Friends identify screams on 911 recording as George Zimmerman’s

Mark Osterman, a friend of George Zimmerman, testifies in Sanford, Fla., about the type of gun Zimmerman owned.
(Joe Burbank / Associated Press)

The defense in George Zimmerman’s trial began its first full day on Monday by concentrating on the screams heard in a 911 emergency call that it contends were made by Zimmerman, accused of murdering unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Martin, 17, on Feb. 26, 2012 in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman, now 29, argues that he shot Martin in self-defense when the youth attacked him.

The 911 call, which has already been played in the Seminole County courtroom several times, was placed by a resident of the community on the night of the confrontation between Martin and Zimmerman. Screams are heard in the background. The prosecution maintains that it is Martin who is screaming, while the defense counters it was Zimmerman.


Last week, Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, testified that it was her son’s voice. On Friday, Gladys Zimmerman, George’s mother, testified it was George’s voice. Other relatives agreed with their respective family’s identification.

“Definitely it’s Georgie,” the day’s first witness, Sondra Osterman, said after defense attorney Mark O’Mara played the recording of the now-famous 911 call, in which several loud cries and a single gunshot can clearly be heard.

Osterman said she worked with Zimmerman and was best friends with his wife, Shellie. Osterman’s husband, Mark Osterman, has described himself as the defendant’s best friend.

Sondra Osterman began weeping when O’Mara asked her how she knew the anguished howls came from Zimmerman.

“I just hear it … I hear him, screaming,” she replied.

Under cross-examination, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda tried to undermine Osterman’s testimony by questioning her about another recording played repeatedly during the trial: the call Zimmerman made to police to report a suspicious person minutes before his deadly encounter with the teen.

Osterman testified that she recognized Zimmerman’s voice on that recording, but she said she did not hear him using expletive-laced phrases on the call.

De la Rionda then played the tape, which is part of the prosecution argument that Zimmerman profiled, followed and killed Martin.

Osterman later testified that she heard Zimmerman utter a curse word on the tape, but she said she had no sense that Zimmerman was angry or expressing ill will toward anyone as he reported Martin’s movements to the police dispatcher.

Ill will is one of the criteria that the prosecution needs to establish to support the second-degree murder charge.

Her husband, Mark Osterman, a federal air marshal, then took the stand and discussed advising Zimmerman about technical gun information.

Mark and Sondra Osterman published a book, “Defending Our Friend: The Most Hated Man in America,” about the case, and they kept Zimmerman hidden in their home for more than a month after Martin’s killing to protect him.

Also testifying in the morning were other friends and co-workers of Zimmerman who identified the voice as Zimmerman’s.


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