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Entries in George Zimmerman (93)

Sunday
Jul142013

George Zimmerman to Get His Gun Back

Gary W. Green-Pool/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- George Zimmerman will get his gun back now that he has been cleared of murder and his lawyer said Sunday that Zimmerman needs the weapon "even more" than before.

Zimmerman's lawyer Mark O'Mara also practically dared the family of Trayvon Martin to file a widely expected civil suit against him, but said that Zimmerman might be filing lawsuits of his own.

O'Mara, in an exclusive interview with ABC News, suggested that Zimmerman has no regrets about carrying a gun on Feb. 26, 2012, the night he killed Martin, a teenager.

Prosecutors in their closing argument had said that Zimmerman getting out of his car with a loaded gun to follow the teenager led to Martin's shooting. He was acquitted Saturday night of murder in Martin's death in a case that has sparked widespread outrage among supporters of the Martin family.

The lawyer said Zimmerman, 29, will be entitled to get his Kel Tec 9 pistol back.

"Yes, he does," O'Mara said. "The concealed weapons permit is another matter because that's a decision by another state agency and they will make that decision."

He said that Zimmerman intends to rearm himself. When asked if he would carry a gun, O'Mara said, 'Yes. [There's] even more reason now, isn't there? There are a lot of people out there who actually hate him, though they shouldn't."

The former neighborhood watch captain wears a protective vest when he goes out in public, although he didn't wear it to court, O'Mara said.

Zimmerman does not believe that having a gun caused Martin's death, his lawyer said.

"I think that he feels truly in his heart that if he did not have that weapon that night he might not be here.... [He] would have continued to get beat even though he was screaming for help."

Zimmerman is expected to have other court battles, some that he might initiate.

"I think there are going to be a number of civil suits. I would be very surprised if any of those civil suits are filed against George Zimmerman and we welcome them," O'Mara said.

He indicated that Zimmerman may file suits against others, however.

"There are a number of events that happened during this case and the way certain people handled it that we may need to hold responsible. We'll see," O'Mara said.

Zimmerman's lawyer suggested that his client might want to move to another part of the country.
"If I was him I would go somewhere else," O'Mara said.

He said Zimmerman will be unable to find a job.

"I don't think he can work. I don't think anyone can hire him... George is a pariah," his lawyer said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul142013

George Zimmerman Prosecution Petition Overwhelms NAACP Website

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- An NAACP petition calling for a federal prosecution of George Zimmerman collected 225,000 signatures in the hours after he was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin Saturday night, but the effort was temporarily cut short when the site crashed under the heavy traffic.

The rush to add to the petition -- which had more than 350,000 signatures by noon Sunday -- was match by the outpouring of anger on social media.

Protests, which police had feared could turn violent, were muted, but the rhetoric was impassioned and often framed around the issue of race. Zimmerman, 29, is a white Hispanic and Martin, 17, was black.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a statement that put the onus on gun laws.

"Sadly, all the facts in this tragic case will probably never be known. But one fact has long been crystal clear: 'shoot first' laws like those in Florida can inspire dangerous vigilantism and protect those who act recklessly with guns," Bloomberg said. "Such laws – drafted by gun lobby extremists in Washington – encourage deadly confrontations by enabling people to shoot first and argue 'justifiable homicide' later."

Immediately after Saturday night's acquittal, the NAACP said it was "outraged" by the Florida jury's verdict and called on the Justice Department to prosecute Martin for civil rights violations.

The civil rights organization also posted a petition on their site calling for the prosecution.

"The most fundamental of civil rights -- the right to life – was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin," the petition read. "We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation. Please address the travesties of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin by acting today."

Zimmerman shot and killed Martin in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman, 29, maintains he shot Martin, 17, in self-defense, while the state argued that Zimmerman "profiled" Martin and concluded he was a criminal.

NAACP spokesman Derek Turner told ABCNews.com that the petition garnered approximately 225,000 signatures between the hours of 11 p.m. Saturday and 3 a.m. Sunday.

Sometime overnight, the NAACP's website crashed, Turner said, because of "too many viewers and too many hits."

The NAACP's website was still inaccessible as of this morning, and Turner said the organization is working to get it back up and running. He did not know how long the website had been down, but he was last able to access it around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, he said.

The same petition was also made available on MoveOn.org in partnership with the NAACP early Sunday morning. It gained more than 130,000 supporters by noon Sunday.

