Legal observers noted that playing the videos in court eliminated the need for Zimmerman himself to take the stand a tactic that may have helped the defense by allowing Zimmermans voice to be heard in court without risk of cross-examination.
I think it was a strategic error [for the state] to allow him to testify without getting cross examined, Faccidomo said. I dont think the inconsistencies carried as a great a weight with the jury as they thought it would.
Serino, on defense questioning, also suggested he believed Zimmermans account, a statement later stricken from the record by the judge but nevertheless heard by jurors.
The state should have objected before he had a chance to answer, said attorney Handfield. But its too late. You cant unring the bell. You cant ask the jury to not consider something they already heard. Theyre human.
Prosecutors also pinned their hopes on a chilling recording of a 911 call made by a neighbor near the fight scene.
After a number of hearings away from the jury, Nelson ruled against prosecutors request to allow audio experts to testify that Trayvon was the one crying out for help on the recording before the fatal gunshot is heard. So prosecutors turned to Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martins mother, and Jahvaris Fulton, the dead teens older brother, to identify the voice on the recording as Trayvon.
They served as powerful emotional witnesses. Sybrina Fulton, head held high, told jurors that she wished that her son hadnt died. My youngest son is Trayvon Benjamin Martin, she articulated carefully when asked his name. Hes in heaven.
And Jahvaris Fulton recounted for jurors the shock and grief of listening to the recording for the first time.
But their testimony also seemed to spur the defense to call a wave of eight witnesses, from Zimmermans own mother to his best friend, to make the opposite claim, that the voice crying out for help on the tape was Zimmermans. The testimony also served a more important purpose: to humanize Zimmerman and show a circle of friends that included an African American neighbor.
In the end, neither the state nor the defense dwelled at length on the recording in closing arguments.
A battle of family members, of whom you believe more, thats a big prosecution loser, said Jean-Michel DEscoubet, a former Miami-Dade prosecutor. The evidence was so conflicted that the jury cant make heads or tails of it. It just muddied up the water and created reasonable doubt.
The defense case suffered some setbacks too, especially when Nelson on Wednesday refused to allow into evidence text messages from Trayvons phone which suggested that the teen was a brawler at home in Miami Gardens. Nor did the judge allow the jury to consider as evidence a high-tech computer animation showing a defense version of how the deadly fight between Zimmerman and Trayvon unfolded.
But in all, lawyers say, the defense presented a mostly confident, methodical case that sought to pick apart the lack of evidence in the states case.
Lawyers Mark OMara and Don West even shunned the chance to tarnish Trayvon though Nelson had allowed the defense to introduce the slain teens toxicology report showing he had smoked marijuana.