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.’’