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Trial Day 13: George Zimmerman's neighbor says she heard boy's cry

Day 12

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Updated: 6/26/2013 11:07 am
SANFORD, FL (WFTV) -- A former neighbor of George Zimmerman testified that she heard a boy's cry for help shortly before hearing the teen's fatal shooting. Zimmerman is pleading not guilty, claiming self-defense.

Jayne Surdyka testified Wednesday on day 12 of testimony in Zimmerman's murder trial for fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

However, Surdyka testified that she heard multiple gunshots. Only one shot was fired in the fatal encounter.

Surdyka says she was in a second-floor bedroom of her townhome when she heard scuffling outside on a rainy night in February 2012.

She says she heard an aggressive voice and a softer voice exchanging words for several minutes.

Surdyka says she then heard cries for help and believes it was a boy's voice crying out.

Before the witness took the stand Wednesday morning, a juror was dismissed. Judge Debra Nelson said alternate juror B72 was dismissed for reasons unrelated to case.

Alternate juror B72 is a Hispanic man in his 20s or 30s. He's a professional arm wrestler who can do a one-armed pull-up, and he said he doesn't usually feel sympathy. He has no close relationships.

Nelson also ruled Wednesday morning that Zimmerman's previous calls to police are allowed to be used during the trial.

The recordings show Zimmerman's "ill will," prosecutor Richard Mantei said.

"It shows the context in which the defendant sought out his encounter with Trayvon Martin," he said.

O'Mara argued that the calls were irrelevant and that nothing matters but the seven or eight minutes before Zimmerman fired the deadly shot into Martin's chest.

The prosecution is "going to ask the jury to make a leap from a good, responsible, citizen behavior to seething behavior," O'Mara said.

In the calls, Zimmerman identifies himself as a neighborhood watch volunteer and recounts that his neighborhood has had a rash of recent break-ins. In one call, he asks that officers respond quickly since the suspects "typically get away quickly."

In another, he describes suspicious black men hanging around a garage and mentions his neighborhood had a recent garage break-in.

Zimmerman, 29, could get life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.

Day 11

Attorneys for George Zimmerman give their opening statements.
Attorneys for George Zimmerman give their opening statements.

SANFORD, Fla. (WFTV) -- Court is in recess until Tuesday morning following the first day of testimony in George Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial.

Following opening arguments, witnesses began taking the stand about 3 p.m. Monday.

The first witness was 15-year-old Chad Joseph, the son of Trayvon Martin's father's girlfriend. Joseph testified that he and Martin were playing video games before Martin left the home to go to the store.

Joseph said Martin told him he wanted Skittles, which is when he left the home to go to a 7-Eleven convenience store.

Witness No. 2, identified as Andrew Gaugh, said he was working at the 7-Eleven that Martin came into that night. He said Martin purchased iced tea and the candy before leaving.

The third witness was the dispatcher that took Zimmerman's non-emergency call to report a suspicious man in the neighborhood.

Earlier Monday, opening statements were held. A prosecutor told jurors then that Zimmerman fatally shot Martin "because he wanted to," not because he had to, while a defense attorney said the neighborhood watch volunteer shot the teen in self-defense to stop him from smashing Zimmerman's head into a concrete sidewalk.

The opposing attorneys squared off on the first day of testimony in a trial that has attracted international attention and prompted nationwide debates about racial profiling, vigilantism and the laws governing the use of deadly force.
Defense attorney Don West used a joke in his opening statements to illustrate the difficulty of picking a jury amid such widespread publicity.
"Knock. Knock," West said.
"Who is there?"
"George Zimmerman."
"George Zimmerman who?"
"Ah, good. You're on the jury."
Just before opening statements began, Martin's parents sent out an urgent plea to their supporters to pray with them for justice, while their family attorney, Benjamin Crump, described the case as clear cut.

"There are two important facts in this case: No. 1: George Zimmerman was a grown man with a gun, and No. 2: Trayvon Martin was a minor who had no blood on his hands. Literally no blood on his hands. ... We believe that the evidence is overwhelming to hold George Zimmerman accountable for killing Trayvon Martin," Crump said.

Prosecutor John Guy's first words to jurors recounted what Zimmerman told a police dispatcher in a call shortly before the fatal confrontation with Martin: "F------ punks. These a-------, they always get away."

