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George Zimmerman trial: State can say Trayvon Martin was profiled

SANFORD -When opening statements begin in the trial of George Zimmerman, prosecutors will be able to tell the jury that Trayvon Martin was profiled and Zimmerman was a "wannabe cop," the judge in the case ruled today.

Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled on a defense motion this morning seeking to block those phrases from trial. The state can also say "vigilante" if they choose, and can say that Zimmerman confronted Trayvon, Nelson ruled.

However, she said prosecutors should avoid saying Trayvon was racially profiled.

Prosecutor John Guy said this morning that the state didn't plan to say the teen was profiled "solely" by race: "There are a number of ways" someone could be profiled, he said.

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara countered that profiling and racial profiling are inseparable as concepts: "It's like peanut butter and jelly."

Nelson told O'Mara that if the state's case doesn't live up to its opening statement, the defense is free to point that out in closing arguments.

"If they don't prove it, they don't prove it," the judge said.

Another major ruling in the trial was expected today: whether state expert witnesses will be allowed to testify about who was screaming in the background of a 911 call before Trayvon's shooting.

But Nelson said in court this morning that she's still working on that ruling, which might not come until Monday.

The state’s forensic audio analysts say it's likely Trayvon, not Zimmerman, was the source of the screams, captured by a neighbor’s 911 call.
The judge has heard several days' testimony on the science used by the state's experts, whose testimony defense attorney Donald West called "perhaps the most important evidence in this case," if it's allowed in.

One of the state's experts, Alan R. Reich, says the voice he identified as Trayvon is heard yelling "I'm begging you," something the other experts haven't said.

Several defense experts, one of them employed with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, testified that the science used by the state shouldn't be trusted.

Assistant State Attorney Richard Mantei told the judge on Thursday that the state's experts are using long-established techniques, and that Florida law supports letting them present their opinions.

"The evidence should be heard by the jury, and let them decide," Mantei said.

West lambasted the state experts: One, Tom Owen, is using the case to promote new voice identification software in which he has a financial stake, West said. Mantei countered that Owen's interest is "minuscule."

West said the other experts haven't heard Reich "claims to hear" because it's not there: "His report should begin, 'It was a dark and stormy night,'" the defense lawyer said.

This morning, West got into an argument with the judge about two statements by Zimmerman that defense attorneys want witnesses to tell jurors about.

One would come from one of the first people on the scene, who told attorneys he heard Zimmerman say that he had to shoot Trayvon because the teenager was beating him up.

The other would come from a Sanford police officer who quickly got to the scene. He told attorneys that Zimmerman said he had been calling for help but that no one would help him.

The judge put off hearing argument about that until next week.

Zimmerman shot Trayvon on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford. When he wasn't arrested, the case inspired widespread protests. Zimmerman was later charged with second-degree murder by a special prosecutor.

Prosecutors allege Zimmerman profiled, pursued and killed the unarmed Miami Gardens teen. Zimmerman says he was the one screaming after he was attacked by Trayvon. He says he fired in self-defense.

Source: The Orlando Sentinel

OP Note: I live and work in Sanford.  Think of us on Monday, friends - it only gets crazier from here. 
Tags: !breaking news, *trigger warning: racism, *trigger warning: violence, law, race / racism, racial profiling, trayvon martin case
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