Monday, April 21, 2014
The Associated Press
SANFORD, Fla. — Jurors in the George Zimmerman trial on Monday listened to a series of police interviews with detectives growing more pointed in their questioning of the neighborhood watch volunteer's account of how he came to fatally shoot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
George Zimmerman arrives for the 16th day of his trial in Seminole circuit court, in Sanford, Fla., Monday, July 1, 2013. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin. (AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Joe Burbank, Pool)
In this undated photo provided by the Martin family, Trayvon Martin holds an unidentified baby. Martin, 17 of Miami Springs, Fla., was killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla. as he walked from a convenience store in February 2012. (AP Photo/Martin Family, File)
Prosecutors played audio and video tapes of the interviews that Zimmerman had with Sanford Police investigators Doris Singleton and Chris Serino in the hours and days after he fatally shot the Miami teen.
In an early interview, just hours after the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting, Singleton recounted that Zimmerman noticed a cross she was wearing and said: "In Catholic religion, it's always wrong to kill someone."
Singleton said she responded, "If what you're telling me is true, I don't think that what God meant was that you couldn't save your own life."
But in an interview several days later, Singleton and Serino suggest Zimmerman was running after Martin before the confrontation. They also ask the neighborhood watch volunteer why he didn't explain to Martin why he was following him. The officers insinuate that Martin may have been "creeped out" by being followed.
"Do you think he was scared?" Singleton asked Zimmerman in one video interview.
Under cross-examination, though, Serino said Zimmerman seemed straightforward in his answers and didn't show any anger when talking about Martin. Serino said the increasingly pointed questioning was a tactic known as a "challenge interview" where detectives try to break someone's story to make sure they're telling the truth.
Zimmerman has said he fatally shot the teen in self-defense because the Miami-area black teenager was banging his head into the concrete sidewalk behind the townhomes in a gated community.
Zimmerman, 29, could get life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder. The state argued during its opening statement that Zimmerman profiled and followed Martin in his truck and called a police dispatch number before he and the teen got into a fight. He has denied the confrontation had anything to do with race, as Martin's family and their supporters have claimed.
In his first interview at the police station, Zimmerman said he saw Martin walking through his neighborhood on a dark, rainy night while Zimmerman was driving to the grocery store. He told Singleton that he didn't recognize Martin and that there had been recent break-ins at his townhome complex.
"These guys always get away," Zimmerman told Singleton, a statement similar to one that prosecutors have used previously to try to show that Zimmerman was increasingly frustrated with the burglaries and his encounter with Martin was a breaking point.
Zimmerman told the police officer that he lost track of Martin and got out of his truck to look for a street name he could relay to police dispatcher. When the dispatcher suggested Zimmerman didn't need to follow Martin, Zimmerman started to head back to his vehicle. At that point, Zimmerman said Martin jumped out of some bushes, punched him and he fell to the ground.
Zimmerman said that Martin began hitting his head against the sidewalk as Zimmerman yelled for help and that Martin told him, "You're going to die tonight."
With Zimmerman's shirt and jacket pushed up during the struggle and his holstered gun now visible, he thought Martin was reaching for his firearm holstered around his waist. Zimmerman told the officer that he shot Martin and the teen said, "You got me."
(Continued on page 2)