State Seeks to Halt Animated Re-enactment of Trayvon Shooting

Monday, 08 Jul 2013 12:12 PM


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Prosecutors asked a Florida judge on Monday to block the jury in the George Zimmerman trial from seeing an animated re-enactment of the shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, saying the video distorts the events of that fatal encounter.

Defense lawyers want to show the video to the six-woman jury that will decide the fate of Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder and has pleaded not guilty, saying he shot Martin in self-defense.

State prosecutors argued that the video fails to show the Kel Tec 9mm pistol that Zimmerman, 29, a white and Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer, used to shoot Martin, 17, once through the heart.

Prosecutors also objected because they said the animation video shows details of the fatal struggle based on the animator's "approximations," including the number of blows during the fight and how each body reacts to those blows.

The video also relies upon some witness statements to police that were later changed; it shows Martin as left-handed when his mother testified he was right-handed; and prosecutors complained they received the animation too late, on June 21, the Friday before testimony began on June 24, they argued in their motion.

Seminole County Judge Debra Nelson had yet to rule on whether the jury could see the animated re-enactment of the events in the central Florida town of Sanford on Feb. 26, 2012.

Testimony in the trial that has been televised live on cable networks and the internet was expected to conclude this week as the defense presented its case.

Four defense witnesses on Monday testified they recognized Zimmerman's voice screaming for help in the background of a 911 emergency call placed by a neighbor during the struggle between Zimmerman and Martin. Those screams stopped once the gun fires.

The case could turn on who the jury believes was calling for help.

On Friday the mothers of both Martin and Zimmerman told jury they recognized the screams for help as coming from their respective sons.

On Monday it was four friends of Zimmerman who testified that they recognized the voice as Zimmerman's. Two of them were Mark and Sondra Osterman, a husband and wife who wrote a book about Zimmerman and agreed to donate the proceeds to their friend.

"Yes, definitely, it's Georgie," Sondra Osterman said.

"I thought it was George," Mark Osterman said later. "It just sounded like George."

Osterman, a Federal Air Marshal and longtime law-enforcement officer, also told the jury he advised Zimmerman to buy the Kel Tech 9mm and helped train him to use it at the shooting range.

Police initially declined to arrest Zimmerman, believing his claim of self-defense. That ignited protests and cries of racial injustice in Sanford and major cities across the United States, as the case came to reflect what many saw as unequal treatment of African Americans before the law.

A special prosecutor later brought the charge of second-degree murder, after Zimmerman walked free following the killing for 45 days.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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