"Our members, like so many Americans, are outraged at the verdict. Justice has not been served. The facts are clear: a 17-year-old boy is dead because George Zimmerman shot him. This is a sad day for our country and our justice system," MoveOn.org Civic Action executive director Anna Galland said in a statement.

An investigation had previously been opened by the Justice Department, and the department said Saturday night, "The department continues to evaluate the evidence generated during the federal investigation, as well as the evidence and testimony from the state trial."

ABC News anchor Dan Abrams said it is unlikely the civil rights division will file charges against Zimmerman "because they can't win."

"There will be a federal investigation. They will publicly discuss it. The civil rights division will not file.” Abrams said. “They won't win, and they know that."

Police departments across south Florida had been braced for possible violence in response to the acquittal, but while reaction in social media has been heated the handful of protests in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta were muted and peaceful.

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Martin family, acknowledged the disappointment of Trayvon Martin's supporters, but he urged them not to resort to violence.

"For Trayvon to rest in peace, we must all be peaceful," Crump said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul142013

Martin Family in ‘Disbelief’ Over Verdict, Says Family Attorney

ABC's This Week(SANFORD, Fla.) -- Trayvon Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump said on ABC’s This Week that the family is “in disbelief” after the jury delivered a “not guilty” verdict on Saturday night in the George Zimmerman second-degree murder trial.

“They are still in disbelief about his death and now they are in disbelief about this verdict,” Crump told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.

“They are trying to make sense of it,” Crump added. “They want people to know that they’re going to continue to fight for the legacy of their son, that he had every right to walk home from the 7-Eleven and not expect to be profiled and followed by a strange man.  ”

The case made headlines last year when Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, claimed self-defense after fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012 in Sanford, Fla.

Sunday, the Martin family attorney said it would be “intellectually dishonest” not to acknowledge the “racial undertones in this case.”

“When prosecutor John Guy said if the roles were reversed, and Trayvon Martin would have followed and profiled and shot George in the heart, what would the verdict have been?  And that’s the question that everybody is asking,” Crump said on This Week. “That’s why the whole world was watching this case to see if everybody can get equal justice, not just certain people.”

Sunday morning, Crump also reflected on the broader implications of the case.

“We do want people to know that children should be able to live on this earth, walk on this earth, and not feel that they’re going to be profiled by what they wear or what ethnicity they belong to,” he said. “That has to be something we have to progress from to go from here.”

The trial began on June 24 and attorneys completed their closing arguments on July 12. The jury of 6 women deliberated for just 16 hours before handing down the verdict.

Martin’s family members weren’t in the courtroom when the verdict was read, but reacted on Twitter Saturday night. Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, expressed his disappointment with the verdict, tweeting, “Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY.”

Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, tweeted ”Lord during my darkest hour I lean on you. You are all that I have. At the end of the day, GOD is still in control. Thank you all for your prayers and support. I will love you forever Trayvon!!! In the name of Jesus!!!”

Crump said on This Week that the family is considering additional legal options, including a civil lawsuit.

“They are certainly going to look at that as an option,” Crump said. “They deeply want a sense of justice. They deeply don’t want their son’s death to be in vain.”

Zimmerman, 29, exhibited little reaction in the courtroom when the verdict was announced after 10 p.m. on Saturday, shaking hands with his attorneys. He later hugged family members before he left the courthouse after being cleared of all charges.

The verdict prompted demonstrations and vigils around the country on Saturday night. It appears that most of the protests were peaceful, however there were reports of vandalism in Oakland, Calif.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul142013

Jurors in Zimmerman Trial to Remain Anonymous 

Gary W. Green-Pool/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- In the aftermath of the George Zimmerman verdict everyone was heard from either by news conference, television interview or by tweet - except the jurors.

The identities of the six women who decided that Zimmerman was innocent of murder or manslaughter in the death of Trayvon Martin were sealed at the start of the racially charged trial. The court and the sheriff reminded the media after the trial that the court order not to reveal their identities is still in effect.

The roll call of the jurors sounds like a moment from a Bingo game - B76, B37, E6, B29, E40 and B51. And during the trial the camera in the courtroom was careful to never show their faces.

There is no indication that the women will explain their verdict in public any time soon.

"Jurors were given packets of letters from the media containing interview requests. They expressed no interest at this time," the court spokeswoman tweeted out Sunday.

The court also tweeted a warning shortly after the verdict was announced, saying, "Any attempt to identify jurors is a violation of the current order."

The warning was bolstered by a release from the Seminole County Sheriff's office reminding the media that the identities of the jurors "remain protected by order of the court."

