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Jacksonville Medical Examiner testifies at George Zimmerman trial

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Updated: 7/10/2013 9:28 am
SANFORD, Fla. -- Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Valerie Rao testified after lunch Tuesday on day 16 of George Zimmerman’s murder trial.

Rao talked about Zimmerman’s injures that he received the night he fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford last year.

“They were not life-threatening injuries,” said Rao.

Rao said Zimmerman's injuries were superficial and not serious.

Before lunch, Zimmerman’s friend and federal air marshal, Mark Osterman, testified Tuesday saying that Zimmerman is the best friend he's ever had.

Osterman described Zimmerman’s conversation with him after Martin’s fatal shooting death on Feb 26, 2012.

Osterman said Zimmerman found Martin suspicious, partly because he was walking around in the dark and in the rain.

He stated that Zimmerman’s wife Shelley was in a state of duress after hearing that her husband was involved in a shooting.

Osterman also said that Zimmerman described the confrontation, and told Osterman how he sustained injures to his head and face.

Osterman said he wrote a book about the incident, called "Defending Our Friend; the Most Hated Man in America."

Also on Tuesday, a defense attorney for Zimmerman says a photo showing him eating ice cream with his daughters was taken a day before prosecutors allege in a court motion.

Prosecutors claimed the photo was posted after West's tense cross-examination with prosecution witness Rachel Jeantel last week.

The photo caption reads "We beat stupidity celebration cones."

Defense attorney Don West said Tuesday that the ice cream photo was taken a day before Jeantel testified and is unrelated to her testimony. He called the prosecution's motion "irresponsible."

Jeantel was talking to Trayvon Martin on the phone moments before he was fatally shot by George Zimmerman last year. She is considered a star witness for prosecutors.

Earlier in the day, a prosecutor tried to pick apart the statements of a Sanford police detective who had been called as a prosecution witness a day before, but gave testimony that seemed to benefit the defense.

Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda began by asking the judge to strike from the record a statement Detective Chris Serino made Monday in which he said he found credible Zimmerman's account of how he got into a fight with Martin. De la Rionda argued the statement was improper because one witness isn't allowed to give an opinion on the credibility of another witness. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara argued it was proper because Serino was vetting Zimmerman's veracity in his probe.

Judge Debra Nelson told jurors to disregard the statement.

"This is an improper comment," the judge said.

De la Rionda then questioned Serino about his opinion given Monday that he didn't believe Zimmerman displayed any ill will or spite to Martin. Prosecutors must prove there was ill will, spite or a depraved mind by the defendant to get a second-degree murder conviction.

De la Rionda played back a police call Zimmerman had made to report Martin in the neighborhood: Zimmerman uses an expletive and "punks" and then says, "These a-------. They always get away." The prosecutor asked the investigator if those words showed some spite, and Serino said "a little."

Next, de la Rionda challenged Serino's contention that he found Zimmerman's story without major inconsistencies. The prosecutor played back Zimmerman's police interview in which investigators question Zimmerman about small differences in the neighborhood volunteer's story. The prosecutor also pointed out Zimmerman claimed that after he shot Martin, he spread out the teen's arms. But a photo taken immediately after the shooting shows Martin's arms under his body.

"Is that inconsistent with the defendant's statement he spread the arms out?" de la Rionda asked.

"That position, yes it is," Serino said.

It was Serino's second day on the witness stand. He and another investigator, Doris Singleton, testified Monday about their investigation as jurors heard a series of police interviews in which the detectives grew more pointed in their questioning.

In an early interview, just hours after the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting, Singleton recounted that Zimmerman noticed a cross she was wearing and said: "In Catholic religion, it's always wrong to kill someone."

Singleton said she responded, "If what you're telling me is true, I don't think that what God meant was that you couldn't save your own life."

But in an interview days later, Singleton and Serino suggest that Zimmerman was running after Martin before the confrontation. They also ask Zimmerman why he didn't explain to Martin why he was following him. The officers insinuate that Martin may have been "creeped out" by being followed.

"Do you think he was scared?" Singleton asked Zimmerman in one video interview.

Under cross-examination, though, Serino said Zimmerman seemed straightforward in his answers and didn't show any anger when talking about Martin. Serino said the increasingly pointed questioning is a tactic known as a "challenge interview," where detectives try to break someone's story to make sure they're telling the truth.
SANFORD, Fla. -- The lead police detective who investigated the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford last year will return to the witness stand Tuesday for a second day to testify about his investigation.

