‘You’re going to die tonight motherf***er’ What George Zimmerman told police Trayvon Martin said before he reached for his gun
- Parents from both families are expected to testify that the voice screaming for help is their son
- Jury hear Zimmerman’s two statements to police from right after he was arrested
- Prosecution points out inconsistencies in statements
- Zimmerman claims Trayvon jumped out from bushes and attacked him
- FBI voice expert said the voice sample is ‘not fit for comparison’ and cannot even tell age
- Evidence this week expected to be focused on scientific and forensic details
- Zimmerman looked shock when he was told Trayvon was dead
- Lead detective said he did not seem angry or concerned over the shooting
During the vicious attack on George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin told him ‘You’re going to die tonight motherf***er’ while hitting his head against the pavement and reaching for his gun, it was alleged in court today.
The interview the neighborhood watch volunteer gave a police officer after he fatally shot the unarmed black teen was played to the court, in which he claims the teen jumped out of the bushes and said: ‘You got a problem homey?’ before punching him.
The jury heard Zimmerman’s version of events for the first time today, in which he told police in a number of interviews that he feared for his life after Trayvon jumped him and threatened to kill him.
He allegedly told Zimmerman before trying to reach for his gun: ‘You’re going to die tonight motherf***er.’
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The interview was played this morning with Sanford Police Officer Doris Singleton on the witness stand, who meticulously went through what happened with the neighborhood watch volunteer later that night.
IN HIS OWN WORDS: ZIMMERMAN’S FIRST STATEMENT TO POLICE
‘It was raining out and he was leisurely walking looking at open houses. I had called before and the police had come out but these guys know the neighborhood very well.
‘I pulled my car to the side and I called the non-emergency line and I just reported that there was a suspicious person in the neighborhood.
‘As I headed back to my vehicle the suspect emerged from the darkness and said, “You got a problem?” and I said “No” and the suspect said, “You do now” and punched me in the nose.
‘As soon as he punched me I fell backwards. He was whaling on my head and I started yelling help. He grabbed my head and started hitting me into the sidewalk. I slid into the grass to get out from under him. I was still yelling out for help.
‘He puts his hand on my mouth and nose and says, “You’re going to die tonight motherf***er”. I don’t remember much after that. I couldn’t breathe. He still kept trying to hit my heard against the pavement.
‘Each time I attempted to sit up the suspect slammed my head. My head felt like it was going to explode.
‘As he banged my head I pulled out my firearm and I shot him. I’m on the ground and he’s mounted on top of me, I shot him.’
In a calm and collected voice, Zimmerman explains the sequence of events, from the moment he saw a ‘suspicious person’ that he didn’t recognize to the moment he shot Trayvon.
In that first police interview, he said he saw Trayvon walking through his neighborhood on a dark, rainy night while Zimmerman was driving to the grocery store.
He told Officer Singleton that he didn’t recognize Martin and that there had been recent break-ins at his townhome complex. He said the guy seemed suspicious because he was, ‘taking his time, and looking at all the houses’.
‘These guys always get away,’ Zimmerman told Singleton, a statement similar to one that prosecutors have used previously to try to show the 29-year-old 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 the teen and got out of his truck to look for a street name he could relay to a police dispatcher.
When the dispatcher suggested Zimmerman didn’t need to follow Martin, he started to head back to his vehicle, he claimed.
At that point, Martin jumped out of some bushes, punched him and he fell to the ground.
Zimmerman then described how Trayvon got on top of him and kept punching him as he yelled for help and when he felt him go for his gun, he took it out and shot him.
Trayvon said, ‘Ow, ow’ and ‘You got me’ after he was shot, according to Zimmerman, who said he then got on top of the teen to secure him.
Members of the jury took notes furiously as Officer Singleton later read out Zimmerman’s hand-written statement to the court.
‘As I headed back to my vehicle the suspect emerged from the darkness and said, “You got a problem?” and I said “No” and the suspect said, “You do now”.
‘Each time I attempted to sit up the suspect slammed my head. My head felt like it was going to explode.
‘I tried to slide out from under the suspect and continued to yell “help”. As I slid, the suspect covered my mouth and nose and stopped my breathing.
‘At this point I felt the suspect reach for my now-exposed firearm and say, “you are going to die tonight motherf***er”.’
In his statement, Zimmerman repeatedly referred to Martin as a ‘suspect’, a term prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda highlighted in his questioning.
Recounting a conversation with Zimmerman, Singleton said he asked her if she was Catholic after noticing she was wearing a silver cross around her neck.
She told him that she was Christian and asked him why he asked.
He then said to her: ‘In the Catholic religion, no matter what, it’s always wrong to kill someone.’
”I said, “If what you’ve said to me is truthful, I don’t think that’s what God meant that you can’t save your own life”,’ Singleton told the court.
The officer also testified that Zimmerman was shocked and seemed upset when learning that Trayvon was dead.
Jurors today also heard from the lead officer in the case Chris Serino as well as a recording of his interview with Zimmerman in which he calls his account of events into question.
Serino pointedly asked Zimmerman in the interview whether the teenager could have felt threatened by Zimmerman following him before their confrontation.
The officer questioned him about why he did not tell Trayvon at any stage he was a neighborhood watch volunteer.
During Serino’s testimony, jurors saw Zimmerman’s video reenactment of the shooting, as prosecutors continued to highlight inconsistencies in the neighborhood watch volunteer’s self-defense account.
However later, Serino said it is normal for someone to have some different details when recalling events.
‘I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone remembering step-by-step stuff that occurred that they were involved in,’ he said.
