Monday, June 24, 2013

Opening Statement In Trayvon Martin Murder Trial

"Knock Knock" Joke Starts Defense Opening

SANFORD, FL. -- Attorney for George Zimmerman, Don West made his opening statements quietly this morning at 10:45 a.m. explaining why some family members were not in the courtroom, and pointing out the tragic nature of this trial where there is no winners.

West's opening will turn out to be many times longer than the prosecution's opening statement, and showing many photo exhibits to the six-member jury in this second degree murder trial.

"The evidence will show that this is a sad case. There are no monsters here,." says West.  Then West proceeds to tell a knock knock joke: Knock, Knock Who's There? George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman Who? "All right. Good. You're on the jury."

West then begins with showing the six-member jury blow up photos of the townhome apartment complex and streets where the February 26, 2012 events took place and lays out how Zimmerman left in his silver Honda truck to go shopping at Target a few minutes after 7 p.m., and sees Trayvon Martin cutting through houses to enter the community.

Little did Zimmerman know, said West, that he would be "sucker punched" in the face by Martin and the 17-year old youth would be shot dead with Zimmerman's Kel-Tec PF-9, a 9mm semi-automatic handgun.

Crime was on the rise in the community in 2011 when a crime watch group was organized, said West. An attempted apartment break-in had occurred several weeks before the events of February, 2012. The members were asked to call 911 if they noticed anything suspicious or a non-emergency number, which is the number Zimmerman called February 26.

West explained that the notion that Zimmerman was asked by the police dispatcher in the original call to not follow Martin but did so anyway was false. West plays the non-emergency call Zimmerman made to the police in Sanford and then goes through the timeline of events using the courtroom video projection display system.

West continues with playing the several minute long audio of Zimmerman;s call reporting a suspicious person to the Sanford police again. West presumably uses the audio to negate the prosecution's contention that Zimmerman's act was of "hate" or "confrontation."

Next played to the jury, is an audio from a call to the Sanford emergency services from a townhouse resident reporting the incident, screams and a gunshot is heard on the tape. West told the jury, this was the best recording available and was recorded with a cellphone located about 20 to 30 feet from the screams and gunshot sound.

West pointed out cell phone technology is not the best for sound quality, apparently trying to counteract some opinions about who was making the screaming sounds, Zimmerman or Martin. Other people also heard the screams, said West but the reports were not all in agreement with each other.

West said Martin fell forward onto Zimmerman after being shot. Witness John Good was about 10 to 15 feet away, said West, and said he wasn't at first sure what he was seeing in the dark, but once outside his apartment was able to describe the clothing worn by Zimmerman and Martin, and with the clothing description as described by Good, West indicates Martin was on top of Zimmerman.

Another witness Jonathan Manolo, said West, took a cell phone picture of Zimmerman seconds after the shooting showing a wound on the back of Zimmerman's head and a picture of the now dead Martin with his legs in a position as if he was riding a bike. West suggested the position was because his legs were straddling Zimmerman.

Tim Smith of the Sanford Police handcuffed Zimmerman, said West, and placed in the patrol car. Another officer, Mike Wagner took a picture of Martin and Zimmerman before other investigators arrived to try to see if anyone in the neighborhood could identify them. The jury is shown the photos of Zimmerman pointing out abrasions on his face, and other photos indicating bumps on the head consistent with Zimmerman's "head impacting concrete."

West relates that Zimmerman was released by the police after questioning, and how the next day Zimmerman's co-workers saw him after he reported to work to ask for a day off to go to a doctor at Altamonte Family Practice. He later met with the police to make a video reenactment.

At 12:30 court recessed until 1:30 p.m. at which time the defense will continue their opening statement.

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