"Jury has no desire to speak to media," the sheriff's office stated pointedly.

"The media should not, at any time, attempt to video and/or broadcast the jurors, the transport or personal vehicles used, or any locations/venues where the jurors may be staying or visiting.

"Any media currently at locations where they believe jurors could be located should depart the area immediately," the sheriff's office stated.

The women who sat through the nearly month-long trial ranged in age from their early 30s to women in their 60s. Four of the women either have experience with guns or relatives who are gun owners. Two of them share a passion for rescuing animals. Five of them are white and the sixth is a minority, believed to be Hispanic. Five of them were mothers.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul142013

Outraged NAACP Wants Feds to Prosecute George Zimmerman

Gary W. Green-Pool/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- The NAACP was "outraged" over the not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial and called on the Department of Justice to prosecute Zimmerman for shooting Trayvon Martin.

"We are outraged and heartbroken over [Saturday’s] verdict," NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said in a statement.

"We will pursue civil rights charges with the Department of Justice, we will continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground laws in every state, and we will not rest until racial profiling in all its forms is outlawed," Jealous said.

A civil rights probe had previously been opened by the Department of Justice and a spokeswoman said the department would continue to "evaluate the evidence generated during the federal investigation, as well as the evidence and testimony from the state trial."

Zimmerman shot and killed Martin in Sanford, Fla. on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman, 29, maintains he shot Martin, 17, in self-defense, while the state argued that Zimmerman "profiled" Martin and concluded he was a criminal.

The case took on racial overtones after police declined to charge Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic. Martin was black.

Police in Florida had braced for the verdict, but there was no outburst of violence.

Sanford Police Department Investigator Ronny Neal said it was "very quiet."

"We have people patrolling right now, nothing different than usual. Nothing out of the ordinary," he said. In Miami and other south Florida cities, police created places for people to peacefully protest, monitoring social media and urging people to remain calm.

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Martin family, acknowledged the disappointment of Trayvon Martin's supporters, but he urged them not to resort to violence.

"For Trayvon to rest in peace, we must all be peaceful," Crump said.

Hundreds of demonstrators wiped away tears and expressed disbelief outside of the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford after the jury's verdict was read Saturday night.

A woman named Barbara told ABC News she had traveled from Georgia to be outside the courthouse for the verdict.

"I just thought we were going to get some kind of justice," she said, calling it a "cruel system."
Martin's parents were not in the courtroom when the verdict was read, however his father, Tracy Martin, tweeted after that he was "brokenhearted."

"Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered I WILL ALWAYS LOVE MY BABY TRAY," Martin wrote.

"Thanks to everyone who are with us and who will be with us so we together can make sure that this doesn't happen again," he said.

Rev. Jesse Jackson tweeted that the "American legal system has once again failed justice," but urged his followers to "avoid violence."

"We are saddened and disappointed by this decision. It is a pattern involving young black men that is too often repeating itself," Jackson wrote.

"Avoid violence, it will lead to more tragedies," he wrote. "Find a way for self construction not deconstruction in this time of despair."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jul132013

Zimmerman Jury Resumes Deliberation on Saturday Morning

Photo by Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- The six female jurors resumed closed door discussions to determine George Zimmerman's fate at a courthouse in Sanford, Fla., on Saturday morning, deciding whether the neighborhood watch volunteer committed a crime when he fatally shot Trayvon Martin.

The jury deliberated for over three hours on Friday before they adjourned at about 6 p.m. Before they left for the evening, the jury requested a list of the evidence presented by both sides. They resumed deliberation promptly at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Zimmerman could be found guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter, or he could be acquitted.

The jury is expected to pause deliberations between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday so that the jurors can eat lunch on site.

Zimmerman, whose facial expressions have been emotionless during the trial, appeared to smile in court on Saturday as Judge Debra Nelson spoke to the jurors shortly before instructing them to resume deliberations.

Zimmerman, 29, maintains that he shot Martin, 17, in self-defense on Feb. 26, 2012. If convicted of the most serious charge he could be sentenced to life in prison.

His attorneys told ABC News that he is worried about the prospects about possibly spending the rest of his life behind bars or, if acquitted, a life in hiding. He has spent the last few days huddled with family as he awaits the verdict.

According to ABC News Chief Legal Affairs Analyst, Dan Abrams, the jury is likely to find Zimmerman guilty if they base their decision on emotion, whereas a verdict based on the "letter of the law" is more likely to result in an acquittal.

