Mothers of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman testify at murder trial
Updated On: Jul 08 2013 09:56:13 AM EDT
After a one-day break for the Fourth of July holiday, the mothers of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin both testified that the screaming heard in the background of a 911 call was their respective son.
[Chat recap: Tony Pipitone inside courtroom]
The state rested its case against Zimmerman on Friday after testimony earlier in the day from Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton. The defense, meanwhile, started its case by calling Zimmerman's mother, Gladys Zimmerman.
Gladys Zimmerman listened to the 911 call and defense attorney Mark O'Mara questioned her about the voice in the background.
"That's my son, George," she said.
O'Mara then asked how she knew whose voice it was on the call.
"Because he's my son," she replied.
Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda asked Gladys Zimmerman if she heard her son screaming before.
"Not for help," she said, but added that she is "sure that is George's voice."
Gladys Zimmerman was then excused from the courtroom.
The defense's second witness was Jorge Meza, an Orange County Courthouse deputy and Zimmerman's uncle.
Meza also testified that the voice was that of his nephew. Meza said he heard the 911 calls on the TV, unaware the news was on and immediately recognized the voice as Zimmerman.
"It hit me the way that I heard that, but more than I heard that, it hit me inside my heart, I said, 'That is George,'" Meza said.
Meza said he has heard George Zimmerman scream while playing with Meza's sons and called his scream "unique."
De la Rionda cross-examined Meza, questioning him of how much he knew about the case when he heard the calls on TV. He also asked if Meza had heard Zimmerman scream for help before.
"Not the way I did that day," Meza said, referring to the call.
Judge Debra S. Nelson then recessed court for the weekend. Court will be back in session at 9 a.m. on Monday.
Earlier Friday, prosecutors started the day by calling the mother of Martin, the teen shot and killed by Zimmerman, to the stand.
"My youngest son is Trayvon Benjamin Martin. He's in heaven," a very composed Sybrina Fulton said as she was questioned by de la Rionda.
Fulton said Martin was right-handed and described tattoos on Martin's body.
The state then played the 911 call, which included the sounds of screams in the background and the fatal gunshot, for the jurors while Fulton was on the stand.
"Who do you recognize that to be?" de la Rionda said.
"Trayvon Benjamin Martin," Fulton said.
Defense attorney Mark O'Mara cross-examined Fulton, starting off by saying, "I apologize for your loss." The state objected and Nelson instructed O'Mara to only ask questions.
O'Mara then asked where Fulton first heard the 911 call. She said she heard the call in the Sanford mayor's office. When asked, Fulton said Tracy Martin, who is Trayvon Martin's father, along with Trayvon Martin's brother, Jahvaris Fulton, Stephanie Sands, Darian Sands and attorneys Benjamin Crump and Natalie Jackson were in the office when the call was played.
O'Mara asked her if anyone had listened to the 911 tape alone and she said Martin's father had, but added that he never told her that he had listened to the recording previously. Tracy Martin initially told Sanford police that he didn't think the screams were his son's voice.
"I heard my son screaming," Fulton said upon further questioning.
"You certainly had to hope it was you son screaming in the 911 call?" O'Mara asked Fulton.
"I didn't hope for anything. I just simply listened to the tape," Fulton responded. Fulton said she was the first in the room to react.
Fulton said no one told her before the playing of the 911 call that she would be listening to screams to prepare herself for any possible "trauma."
During redirect, de la Rionda asked about the "hope" she was questioned about by the defense.
"Were you still hoping he would still be alive?" de la Rionda asked.
"I was hoping he still was alive," Fulton said.
"Did you enjoy listening to that?" de la Rionda said.
"Absolutely not," Fulton said.
O'Mara then asked, "You certainly were hopeful that your son that did nothing that would have lead to his own death?"
"What I hope for is this would have never happened and he would still be here. That's what I hope," Fulton said.
Later, de la Rionda showed Fulton the button Trayvon Martin was wearing when he was shot and she confirmed it was her son's.
The state also called Martin's 22-year-old brother, Jahvaris Fulton, to testify. He said Tracy Martin wasn't his biological father but he was "the only dad I knew."
Jahvaris Fulton said he and Trayvon Martin were "very close." He identified his brother's screams in the call.
He said he's heard his brother yell, but "not like that."
O'Mara cross-examined Jahvaris Fulton, asking him if he told a reporter on March 31, 2012, "I think it was my brother's screams, but I'm not completely positive."
