Judge in Zimmerman Case Allows Witnesses' Identities to Be Revealed

Judge Debra Nelson also decided to hear from experts regarding the 911 call.

Posted: 06/06/2013 01:12 PM EDT

A judge presiding over the trial in the killing of Trayvon Martin ruled against a request by George Zimmerman’s lawyer, who sought to prevent more than six witnesses from testifying anonymously.

The judge also decided to hear from experts who are expected to testify about voices heard on a 911 call on the night of the shooting, which occurred in February of last year.

George Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, had sought to prevent an expert hired by the prosecution from testifying in the trial, which begins Monday. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in the case of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty, saying that he shot the unarmed teenager in self-defense.

The request to prevent the prosecution’s experts from testifying was greeted with outrage by the family of Trayvon Martin.

“It is ridiculous for the Zimmerman defense team to argue that expert voice analysts should not be permitted to testify at the trial when George Zimmerman himself stated the voice crying for help on the 911 recording “doesn't even sound like me,’" said Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Martin’s family, in a statement.

“Expert voice analysis is necessary to assist in identifying the voices on the 911 tape,” Crump said. In the recording, screams and a gunshot can be heard.

O’Mara said that there were a number of concerns regarding the witnesses testifying without being seen by anyone but the jurors, citing “personal concerns for their safety.” He had earlier recommended that the judge allow them to testify behind a screen, in view of jurors but not of reporters.

The courtroom activity comes just days before the beginning of the Zimmerman trial, which has gained international attention. The family of Trayvon has contended that the teenager was shot as an act of racial profiling.

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 (Photo: Joe Burbank - Pool/Getty Images)

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