SANFORD, Fla. — A prosecutor began opening statements in George Zimmerman’s trial Monday with obscene words the neighborhood watch volunteer whispered under his breath while following 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
“F------ punks,” prosecutor John Guy said to six female jurors, quoting Zimmerman from a call he made to a police dispatcher shortly before his fatal confrontation with Martin. “These a-------. They always get away.”
Guy told the jurors that Zimmerman profiled Martin “as someone about to commit a crime in his neighborhood.”
“And he acted on it. That’s why we’re here.”
Zimmerman followed Martin through his neighborhood, confronted him and then fatally shot him during a fight, Guy said.
“George Zimmerman didn’t shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to,” Guy said. “He shot him for the worst of all reasons: because he wanted to.”
The prosecutor described Zimmerman as someone who wanted to be a police officer, and he dismantled the story Zimmerman has told investigators about what happened during the fight between the neighborhood watch volunteer and the Miami-area teen that left Martin dead from a bullet to his chest.
Zimmerman’s claim that Martin had his hands over the neighborhood watch volunteer’s mouth is false since none of Zimmerman’s DNA was found on Martin’s body, Guy said. The prosecutor also said Zimmerman’s claim that he had to fire because Martin was reaching for his firearm is false since none of Martin’s DNA was on the gun or holster.
Zimmerman is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder, claiming self-defense. His defense attorney was to present his opening statements following those of the prosecution.
On Feb. 26, 2012, Zimmerman spotted Martin, whom he did not recognize, walking in the gated townhome community where Zimmerman and the fiancee of Martin’s father lived. There had been a rash of recent break-ins and Zimmerman was wary of strangers walking through the complex.
The two eventually got into a struggle and Zimmerman shot Martin in the chest with his 9mm handgun. He was charged 44 days after the shooting, only after a special prosecutor was appointed to review the case and after protests. The delay in the arrest prompted protests nationwide.
Two police dispatch phone calls will be important evidence for both sides’ cases.
The first is a call Zimmerman made to a nonemergency police dispatcher, who told him he didn’t need to be following Martin.
The second 911 call captures screams from the confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin. Martin’s parents said the screams are from their son while Zimmerman’s father contends they belong to his son.
Nelson ruled last weekend that audio experts for the prosecution won’t be able to testify that the screams belong to Martin, saying the methods the experts used were unreliable.