Defense may rest its case Wednesday in George Zimmerman trial

Published On: Jul 09 2013 08:14:51 AM EDT
Updated On: Jul 10 2013 06:52:54 AM EDT

What could be one of the last witnesses for the defense in George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial testifies.

SANFORD, Fla. -

What could be one of the last witnesses for the defense in George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial was called on Tuesday.

Zimmerman attorney, Local 6 legal analyst Mark O'Mara, said they will proffer a computer forensics expert after the state cross examines Daniel Schumaker about computer animation  on Tuesday after court. O'Mara said that he expects to wrap up the defense's case on Wednesday. An issue with a Monday witness, John Donnelly, will be taken up at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

[Chat recap:  Tony Pipitone in courtroom | SPECIAL SECTION:  Zimmerman trial]

Zimmerman's former neighbor, Eloise Dilligard, testified by video conference Tuesday afternoon because of an illness. Dilligard testified that she pulled in the neighborhood the night of the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting of Trayvon Martin, describing it as "very rainy." She said she saw Zimmerman's truck and crime scene tape.

Dilligard said Zimmerman looked "disfigured" in bloody nose photo shown to her by police on the night of the shooting. Right after the shooting, Dilligard said she recognized Martin's picture from seeing him around but didn't know his name.

She testified she listened to the screams on the background of the 911 call and identified them as being Zimmerman, marking her as the eighth person to identify Zimmerman.

Meanwhile the 911 calls that captured screams from a fatal fight between  Zimmerman and Martin are once again at the center of testimony in Zimmerman's trial.

The defense called Sanford city manager Norton Bonaparte as a "hostile witness" on Tuesday. Judge Debra S. Nelson allowed Zimmerman attorney Mark O'Mara to ask somewhat leading questions about the 911 calls being played for Martin's family in his office.

"Was there any discussion to play tapes separately so they would not infect one another?" O'Mara asked. "No there was not," Bonaparte said.

Bonaparte said Martin's family didn't want law enforcement in the room when the audio was played, so Bonaparte said he obliged their request. He said he played the 911 calls as a courtesy to Martin's family before releasing them to the public and didn't record the family's reactions.

The defense said the next witness will appear "in a unique way." Nelson called a bench conference.

The defense's first witness on Tuesday, Dr. Vincent DiMaio, a forensic pathologist, said Zimmerman's account of how he fatally shot Trayvon Martin is consistent with forensic evidence.

Defense attorney Don West questioned Di Maio,  who has completed 9,000 autopsies and investigated war crimes, about the packaging of Trayvon Martin's hooded sweatshirt.

"You have to dry out the material and package it in paper," Di Maio said. The medical examiner packaged the hooded sweatshirt in plastic bags.

Jurors appeared to be engaged in Di Maio's testimony during his gunpowder sequence testimony.

The state objected to jurors hearing Di Maio's curriculum vitae but Nelson allowed it into evidence.

Di Maio said he compared physical evidence to Zimmerman's statements to see if it was consistent. He said the autopsy, ballistics and scene photos are the most important.

Di Maio testified that the muzzle of Zimmerman's gun was 2-4 inches from Martin's body, not 0.4 inches to 4 feet as state witness and medical examiner  Dr. Shiping Bao estimated. Di Maio said the barrel of the gun was against Martin's hoodie but not directly against the body, supporting the defense's theory that Martin was leaning over Zimmerman with drink can pulling hoodie from skin. He said if you lean over somebody, clothing tends to fall away from the chest.

"If you lean over somebody, you'll notice the clothing tends to fall away from  the chest.  If instead you're lying on your back and somebody shoots you, the clothing is going to be against your chest," Di Maio said.

Di Maio then held up the picture of Martin's bullet wound. He said the slight left to right path of the bullet was not radical but enough for the defense to say Zimmerman's right hand was on Martin's left side when the gunshot was fired.

The weight of the fruit can in the front pouch pocket of the hoodie is further consistent with the positions of bodies as Zimmerman's account of Martin being on top of Zimmerman when he was shot, Di Maio testified.

