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Judge to rule on admitting George Zimmerman school records

July 03, 2013|By Michael Muskal
  • Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda, right, talks to defense attorney Mark O'Mara in the courtroom in Sanford, Fla. O'Mara is representing George Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda, right, talks to defense attorney Mark O'Mara… (Joe Burbank/ Orlando Sentinel…)

Prosecutors in the George Zimmerman trial want to use the neighborhood watch volunteer’s school record and job application to help build the case that he murdered teenager Trayvon Martin. 

Lawyers on Wednesday will argue a prosecution move to admit Zimmerman’s school records, his request to ride along during a tour with police in Sanford, Fla., and a job application to a police agency in Virginia. The defense opposes the prosecution requests, branding it as part of a witch hunt against Zimmerman.

Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, 17, on Feb. 26, 2012 during a confrontation at a gated community in Sanford. Zimmerman maintains he shot Martin in self-defense when the unarmed teenager attacked him.

PHOTOS: The controversial case in pictures

The prosecution theory of the case is that Zimmerman profiled Martin, an African American, when he saw him that rainy night, followed him, and then the pair had a confrontation. Zimmerman has given several accounts with varying details but has broadly maintained the same story: That he saw Martin, and the teenager attacked him, beating him repeatedly. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense.

In an edited interview played for jurors by the prosecution, Zimmerman told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he didn’t know anything about Florida’s self-defense laws.

But the school records show that Zimmerman took a class in the state’s self-defense law, according to prosecutor Richard Mantei, who sought to get the documents admitted into evidence on Tuesday. Defense lawyer Mark O’Mara argued against admitting the document, saying the prosecution shouldn’t be allowed to enter a document to impeach an issue that it had originally raised.

GRAPHIC: Who's who in the Trayvon Martin case

Further, knowledge of the self-defense laws could have helped Zimmerman during his various interviews with police and authorities. The Sanford police originally accepted Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense. He was indicted on a charge of second-degree murder weeks later after national and local civil rights demonstrations.

The prosecution also argued that Zimmerman wanted to be a police officer, and that his vocational goals led to him having an attitude of a wannabe cop or vigilante. The prosecution maintains that Zimmerman's frustration at reports of crime in his gated community is part of what led him to profile Martin.

The application for the Virginia job speaks to Zimmerman’s goals as does the Florida police ride-along request.

O’Mara called the documents a witch hunt by the prosecution.
The dispute comes as the prosecution appears to be close to ending its presentation, which goes into its eighth day on Wednesday. The prosecution has already called more than two dozen witnesses.

Still be heard is the medical evidence from the autopsy of Martin and most likely Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother. Fulton is expected to testify that the voice heard screaming for help on a 911 call is her son’s.


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