George Zimmerman

Judge allows school records in Zimmerman trial

Judge Debra Nelson June 18, 2013 Photo / APOrlando Sentinel, Joe Burbank - PoolSANFORD, Fla. (AP) – Prosecutors on Wednesday presented evidence about George Zimmerman’s work in a college criminal justice course, which they say shows the neighborhood watch volunteer knew about Florida’s self-defense law and had aspirations of becoming a police officer.

Zimmerman had maintained in an interview with Fox News last year that he did not know about the law. Prosecutors say he did have knowledge of it, however, because the subject was covered in the college class. They called as a witness Alexis Francisco Carter, the military attorney who taught Zimmerman’s class that covered Florida’s stand-your-ground law, which says a person has no duty to retreat and can invoke self-defense in killing someone if it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm. Carter described Zimmerman as one of his better students and said the neighborhood watch volunteer got an “A” in his class.

Under cross-examination, Carter gave two definitions of legal concepts that seemed to bolster the defense’s case. He explained that a person can make a self-defense argument if the person has a “reasonable apprehension” of death or great bodily harm.

“It’s imminent fear. The fact alone that there isn’t an injury doesn’t necessarily mean that the person didn’t have a reasonable apprehension or fear,” Carter said. “The fact that there are injuries might support there was reasonable apprehension and fear.”

Carter also explained the concept of “imperfect self-defense,” when a person is being threatened but then counters with a force disproportionately greater than the force used against them.

“They would have the right to defend themselves?” said defense attorney Don West.

“Right,” Carter said.

Judge Debra Nelson also ruled Wednesday that prosecutors can show the jury Zimmerman’s job application to a police agency in 2009 and his application to ride around with Sanford police in 2010.

Lt. Scott Kearns of the Prince William County Police Department in Virginia testified that Zimmerman wasn’t initially hired because of a less-than-stellar credit history.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year. Martin was black; Zimmerman identifies as Hispanic. The case sparked nationwide protests and touched off a debate about race and self-defense.

Zimmerman, 29, has pleaded not guilty and claims he acted in self-defense. Prosecutors have sought to portray him as a vigilante who profiled the teen as he walked home from a convenience store on a rainy night.

Prosecutors said Zimmerman’s ability to understand criminal investigations and desire to be a police officer doesn’t show wrongdoing, but is relevant to Zimmerman’s state of mind on the night Martin was killed.

“He has applied to be a police officer before, he still wants to be one, according to some of his homework assignments…this wasn’t some sort of passive thing,” said prosecutor Richard Mantei, who noted Zimmerman took a course on how to be a good witness and expressed a desire to go on police ride-alongs. “This is simply a fact the jury ought to know.”

When he was interviewed by detectives, Zimmerman spoke “in written police jargon” and talks about “justifiable use of force” and says he “unholstered my firearm, not I pulled my gun,” Mantei said.

Defense attorneys believe the items are irrelevant and asked the judge not to allow them.

Defense attorney Mark O’Mara said Tuesday that if prosecutors start bringing up Zimmerman’s past, the defense will dig into Martin’s past, including fights. The judge had ruled previously that Martin’s past fights, drug use and school records couldn’t be mentioned in opening statements.

“There is no relevance and the suggested relevance will be far more outweighed by the prejudice,” O’Mara said of the evidence admitted Wednesday.

Source: AP

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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NunYa says:

I agree with LoveBunny about the judge seeming to have some sort of biased rulings. I understand the life of a TEEN was taken, but I find it offensive that his age and color make it any more important than the many others who are shot on a daily basis. I’m also offended to read comments on Trayvon supporter pages that say things like whitey better get ready for riot and looting to begin etc.

Patricia Nelson says:

This guy is going to be done on this. He shot this child.

LoveBunny says:

The judge’s seeming disdain for the Defense is palpable yet her words and actions are being witnessed on TV by millions of viewers! It’s like she’s clueless about just how badly she comes across the to public.

It’s truly disturbing to see the judge seeming to get so personally, and emotionally involved. . . Is she a personal friend of the Martin family or of the Prosecution?

Valerie says:

I don’t know what the outcome of this trial will be because Judge Nelson is so biased. She seems to hate Mr. West and barely tolerates Mr. O’Mara, she makes her disdain for the defense so obvious to the point where she cannot help herself. When the prosecution asks to approach the bench she says Ok but when the defense asks her they are met with a resounding No. I hope her biased rulings come back to bite her & the best way would be if George is acquitted. I thought judges are supposed to be impartial, so what happened to this thing? Shame on you Judge Nelson, I hope your bosses take you to task should you lose this trial because you seem to be personally invested in it!!

NunYa says:

agreed! She has no tolerance for the defense but allows the prosecution everything.

LoveBunny says:

This judge has an appearance of bias.

Johny says:

How about Trayvon’s school record?

Cyndi says:

Guess they want us to tune in? smh

NunYa says:

They say Trayvons school record has nothing to do with the case. Seems to me it would help show his character which at times was quite shady. You can believe though if it wasn’t shady they would in fact use it to explain why it’s so deep of a loss.


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