Di Maio's fourth attack on Bao was Di Maio saying a 10-15 second oxygen reserve int he brain allows the victim to move and talk after shot. Bao had said it wasn't likely but Martin could have been able to talk.

"If I right now reached across, put my hand through your chest, grabbed your heart and ripped it out, you could stand there and talk to me for 10-15 seconds," said Di Maio.

Di Maio also said Martin was dead in one to three minutes, as opposed to Bao's estimate on one to 10 minutes, which Bao based on a recent autopsy he saw but did not conduct.

West then asked Di Maio about the abrasion on Martin's finger. Di Maio said it was consistent with hitting the concrete and that bruising isn't a definitive sign of punching.

West also asked about Zimmerman's injury potential.

"If intercranial injury is severe enough, it can kill you," Di Maio said, adding that even if pounding head on concrete is not fatal, "you're going to have some stunning effect."

Di Maio's sixth attack on Bao's findings was saying that Zimmerman's cuts on his head was from separate impacts and not one, as concrete is "unyielding" surface. He said his head injury was consistent with hitting a concrete sidewalk.

The defense did not ask Di Maio about Martin's marijuana use. It's not clear when the defense will introduce the marijuana use.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda discussed with Di Maio if he could say who started the fight or if there was a first punch. Di Maio said he's not saying Zimmerman spoke the "gospel truth."

De la Rionda, apparently aware of a jury full of animal-lovers, asked Di Maio about the animals that were shot during testing. He then asked Di Maio how much he was getting paid, which was up to $400 an hour and $2,400 up to Monday.

Di Maio said he can't identify who was screaming or if Zimmerman took the gun from holster as he claims. Di Maio also said Zimmerman's wounds aren't consistent with face-to-face shooting, even if the shirt was pulled, because the defects wouldn't line up as the do now. Di Maio did say it could be consistent with Martin pulling away from a top position just before the shot was fired.

The state suggested the head injuries on Zimmerman could have come from cutting his head on tree branches, to which Di Maio conceded one of the head injuries could have come from trees.

"You're not saying he could die from that are you?" de la Rionda asked.

"Oh no I never said that ... indicative of a hard impact," Di Maio said.

Di Maio then said someone who touched Zimmerman should have blood on their hands. Martin did not have blood on his hands.

"Police in this case should have taken Mr. Zimmerman to the hospital," Di Maio said. "You don't mess around."

The defense should pictures of blood around Martin's nipple at the scene but not in autopsy photo, speculating someone cleaned it. The state objected, which Nelson sustained.

On recross, the state showed how the blood around the nipple could have ended up inside the sweatshirt and not cleaned up.

Di Maio said he disregarded the witness statements in his analysis.

"The witnesses they're all over the place, "Di Maio said. "You can't use the witnesses to make autopsy decisions."

Before Di Maio's was brought in, Judge Debra S. Nelson inquired of Zimmerman if it was OK for his attorney, former Local 6 legal analyst Mark O'Mara, to "carve out" certain parts of DiMaio's testimony.  Zimmerman said it was.

Before testimony started on Tuesday, a hearing was held to determine if Zimmerman's attorneys can show a computer-animated reenactment of the shooting of Martin. The defense called the Daniel Shoemaker, the man who specializes in crime scene reconstruction. Another witness will also be proffered.

It's become a top goal of lawyers to convince jurors of whether he or Trayvon Martin can be heard on a 911 call. Defense attorneys called five of Zimmerman's friends Monday to testify that it was his voice yelling for help on the call.

On Monday, Zimmerman's attorneys also called two police investigators who contend Martin's father, after hearing a recording of the call, initially said it wasn't his son.

Martin's father, Tracy Martin, came to the witness stand, and he denied ever saying the screams for help weren't his son.

Convincing the jury of who was screaming for help on the tape is important to both sides because it would help jurors evaluate Zimmerman's self-defense claim.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Martin, who was shot and killed in a gated Sanford community in February 2012.

[FREE: Zimmerman App | PICS: Murder Trial | VIDEO: Skype fail | Sybrina Fulton]

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