State Prosecutors Uncover Zimmerman’s Criminal Justice Background

State Prosecutors Uncover Zimmerman’s Criminal Justice Background

The State of Florida v. George Zimmerman trial continued Wednesday after Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled that Zimmerman’s educational background was relevant to the second degree murder charge.

Published July 3, 2013

The State of Florida v. George Zimmerman trial continued Wednesday after Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled that Zimmerman’s educational background was relevant to the second-degree murder charge.

Judge Nelson allowed Zimmerman’s college records from criminal justice classes into the trial, along with the information that he applied to be an officer with the Prince William County Police Department in 2009 in Virginia that was rejected. 

The defense argued that this information was irrelevant to the matter at hand. Defense attorney Mark O’Mara said, “None of these scenarios would have any relevance to anything."

Prosecutor Richard Mantei argued that Zimmerman’s extracurricular life would explain his interests and tendency to profile, saying “[Zimmerman] has had a desire to be an actual police officer.” Mantei noted that Zimmerman spoke in police jargon, saying “I un-holstered my firearm” rather than the more colloquial, “I pulled my gun."

Witness Jim Krzenski, a police officer with the Sanford Police Department, testified about the time Zimmerman rode along with him in his police vehicle in 2010. The ride-along only occurred once, and Krzenski said that Zimmerman wanted to do it in order to solidify his chances of a career in law enforcement.

State prosecutors called on several witnesses to verify that Zimmerman did enroll and complete criminal justice courses, including U.S. Army Capt. Alexis Francisco Carter Jr., a former public defender. Carter taught Zimmerman’s criminal justice litigation course at Seminole State College.

According to Carter, Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law was regularly discussed in the class. The state addressed the contradiction this made against Zimmerman’s claim last year during an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News, during which he said he did not know about the controversial law until after he shot Trayvon Martin. Carter also said Zimmerman “was probably one of the better students in the class,” earning an “A” grade.

Amy Siewert, a firearms analyst in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, was called to the stand today. Siewert’s testimony included descriptions about how Zimmerman’s gun and safety mechanism worked. She said that burns found on Martin’s hoodie were consistent with the muzzle of the gun pressing into the garment.

The afternoon was filled with the state’s witness, DNA expert Anthony Gorgone from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. A significant portion of his testimony was spent explaining the science behind DNA testing for the benefit of the jury before delving into the specifics of the trial.

Gorgone testified his department found that Zimmerman and Martin left traces of their DNA on one another. Gorgone did not find any of Zimmerman’s DNA under Martin’s nails, or any of Martin’s DNA on Zimmerman’s gun. Gorgone was asked by prosecuting attorney Bernie de la Rionda to point out which stains on Martin’s clothes were caused by blood.

The trial will not be in session on July 4 to honor the holiday, and will resume Friday, July 5.

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(Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images)

Written by Musu Sirleaf and Sierra Wingate-Bey


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