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George Zimmerman's defense plans to rest case on Wednesday

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Updated: 7/10/2013 12:23 pm
SANFORD, Fla. -- George Zimmerman's attorney said the defense will likely wrap up its case in the neighborhood watch volunteer's second-degree murder trial on Wednesday.

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara told Judge Debra Nelson on Tuesday that his team needs only one more day.

Zimmerman hasn't testified so far, but jurors saw repeated video recordings of him telling his side of the story to police investigators.

The defense started its case last Friday, and if it keeps to the schedule anticipated by O'Mara, its presentation will take about half of the time of the prosecution.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder. He is pleading not guilty, claiming he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense.

Testifying Tuesday was a black friend of Zimmerman’s who testified via video conferencing.

Eloise Dilligard told the jury the voice heard screaming for help on a 911 call was in fact Zimmerman’s.

Earlier in the day, an expert on gunshot wounds who was hired by the defense testified that Zimmerman's account of how he fatally shot Martin is consistent with the forensic evidence.

Dr. Vincent DiMaio said that the trajectory of the bullet and gunpowder on Martin's body support Zimmerman's version that Martin was on top of him when Zimmerman fired his gun into Martin's chest. The gun's muzzle was against Martin's clothing and it was anywhere from two to four inches from Martin's skin, he said.

"This is consistent with Mr. Zimmerman's account that Mr. Martin was over him, leaning forward at the time he was shot," said DiMaio, the former chief medical examiner in San Antonio.

The pathologist also said it was likely Martin was conscious for 10 to 15 seconds after the shooting, as a reserve supply of oxygen ran out of his body, and during that time he could have moved his arms.

Zimmerman's account that he had placed Martin's arms out to his sides after the shooting contradicts a photo taken after the shooting that shows Martin's arms under his body. Defense attorneys contend Martin moved his arms.

DiMaio testified that lacerations to the back of Zimmerman's head were consistent with his head striking a concrete sidewalk.
Later, when looking at photos of Zimmerman's injuries taken the night of the shooting, DiMaio identified six separate impacts to Zimmerman's face and head. He said a nose injury could have come from being punched.

"When your head hits concrete, the concrete doesn't yield," said DiMaio. "Your head yields, so it's dangerous."

DiMaio also explained that if clothes taken into evidence are wet and packaged in plastic bags and not paper bags, it can ruin the samples since "bacteria multiplies and you get mold and it stinks to high heaven."

Defense attorneys believe DNA evidence found on Martin's hooded sweatshirt and undershirt was degraded since the clothing wasn't packaged properly.

Under cross-examination, DiMaio conceded that the gunshot could also be consistent with Martin pulling away from Zimmerman. DiMaio also testified that, in reaching his conclusions, he didn't rely on statements from some Zimmerman neighbors who say Zimmerman was on top of Martin.

The pathologist, who also has testified at the murder trials of Illinois police sergeant Drew Peterson and record producer Phil Spector, said he had been paid $2,400 by the defense.

After DiMaio testified, the 911 calls that captured sounds of the fatal encounter were discussed again.

Defense attorneys also called Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte to the witness stand to describe the circumstances of how Martin's family came to hear the 911 tapes.

Bonaparte said he played the 911 tapes while members of Martin's family sat together at City Hall.

Bonaparte testified that he and Mayor Jeff Triplett did not consult but also excluded law enforcement when meeting with Martin's family members to listen to the 911 call recording of screams for help.

“The decision was made to make them public and we let the family hear it first as a courtesy,” said Bonaparte.

Martin’s family’s lawyers pressured the city to release the recording. Martin’s father had already told police it was not his son screaming for help, but after that unofficial meeting with police, he changed his mind.

Earlier in the morning, the judge considered prosecutors' request to bar the defense from showing animation depicting the fight between Martin and Zimmerman. Nelson held an evidence hearing with jurors out of the courtroom, but ultimately postponed her decision and more arguments on the matter until later in the afternoon.

Prosecutors object to the animation, saying it isn't an accurate depiction.

Defense attorneys called the man who created the animation to testify. To recreate the fight, Daniel Schumaker went to the crime scene and had employees in motion-capture suits re-enact what happened based on coroner photographs, police reports, the coroner's report, witness depositions and photos taken by responding police officers, he said.

The incident took place on a dark, rainy night in February 2012 and no eyewitnesses saw the entire fight. Several witnesses saw and heard parts of the struggle that left Martin dead with a bullet in his heart.

Testimony in previous days has focused on a 911 call that captures screams from the struggle between Martin and Zimmerman.

Convincing the jury of who was screaming for help on the tape has become the primary goal of prosecutors and defense attorneys because it would help jurors evaluate Zimmerman's self-defense claim. Relatives of Martin's and Zimmerman's have offered conflicting opinions about who is heard screaming.

Zimmerman's mother and uncle testified last Friday that it was Zimmerman screaming; Martin's mother and brother took the witness stand the same day to say the voice belongs to Martin. Martin's father testified Monday that he initially couldn't tell if the screams came from his son, but later decided they did.

Zimmerman himself once said during a police interview that the screams didn't sound like him, though he and his family later said the screams were his.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and says he shot Martin in self-defense during a scuffle in the townhome complex where he lived. Martin was there visiting his father and his father's fiancee.
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