Officer: Zimmerman shocked to learn Trayvon Martin was dead

11:09 AM, Jul 2, 2013   |    comments
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SANFORD, Fla. (USA TODAY) -- The first police officer to interview George Zimmerman after he shot Trayvon Martin testified Monday that Zimmerman appeared "shocked" to learn the teen was dead.

Officer Doris Singleton told the jury in Zimmerman's murder trial that the defendant didn't appear angry or spiteful to Trayvon, 17, who Zimmerman shot during an altercation in a gated community here Feb. 26, 2012.

Singleton's testimony came as a videotape of her interrogation of the defendant was played to jurors, some of whom took copious notes.

The videotape shows Singleton asking Zimmerman to explain what happened that night. Zimmerman says his neighborhood was dealing with an increase in burglaries, and he started a neighborhood watch program. He says he had called the police on suspicious people, but often they weren't stopped.

"These guys always get away," Zimmerman says on the videotape.

Zimmerman says the tragedy began when, while in his car, he saw Trayvon walking in the neighborhood in the rain. Zimmerman says he called police and pulled over before Trayvon started circling his car, then walked off.

Zimmerman says he got out of his car to find a street sign and to see where Trayvon was going. Zimmerman says he was walking back to his car when Trayvon, probably hiding in the bushes, came out and said, "You got a problem, homie?"

Trayvon then punched Zimmerman and was banging his head into the concrete, Zimmerman says. Within seconds, Trayvon's hand was moving down his body toward his gun, Zimmerman says. Fearing for his life, he says, he shot the teen.

In the interview, Zimmerman tells Singleton Trayvon said, "You got me," then "Owww" as Zimmerman held him down.

Singleton, following a prosecution request, read from a written statement Zimmerman gave to police. Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda pointed out to jurors that Zimmerman repeatedly refers to Trayvon as "the suspect" in the statement Zimmerman signed.

Singleton said she didn't ask Zimmerman to use that language and officers refer to suspected criminals as "the suspect."

Singleton said Zimmerman referred to Trayvon as "the suspect" only in written statements and not in conversations with officers.
The issue is relevant because prosecutors maintain Zimmerman was a "wannabe cop" who liked to use police language.

Earlier Monday, an FBI voice analysis expert testified that it could not be determined who was crying for help in the background of the 911 call that recorded the fatal gunshot.

Voice analysis expert Hirotaka Nakasone, called to testify by the state, helped defense attorneys at a pretrial hearing discredit state voice experts who said Trayvon was screaming in the background of the call. Those state experts were barred from testifying at trial.

"That type of sample is not fit for voice comparison," Nakasone said Monday of the 911 call in question at the trial.

The recording was too short and the cellphone recording the screams and gunshot was too far away, Nakasone determined. As a result, the 911 call didn't meet the standards needed to be evaluated.

Nakasone testified that the best people to identify the 911 call in question would be people familiar with the voices of Trayvon and Zimmerman. Members of both men's families claim their loved ones are screaming before the gunshot.

The jury, as a result, may hear from the parents of Zimmerman and Trayvon and have to decide what to believe.

In the first week of testimony for the trial, the state called 22 witnesses to the stand to go over details of what they saw or heard that night. Several law enforcement officials and residents who lived nearby the shooting took the stand. This week, photos of Trayvon's body and Zimmerman's injuries will be further explained.

"It's going quicker than any of us thought," said Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's attorney, of the trial. "I'm happy with the pace."
Zimmerman, 29, is accused of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon, 17. Zimmerman, who has pleaded not guilty, has said he acted in self-defense after he was attacked.

The shooting and speculation that Zimmerman -- who is Hispanic -- profiled, followed and murdered Trayvon sparked racial controversy and protests across the nation last year. Zimmerman, who could face life in prison if convicted, has maintained that race did not factor into his actions.

Last week, several witnesses told conflicting stories of what they believed happened the night of the shooting.
Rachel Jeantel, 19, told jurors that she was on the phone with Trayvon right before he was killed and that Zimmerman stared at, then followed Trayvon, who tried several times to run away. She was one of three state witnesses who painted Zimmerman as the aggressor.

"A man was watching him," Jeantel said. "He (Trayvon) told me he was going to try to lose him."

Trayvon was out of breath when he told Jeantel he had lost the man. Shortly after, Trayvon told Jeantel the man was back and behind him, she said.

Jonathan Good, a neighbor of Zimmerman's, testified that it appeared Trayvon was striking Zimmerman while straddling him moments before the teen was shot.

Good, who lives in the same townhouse complex as Zimmerman, said he heard a noise behind his home and saw what looked like a fight. When he stepped outside, he said, he yelled, "What's going on? Cut it out."

"It looked like there were strikes being thrown, punches being thrown," Good said.

The potential witness list for Zimmerman's trial includes about 200 people, including family members of both Zimmerman and Trayvon.

"I'm very encouraged by the witnesses who have come forth," said Daryl Parks, an attorney for Trayvon's parents. "We believe this jury is paying attention. We're going to get a fair verdict."

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