SANFORD -- Prosecutors on Tuesday chipped away at George Zimmerman’s version of what happened the night he fatally shot a Miami Gardens teen.
They called to the witness stand the neighborhood-watch volunteer’s best friend, federal air marshal Mark Osterman, who wrote a book on the case that quoted Zimmerman saying something he never told investigators: that Trayvon Martin, 17, grabbed Zimmerman’s gun as they scuffled on Feb. 26, 2012.
And jurors heard from Dr. Valerie Rao, a former longtime assistant Miami-Dade County medical examiner, who consulted for the state on the case and concluded that Zimmerman’s injuries were “very insignificant.”
Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder and is claiming self-defense, told police that Trayvon repeatedly punched him in the face and “slammed,” “bashed” or “wailed” his head into a concrete sidewalk.
“The injuries are so minor,” Rao testified. “To me, slamming implies great force.”
Tuesday, the seventh day of witness testimony in a case that has drawn national attention and sparked debates on race, brought a fair share of drama in and out of the courtroom.
Prosecutors filed a request that Seminole Circuit Judge Debra Nelson conduct an inquiry into an Instagram photo posted by defense attorney Don West’s daughter last week.
The photo shows West and his daughters holding ice cream cones with the caption: “We beat stupidity celebration cones,” followed by the hashtag #dadkilledit.
In court documents, prosecutors called the posting “inflammatory” and asked for the judge’s help “to ensure that witnesses and court proceeding are treated with respect and not as occasions for inappropriate jokes.”
They said the photo and caption appeared to be referring to the testimony of Rachel Jeantel, 19, of Miami, who spoke with Trayvon on his cell phone moments before he was shot.
The defense team responded by calling the state’s filing “irresponsible,” noting that the photograph was taken and posted before Jeantel’s turn on the witness stand. West, who signed the defense response filed Tuesday, asked Nelson for an inquiry into the state’s filing, fearing it may rekindle threats that he said have been made against his family.
In other sparring that happened outside the presence of jurors, prosecutors argued for the judge to strike part of lead investigator Chris Serino’s testimony from Monday. A previous motion stipulated that investigators in the case would not testify about their opinions, only facts.
Nelson ruled in favor of the state, throwing out Serino’s answer to defense attorney Mark O’Mara’s question about whether Serino believed Zimmerman was being truthful during questioning. Serino had answered yes.
Nelson instructed jurors to disregard the question and answer.
With jurors present, Serino finished the second day of his testimony, with lawyers on both sides vying to get in the last question. Nelson warned them to wrap it up when prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda stood for re-re-re-direct examination.
Serino acknowledged during questioning by de la Rionda that a phrase Zimmerman uttered while on the phone with a police dispatcher — “f-----g punks” — could be construed as profiling, and it did show “ill-will and spite.”