Tracy Martin, the father of Trayvon Martin, pauses while testifying in… (Joe Burbank / Associated…)
The father of Trayvon Martin denied that he told police investigators that the screams he heard on a 911 recording were not those of his son, who was slain by George Zimmerman.
The defense in the second-degree murder trial of Zimmerman called Tracy Martin to the stand Monday after two Sanford police officers testified that the father had said the screams heard in the background of the 911 call were not his son’s.
“I didn’t tell him it wasn’t Trayvon,” Tracy Martin testified. He said he pushed away his chair, which was on wheels, bowed his head and said, “I can’t tell” after police played the tape and questioned him days after Zimmerman fatally shot the unarmed Trayvon Martin during a confrontation.
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Under cross-examination, Tracy Martin said he was still grieving for his son, who was killed Feb. 26, 2012, in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. “I listened to my son’s last cry for help, listened to his life being taken,” Tracy Martin said of the first time he heard the tape. “I was trying to come to grips.”
Earlier, two police investigators testified that Tracy Martin had told them the screams on the 911 recording were not those of his son. Police Officer Chris Serino, who was called earlier in the trial as a prosecution witness, was called by the defense Monday. Zimmerman, 29, says he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense.
Last week, Trayvon Martin’s mother and brother testified that the screams heard on the recording were his. Gladys Zimmerman, buttressed by George Zimmerman’s uncle, testified last week that the screams were those of her son. On Monday, several friends of Zimmerman testified that they recognized the voice as George Zimmerman’s.
The identity of the voice and screams may help the six-woman jury decide who was calling for help during the deadly confrontation. Determining who was the aggressor could be a key issue.
In the days after the shooting, Serino said, he met with Tracy Martin. The officer told defense attorney Mark O’Mara that he played the 911 recording on a computer for the father.
Serino said he asked Tracy Martin if the voice on the recording was his son’s. The answer was no, Serino said.
“It was more of a verbal and nonverbal answer,” Serino said. “He looked away and said something under his breath. As I interpreted it, he said no.”
“I heard it, and saw the movement of his mouth,” Serino said later, when pressed on cross-examination about whether he was sure that Tracy Martin had said the voice was not his son’s.
Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda suggested during cross-examination that Tracy Martin may have been in denial about his son's death and uttered, “No.”
“It could be perceived as denial,” said Serino, agreeing that listening to the recording was very emotional for Tracy Martin. Officer Doris Singleton, who also testified earlier in the case and was present at the interview, said Monday that Martin appeared very upset.
Singleton testified she had no doubt that Martin had indicated that it was not his son’s voice on the recording. The officer gave a different version of events than Serino, but corroborated the main point that Martin told Serino "that it was not his son," Singleton testified.
Tracy Martin has been in the courtroom throughout the proceedings and heard the officers testify.
O’Mara tried to ask if Martin thought the police were lying, but the prosecution objected and Judge Debra S. Nelson agreed.