SANFORD, FLORIDA – The father of a black teenager shot dead by a neighborhood watch volunteer walked out of a Florida court Tuesday as photos of his son’s lifeless body were shown.
During a dramatic second day in the racially charged trial, Tracy Martin left the courtroom as a close-up image was shown highlighting the bullet wound suffered by his son, Trayvon.
The 17-year-old was shot dead by defendant George Zimmerman during an altercation at a gated community in February of last year. Zimmerman faces a possible life sentence if convicted in the trial, which is expected to last six weeks.
Police Sgt. Anthony Raimondo told the court he tried to revive Martin after arriving at the scene soon after the shooting.
“I attempted to get his pulse,” said Raimondo. “I also performed CPR. I breathed for Mr. Martin. . . . I tried to, sir.”
Prosecutors say Zimmerman, 29, committed second degree murder when he shot Martin dead as the teenager, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, was walking home in the rain after buying Skittles and an ice tea at a convenience store.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty and denied any racial motive, saying he shot Martin in self-defense after the teenager wrestled him to the ground and started pounding his head against the sidewalk.
Earlier Tuesday, prosecutors said Zimmerman had made nearly 50 calls to police in the years leading up to the killing and argued for the tapes of the dispatcher calls to be admitted as evidence.
Prosecutors say the tapes reveal a pattern of overzealous behavior by Zimmerman before the killing, but defense attorneys argued for the recordings to be excluded under the rules of evidence.
The court heard that Zimmerman called police dozens of times in eight years to report on such issues as slow vehicles, strangers in the neighborhood and open garages.
But defense attorney Mark O’Mara said Zimmerman’s past actions were irrelevant, and that only the moments immediately before Martin’s killing should be in the spotlight.
“They’re going to ask the jury to make a leap from a good, responsible, citizen behavior to seething behavior,” O’Mara argued before Judge Debra Nelson.
Nelson said she would make a ruling on the admissibility of the tapes after reviewing prior cases. The lawyers made their arguments with the jury out of the courtroom.
In other testimony Tuesday, the president of the homeowners association in the gated community where the killing took place told the court Zimmerman had pushed for the neighborhood watch program.
“I didn’t think we needed it,” said Donald O’Brien, president of the Retreat at Twin Lakes Homeowners Association.
Selene Bahadoor, who was at home in the community when the altercation took place, told the court that she had seen what looked like “two people flailing their arms.”
She was in the kitchen at the time, and said when she went to turn off the stove, “that’s when the shot occurred.”
When she looked outside again, she saw a body lying face down in the grass.
Diana Smith, a crime scene technician for the Sanford Police Department, identified various items found at the scene, including the now-familiar bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona watermelon-flavored tea the 17-year-old was carrying.
Wendy Dorival, a former coordinator of the Sanford Police Department’s neighborhood watch program, said she had helped Zimmerman set it up.
She said Zimmerman and all neighborhood watch participants were warned not to follow suspicious people.
“They’re told ‘Don’t do that. That’s the job of law enforcement,’ ” she said.
“Volunteers are encouraged to keep an eye out for suspicious people and report them, but not to take matters into their own hands,” she said.
Zimmerman, a volunteer night watchman whose father is white and whose mother is Peruvian, reported Martin to police in a 911 call in which the dispatcher told him not to follow the teenager.
Police in the central Florida city of Sanford initially released Zimmerman, saying he acted in line with the state’s “stand-your-ground” gun laws, which allow citizens to fire in self-defense even if they are able to flee danger.
The initial decision not to charge Zimmerman sparked a nationwide furor, with protests against racial profiling held in several U.S. cities and Martin’s family subjected to regular interviews by national media.