Martin-Zimmerman fight at issue in US murder trial
SANFORD, Florida (AP) — Two neighbors and a police officer gave accounts in a closely watched U.S. murder trial that appeared to support shooter George Zimmerman’s claim that he was on his back and being straddled by the teenage Trayvon Martin during their confrontation.
Martin’s shooting death raised national issues about race — he was black — and self-defense gun laws. Zimmerman wasn’t arrested for weeks after the shooting, and widespread protests ensued.
Neighbor Jonathan Good said Friday it appeared the unarmed teen was straddling Zimmerman, while another neighbor, Jonathan Manalo, said Zimmerman seemed credible when he said immediately after the fight that he had shot Martin in self-defense. Officer Tim Smith testified that Zimmerman’s backside was covered in grass and wetter than his front side.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder. He has said that he fatally shot the 17-year-old Martin last year in self-defense as the teen was banging his head into the concrete sidewalk behind the townhomes in a gated community.
Good, who had perhaps the best view of any witness, said he did not see anyone’s head being slammed into the concrete sidewalk, as Zimmerman says Martin did to him. Good initially testified that it appeared “there were strikes being thrown, punches being thrown,” but during detailed questioning he said he saw only “downward” arm movements being made.
Zimmerman, 29, could get life in prison if convicted. The neighborhood watch volunteer has denied the confrontation in a Florida gated community had anything to do with race, as Martin’s family and their supporters have claimed.
Manalo was the first neighbor to step outside and see what happened after he heard a gunshot. He took cellphone photos of a bloodied Zimmerman and Martin’s body, and those photos were shown to jurors on Friday. Manalo also described Martin’s hands as being under his body.
Manalo said Zimmerman didn’t appear shocked and acted calmly.
As he walked to the squad car after he had been handcuffed, Zimmerman told the officer, Smith, that “he was yelling for help and nobody would come help him,” Smith said.
“It was almost a defeated ... a confused look on his face,” Smith said.
Paramedic Stacy Livingston, who responded to the shooting scene, testified Zimmerman had a swollen, bleeding nose and two cuts on the back of his head.