The identity of screams for help on 911 calls continued to be at the center of the George Zimmerman murder trial. Zimmerman’s defense team called to the stand a string of Zimmerman associates today who testified that it was definitely “Georgie” screaming for help, while Trayvon Martin’s father Tracy Martin conceded that he initially didn’t believe the voice was Trayvon’s but after listening to the tapes 20 times or so he changed his mind and came to think it was Trayvon screaming.
After Sanford Police Det. Christopher Serino and Police Officer Doris Singleton both said Tracy Martin did not recognize his son’s voice on the tape, defense attorneys called Martin himself to the stand and he said he came to think differently of the voice’s identity. He said he heard it several more times when it was played for him at the Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett’s office.
“After listening to the tape for, maybe 20 times, I said I knew that it was Trayvon’s voice,” the elder Martin said under questioning by defense attorney Mark O’Mara.
But in an illustration of how difficult voice identity was using the 911 tapes, Serino later said when cross examined by the prosecution that Zimmerman also said “that doesn’t even sound like me” when asked about the screams.
Tracy Martin said Trayvon was his “best friend in life,” and said the boy’s death turned his world “upside down.”
The mothers of both Zimmerman and Martin testified on Friday that it was their son doing the screaming in the 911 calls to the Sanford police.
The 911 calls have proven to be a crucial piece of the case, as the screams for help would indicate whether it was Zimmerman or Trayvon who felt their life was in danger. Zimmerman, the 29-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, says he shot the 17-year-old in self-defense because he was being beaten by the teen.
Officer Doris Singleton said she was choked up as she watched the tapes being played for Tracy Martin as he listened to the screams and the gunshot for the first time.
“I could feel for him because I have children,” said Singleton. “I could see him wiping tears from his eyes…You could see that he was upset.”
Five of Zimmerman’s close friends and former co-workers testified that they recognized Zimmerman’s voice on the the 911 tape. Sondra Osterman, wife of Zimmerman’s best friend Mark Osterman and a former co-worker of Zimmerman’s at a mortgage company, told jurors that the shrieking voice on the tape was “definitely” that of Zimmerman. Her husband Mark Osterman wrote a book about the fatal shooting — “Defending our Friend: The Most Hated Man in America” — but Sondra Osterman told jurors that would not affect her testimony in the case.
“I wouldn’t lie for him or for anybody,” Sondra Osterman said.
She also said Zimmerman’s use of an expletive on the 911 call did not indicate any ill-will or hatred on his behalf.
“I don’t think he was angry,” she told jurors.
Mark Osterman, a federal air marshal who said he discussed gun safety with Zimmerman and took him to a gun range, testified that Zimmerman was “very safe all the time” with his Kel Tec 9-mm. handgun, which does not have an external safety and is difficult to fire accidentally.
“It’s a reliable firearm,” said Mark Osterman, who said he recommended to Zimmerman that he keep a round chambered in the weapon.
Mark Osterman also testified that it was Zimmerman screaming on the 911 call.
“It sounded like George,” he told jurors.
Jurors also heard from Adam Pollock, owner of a kickboxing gym where Zimmerman trained prior to the incident. Pollock called Zimmerman “grossly obese” and said he was not athletic at all.
“He came to the gym to lose weight and get in shape,” Pollock said.
When O’Mara asked him to rate Zimmerman’s athletic ability on a scale of one to 10 when he began training, Pollock said, “Point-five.”
This testimony may be important because it may show that although Zimmerman had received martial arts training, he wasn’t very good at it—meaning he might not feel he could adequately defend himself in a conflict with a 17-year-old boy who was much lighter than him.
Though Zimmerman’s lawyers asked Judge Debra Nelson to dismiss the case after the prosecution finished presenting its evidence, Nelson denied their request, allowing the trial to continue.
Their testimony came after five of Zimmerman’s friends and co-workers took the stand today in the first full day of Zimmerman’s defense and said it was Zimmerman’s voice screaming for help seconds before he shot the teenager.