"I guess I didn't want to believe it was him and I guess that's why during that interview I said I wasn't sure," Jahvaris Fulton said when questioned about it by O'Mara, adding that he was clouded by "shock, denial and sadness."
The defense noted the TV interview was nearly two weeks after he initially listened to the calls. O'Mara wanted to play the TV interview in court, but the state objected.
Nelson heard the matter outside the presence of the jury and ruled that it would not be omitted into evidence.
O'Mara asked Jahvaris Fulton if he had listened to the call between hearing it the first time at Sanford City Hall and the TV interview. Jahvaris Fulton said he didn't recall and when asked why, he said it was "emotional" and didn't want to listen to them again, although he said he has since listened to them.
O'Mara asked Jahvaris Fulton when Tracy Martin left his Miami home in regards to him considering Tracy Martin his father figure. Jahvaris Fulton said he was 9 or 10 years old. O'Mara asked if Trayvon Martin was spending more time with Tracy Martin than his mother. Jahvaris Fulton said both he and Trayvon Martin spent a lot of weekends at his father's house.
During redirect, prosecutor John Guy asked if it was "emotionally difficult" to hear the 911 calls with the screams in the background and how many more times he's listened to the calls.
"Do you now believe it's Travyon Martin's voice on that tape?" Guy asked.
"Yes," Jahvaris Fulton said.
Bao explained what an autopsy consists of to the jury. He then described Martin's autopsy in particular.
Bao said Martin didn't die immediately and his heart was still beating after the shot was fired.
"He was still alive. He was still in pain," Bao said. The defense objected to Bao giving his opinion and Nelson sustained the objection after a sidebar with attorneys.
Bao said Martin was 5 feet 11 inches and 158 pounds when he died. Jurors were then shown a picture of Martin's body when it arrived at the medical examiner's office. Both Sybrina Fulton and Jahvaris Fulton then left the courtroom, but Tracy Martin remained as the photos were shown.
Bao told jurors about the pictures and said other than the gunshot that Martin was healthy. He said Martin had a small abrasion on his fourth and fifth left finger, adding that they could have occurred two hours before the autopsy, during a struggle or after the shooting.
Bao also said there was a zero chance for survival with Martin's gunshot wound.
"His heart was beating until there was no blood left," Bao said. "I believe he was alive for one to 10 minutes."
Bao said Martin was shot from intermediate range, defined as the muzzle being between 0.4 inches to 4 feet away from the target. Bao said the muzzle had loose contact with clothing.
When asked by de la Rionda about the positioning of Zimmerman and Martin, Bao said, "I have no fact and zero opinion."
Defense attorney Don West cross-examined Bao about who helped him with the autopsies, and Bao said two technicians assisted him.
West focused on how Martin's body was transported from the crime scene. Martin's hands were not bagged to preserve evidence as they should be, Bao said. West asked what time the medical examiner's office got to the scene. Bao responded by saying that the office arrived about two hours after the shooting occurred.
West then asked when the ME officer representative left. Bao said he didn't have that information. Bao then said he didn't remember the exact autopsy without his notes and he must rely on his report.
Bao also said the clothing should have been put in a paper bag and not a plastic bag.
"There is no plastic bag other than the bag that carries the body," Bao said, adding if someone from his office put wet clothes in plastic bag, "They'd be fired the next day."
The defense requested to see Bao's notes that he was using from the stand. Bao, getting upset, said they could not see the notes. Nelson ruled that the defense had a right to see the notes and attorneys read through several pages when one attorney laughs.
"Something funny here?" Bao asked from the stand, seemingly offended. West asked Nelson to copy the notes.
"No, you cannot. It's my work," Bao said before Nelson allowed it.
After lunch break, a limited inquiry was held. Bao changed his opinion for how long Martin was alive, originally saying in his November 2012 deposition that Martin was alive from one to three minutes after the shooting.
But Bao added that an autopsy three weeks ago in a "similar case" has changed his opinion about how long Martin may have lived.
Also, in his November deposition, Bao said the marijuana in Martin's body would have had no effect the night of the shooting. Now, however, he says it could have. Nelson ruled, however, that Martin's previous drug use would still be barred from being brought up at trial.
Before the day began, Sybrina Fulton tweeted, "Day 19 -- 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."
Zimmerman, 29, has pleaded not guilty and says he shot the 17-year-old in the chest to protect himself as Martin reached for his gun during a fight.
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