Sanford Police detective Chris Serino and another investigator, Doris Singleton, testified Monday about their investigation as jurors heard a series of police interviews in which the detectives grow more pointed in their questioning of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer later charged with second-degree murder in Martin's death. Zimmerman maintains he was acting in self-defense.

In an early interview, just hours after the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting, Singleton recounted that Zimmerman noticed a cross she was wearing and said: "In Catholic religion, it's always wrong to kill someone."

Singleton said she responded, "If what you're telling me is true, I don't think that what God meant was that you couldn't save your own life."

But in an interview days later, Singleton and Serino suggest that Zimmerman was running after Martin before the confrontation. They also ask Zimmerman why he didn't explain to Martin why he was following him. The officers insinuate that Martin may have been "creeped out" by being followed.

"Do you think he was scared?" Singleton asked Zimmerman in one video interview.

Under cross-examination, though, Serino said Zimmerman seemed straightforward in his answers and didn't show any anger when talking about Martin. Serino said the increasingly pointed questioning is a tactic known as a "challenge interview," where detectives try to break someone's story to make sure they're telling the truth.

Zimmerman has said he fatally shot the unarmed black teen in self-defense in February, 2012, because he says Martin was banging his head into a concrete sidewalk behind townhomes in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman, 29, could get life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.

The state argued during its opening statement that Zimmerman profiled and followed Martin in his truck and called a police dispatch number before he and the teenager got into a fight. Zimmerman has denied the confrontation had anything to do with race, as Martin's family and their supporters have claimed. A 44-day delay in Zimmerman's arrest led to protests around the nation; he was ultimately charged by a Florida special prosecutor. Zimmerman's father is white and his mother is Hispanic.

In his first interview at the police station, Zimmerman said he saw Martin walking through his neighborhood on a dark, rainy night while Zimmerman was driving to the grocery store. He told Singleton that he didn't recognize Martin and that there had been recent break-ins at his townhome complex.

"These guys always get away," Zimmerman told Singleton, a statement similar to one that prosecutors have pointed to previously to try to show that Zimmerman was increasingly frustrated with the burglaries and that his encounter with Martin was a breaking point.

Zimmerman told the police officer that he lost track of Martin and got out of his truck to look for a street name he could relay to a police dispatcher. When the dispatcher suggested Zimmerman didn't need to follow Martin, Zimmerman started to head back to his vehicle. At that point, Zimmerman alleged, Martin jumped out of some bushes, punched him and he fell to the ground.

Zimmerman said Martin began hitting his head against the sidewalk as Zimmerman yelled for help and that Martin told him, "You're going to die tonight."

With Zimmerman's shirt and jacket pushed up during the struggle and his holstered gun now visible, he thought Martin was reaching for his firearm holstered around his waist. Zimmerman told the officer that he shot Martin and the teen said, "You got me."

In a written statement, Singleton read in court, Zimmerman refers to Martin as "the suspect." Singleton said it didn't appear that Zimmerman showed any anger when talking about the teen. Prosecutors must show that Zimmerman acted with ill will or a depraved mind in order to get a second-degree murder conviction.

Zimmerman also acted surprised when Singleton told him Martin was dead.

"He's dead?!" Singleton recalled Zimmerman saying, before he lowered his head toward the table in the interrogation room.

Earlier Monday, prosecutors called FBI audio expert Hirotaka Nakasone to focus on the issue of who was screaming for help on 911 calls during the confrontation. Jurors were played the 911 calls several times last week.

The recordings are crucial pieces of evidence because they could determine who the aggressor was in the confrontation. Martin's family contends it was the teen screaming, while Zimmerman's father has said it was his son.

Even though he was a pre-trial witness for the defense, prosecutors called Nakasone to set up later testimony from either the teen's mother or father that they believe it was their son yelling for help.

During his pre-trial testimony, Nakasone testified that there wasn't enough clear sound to determine whether Zimmerman or Martin was screaming on the best 911 sample, an assertion he repeated Monday.