Zimmerman was profiling Martin as he followed him through the gated community where Zimmerman lived and Martin was visiting, Guy said. He said Zimmerman viewed the teen "as someone about to a commit a crime in his neighborhood."


"And he acted on it. That's why we're here," the prosecutor said.

Zimmerman didn't have to shoot Martin, Guy said.

"He shot him for the worst of all reasons: because he wanted to," he said.

West told jurors a different story: Zimmerman was being viciously attacked when he shot Martin, he said. He was sucker-punched by Martin, who then pounded Zimmerman's head into the concrete sidewalk.

"He had just taken tremendous blows to his face, tremendous blows to his head," said West, after showing jurors photos taken by Zimmerman's neighbors of the bloodied and bruised neighborhood watch volunteer.

Later, West said it was not true that Martin was unarmed. 

"Trayvon Martin armed himself with a concrete sidewalk and used it to smash George Zimmerman's head," West said.

West also played for jurors the call to a police dispatcher in which Zimmerman used the obscenities.

Martin had opportunities to go home after Zimmerman followed him and then lost track of him, but instead the teen confronted Zimmerman, West said.

Guy argued, however, that there is no evidence to back up other claims by Zimmerman, including that Martin had his hands over Zimmerman's mouth. Guy said none of Zimmerman's DNA was found on Martin's body. 

The prosecutor also said Zimmerman's claim that he had to fire because Martin was reaching for his firearm is false since none of Martin's DNA was on the gun or holster.

Zimmerman is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder, claiming self-defense. If he is convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

On Feb. 26, 2012, Zimmerman spotted Martin, whom he did not recognize, walking in the gated townhome community where Zimmerman and the fiancee of Martin's father lived. There had been a rash of recent break-ins and Zimmerman was wary of strangers walking through the complex.

The two eventually got into a struggle and Zimmerman shot Martin in the chest with his 9mm handgun. He was charged 44 days after the shooting, only after a special prosecutor was appointed to review the case and after protests. The delay in the arrest prompted protests nationwide.

Two police dispatch phone calls will be important evidence for both sides' cases.

The first is a call Zimmerman made to a non-emergency police dispatcher, who told him he didn't need to be following Martin.

The second 911 call captures screams from the confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin. Martin's parents said the screams are from their son while Zimmerman's father contends they belong to his son.

Nelson ruled last weekend that audio experts for the prosecution won't be able to testify that the screams belong to Martin, saying the methods the experts used were unreliable.

Both calls were played for jurors by the defense in opening statements. Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, left the courtroom before the second call was played.

Opening statements were made two weeks after jury selection began. Attorneys picked six jurors and four alternates after quizzing the jury pool questions about how much they knew about the case and their views on guns and self-defense.

The prosecution took a little more than a half-hour to make an opening statement. The defense took more than two-and-a-half hours.

Prosecutors and George Zimmerman's defense attorneys returned for a second week of jury selection in Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial.
Prosecutors and George Zimmerman's defense attorneys returned for a second week of jury selection in Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial.
SANFORD, Fla. (AP) -- George Zimmerman's defense attorney is probing a pool of 40 potential jurors about their views on the concept that a defendant is presumed innocent.

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara asked the jury candidates Thursday about their views that a person charged with a crime is innocent until prosecutors prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

It was the first chance for Zimmerman's attorney to question jurors who have made it to the second round of jury selection.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. He is pleading not guilty, claiming self-defense.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
SANFORD, Fla. (AP) -- Attorneys trying to pick a jury in George Zimmerman's murder trial have selected a pool of 40 potential jurors who will go on to a second round of questioning.

The pool was whittled down Tuesday on the seventh day of jury selection for the neighborhood watch volunteer charged with fatally shooting Trayvon Martin.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys had been questioning jurors about their exposure to media coverage of the case. They will now be able to ask those invited to the next round more detailed questions about how they feel about the case.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder. He is pleading not guilty.
 Prosecutors and George Zimmerman's defense attorneys returned for a second week of jury selection in Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial.
Prosecutors and George Zimmerman's defense attorneys returned for a second week of jury selection in Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial.
SANFORD, Fla. (AP) -- An expert for George Zimmerman discounts the methods of prosecution experts who claim screams captured on a 911 call belong to 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and not the former neighborhood watch volunteer.

