SANFORD, Fla. — After taking less than a week to call 18 witnesses, George Zimmerman’s defense attorneys rested their case on Wednesday in the neighborhood watch volunteer’s second-degree murder trial.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys planned to work out the jury instructions before presenting closing arguments Thursday. Judge Debra Nelson said the case could be sent to jurors either late Thursday or Friday.
Zimmerman never testified. But jurors saw repeated video recordings of Zimmerman telling his side of the story to investigators. He claims he shot Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed, in self-defense while the teen straddled and punched him.
The defense started its case last Friday, and presented half as many witnesses in half the time that prosecutors did. Zimmerman’s friends, parents, and uncle testified that it is him screaming for help on a 911 call that captured sounds of the fatal fight. Martin’s mother and brother had testified for the prosecution that it is Martin yelling for help.
Convincing the jury of who was screaming for help on the tape became the primary goal of prosecutors and defense attorneys, because it would help jurors evaluate Zimmerman’s self-defense claim.
Defense attorneys also called a forensic pathologist who testified that the forensics evidence supports Zimmerman’s account of what happened.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. On the night of the fatal scuffle in February 2012, Martin was visiting his father at the same townhome complex where Zimmerman lived. Zimmerman saw Martin while driving in the neighborhood, called police, and the fight ensued after he got out of his vehicle.
Some civil rights activists argued the delay in charging Zimmerman was influenced by Martin’s race, and protests were held around the nation in the 44 days between the fatal fight and Zimmerman’s arrest. Martin was black and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.
The defense rested on a day when the judge made two rulings that prevented them from introducing pieces of evidence. Defense attorneys had wanted to present text messages discussing fighting from Trayvon Martin’s cellphone and an animation depicting Zimmerman’s fight with Martin. But Nelson sided with prosecutors, who had argued the animation is inaccurate and the texts were irrelevant.