State prosecutors called their first four witnesses on Monday afternoon in the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
[Chat recap with Tony Pipitone from the courtroom]
The first witness for the state was 15-year-old Chad Joseph, son of Tracy Martin's girlfriend, Brandy Green, and the teen Martin went to get Skittles for at the 7-Eleven on Feb. 26, 2012 when the shooting occurred.
Joseph said Martin walked to the 7-Eleven and he didn't go with Martin because he was playing PlayStation 3. Joseph said he asked Martin to get him Skittles and talked to him while he was walking home from the store in the rain. Joseph said he called Martin again afterward but no one answered and that he learned Martin had died after school the next day.
Defense attorney Mark O'Mara questioned Joseph about how long they were playing games and if Martin was around the whole time or on the phone. Joseph said he doesn't remember if Martin was on the phone while playing games.
The state's second witness called was 20-year-old Andrew Gaugh, of Deltona, the 7-Eleven cashier the night Martin went to the store off of Rinehart Road and bought Skittles and Arizona brand fruit drink. Gaugh said he doesn't recall conversation with Martin or having any concern about Martin.
While Gaugh was on the stand, jurors watched the surveillance video of Martin wearing a hooded sweatshirt at the 7-Eleven.
O'Mara questioned Gaugh about if he remembered what he was doing the night of the shooting. On cross-examination, O'Mara stood next to Gaugh, who said he's 5 feet 10 inches, to show height compared to Martin.
The third witness the state called was the Seminole County dispatcher who took Zimmerman's non-emergency call the night of the shooting, Sean Noffke, who has been employed with the department for six years.
Noffke told Zimmerman on the call that he didn't need to follow Martin. The jury listened to the call for the third time on Monday. The state asked if operators want callers to investigate themselves.
"We're trying to avoid confrontation," Noffke said, adding that he heard movement in the phone when he asked if Zimmerman was following Martin. "We're directly liable if we give direct order so we give ... suggestions."
Noffke said he "suggested" Zimmerman stop but didn't "order" him to stop following Martin.
In cross-examination, O'Mara asked Noffke if he heard anger in Zimmerman's voice, to which Noffke said he didn't. O'Mara also asked Noffke if he had any concerns about Zimmerman, including Zimmerman's description of Martin--Noffke said he didn't.
The fourth witness the state called was Seminole County Sheriff's Office Deputy of Communications Director Ramona Rumph, who discussed the difference between a 911 call and a non-emergency call. Rumph said the 911 call's codes can change throughout the call.
The state then played a previous call for a suspicious person from Zimmerman. O'Mara objected to the call on relevancy grounds. The state said the prior calls are relevant to his stated belief from the recent call "they always get away" and prior crimes in the neighborhood, showing Zimmerman's ongoing frustration. Judge Debra S. Nelson said "state of mind" in the prior calls could make the calls relevant.
In the midst of the argument, Nelson recessed court for the day. It will be back in session at 8:30 a.m. to discuss the 911 call issue further.
The jury heard opening statements on Monday morning with the state prosecutor starting off by repeating what Zimmerman said in a non-emergency call the night of the shooting.
In his 35-minute opening statement for the state, prosecutor John Guy started off by exclaiming "(expletive) punks," "these (expletives) always get away."
"Those were the words in the defendant's head, just moments before he pressed that pistol into Trayvon Martin's chest and pulled the trigger," Guy continued.
Martin's father, Tracy, wiped tears from his eyes as Guy proceeded with opening statements. Zimmerman faced forward, not appearing to look at Guy when he pointed at Zimmerman while referring to him during opening statements.
"The murder of Trayvon Martin was the product of two worlds colliding," Guy continued, saying that Zimmerman thought it was his "right to rid his neighborhood of anyone who did not belong."
Guy said Zimmerman "reveals to you his feelings about Trayvon Martin," with his phone call to authorities.
For the first time, the identity of Witness 8 was revealed as Guy said Rachel Gentell was on the phone with Martin when Martin said, "what are you following me for?" before the phone went silent.
Guy then outlined discrepancies between Zimmerman's police interview and his call to the non-emergency police line.
Guy said that when Zimmerman arrived at the Sanford Police Department after the shooting, "that's when he began to spin his tangled web of lies."
No Zimmerman DNA was found on Martin's hands or clothing despite Zimmerman's statement to police that Martin attacked him, Guy continued.