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SANFORD, Florida - Friends and former co-workers of George Zimmerman testified Monday that it is George Zimmerman's voice screaming for help on a 911 call to police and not that of Trayvon Martin, the teen he fatally shot moments later.
"I have no doubt in mind that's his voice," said Geri Russo, a former co-worker of Zimmerman, echoing testimony of several other defense witnesses.
The testimony of the witnesses, called by the defense, could be crucial as Zimmerman's attorneys try to show that Trayvon was the aggressor and that Zimmerman shot him in self-defense.
John Donnelly was the seventh person to identify the Zimmerman's voice on the call. He said he thinks of Zimmerman as a son and has spent $4,700 donating to Zimmerman's defense fund, his personal website and buying him suits, shirts and ties for the trial.
"There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that is George Zimmerman," Donnelly told the jury after listening to the tape.
The defense case has taken center stage in the trial of former neighborhood watch member Zimmerman, accused of second-degree murder in the February 2012 shooting of Trayvon, 17.
The defense case represents the second part of a trial in which for two weeks prosecutors cast Zimmerman, now 29, as an aggressor who profiled and murdered Trayvon. The jury will weigh the prosecution version of events against the defense story of a man who, while trying to be a good neighbor, was attacked by the teen and shot him in self-defense.
"There's enormous evidence that my client acted in self-defense,'' Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's attorney, said last week. "There is no other reasonable hypothesis."
The defense case drew controversy almost before it began. Assistant State Attorney Richard Mantei asked Circuit Judge Debra Nelson for a hearing about one defense witness, not identified in the legal motion, who Mantei says plans to present a "computer animated 're-enactment'" of the shooting.
The defense witness revealed in a July 2 deposition that he or she had created the animation and showed prosecutors still frames of the creation. The animation does not "represent a complete or accurate record of the evidence," Mantei wrote, adding that the state thinks the animation is "speculative and irrelevant."
Mantei also said the animation doesn't accurately depict the lighting on he night of the shooting, "deliberately fails to show or even symbolize the murder weapon," and relies on Zimmerman's version of events for the positioning of bodies during the struggle.
Mantei also said the animation was completed by Zimmerman's defense team using employees wearing "motion capture suits." The animation includes audio from 911 calls, assumed positions of witnesses, and fails to include witnesses who contradict Zimmerman's story, Mantei said.
The state prosecutor argues the animation, if admitted, would be "prejudicial and confusing to the jury."
O'Mara said Friday that he didn't know whether his client would take the stand.
"I said I would have to convince myself first that the state has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt before I decide exactly how to handle that," O'Mara said. "I'm still considering that. We are going to start presenting our witnesses and we'll see if that includes George."
The defense began Friday with Zimmerman's mother, Gladys Zimmerman, briefly testifying that it was her son screaming for help in a 911 call that recorded the fatal shot. "That's George's voice,'' she said.
She said Zimmerman was terrified before shooting Trayvon. "The way he is screaming describes anguish, fear," she said.
George Zimmerman's uncle, Jorge Meza, also testified that the voice screaming belonged to George Zimmerman.
Meza knew his nephew had been involved in a shooting, he testified, but he said he knew nothing about a 911 call until he heard it on TV at home and immediately recognized Zimmerman's voice.
"It was George Zimmerman screaming for his life," Meza said. "I felt it inside of my heart that it is George."
Earlier, Trayvon's mother, Sybrina Fulton, and his brother, Jahvaris Fulton, testified that the voice heard screaming belonged to Trayvon.