Judge allows state to refer to George Zimmerman as 'vigilante,' 'wannabe cop'
Updated On: Jun 21 2013 11:54:17 PM EDT
The judge in the George Zimmerman case ruled on Friday that the state can refer to Zimmerman as a "vigilante" and "wannabe cop," along with saying Zimmerman confronted and profiled Trayvon Martin.
Judge Debra Nelson ruled that the state should not say Zimmerman racially profiled Martin, but the state can say Martin was "profiled."
"If they don't prove it, they don't prove it. And you'll bring it to that jury's attention in closing argument," Nelson said.
"We don't intend to say he (Trayvon Martin) was solely profiled by race," said state prosecutor John Guy, agreeing that they won't call Zimmerman a "self-appointed Neighborhood Watch captain." "They can be profiled by their age, by their dress, the car that they drive, the location and timing that they're in a certain place. So that is not a racially charged term unless its made so, and we don't intend to make it a racially charged term."
The defense filed the motion regarding inflammatory language in hopes of barring the use of certain terms, such as "profiling," and "wannabe cop."
According to evidence filed earlier this month, Zimmerman had applied to be a police officer in Prince William County in the Washington-metropolitan and was rejected. The state says Prince William County is in Maryland but the county doesn't appear to exist in the state, however, there is a Prince William County in Virginia.
"We have tried so hard in this case not to make it what everybody outside the courthouse may want it to be," said Zimmerman attorney Mark O'Mara. "It was quite apparent, when you use the term profiling, its like peanut butter and jelly. Profiling and racial. In a case of this magnitude."
Zimmerman's attorneys are trying to limit what prosecutors could tell jurors about their client.
"We have had in recent history in this Central Florida area an absurdity of how to handle an opening statement where information was presented that never came into court," O'Mara said, likely referring to unproven claims made by Casey Anthony's lawyers that she was sexually abused.
We have had in recent history in this Central Florida area an absurdity of how to handle an opening statement where information was presented that never came into court.
Nelson said she will issue a written ruling after a Frye hearing concluded the day before. The hearing was focused on the audio experts testifying about the screams heard in the background of neighbors' 911 calls, was previously held on June 8 and earlier this week, but no decision was made.
Zimmerman waived his right to appear in court Friday morning, where other pretrial motions were discussed.
O'Mara, who is Local 6's former legal analyst, rehashed the defense motion for sanctions against the state. The defense seeks more than just money for state concealment of Trayvon Martin's phone evidence and wants relaxation of authentication rules for what's on the phone. Nelson said she wouldn't rule on the sanctions at this time.
Defense attorney Don West tried to introduce exhibits into evidence in the Frye hearing, but judge refused and said she would only consider testimony and evidence introduced over the four-day hearing.
"We are running in circles ," Nelson said as West argued with her about introducing new exhibits. "If you want my Frye order today, I can't sit here in court all day."
The hearing ended after about 45 minutes. Opening statements will begin Monday at 9 a.m. and the jury will be sequestered starting Monday.
The state audio experts in question are Dr. Alan Reich, who says he hears Trayvon Martin saying "I'm begging you" in the background of the 911 calls, and New Jersey audio forensic expert Tom Owen, the expert who excluded Zimmerman as the source of the screams in the 911 calls.
Owen testified via video chat on Thursday, saying that he's testified opposite of the defense's expert several times, including one case in 1999.
Defense attorney Don West questioned Owen on if he used the same software in the 1999 case, to which Owen said he used one of the two software in the case.
Prosecutor Richard Mantei made closing arguments for the state, saying Owen and Reich are both experienced in their field and spent hours analyzing the audio tapes. He said that Reich's methodology was not "new or novel," which is what a Frye hearing determines.
Mantei also broke down each of the defense's witnesses--George Doddington, Peter French and Jim Wayman-- and compared their experience and studies to the state audio experts.
He said the judge should let the jury decide if the experts have credibility.
In West's closing arguments, he said the defense has been scrambling to get state audio experts' testimony in the case. West said Owen never prepared a report and was unable to get a deposition from him because of the price.
West said the defense learned of Reich in the last discovery order and received his report on May 10.
"We still don't know what his (Reich's) methods are and what his findings were," West said, adding that no other expert has heard what Reich reportedly heard.
West said analyzing the 911 audio calls was a "waste of time" and said Reich's report should begin "it was a dark and stormy night," because it lacks scientific evidence.
In rebuttal, Mantei said the hearing is not an "acronym contest" and that a Ph.D. is not needed to analyze audio samples.
Wayman was unable to testify for the defense at the June 8 hearing, prompting the hearing delay.He testified on Wednesday that he was baffled by Reich's methodology in his testing.
He also said looping audio for analysis, as Owen did, is not accurate. Wayman said software doesn't exist, calling it "breathtakingly new" when West asked if the methodology would be new and novel.
The six-person jury and 4-person alternate jury was seated earlier Thursday afternoon after nearly nine days of questioning.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin during a struggle in a gated community where he lived. He is pleading not guilty, claiming self-defense.
Martin's family claim the cries came from the teen while Zimmerman's father has testified they were those of his son.