SANFORD -- Trayvon Martin’s mother sat at the witness stand Friday, head held high, and decisively insisted that the chilling cries captured on a 911 call belonged to only one person: her slain child, Trayvon Benjamin Martin.
“I heard my son screaming,” Sybrina Fulton told jurors in much-anticipated testimony for the prosecution.
Hours later, George Zimmerman’s mother sat in the same witness stand for the defense. With equal conviction, she swore it was her son howling in panic on the night of Feb. 26, 2012.
“That way he is screaming, it describes to me anguish, fear. I would say terror,” Gladys Zimmerman told jurors in the second-degree murder trial of her son.
The mothers testified Friday in an action-packed day of testimony that also included Trayvon’s brother, Zimmerman’s uncle and an associate medical examiner who created a stir in court with the revelation he had created secret notes in preparation for his testimony.
On the 18th day of Zimmerman’s closely watched trial, that wasn’t the only legal action.
Prosecutors finished their chief case. And after exhaustive arguments from each side — a preview of closing arguments to come —Seminole Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson denied a defense request to acquit Zimmerman.
“The state has presented enough direct and circumstantial evidence for the case to go to the jury,” Nelson said in a widely expected decision.
Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting death of Trayvon, 17, of Miami Gardens. He shot and killed the unarmed teen during a violent confrontation inside a gated Sanford community.
A neighborhood watch volunteer with a penchant for calling 911, Zimmerman claimed he fired in self-defense after Trayvon beat his head into a concrete walkway and appeared to reach for Zimmerman’s gun. As days and then weeks passed without police arresting Zimmerman, Trayvon’s family and civil rights leaders led rallies in Sanford and other U.S. cities.
Gov. Rick Scott appointed prosecutors from Duval County to oversee the case, and Zimmerman was arrested 44 days after the shooting.
During the trial, prosecutors have sought to portray Zimmerman as a frustrated cop wannabe who took out his frustration over neighborhood security by profiling and chasing Trayvon, who was visiting his father in the town just north of Orlando.
On Friday morning, prosecutors called Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother, and Jahvaris Fulton, the teen’s brother, to testify. Sybrina Fulton, who publicly pushed for Zimmerman’s arrest, started out her testimony with an emotional description of her son: “My youngest son is Trayvon Benjamin Martin. He’s in heaven.”
She also told Zimmerman’s defense attorney, during a short cross-examination, that she wished “that this would have never happened and he would still be here.”
Trayvon’s older brother, Jahvaris Fulton, also took the stand and identified his sibling’s voice on the 911 call — although the defense pointed out that Jahvaris Fulton once told a Miami television reporter that he wasn’t sure.
Jahvaris Fulton acknowledged he hadn’t always been certain, saying his first listening of the tape “was clouded by shock and sadness and denial.”