Lawyers in the George Zimmerman murder trial will return to a Florida courtroom early Tuesday to argue over the latest dispute in the contentious case.
The parties will debate whether a non-emergency call made months before the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting will be admitted into evidence. The call, which had been admitted before, was questioned by the defense on Monday. Judge Debra S. Nelson will hear the arguments before the jurors return to the courtroom in Seminole County.
Ramona Rumph, of the Seminole County Sheriff's Office's communications division, was called to the stand late Monday and began testifying about the earlier call. When the defense objected, both sides agreed to recess for the night and to revisit the issue Tuesday morning.
Afterward, Rumph is scheduled to resume her testimony. She was the fourth witness to take the stand on Monday after the prosecution and defense gave their opening statements outlining their views of the case.
Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of the Trayvon Martin, 17. Martin and Zimmerman had a confrontation in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., after Zimmerman saw Martin walking and followed him.
Martin, wearing a hoodie in the rain, was on his way back to the home of his father's fiancee after buying candy and iced tea at a convenience store. Zimmerman maintains that he shot Martin in self-defense after the youth attacked him.
Before Rumph took the stand, jurors heard from Sean Noffke, an emergency dispatcher who took Zimmerman's call to report that Martin looked suspicious on the night of the shooting.
Noffke testified that he told Zimmerman it wasn’t necessary to follow Martin. Zimmerman followed Martin anyway, leading to comments from Martin’s supporters that Zimmerman had ignored a police order to stay away.
But Noffke testified that he didn't order Zimmerman to stop because dispatchers are told not to do that for liability reasons. He described his comments as “not commands but just suggestions.”
In his opening statement, prosecutor John Guy portrayed Zimmerman as a person who wanted to be a policeman and who used hateful and obscene words in a telephone call describing Martin. Zimmerman “profiled, pursued and killed” Martin, Guy said. Martin was black, and Zimmerman identifies himself as Latino.
Defense attorney Don West insisted that Zimmerman acted properly. “He shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense after being viciously attacked,” West said.