George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman Murder Trial Starts With Expletives

Opening statements began on Monday in George Zimmerman's murder trial.

George Zimmerman
By SHARE

A prosecutor began his opening statement in the racially-charged murder trial against George Zimmerman by questioning Zimmerman's claim that he acted in self-defense, while the defense claimed the former neighborhood watchman was "viciously attacked" by 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

[READ: All-Female Jury Will Try George Zimmerman in Murder Trial]

Speaking in front of six female jurors, prosecutor John Guy quoted Zimmerman from a call he made to a police dispatcher shortly before he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year.

"F------ punks," Guy said, quoting the call. "These a-------. They always get away."

Guy said Zimmerman, 29, followed Martin through his neighborhood, confronted him and fatally shot the unarmed teenager during a fight, according to the Associated Press.

"George Zimmerman didn't shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to," Guy said. "He shot him for the worst of all reasons: because he wanted to."

 

Zimmerman, 29, is accused of second-degree murder, to which he has pleaded not guilty. Though he says he acted in self-defense, prosecutors claim that he profiled and murdered the teenager.

On Feb. 26, 2012, Zimmerman spotted Martin walking in the gated town home community where Zimmerman and the fiancee of Martin's father lived. There had been a rash of recent break-ins and Zimmerman was wary of strangers walking through the complex, according to various news reports.

"George Zimmerman is not guilty of murder," said defense attorney Don West, according to NBC News. "He shot Trayvon Martin after being viciously attacked."

[PHOTOS: Protesters Seek 'Justice' for Trayvon Martin]

But Benjamin Crump, the Martin family's attorney, said in court that there is no evidence to suggest that Martin attacked Zimmerman.

"We believe this is a simple case," he said. "There was none of George Zimmerman's DNA found on Trayvon Martin's hands or underneath his fingernails."

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara wants Crump to remain out of the courtroom during the trial because he may be a substantial witness, according to USA Today. State prosecutors also asked Circuit Judge Debra Nelson to ask Zimmerman's family to leave, as they are also potential witnesses. But Martin's family can stay because Florida law allows the victim's family to do so.

The jury, including four alternates, will also be sequestered for the entire trial, due to the national attention surrounding the trial, officials announced shortly before the trial began on Monday.

The 10 jurors will stay in an undisclosed hotel for the entire trial, without access to the media, including television, newspapers and the Internet, according to New York Daily News, though they will be allowed to use cell phones once a day to speak with family and friends.

In addition to Zimmerman's initial call to police, the jury heard 911 calls made by people who heard a fight outside, with someone in the background screaming for help.

[ALSO: Trayvon Martin's Texts Matter, Says George Zimmerman's Attorney]

The state's forensic audio analysts have said it's likely Martin's screams, not Zimmerman's, that were captured by a neighbor's 911 call, though Nelson ruled Saturday that those experts will not be allowed to testify. However, she ruled that witnesses familiar with the voices of Zimmerman and Martin may testify, according to USA Today.

Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, abruptly left the courtroom on Monday when the tape with the screams was played in court, according to ABC News.

"I ask that you pray for me and my family because I don't want any other mother to have to experience what I'm going through now," she said at a news conference before court on Monday.

The jury also began hearing testimonies from several witnesses on Monday, including Sean Noffke, the police dispatcher who took Zimmerman's non-emergency call the night of the shooting, and Andrew Gaugh, who was working as a clerk at the 7-Eleven where Martin went that night, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Noffke said he told Zimmerman that it was not necessary to follow Martin, though he said when cross-examined that he did not sense any anger in Zimmerman's voice. Gaugh said Martin bought Skittles and an Arizona beverage from him and doesn't remember having any concerns about the teen, the Orlando Sentinel reported.