Opening statements begin today in Zimmerman trial

Rare Staff Report |

As opening statements begin Monday in Sanford, Fla., prosecutors say they will not say Hispanic volunteer community watchman George Zimmerman “profiled” Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager who was killed as he walked through a gated community of townhomes, “solely because of race,” The Associated Press reported after the judge laid down the limitations on how prosecutors could use the terms last week.

Two weeks of jury selection and pretrial motions also included judicial rulings on words, allowing “wannabe cop” and “vigilante” are acceptable in the second degree murder trial of the shooting death of the Miami 17-year-old who was wearing a dark hooded shirt in the rain as he was returning to the home of his father’s fiancee from a convenience store, the AP reported.

A jury of six women, five of them white, were selected Thursday. Two men and one woman were selected as alternates.

Zimmerman’s defense attorneys, Mark O’Mara and Don West, are expected to say their client killed the teenager in self-defense, but prosecutors will say Zimmerman provoked the confrontation, the AP reported.

Zimmerman was not charged until 44 days after the killing, after a national outcry that police in the central Florida city of Sanford were accused of making a lax investigation in the the Feb. 26, 2012, killing, the AP reported. A special prosecutor was appointed who brought the case.

“We’re trying so hard in this case not to make it what everybody outside the courthouse wants it to be,” the AP quoted O’Mara.

The AP reported that both sides are expected to focus heavily on two police dispatch call recordings, in which the struggle can be heard between Zimmerman and Martin, who shot the teenager in the chest with his 9mm handgun.

The first is a nonemergency call in which the dispatcher tells Zimmerman he doesn’t need to be following Martin, the AP reported.

The second is an emergency call in which screams are disputed as being of Zimmerman’s, as his father says, or Martin’s, as his parents say, the AP reported.

The judge ruled Friday that testimony from the prosecution’s audio experts will not be allowed because of unreliable methods, the AP reported.

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