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Opening Statements Made In George Zimmerman Trial

Jeremy Fuster |
June 24, 2013 | 5:14 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

George Zimmerman (Creative Commons)
George Zimmerman (Creative Commons)
The murder trial of George Zimmerman began in Sanford, Florida on Monday with an emotional opening statement from the prosecution that painted a picture of the defendant as a reckless vigilante, followed by a statement from the defense that claimed Zimmerman was acting in self-defense when he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012.


Assistant state attorney John Guy began his opening statement by quoting what Zimmerman was recorded saying to a police dispatcher minutes before shooting Martin: "F***ing punks, these a******s always get away."


“The truth about the murder of Trayvon Martin is going to come directly from [Zimmerman's] mouth,” Guy told a jury comprised of six women. “From those hate-filled words that he used to describe a perfect stranger and from the lies that he told to the police to try to justify his actions.”


Guy also argued that none of the witnesses had seen the entire incident between Zimmerman and Martin or corroborate Zimmerman's claim that Martin said to him, "You are going to die tonight." He also cited autopsy reports of Martin's body that show that none of Zimmerman's blood or DNA was found on the victim.


“He didn’t have bruised knuckles. He didn’t have swollen hands. The only injury to his hand that was capable of being photographed was a small abrasion on his left ring finger. Trayvon Martin was right handed. That was the only injury to his hands.” Guy said.


Guy ended his statement with a dramatic flourish: “We are confident at the end of this trial you will know in your head, heart and stomach that George Zimmerman did not shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to be shot. He shot him for the words, for all these reasons, because he wanted to.”


SEE ALSO | Jury Selected For Zimmerman Trial


Defense attorney Don West countered Guy's emotional opening with a dry, factual statement that painted a portrait of Zimmerman as a man who acted out of self-defense. He presented the full tape of Zimmerman's conversation with the dispatcher to add context to the expletive-laden quote referenced by the prosecution. He also said that a witness will testify that Martin had attacked Zimmerman and that forensic evidence and analysis of Zimmerman's injuries from that night will show that Martin "slammed" his head into the sidewalk.


“If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times, that Trayvon Martin was unarmed,” West said. “Trayvon Martin armed himself with a concrete sidewalk and used it to smash George Zimmerman’s head,” he added. “That is a deadly weapon.’ 


West also showed the jury a photo of Zimmerman taken by a neighbor shortly after the incident that showed the injuries he sustained. West stated that after shooting Martin, Zimmerman went staggering and bleeding to a neighbor for help and told Martin was "beating me up and I shot him."


The prosecution described the aftermath very differently: “Trayvon was face down in wet grass, laboring through his final breaths on this earth, and that defendant was upright, preparing… preparing to tell law enforcement why it was he had just profiled, followed and murdered an unarmed teenager," Guy said.


Another point of contention is a 911 call sent from a resident when the incident was occurring, during which a voice could be heard screaming and saying "I'm begging you" before a gunshot goes off. The prosecution claims that the voice belongs to Martin while the defense claims the voice belongs to Zimmerman. Martin's mother, who was in attendance with her husband, left the room when the call was played to the jury.


Prosecutors had hoped to submit expert testimony that could prove that the voice in the 911 call belonged to Martin, but it was ruled inadmissible because the technology used to analyze the voice was not considered reliable enough.


The trial is expected to take two to four weeks to complete.

Reach Executive Producer Jeremy Fuster here or follow him on Twitter



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