Zimmerman jury hears about his studies

2013-07-03 18:45
AP

AP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Florida - A Florida judge ruled on Wednesday that jurors should hear evidence about volunteer watchman George Zimmerman's criminal justice studies because it was relevant to his murder trial for fatally shooting unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

Seminole County Circuit Judge Debra Nelson overruled strenuous objections from Zimmerman's lead lawyer in ordering that the evidence was admissible, siding with prosecutors in deciding that Zimmerman's education was relevant.

"The court makes the determination that the testimony bears directly on an issue in the case. Therefore the testimony is substantive and the objections are overruled," Nelson said.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder, saying he shot Martin in self-defence during their confrontation inside a gated community in the central Florida town of Sanford on 26 February, 2012.

Prosecutors say Zimmerman's choice of classes at Seminole State College, on criminal investigation and witness testimony among other topics, underscored his intense interest in law enforcement and previous interest in becoming a police officer.

One of the first witnesses called after the judge's ruling, Army Captain Alexis Carter, who was a teacher of Zimmerman in a 2010 college class on criminal litigation, testified that he taught about Florida's "Stand Your Ground law".

The prosecution has suggested testimony from Zimmerman's professors would rebut his claim, in an interview with Fox News from last year that was aired in court on Tuesday, that he had no knowledge of the "Stand Your Ground" self-defence law before he shot Martin.

"We have a number of purposes for which this is relevant," said prosecutor Richard Mantei, who argued for the admissibility of the evidence in a pre-trial hearing Wednesday morning.

The evidence would help jurors understand Zimmerman's "state of mind" and "ambitions and frustrations" in the weeks and months leading up to the shooting, Mantei said.

"He had a desire to be an actual police officer," Mantei said.

Cop wannabe

Under Florida's Stand Your Ground law, which was approved in 2005 and has now been copied in some form by about 30 other states, people fearing for their lives can use deadly force without having to retreat from a confrontation, even when it is possible.

The controversial statute is central to Zimmerman's defence. It was approved under former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, despite numerous objections from the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association and state law enforcement officials. The National Rifle Association supported the law.

Defence lawyer Mark O'Mara argued Zimmerman's education was totally irrelevant and would only prove his client had "some prior knowledge" of what it was like to want to be a police officer.

"The whole theory of their [the prosecution's] case is that Mr Zimmerman is some 'cop wannabe,'" O'Mara said.

In testimony on Tuesday, the jury heard a medical examiner say Zimmerman suffered "insignificant" injuries in the fight in which he shot and killed Martin, undermining Zimmerman's claim he feared for his life.

Zimmerman, 29, has said Martin, 17, punched him in the face and repeatedly slammed his head into a concrete walkway. Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, could face life in prison if convicted.

The racially charged case captivated much of the United States in 2012. Police initially declined to arrest Zimmerman, accepting his story of self-defence and sparking protests.

A special prosecutor later brought the murder charge. The prosecutor accused Zimmerman of profiling Martin and chasing him vigilante-style rather than waiting for police to arrive.

Martin was a student at a Miami-area high school and a guest of one of the housing development's home owners. He was walking back to the home in the rain from a convenience store when Zimmerman spotted him and called police, saying Martin looked suspicious.

During the confrontation between the two, which is still clouded by competing narratives and conflicting witness testimony, Zimmerman shot Martin through the heart with a 9mm Kel-Tec semi-automatic handgun that he was licensed to carry.

Read more on:    trayvon martin  |  us
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zille: Only DA can challenge ANC in F State

The DA is the only party that can challenge the ANC in the Free State, opposition party leader Helen Zille says.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Monday Muizenberg - 15:04 PM
    Road name: Main Road Southbound
    HEAVY DELAYS between Muizenberg and Fish Hoek
  • Monday Sir Lowry's Pass - 13:45 PM
    Road name: N2 Westbound
    HEAVY TRAFFIC over Sir Lowrys Pass - expect delays
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9360

The BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphone comes preloaded with Blackberry OS7...

From R1595.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you by...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.