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George Zimmerman tells judge he still hasn’t decided if he will testify

All eyes on mannequin as attorneys act out altercation

CNN News Wire | 7/10/2013, 11:58 a.m.
SANFORD, Fla. — Attorneys grappled with a foam dummy on the floor of a Florida courtroom Wednesday, working to demonstrate ...
Trayvon Martin's parents, Sabrina Fulton, far left, and Tracy Martin, center, arrive in the courtroom for George Zimmerman's trial in Semimole circuit court in Sanford, Fla. Wednesday, July 10, 2013. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Gary W. Green

SANFORD, Fla. — Attorneys grappled with a foam dummy on the floor of a Florida courtroom Wednesday, working to demonstrate to rapt jurors their competing versions of what happened the rainy 2012 night Trayvon Martin died in an altercation with George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman, 29, is accused of second-degree murder in the February 26, 2012, death of Martin, a 17-year-old from Miami who was staying with his father in Zimmerman’s Sanford, Florida, neighborhood.

Defense attorneys argue Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense after the Miami teenager charged him. Prosecutors argue he followed Martin through his neighborhood and shot him without provocation.

To that end, Assistant State Attorney John Guy brought out the dummy in an effort to demonstrate that it would have been difficult for Zimmerman to retrieve his handgun from his pocket with Martin straddling him, as defense attorneys have argued was the case.

The fatal gunshot, Guy reminded defense witness Dennis Root, was fired at a 90-degree angle into Martin’s body.

“Wouldn’t that be consistent with Travyon Martin getting off of George Zimmerman and George Zimmerman raising the gun and firing it?” Guy asked Root, a use-of-force expert.

“It could be consistent with any kind of movement ... We weren’t there so the info that we have is George Zimmerman’s statement,” he said.

Later, defense attorney Mark O’Mara straddled the dummy himself, pounding the back of its head against the carpeted courtroom floor, demonstrating how he says Martin gave him the head wounds seen in police photographs from the night of the shooting.

He later asked Root — a former police officer with extensive training in firearms and self-defense — if it would have been possible for Zimmerman to reach around Martin’s body to get at a gun located near his hip.

“Yes, sir,” Root replied, minutes before Judge Debra Nelson called a lunch break.

Earlier, Root testified the apparent fight between Zimmerman and Martin went on for a relatively long time — some 40 seconds — and was clearly marked by a high level of fear and anxiety.

“I have personally sat there and timed it myself, where it is about 40 seconds of time. That’s a very long time to be involved in any type of physical altercation,” Root said.

“We have a golden rule,” he told defense attorney Mark O’Mara. “If you have not successfully completed the fight, if you have not won the fight in 30 seconds, change tactics, because the tactics you are using are not working.”

The testimony came as the effort to defend George Zimmerman against murder charges in the 2012 shooting death of Martin neared its end Wednesday. O’Mara said Wednesday afternoon that the defense would have two more witnesses after Root finishes his testimony.

The defense team offered no indication whether the onetime neighborhood watch volunteer himself would testify before they wrap up their case, which is expected Wednesday. A prosecution rebuttal could follow.

At the beginning of the afternoon session, Nelson questioned Zimmerman — over the repeated objection of defense attorney Don West — on whether he had decided to testify. He said that he had not. When asked how long it might be before he decides, Zimmerman said, “Depends on how long the recesses are.”