The FBI expert said it's easier for a person with a familiarity of a voice to identify it than someone who has never heard it previously. That is especially true if the recording is of a subject screaming and the person trying to identify the voice has heard the subject under similarly stressful circumstances previously, Nakasone said.
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DAY8293A - 7/3/2013 8:27 AM
0 Votes
This judge is biased. She allows the officers opinion of whether Zimmerman was showing ill will, but cannot give his opinion of Zimmerman's credibility shows her prejudice. This is a professional interrogater, and his opinion on the credibility of a witness is definitely something the jury should be allowed to consider. And imagine having your head slammed into a flat concrete slab hard enough to break the skin... you would probably go to the emergency room to check for a concussion, especially if it was a child of yours. For this examiner to claim that by just looking at pictures, she can say it looked bad enough for Zimmerman to think his life was threatened is ridiculous! I guess she was looking for brain matter to be exposed before she would call it life threatening. If you feel your life is threatened, as in someone a lot bigger than you is on top of you and has just slammed your head onto the sidewalk, even once, that is a life threatening situation. Zimmerman was unable to retreat even if he wanted to. Why doesn't the judge issue a subpoena for the NSA to release the recordings from that night? We now know they have them from the NSA director,, It would prove what a liar the "star" witness is. They probably have a better recording of the voice screaming "help me"... I am sure this would have already been done, if it would have helped the prosecution... Think about it....

Truthseeker - 7/3/2013 4:37 AM
0 Votes
The main stream media and many of the politicians have decided that Zimmerman is guilty and they are doing their best to influence the trial in that direction. In reality, only Zimmerman and Martin know what happened and Martin can't testify. They prosecution has no concrete evidence. And no, Jeantel's testimony isn't really evidence!!!

jillhawkins - 7/2/2013 4:24 PM
1 Vote
give him time served and let the poor man out!!

Mousietung - 7/2/2013 2:31 PM
5 Votes
Would someone in the defense PLEASE admit that yes Zimmerman was profiling! He was obviously profiling for a an unkown person , not recognized by him , walking around in the gloom of a property that had been victimized by multiple recent break-ins. In other words DOING HIS JOB as a neighborhood watchman! He then correctly notified the police that he was observing such person. Anyone who has lived in a neighborhood that has had a string of burglaries knows that " those A$$#@/&$ " do indeed almost always get away with it. He is portrayed as " stalking" a "scared widdle boy" intent on "revenge". Really! Looks like he was doing his job continuing to " observe" while police were coming. If Trayvon was really that "scared widdle boy" he would have run home straight to momma. Instead he chose to attack someone who was merely following him. That act makes him the aggressor and not the victim. That is where all this should have stopped. Did Zimmerman identify himself ? Maybe , maybe not..Did Trayvon identify himself as a visitor /resident ? I bet not, because if he had then most likely none of us would be here now. I'm sorry for Trayvon's parents, no parent should have to go what they are going through, but their son made a very very poor choice and it cost him his life. That's it. No one wants to say it and move on. I wonder how this would have been if he had actually been in possession of the gun he was shopping for? Would a Special Prosecutor be trying the case of Trayvon having shot/ killed Zimmerman? I bet not!

Mousietung - 7/2/2013 2:28 PM
1 Vote
Would someone in the defense PLEASE admit that yes Zimmerman was profiling! He was obviously profiling for a an unkown person , not recognized by him , walking around in the gloom of a property that had been victimized by multiple recent break-ins. In other words DOING HIS JOB as a neighborhood watchman! He then correctly notified the police that he was observing such person. Anyone who has lived in a neighborhood that has had a string of burglaries knows that " those A$$#@/&$ " do indeed almost always get away with it. He is portrayed as " stalking" a "scared widdle boy" intent on "revenge". Really! Looks like he was doing his job continuing to " observe" while police were coming. If Trayvon was really that "scared widdle boy" he would have run home straight to momma. Instead he chose to attack someone who was merely following him. That act makes him the aggressor and not the victim. That is where all this should have stopped. Did Zimmerman identify himself ? Maybe , maybe not..Did Trayvon identify himself as a visitor /resident ? I bet not, because if he had then most likely none of us would be here now. I'm sorry for Trayvon's parents, no parent should have to go what they are going through, but their son made a very very poor choice and it cost him his life. That's it. No one wants to say it and move on. I wonder how this would have been if he had actually been in possession of the gun he was shopping for? Would a Special Prosecutor be trying the case of Trayvon having shot/ killed Zimmerman? I bet not!
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