Trial begins in shooting death of Florida teen

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(©2013 Pool / Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel)

SANFORD – George Zimmerman’s 2nd degree murder trial started on Monday, June 24, at the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center after nine days of jury selection. Zimmerman is on trial for the for the murder of Florida teen Trayvon Martin back on February 26, 2012 in Sanford.

Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, and Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, along with family attorney Benjamin Crump made statements at 8:30 a.m., 30 minutes before the opening statements in the trial were set to begin.

“As the court proceedings continue, we as a family look and cherish the memories that Trayvon left with us,” said Tracy Martin during the brief statement.

The trial started at 9:00 a.m., with the State making an explicit opening statement using quotes from Zimmerman’s non-emergency phone call the night of the incident.

Assistant State Attorney, Jason Guy, dropped multiple f-bombs and used Zimmerman’s words from the phone call, “fucking punks. These assholes, they always get away,” during the statement. The state’s opening statement lasted less than two hours with a 15 minute recess in between.

Zimmerman’s defense attorney Don West was often confused and forgot multiple dates and names during his opening statement. West told the jury that the community asked Zimmerman to be the liaison of the Neighborhood Watch and his client wasn’t patrolling the neighborhood that night or any other night.

The defense played the same non-emergency phone call that the State used during it’s opening statement. In the phone call Zimmerman tells the 911 operator that Trayvon Martin “looks like he’s on drugs,” and “up to no good.”

Other 911 phone calls were played, including the one where someone can be heard screaming in the background and a gunshot going off.  Zimmerman’s defense took longer on it’s opening statement than the State and after nearly six hours and a one hour recess the first witness took the stand.

Chad Joseph,15, was the first witness to take the stand on Monday, he testified for 15 minutes and said he was with Martin the day he was shot. Joseph told the court he was watching TV with Trayvon that day before he walked to the 7-11 while Joseph stayed at home and played video games.

Andrew Gough was the second witness to take the stand, he was the 7-11 clerk who sold Martin the tea and candy he had with him when he was shot. Gough was shown surveillance footage of Martin at the 7-11 during his testimony. Gough was on the stand for less than 15 minutes, roughly as long as the first witness.

Sean Noffke was the third witness to take the stand. He was the 911 operator who spoke to Zimmerman during the non-emergency phone call played earlier in the trial. During Noffke’s nearly 50 minute testimony he listened to the non-emergency call that he received on February 26 regarding a suspicious person in his neighborhood.

Noffke told the prosecution that 911 operators are told not to give orders but merely make suggestions because of liability. After realizing Zimmerman was following Martin, Noffke tells Zimmerman “we don’t need you to do that.” Noffke was asked multiple times if he heard anger in George Zimmerman’s voice the night of the shooting, to which Noffke replied “no sir.”

The final witness to take the stand on Monday was Ramona Rumph, who is the deputy communication director for the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. The State played a non-emergency phone call from August 3, 2011 during Rumph’s testimony and the defense quickly objected due to the relevance of the phone call to the trial.

After hearing the objection from Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, Judge Debra Nelson decided to conclude day 1 of the trial and recess for the rest of the day. Day 1 lasted seven hours and 35 minutes.

The trial will continue tomorrow starting at 8:30 a.m. withe the jury scheduled to be brought in at 9:00 a.m.