SANFORD -- Deep into the prosecution’s case against George Zimmerman, some witnesses who took the stand Friday seemed to bolster the defense case by corroborating at least part of the neighborhood watch volunteer’s account that he was defending himself during a violent confrontation with Trayvon Martin moments before the shooting.
Neighbor John Good said he saw Trayvon Martin, 17, pinning Zimmerman to the ground — the first eyewitness to report seeing that and in contrast to earlier testimony. Sanford Police officer Tim Smith said the back of Zimmerman’s clothing was wet, another indication he may have been at the bottom of a fight before fatally shooting the Miami Gardens teen on Feb. 26, 2012. And Smith, the first police officer on the scene, testified that Zimmerman told him he asked for help but no one came.
“He stated to me that he was yelling for help and that nobody would come help him,” Smith said under cross-examination by Zimmerman defense attorney Mark O’Mara.
As witnesses offered their recollections of the encounter between Trayvon and Zimmerman, social media — which has played a critical role in the case — erupted after a controversial Instagram photo of Zimmerman defense attorney Don West and his daughters came to light.
Molly West, a 20-something daughter of West, posted the photo to her Instagram account. It showed her, her father and her sister eating Chick-fil-A ice cream cones Monday, with the caption: “We beat stupidity celebration cones” and the hashtag #dadkilledit. Don West had on Monday made a joke in his opening statement that some found insensitive.
As news of the photo rapidly spread, Molly West and her sister, Rachel, quietly left the courtroom for the day. Defense team spokesman Shawn Vincent said, Molly “is mortified... for bringing negative attention to her father and the case.” The Instagram account is now closed.
“Don had no idea that she’d post it on Instagram, and he also knew nothing about the comments associated with it,” he said, acknowledging the bad taste and timing of the image. “We understand the context of the comments with what’s happened in court this week are grossly insensitive.”
He added: “Don told me, ‘As a parent, we’re not always proud of the things our children do, but we love them anyway, and then we move on.’”
In court Friday, a string of witnesses testified to what they saw or heard that night.
Good said he saw a “tussle” between Zimmerman and Trayvon a few feet from his patio and that he believed — based on the colors of clothes he saw — that Trayvon, 17, had pinned down Zimmerman on the ground.
Good was the first person to testify that he thought he saw Trayvon on top of Zimmerman, and that it was Zimmerman who may have been crying out for help from underneath. His testimony contradicts witness Selma Mora, now a Miami resident, who testified Thursday that she thought she saw Zimmerman on top during the scuffle.
Good stopped short, however, of saying that he saw the person on top throwing punches or slamming the other man’s head on the sidewalk, as Zimmerman contends Trayvon did to him.
Zimmerman, 29, has said he acted in self-defense, shooting Trayvon after the unarmed teen attacked him. Prosecutors say Zimmerman profiled and pursued Trayvon. He’s charged with second-degree murder, which carries a penalty of up to life in prison if convicted.