Assistant State Attorney John Guy gestures during his opening statement in George Zimmerman's trial in Seminole circuit court. (Photo: AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Joe Burbank, Pool)
After two weeks of jury selection, the trial State of Florida v. George Zimmerman finally got underway today in Sanford, Florida. Both the defense and the prosecution presented their opening statements to the court.
State of Florida Prosecutor John Guy’s short and direct opening statement full of vulgar language took many aback because it came with no prior warning. Guy quoted 29-year-old Zimmerman’s call to the police in which he referred to the 17-year-old Trayvon Martin saying, “f---ing punks. These a--holes, they always get away.”
Guy called Zimmerman’s language “hate-filled words used to describe a perfect stranger.”
Zimmerman defense attorney Don West began his two-hour opening statement with a knock-knock joke to the jury that fell flat:
“George Zimmerman who?”
“Alright. Good. You’re on the jury.”
As West’s joke was met with a reply of silence, from there he continued:
“Nothing? That’s funny after what you folks have been through the last two or three weeks.”
(West later apologized, telling jurors "No more bad jokes, I promise that.”)
Further along in his opening statement, West played the 911 tapes from the night of the shooting twice, telling the jury they could listen to the audio “as many times as you want.” As West played the audio of the screams and the gunshot, Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, stepped out of the courtroom. One CNN commentator noted that every set of eyes on the all-female jury followed Fulton’s exit.
West also showed the jury photos of the layout of the neighborhood where the shooting occurred, as well as photos of a bloody and bruised Zimmerman taken in the back of a police vehicle shortly after Martin’s shooting.
The court resumed after a recess for lunch, and the defense and prosecution began questioning witnesses.
First to the stand was Chad Joseph, the 15-year-old son of Brandy Green, Martin’s father’s girlfriend. Joseph and Martin had been playing video games together the night when Martin was fatally shot. Joseph testified that he asked Martin to bring him Skittles candy from the nearby 7-Eleven. Joseph said that he and Martin were close and that when Martin did not return he called but “no one answered.”
The second witness was 20-year-old Andrew Gaugh, the cashier at the 7-Eleven convenience store where Martin bought an Arizona drink and Skittles candy before being shot on his way back to Green’s house. Both the state and defense played surveillance video from inside the 7-Eleven for the jury. The defense asked Gaugh if he was “concerned” about the amount of time it took Martin to pay for the items he bought. Gaugh answered “no.”
The prosecution called third witness Sean Noffke to the stand. Noffke was the 911 dispatcher that took the non-emergency call made by Zimmerman on the night Martin was shot and killed.
The testimony of the fourth and final witness was cut short when the defense questioned the relevance of the witness’ statements. Court ended shortly after.
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