The prosecution and defense in the George Zimmerman trial laid out their cases for the jury on Monday, clashing over whether the neighborhood watch volunteer killed Trayvon Martin because he was “viciously attacked” or because “he wanted to.”
A jury of six women listened intently during opening statements in a Sanford, Fla., courtroom 16 months after Zimmerman, 29, and Martin, 17, crossed paths in a gated community on a rainy Sunday evening.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and says he shot Martin in self-defense.
“George Zimmerman is not guilty of murder. He shot Trayvon Martin after being viciously attacked,” said defense attorney Don West, who told jurors a knock-knock joke about his client for which he later apologized.
“This is a sad case, of course,” West said. “A young man lost his life. Another is fighting for his. There are no winners here…There are no monsters here.”
Prosecutor John Guy said the evidence does not support a self-defense claim.
“George Zimmerman did not shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to. He shot him for the worst of all reasons – because he wanted to,” he said.
Both opening statements focused heavily on Zimmerman’s own words, drawn from tape of a call he made to a non-emergency police number after he spotted Martin walking around.
“These a——- always get away,” Guy quoted Zimmerman as saying, calling them “hate-filled words.”
The prosecutor described Zimmerman as a mixed-martial-arts enthusiast with an interest in law enforcement and claimed he went out that night with a “ready to fire” 9mm pistol, “profiled” Martin, followed him down a dark street and shot him at such close range it left burn marks on his sweatshirt.
He outlined for jurors a number of prosecution witnesses, including a Miami girl who was talking to Martin by cellphone as he walked back from a trip to 7-Eleven for a fruit drink and Skittles.
She “heard Trayvon Martin say, ‘What are you following me for?’ and then Trayvon Martin’s phone went dead and Trayvon Martin went dead,” Guy said.
He said none of the witnesses saw the confrontation “from beginning to end” but that they would point out inconsistencies and “lies” in Zimmerman’s statements about the deadly confrontation.
He also told jurors they would hear a “bone-chilling” 911 call from a neighbor.
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