A verdict, which must be unanimous amongst the six female jurors, could be reached as early as Saturday afternoon.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jul132013

Florida Police Prepare for Response to Zimmerman Verdict

Photo by Gary W. Green-Pool/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- Police in South Florida are bracing for the verdict in the racially charged George Zimmerman murder trial, creating places for people to peacefully protest, monitoring social media and urging people to remain calm.

"It's a trying time for all of us. We're not sure what the verdict is going to bring but it's a great opportunity for evolution of the Sanford community," Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith said at a news conference Friday as the jury began its deliberations.

Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Sanford on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman, 29, maintains he shot Martin, 17, in self-defense, while the state argued that Zimmerman "profiled" Martin and concluded he was a criminal.

The case took on racial overtones after police declined to charge Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic. Martin was black.

Zimmerman was charged with murder nearly two months later by a special prosecutor appointed by the state.

Because of the tension over the case, the judge initially said she will delay the announcement of the jury's eventual verdict by two hours to give police ample time to prepare for security. It's not clear if that is still the plan.

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Martin's family, told ABC News Friday that he did not expect violence.

"I certainly don't think Trayvon Martin supporters are going to be emotionally overcharged to act out in a way that's not responsible because they were very emotional when we were trying to get an arrest, and they were very peaceful, there was no violence," he said.

The jury could let Zimmerman walk free or convict him on second degree murder or manslaughter, charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life if convicted of the most serious charge.

Smith said the aftermath of the shooting had changed the "mindset, perception of what we see in our country today."

In Sanford, a town of 50,000 people, he said law enforcement has been knocking on doors, introducing themselves to people in order to foster better relations between police and the community.

In Miami-Dade County, where Martin lived with his mother, police have launched a campaign to encourage people to "be vocal, not violent" and have designated two parks where people can assemble peacefully to express their feelings.

A "rumor control" hotline, which is being staffed 24 hours a day, was launched in the county on Friday to address any problems that may arise after the verdict has been read. Authorities also said they are monitoring social media.

In Sarasota, Fla., at a news conference, Chief Bernadette DiPino encouraged people to react in a "civil and peaceful" manner to the verdict.

"When a verdict is read, not everyone is going to be happy," she said. "We are asking the public to take part in peaceful responses and speak with their mouths, not with their hands and not use weapons of any kind."

More than 25,000 people assembled peacefully in Sanford in March 2012 to protest after police initially refused to arrest Zimmerman.

"They wanted an investigation, they asked for an arrest, they asked for charges to be made and they asked for a trial. Each of those things has taken place," Smith said.

Now, he said, "there's nothing on the horizon for us other than to move forward."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul052013

Judge Rejects Motion to Dismiss Case Against George Zimmerman

Gary W. Green-Pool/Getty Images(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."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun222013

George Zimmerman Judge Denies Use of State Audio Experts' Testimony

Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel-Pool/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- George Zimmerman, the Florida man accused of second-degree murder for the death of Trayvon Martin, was given a major legal victory less than 48 hours before opening statements begin in his highly controversial trial.

Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled Saturday that prosecutors cannot bring two audio experts to the stand who claim they heard Martin screaming for help in 911 audio moments before he died. According to the court order, "there is no evidence to establish that their scientific techniques have been tested and found reliable."

The ruling is a key boost to Zimmerman's defense that he shot and killed the unarmed teenager after a life and death struggle ensued in which the former neighborhood watch captain, not Martin, cried out for help.

As a result of the ruling, jurors will be able to hear the 911 call, but will have to decide for themselves who was screaming in the brief audio. Both witnesses are now banned from testifying in the trial that began two weeks ago with jury selection.

The judge's ruling came after several days of testimony in an unusual Frye court hearing during which Zimmerman's legal team called four witnesses to rebut the testimony of two state audio experts.

Alan Reich and Tom Owens both claimed that after spending hundreds of hours listening to the 911 audio they could hear two voices.

Reich said Martin could be heard yelling "I'm begging you" and "stop." He said Zimmerman could also be heard, but that he was not pleading for help.

George Doddington, a speech scientist brought by the Zimmerman legal team, called those claims "imaginary stuff," adding that the methodology used to detect the screams was "absurd."

FBI analyst Hirotaka Nakasone said he was "disturbed" by the state's expert conclusions, and the attempt by anyone to make a positive identification based on the screams.

