TRAYVON MARTIN CASE

Zimmerman jurors see graphic photos of Trayvon Martin’s body, crime scene

 

aburch@MiamiHerald.com

In the second day of testimony in the George Zimmerman murder trial, jurors twisted uncomfortably in their seats as they viewed blown-up crime scene photos of Trayvon Martin’s body and heard details of the dramatic, futile efforts to save him after a shot to the heart last February.

Sgt. Anthony Raimondo Jr., one of the first responders, described the scene he came upon that drizzly Sunday night 17 months ago: Trayvon, 17, was facedown in the wet grass, his hands tucked under his body. Zimmerman was in handcuffs.

A Sanford Police veteran and SWAT sniper, Raimondo said he immediately went to the unresponsive teen’s body, checked twice for a pulse and performed CPR — Raimondo doing mouth-to-mouth, a second officer handling chest compressions.

“I breathed for Mr. Martin… or I tried to, sir,” he told prosecutor John Guy.

As Raimondo described the events after he arrived on scene, Guy projected enlarged photos of Trayvon’s body, his legs and sneakers peeking out from under a yellow blanket, and a close-up of a small chest wound. The last images of Trayvon’s face and body were too much for his parents, with his father, Tracy Martin, leaving the courtroom in tears and his mother, Sybrina Fulton, averting her eyes from the photos.

Jurors, too, showed visible reactions to the photos, many looking disturbed by the raw images. They remained attentive throughout the day’s testimony, at one point leaning in to get a closer view of Zimmerman’s pistol and a fingerprint lifted from it.

The prosecution is trying to prove Zimmerman profiled, followed and, ultimately, acted with malice in killing Trayvon, of Miami Gardens, on February 26, 2012. Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder and faces up to life in prison if convicted as charged.

The two had a violent confrontation as Trayvon was returning from a convenience store. Zimmerman contends he acted in self-defense, and only shot after he was viciously attacked by the unarmed teen. The 44 days before Zimmerman’s arrest sparked racial protests and marches; the case also led to debate about Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law. A six-person, all-female jury was seated last week to decide Zimmerman’s fate.

On Tuesday, jurors also heard about the science of documenting and preserving a crime scene. Diana Smith, a Sanford police crime scene technician, testified she arrived at the scene about an hour after the shooting and processed the now well-known items Trayvon had carried — a can of Arizona Tea drink and a bag of Skittles — as well as Zimmerman’s 9 mm semiautomatic gun, holster and flashlight.

The first witness to actually see or hear the confrontation between Trayvon and Zimmerman, Selene Bahadoor, a resident in the Sanford complex, said she was in her kitchen when she heard a noise — either someone saying “no” or “uhh” and running “from left to right” outside of her townhouse. She looked out her patio sliding door and saw two “figures. Arms flailing.”

Defense attorney Mark O’Mara noted she had never discussed the direction of movement in previous sworn statements to investigators. But she said when questioned by prosecutors that investigators never asked her about the direction. O’Mara also pointed out that she “liked” a Facebook page supporting Trayvon’s family and signed an online petition seeking Zimmerman’s prosecution.

Earlier in the day, Seminole Circuit Judge Debra Nelson heard arguments from attorneys without jurors present about whether to allow into evidence audio recordings of five calls Zimmerman made to police in the months before he shot Trayvon.

Zimmerman’s defense team wants Nelson to exclude the tapes, saying they show nothing more than a 29-year-old neighborhood-watch volunteer acting as a responsible citizen.

Records show Zimmerman called police 46 times since 2004 to report break-ins, broken windows and other minor disturbances. Nine times, he said he saw a suspicious person, which is how he described Trayvon when he called police that night.

Prosecutors moved to introduce five of the 46 calls as evidence, recorded from August 2011 through February 2012, just a few weeks before Trayvon’s killing.

Zimmerman identified himself to dispatchers as a neighborhood watch member in several of the non-emergency calls. He talked about his neighborhood being “plagued with robberies and burglaries” when requesting officers to check on suspicious people.

In one call, on Feb. 2, 2012, Zimmerman said he saw a black man wearing pajama pants going through a neighbor’s trash. “I know him. I know the resident. He’s Caucasian,” Zimmerman said.

Nelson said she would issue a ruling Wednesday.

Also testifying Tuesday: a Sanford Police employee and the homeowners association president of Retreat at Twin Lakes, where Zimmerman lived. They testified that Zimmerman was an eager protector of his gated community.

Although the witnesses were called by the state, the defense team managed to elicit from them positive responses about Zimmerman’s character.

“He seemed like he really wanted to make changes in his community to make it better,’’ said Wendy Dorival, a Sanford Police employee who helps organize citizen watch groups.

Still, prosecutors strongly suggested that perhaps Zimmerman was too eager to embrace his volunteer duties – and overstepped his position.

Both Dorival and homeowner-association president Donald O’Brien acknowledged that police advised residents in the neighborhood-watch program to observe and report suspicious activity, but not to confront anyone.

“If you see something suspicious, stay away, call the police,” said O’Brien, who didn’t believe their community needed a neighborhood watch program. “Since day one… we were told to stay at a safe distance and call 9-1-1.’’

Read more Zimmerman Case stories from the Miami Herald

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