 27, 2012— the day after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
In the evidence presented by the State of Florida during Sanford Police Officer Singleton's testimony, jurors heard Zimmerman's first police interview. In the video, he is heard saying that there had been recent crimes in that neighborhood and that he found Martin suspicious because he was standing in the yard of a neighbor and was walking "leisurely" despite the rain. The jury also heard Zimmerman say that the area where Martin was standing had been previously burglarized and therefore, his suspicion of the teenager was heightened.
On direct examination by Prosecutor Bernie De La Rionda with Sanford Police investigator Chris Serino on the stand as another witness for the State, jurors heard Zimmerman say “Who yelled for help? I did.”
Zimmerman claimed that the following exchange happened: Martin asked "You got a problem, homey?" And Zimmerman said he replied "No, I don't have a problem" and Martin said "You do now.” The defendant then said that Martin attacked him.
Jurors also heard Zimmerman say on tape that while they were fighting, Martin said "you are going to die tonight, m----- f-----" before he shot him. He also claimed that after he shot Martin, the boy said “You got me,” lifted his hands and then fell.
Although Zimmerman had previously told police that Zimmerman that he was not following Martin, on Monday the jury heard him say that he got out of his vehicle because he was trying to find a street sign to pass along better location information to the non-emergency operator.
And the jury heard Zimmerman say during an interview conducted by Officer Chris Serino something different again in that Zimmerman “wasn’t following, I was going in the same direction.”
But in an interview three days later, Zimmerman said something different and was challenged: "I wasn't following. I was just going in the same direction." "That's following, man," said Serino of the Sanford Police Department.
Serino will return to the witness stand when the trial resumes today.
ANALYSIS: Because of the evidence admitted Monday in the continuation of the State of Florida’s case in chief, the defense may not have to put Zimmerman himself on the stand. Most of the evidence heard from those video tapes seemed to allow for Zimmerman to explain his version of the events to the jury, without him taking the stand and being subject to cross-examination. The evidence played before the jury arguably hurt the State of Florida’s case and quite possibly allowed for the jury to be sympathetic with Zimmerman. This is due in part to when we heard State’s witness Officer Doris Singleton say that Zimmerman seemed surprised when she told him Martin was dead during an interview at the Sanford police station.
"He's dead?" Singleton testified she remembered Zimmerman saying before he lowered his head.
“I said, ‘I thought you knew that. I thought you knew he was dead,’” Singleton testified. “And he just kind of slung his head, just shook it.” When asked on cross examination by Zimmerman Defense Counsel Mark O'Mara as to whether or not Zimmerman showed any anger or ill will in talking about Martin, the officer said, “No."
So far throughout this trial, one could argue that the defense has continued to use the State of Florida’s witnesses to the advantage of the defense. After Monday, the State now may have to begin to think about what it takes to be “masters of characterization” when beginning to put together an effective closing argument and may want to ask the jury if the actions of George Zimmerman once he exited the car were the actions of a “reasonably prudent and responsible law-abiding citizen concealed weapons holder?”
A licensed attorney in Orlando, Florida, Joseph Haynes Davis is also a broadcaster with over 30 years of broadcast media experience. He is also the legal analyst for the State of Florida v. Zimmerman trial for the Doug Banks Show, the Andre Michael Eggelletion Show and several other national radio programs. Follow him on Twitter: @sivadmedia and @con_speaking and check out his website and political blog.