Nakasone testified that dissecting the 40-second 911 sample and figuring out who exactly screamed couldn't be done because only three seconds were un-obscured.

"[The sample] has to be at least 16 seconds long," Nakasone said. "American English has 44 different sounds. To cover all those it takes 20 to 30 seconds."

"The 911 call is probably the best evidence of what happened that night besides George Zimmerman's testimony and Trayvon's," legal analyst Bill Schaefer said earlier, adding that of course Martin wouldn't be able to testify and explain his version of events.

An all-female jury was selected for the trial, which begins Monday with opening statements. Six jurors were chosen from a potential pool of hundreds over nine days. They will be sequestered for the length of the trial, which could last between two and four weeks.

Prosecutors accuse Zimmerman of profiling Martin, a 17-year-old high school student who was staying in the Twin Lakes Retreat subdivision in Sanford while serving a suspension from a Miami high school. They allege Martin was walking through the gated community on his way back to the home of his father's girlfriend after leaving a convenience store when he was spotted and followed by Zimmerman.

Zimmerman admits to killing Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, but says he did so in self defense. When Zimmerman reported Martin to a non-emergency dispatcher he was told not to follow the teen and that they were sending a car. What happened next remains unclear.

Zimmerman claims that he did not follow the teen and that Martin confronted him and knocked him down. He claims Martin banged his head on the sidewalk several times and that the two struggled over Zimmerman's gun until he pulled the trigger.

Nelson ruled Friday that when opening statements begin, prosecutors will be able to tell the jury that Martin was profiled by Zimmerman, but that they should avoid characterizing the profiling as "racial." They can also say Zimmerman was a "wannabe cop," use the word "vigilante" and say that he confronted Martin.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jun092013

Expert Says It's 'Imaginary' to Hear Trayvon Martin Pleas on 911 Call

Photo by Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- A speech scientist said on Saturday that it was "imaginary stuff" to assert that Trayvon Martin could be heard pleading for help on 911 tapes the night he was killed in a confrontation with George Zimmerman, who is accused of murder in Martin's death.

The testimony came in an unusual court hearing, in which Zimmerman's defense team called two witnesses in an effort to rebut the testimony Friday of witnesses who said that Martin pleaded for help before he was shot and killed by the former neighborhood watch captain.

The defense questioned the methodology used to detect Martin's supposed howls and pleas on 911 calls made by frightened neighbors who witnessed the fatal altercation on Feb. 26, 2012.

Two forensic analysts said Friday that they detected, one by using a limited voice sample of the Florida teenager, Martin screaming for help on 911 audio moments before he was shot and killed by Zimmerman.

"That's imaginary stuff," speech scientist George Doddington said when asked by defense attorney Mark O'Mara about state witness Alan Reich's testimony that he picked up Martin screaming "I'm begging you" on 911 audio.

Doddington called the methodology used to detect the audio "absurd."

The expected final witness in the hearing to determine whether a jury will hear testimony that Martin screamed for help before he died got stuck on an airport tarmac.

The announcement by Judge Debra Nelson was followed by a court recess that will end with the first day of jury selection Monday as the second-degree murder trial of Zimmerman begins.

ABC News exclusively obtained a sample of Martin's voice and sent the very short sample taken from his cell phone, in which he can be heard horsing around with friends, to a forensic analyst.

Kent Gibson of Forensic Audio tells ABC News that a comparison of Martin's voice, Zimmerman's voice and the screams on the 911 tape, indicate the voice is more likely to be Zimmerman than Martin. But neither result reaches the 60 percent threshold of certainty Gibson said he needed to be assured.

Gibson noted much of the howling and pleading overheard on that 911 tape is muffled or obscured, and that only two seconds of the tape are useable. He said there could not be definitive identification of "the screamer."

During Saturday's hearing, Doddington testified that ultimately humans can tell the difference between voices better than any machine. The state's counter-argument was that the jury should be presented with all sides and make the decision for themselves.

After the the hearing, the defense filed yet another motion asking that the start of the trial be delayed.

Unless the judge grants the request, the hearing will resume after a jury of six is selected. The process to find that group of men or women along with four alternates will begin Monday. There were 500 notices sent out in March across Seminole County, Fla.

The names of potential jurors in the trial will be kept confidential. In court they will be referred to only by jury number.

Nelson also ruled earlier that potential jurors will not be sequestered. It is estimated that the process of jury selection will take anywhere from one to three weeks. Of course, finding 10 people who have heard little about this controversial, highly publicized case won't be easy.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







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