Voice-recognition researcher James Wayman was called Monday evening by defense attorneys. One expert in a report identified Martin as the source of the screams, and the other testified at a pretrial hearing that those didn't match Zimmerman's voice.

Wayman doubted the screams came from just one person and said the 911 call was too brief to draw conclusions from.

Meanwhile, prosecutors and defense attorneys are seeking a pool of 40 potential jurors who have been screened for any influence of pretrial publicity before moving to a second round of questioning. By Monday, they had interviewed 49 potential jurors.
SANFORD, Fla. (AP) - Prosecutors and George Zimmerman's defense attorneys are returning for a second week of jury  selection in Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial.

Defense attorneys are confident they can pick a jury in the Florida county where the neighborhood watch volunteer fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in a gated community last year. 

Zimmerman is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder, claiming self-defense.

Attorneys resume first-round of questioning today of potential jurors about their media exposure to the case that inspired protests nationwide. They've interviewed 41 prospects already.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys are seeking a pool of 40 potential jurors who have been screened for any influence of pretrial publicity before they move to a second round of questioning.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Day 4

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) -- The jury in the George Zimmerman trial will be sequestered.

A Florida judge told a jury candidate Thursday that the six jurors and four alternates eventually picked to hear the second-degree murder case will be kept in isolation during the two to four weeks that it will last.

It was the first time Judge Debra Nelson has weighed in on whether jurors will be sequestered.

During the first four days of jury selection, attorneys have asked potential jurors about the hardships they would face if they were kept away from their families during the trial.

Zimmerman is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder. He claims he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense.

 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

 

  • Five prospective jurors were dismissed after individual voire dire.
  • Five were dismissed for hardships - before being questioned.
  • Judge Nelson has agreed to the attorneys' request for the pool of prospective jurors who have undergone pre-publicity qualification to reach 40 before they begin regular voire dire examination.

Day 3

George Zimmerman sits in court on day 3 of the jury selection process.
George Zimmerman sits in court on day 3 of the jury selection process.

SANFORD, Fla. -- After three days of trying to seat a jury in Florida, prosecutors and attorneys for George Zimmerman have interviewed two dozen potential jurors but are still a  half-dozen short of being able to enter the next round of  questioning.

Attorneys enter the fourth day of questioning jury candidates Thursday about what media stories they had been exposed to about the neighborhood watch volunteer's fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin during an altercation in a Sanford gated community last year.

They need 30 potential jurors to get past the initial round of interviews so they can ask them more in-depth questions about their views and life experiences. Four potential jurors were dismissed Wednesday, raising the total of jury candidates who've been disqualified to 75.

Attorneys need to find six jurors and four alternates.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Day 2

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) - A 65-year-old who said both George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin were at fault in Martin's fatal shooting was among four potential jurors interviewed by attorneys during the first day of Zimmerman's trial on second-degree murder charges in central Florida.

Jury selection continues Wednesday as prosecuting and defense attorneys question dozens of potential jurors, a process that's expected to take all week, if not longer. Thirty potential jurors were sent home Tuesday.

Zimmerman is pleading not guilty to a charge that could carry a life sentence if convicted. He claims he shot the 17-year-old Martin in self-defense.

Judge Debra Nelson has said she'll keep the identities of selected jurors anonymous but rejected a defense request to sequester the initial jury pool of 500 residents.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Day 1

George Zimmerman is accused of killing Trayvon Martin.  Zimmerman says he shot Trayvon to death in self-defense.
George Zimmerman is accused of killing Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman says he shot Trayvon to death in self-defense.
SANFORD, Fla. (AP) -- A Florida judge has denied a defense request to delay the start of the trial of a neighborhood watch volunteer charged in the fatal shooting of an unarmed teen.

Circuit Judge Debra Nelson rejected the delay request Monday in the first order of business on the first day of George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial.

Zimmerman is charged with fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year during a fight in a gated community outside Orlando.

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara says the defense needs several more weeks to prepare. He blamed prosecutors for a delay in turning over evidence and said he needs time to interview an attorney for Martin's family.

Prosecutors opposed the request for a delay.

[TRAYVON MARTIN CELL PHONE AND SCHOOL RECORDS RELEASED]

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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