After 56 witnesses and 12 days of testimony, Florida's case against George Zimmerman is scheduled to go to the jury on Friday. On Wednesday Circuit Judge Debra Nelson asked Zimmerman whether he would testify, and he said he had decided not to. Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the February 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin, of Miami Gardens. He has pleaded not guilty, saying he acted in self-defense. Defense attorneys Don West and Mark O'Mara, prosecutor John Guy, and defense witness Dennis Root were some of the people who spoke in court Wednesday.
After 56 witnesses and 12 days of testimony, Florida’s case against George Zimmerman is scheduled to go to the jury on Friday.
That is the schedule that was set by Circuit Judge Debra Nelson in court on Wednesday.
Defense attorneys for Zimmerman rested their case Wednesday and their client told the judge he would not be testifying in the case.
“What George did was an intentional act, in that he knew he was pulling the trigger, the reason why he did it was self-defense,” defense attorney Mark O’Mara said after Wednesday's court proceedings.
Judge Nelson ruled that Trayvon Martin's cellphone text messages can't be introduced as evidence as defense attorneys continued to present their case Wednesday. Judge Nelson also ruled that the defense's animation depicting the struggle between Zimmerman and Martin can be shown to the jury but only during closing arguments.
The rulings came Wednesday in the Seminole County courtroom in Sanford, with Dennis Root, a former police officer and private investigator, testifying for the defense.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the February 2012 shooting of Martin, of Miami Gardens. He has pleaded not guilty, saying he acted in self-defense.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys planned to work out the jury instructions before presenting closing arguments. On Thursday, the state is scheduled to deliver its closing arguments at 1 p.m. and the defense will present its closing argument Friday morning.
Immediately after the defense rested, prosecutors called their first rebuttal witness — Adam Pollock, the gym owner who had trained Zimmerman. But prosecutors decided not to question Pollock after the judge presiding over the case ruled he couldn't be questioned about a video put on his gym's website showing his court testimony at the trial.
Shortly after, court was adjourned until Thursday morning.
Earlier Wednesday, a former neighbor of Zimmerman's, Olivia Bertalan, described how he had helped her find a lock for her townhome's sliding door and offered any help he could after burglars broke into her home.
"I was just appreciative he was offering a hand and said I could spend time with his wife if I wanted to during the day," she said.
Meanwhile, Root testified that Martin was in better physical shape than Zimmerman, and that the neighborhood watch volunteer wasn't an athlete.
"He would find himself lacking when compared to Mr. Martin," Root said of Zimmerman.
Prosecutor John Guy questioned Root's analysis of Zimmerman and Martin's physical abilities during cross examination.
"You talked a little bit about Trayvon Martin, you wanted to know about his physical ability, right?" Guy asked.
"I would have loved to have known totally about it, yes sir," Root said.
"I believe your words were he was physically active?" Guy said.
"That was my understanding, yes sir," Root replied.
"Cause you had information that in middle school, he played football?" Guy asked.
"Again, and I believe I even said it before this case began there was information in the media," Root replied, before attorneys approached the bench for a sidebar.
Guy also used a life-sized foam mannequin in front of the jury to simulate the body positions of Zimmerman and Martin at the time of the shooting.
Straddling the dummy, Guy proposed a scenario in which Martin was on top of Zimmerman and asked Root if it was possible that Martin was backing away from Zimmerman at the time of the fatal gunshot.
"Yes," Root said.
Root also said he may have taken different actions if he were in Zimmerman's situation, but said that "it's just a matter of what you as the individual view as options."
Using the same mannequin during further questioning of Root, defense attorney Mark O'Mara challenged the notion of Martin retreating. Root said that while multiple gun angles were possible, he had no specific information to say what position Martin was in when he was shot.
"I think you're not going to be involved in a conflict like this without it being dynamic," Root said.