George Zimmerman stands with his defense attorneys Mark O'Mara, left, and Don West at Seminole circuit court, in Sanford, Fla., for a pre-trial hearing Friday, June 7, 2013.
SANFORD, Florida (USA TODAY) -- In its opening statement in the Travyon Martin
murder trial, the prosecution Monday portrayed defendant George
Zimmerman as a trigger-happy, police wannabe who saw the teenager as a
suspicious person and considered it his right to "rid the neighborhood
of anyone that he believed didn't belong."
"The truth about the
murder of Trayvon Martin is going to come directly from his mouth, from
those hate-filled words that he used to describe a perfect stranger and
from the lies that he told to the police to try to justify his actions,"
prosecutor John Guy told the six-woman jury.
VIDEO: Prosecutors begin opening statement with profanity
MORE: Defense opens with a knock-knock joke
WATCH: Live video of the George Zimmerman Trial
Guy moved quickly to
try to jolt the jurors by using the "f-word" followed by "punks" in
quoting from Zimmerman's conversation by cellphone with a police
dispatcher as he followed the unarmed teenager through the gated
community where he lived.
Zimmerman's defense attorney Don West countered that the neighborhood watch volunteer shot Martin in self-defense after he was viciously attacked by the 17-year-old Miami-area teen.
Zimmermanhas pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford.
say Zimmerman acted "imminently dangerous" and demonstrated a "depraved
mind without regard for human life" -- Florida's definition of
A 911 call that recorded screaming and the gunshot will be a key part
of the trial. However, Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled Saturday that
prosecution experts who said the voice screaming was Trayvon's will not
be allowed to testify. Witnesses familiar with the voices of Zimmerman
and Trayvon can testify to whom they believe is screaming, the judge
ruled. That means Trayvon's and Zimmerman's families may testify.
In his opening statement, prosecutor Guy called the killing a "product of two worlds colliding."
world, he said, was a boy visiting his father and walking home after
buying a fruit drink and Skittles at a local convenience store.
the other world, the prosecutor said, was a 28-year-old adult, a
neighborhood watch coordinator, who was patrolling the area at night
with a semi-automatic pistol tucked in his waistband in a "ready to fire
position" with one live round in the chamber.
"When he saw
Trayvon Martin, he didn't see a young man walking home," the prosecutor
said. "As he told the (police) dispatcher, he saw someone that was 'real
suspicious,' someone who looked like he was 'up to no good,' again, to
use his word."
The prosecutor noted that in his conversation on a
cellphone with the police dispatcher, he made the comments that "these
a--holes, they always get away."
In explaining the state's case
against Zimmerman, Guy, often pointing directly at Zimmerman, repeated
those words several times saying Zimmerman wrongly profiled a teen
walking home as a criminal.
"Those words were in his chest," Guy
said. "Those words were in the defendant's heart before he pressed a
pistol to Trayvon Martin's chest."
Guy said Zimmerman had spun a web of lies when he said Trayvon punched him, and knocked him down.
West, however, told jurors that Martin had thrown a "sucker punch" at Zimmerman after possibly hiding."Trayvon
Martin decided to confront George Zimmerman,'' West said. "The evidence
will show this is a sad case,'' he said. ""There are no monsters."
began his opening statement with a joke. "Knock, knock," West said.
"Who's there?" George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman who? Congratulations
you're on the jury."
The court remained quiet and jurors' faces were blank. Later, after a break, West promised not to tell any more bad jokes.
said earlier that police officers on the scene, emergency personnel, a
medical examiner and several residents who live nearby the shooting will
"No one heard or saw this from start to beginning
to end," said Guy, explaining that witnesses saw slices that don't fit
with Zimmerman's version.
The state will also show evidence that
Zimmerman applied to be a police officer, wanted to go on a police ride
along, was a criminal justice student and initiated a neighborhood watch
program as captain, Guy said.
He added that at least a year
before the shooting Zimmerman was taking martial arts and self defense
classes at a gym and learning how to fight.
Guy pointed out that
none of Zimmerman's blood or DNA was found on Trayvon's body, clothing,
or under his nails. Zimmerman's gun also didn't have any of Trayvon's
blood or DNA, he said.
"It's physically impossible the way he explained it," Guy said, explaining Zimmerman's gun was "ready to go."
said medical personnel tried to save Trayvon who was found faced down
with his hands on his chest. Photos of Trayvon will be shown to the
He said the jury will hear the 911 call and that the screaming stops instantly when the gun goes off.
Zimmerman did not shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to," Guy said.
"He shot him for the worst of all reasons because he wanted to."
Shortly before opening statements, the family of Trayvon Martin and their attorney asked for prayers.
the court proceedings continue, we as a family look and cherish the
memories that Trayvon left us with," said Trayvon's father, Tracy
Martin, adding that memories of his son's smile was giving him strength.
The teen's mother, who remained quiet during two weeks of jury selection, also spoke.
"I don't want any other mother to have to experience what I'm going
through now," Sybrina Fulton said. "I ask that you pray for me and my
Fulton said she plans to attend the trial everyday to offer support for her son's memory.
Trayvon's brother, Jahvaris Fulton, as well as the late teen's grandmother also attended court.
family's attorney, Benjamin Crump, said while murder trials are
emotional, the jury will need to do its duty and listen to all the
"There are two important facts in this case," Crump said.
"George Zimmerman was a grown man with a gun. Trayvon Martin was a minor
with no blood on his hands."
Nelson, honoring a prosecution
request, ordered Zimmerman's family to leave the courtroom for the
duration of the trial because members are potential witnesses.
In a statement to the media, Robert Zimmerman, George's brother, was critical of the move. He said George "can
count on his parents' & his family's unwavering & unconditional
support, as he has throughout this ordeal, until he is acquitted."
Trayvon's family can stay because Florida law allows the victim's family to stay.