Zimmerman’s videotaped interview with Serino and fellow investigator Doris Singleton was also played for the court.
In it, Serino tells Zimmerman that his injuries are ‘not quite consistent’ with his story and that Trayvon was a good kid, ‘a kid with folks that care’.
When he was cross examined by defense attorney Mark O’Mara pointed out that none of the witnesses had stories that conflicted with Zimmerman’s when Serino questioned them.
Prosecutors are hoping to use the statements to highlight any inconsistencies in Zimmerman’s account of what happened in the racially charged case that triggered civil rights protests and debates about the treatment of black Americans in the U.S. justice system.
In his first taped police interview after the killing, Zimmerman said Martin circled his car before their fatal confrontation.
But he did not say it while he was on the phone with a police dispatcher he called to report what he identified as a suspicious youth walking at a leisurely pace through the rain at his Retreat at Twin Lakes Community.
Zimmerman also told police he got out of his car because he could not tell police the name of the street where he had last seen Martin before he lost eye-contact with him, even though the Retreat at Twin Lakes housing complex has only three streets.
He also told Sanford Police investigator Doris Singleton that Martin jumped out of the bushes before punching him to the ground and slamming his head into the concrete walkway repeatedly.
But a Google map of the area where the attack is said to have occurred does not appear to show any bushes near the spot, and Zimmerman was unable to tell Singleton if Martin jumped out from in front of him or from behind him.
Though Zimmerman shot Martin through the heart at point blank range with his 9mm Kel-Tec semi-automatic pistol, killing him almost instantly, Zimmerman also told police that the youth continued to talk after being shot.
An FBI voice analysis expert also testified today, saying it could not be determined who was crying for help in the background of the 911 call that recorded the gunshot that killed Trayvon Martin.
Hirotaka Nakasone was called as a state witness, but in a previous pretrial hearing he helped defense attorneys discredit state voice experts who said the teen was screaming in the background.
Those state experts were barred from testifying at trial.
Nakasone told the court: ‘That type of sample is not fit for voice comparison,’ adding that even the age of the person would be ‘impossible to determine’ from the only three seconds of audio that was deemed suitable for analysis.
He said the pitch of a person’s voice goes ‘all over the place’ under extreme stress and the screaming voice is different than that of the speaking voice.
Under similar circumstances, he said, it would be very challenging to distinguish between a 27-year-old, 35-year-old or 50-year-old man.
On cross examination by defense attorney Don West, Nakasone said people who harbor preconceptions or ‘a bias’ prior to hearing a recording could make a mistake in identifying the speaker.
‘There is always that danger,’ he said.
The recordings are crucial pieces of evidence because they could determine who the aggressor was in the confrontation. Martin’s family contends it was the teen screaming, while Zimmerman’s father has said it was his son.
Jurors are today expected to hear Zimmerman’s description of how he shot the unarmed black teenager from the several statements he gave to police in the aftermath – including right after Trayvon was killed and another taken during a videotaped re-enactment the next day.
It is not yet known whether Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, will testify at his trial.
Testimony: Rachel said Trayvon told her he was going to try to lose the man and go home, but Zimmerman kept following him until the teen asked him, ‘Why are you following me?’
Testimony in the second week of the trial is expected to shift by prosecutors toward witnesses that will testify on the scientific evidence they have against Zimmerman.
Prosecutors have yet to call forensics experts or investigators that performed testing on the handgun Zimmerman used to shoot the teenager during an altercation between the two last year.
That testimony will shed more light on the positioning of Martin and Zimmerman at the time of the shooting.
More than 20 witnesses testified during the opening week of a trial that has opened up national debates about race, equal justice, self-defense and gun control.
Zimmerman has said he fatally shot 17-year-old Martin in February 2012 in self-defense as the Miami-area black teenager was banging his head into the concrete sidewalk behind the townhomes in a gated community.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder and has pleaded not guilty.
His defense attorney Mark O’Mara said at the end of last week that the trial was progressing at a faster pace than anticipated, but that he was reserving judgment on the prosecution’s case so far.
‘We’re in the middle of it. They’ve got a lot more to show. These things build up slow, and it’s sort of like pieces of a puzzle,’ O’Mara said.
‘People say, “wait a minute, I can’t see the picture yet”. They’re very good prosecutors, they’re gonna do very good job, and they’re gonna put on their evidence. We’ll see how it goes. We’re certainly ready to respond to it.’
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.
Zimmerman has denied the confrontation had anything to do with race, as Martin’s family and their supporters have claimed.
Over the first five days of testimony, jurors heard 911 calls from neighbors that included cries for help and the fatal gunshot.
Zimmerman’s attorneys are adamant that he is the one screaming on the recordings, while Martin’s parents have said it’s their son.
Jurors also listened to more than six hours of testimony from Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel, who testified that she was talking on the phone with the teen as the fight started.
She testified that Martin told her he was being followed by ‘a creepy-ass cracker’. But it was her testy cross-examination exchanges with defense attorney Don West that commanded the most attention.
West attacked inconsistencies in multiple statements she gave attorneys and law enforcement officials about what she heard, including whether she heard Martin say ‘Get off! Get off!’
There also was conflicting testimony from neighbors that witnessed parts of the struggle between Martin and Zimmerman.
Some said it appeared the larger Zimmerman was straddling Martin, but neighbor Jonathan Good said it appeared Martin was on top.
Candy: Diana Smith, crime scene technician for the Sanford Police Department, shows a bag of Skittles, which was collected as evidence, to the jury during Zimmerman’s trial last week
Graphic: The State of Florida shows photos of Trayvon Martin’s body from the night of the shooting as evidence, the sight of which caused his parents to leave the court