Defense Continues to Present Its Case in George Zimmerman Trial

Forensic pathologist and gunshot wound expert Dr. Vincent Di Maio testified Tuesday

Trayvon Martin was on top of George Zimmerman, leaning over him, when Zimmerman shot the teenager once in the chest, a defense witness said Tuesday.

Dr. Vincent Di Maio, a forensic pathologist, testified as the defense continued to present its case.

“This is consistent with Mr. Zimmerman's account that he, that Mr. Martin, was over him leaning forward at the time he was shot,” Di Maio said.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the February 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin, 17, of Miami Gardens. He has pleaded not guilty, saying he acted in self-defense.

Di Maio, a gunshot wound expert, testified that the barrel of Zimmerman's 9mm pistol, when fired, was touching Martin’s clothes, 2 to 4 inches away from his skin. The doctor testified the gun was not pressed up against his body.

During cross-examination prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda stressed that Di Maio relied primarily on only physical evidence of the gunshot wound, and Zimmerman’s account of what happened, to form his opinions.

"I'm saying that the physical evidence is consistent with Mr. Martin being over Mr. Zimmerman,” Di Maio said.

"And is it not also consistent with Mr. Martin pulling away from Zimmerman on the ground and you would have the same angle, he's pulling away and Zimmerman’s shooting him at that time?” de la Rionda asked.

"Yes,” Di Maio replied.

Under cross-examination, Di Maio conceded that he reached his conclusion without factoring in statements from some neighbors who say Zimmerman was on top of Martin. Di Maio, who has testified at high-profile trials such as that of record producer Phil Spector, said witness accounts are often unreliable. The pathologist said he had been paid $2,400 by the defense.

Di Maio also testified that lacerations to the back of Zimmerman's head were consistent with it striking a concrete sidewalk. Later, when looking at photos of Zimmerman's injuries taken the night of the shooting, Di Maio identified six separate impacts to Zimmerman's face and head. He said he believed Zimmerman's nose had been broken.

"It's obvious he's been punched in the nose and hit in the head," he said.

Di Maio's testimony also addressed the difference between Zimmerman's account that he had placed Martin's arms out to his sides and a photo taken after the shooting that shows Martin's arms under his body. The pathologist said Martin would have been conscious for 10 to 15 seconds after the shooting as a reserve supply of oxygen ran out of his body, and during that time he could have moved his arms.

Di Maio was the 13th witness to testify for the defense.

In all more than 50 people have taken the stand during the 11-day trial.

Defense attorney Mark O’Mara said that fatigue is an issue for the jury.

"It has to with the jury, I mean, I do this and I love doing this, I can do this for months, but a jury, they have a limited time span, they’re trying to pay a lot of attention, but there's a lot to absorb,” he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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