After four days of testimony, the defense rested its case in the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Judge Debra S. Nelson denied the defense's second motion for judgment of acquittal based on self-defense, saying it should be decided by the jury. The state is asking in the jury selections for the inclusion of two lesser offenses--manslaughter and aggravated assault.
The defense objected to the lesser included offenses and they will argue it further on Thursday morning
The state presented its rebuttal case with at least two witnesses being recalled. Adam Pollock, the owner of the gym where Zimmerman trained at, was the first rebuttal witness.
The state said Pollock is marketing "Zimmerman training" on his website. Pollock said he does not market that on his website and the defense objected to the state's question. Nelson ruled the state cannot ask the gym owner about website advertising his Zimmerman training program.
The state's second witness is Arthur Fleishman, the Alochol Tobacco and Firearm agent who arrested Zimmerman on battery on a law enforcement officer charges in 2005. The defense objected to the state calling the witness. The state said the defense has given testimony that Zimmerman was unable to fight and their witness may refute that. That testimony may occur Thursday morning at 10 a.m.
The state also decided not to call Florida Department Law Enforcement's David Lee.
Closing arguments will follow on Thursday, with the jury to receive instructions from Judge Debra S. Nelson before beginning deliberations. Closing arguments are expected to take 6 hours, 3 for each side and will begin at 1 p.m. Thursday. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara said he is going to argue the applicability of manslaughter in jury instructions.
The jury is expected to begin deliberations on Friday.
After jurors left for the evening Wednesday, Nelson denied the state's motion for sanctions for a sequestration violation of witness John Donnelly. Donnelly testified on Day 10 of the trial, but was sitting in court on Days 2 and 3--June 25 and 26. O'Mara said Donnelly was only in court to support Zimmerman's wife, Shellie. O'Mara said the defense noticed his presence and Donnelly left.
Nelson said Donnelly's testimony will stay, but she said she is very concerned with the disobeying of the rule. She said she doesn't believe Donnelly knew of the rule prohibiting his presence.
In four days, the defense called 18 witnesses, including Zimmerman’s mother and uncle and friends of Zimmerman—all of whom testified that the voice screaming in the background of the 911 call was Zimmerman, not Martin.
O’Mara also called Sanford police investigators, Martin’s father Tracy Martin, former Police Chief Bill Lee and forensic and law enforcement experts.
The state called 38 witnesses, consisting of Martin’s mother and brother, the teen who was on the phone with Martin just before the altercation, the medical examiner who completed Martin’s autopsy, neighbors who heard the altercation, Sanford Police Department members, forensic experts, Zimmerman’s former law enforcement teachers and the non-emergency 911 dispatcher who suggested Zimmerman not to follow Martin.
The state began its case on June 24 after nearly two weeks of jury selection and rested its case July 5.
Nelson's first ruling on Wednesday was that Zimmerman's attorneys will not be allowed to present a computer-animated fight reenactment as evidence and also cannot introduce text messages from Martin's phone.
Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder. The former neighborhood watch volunteer has pleaded not guilty, claiming he shot and killed Martin in self-defense.
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