The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

July 2, 2013

Judge strikes detective statements on Zimmerman

— SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — A prosecutor in George Zimmerman's murder trial on Tuesday tried to pick apart the statements of a Sanford Police detective who was called as a prosecution witness a day before but gave testimony that seemed to benefit the defense.

Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda asked the judge to strike from the record a statement Detective Chris Serino made Monday in which he said he found credible Zimmerman's account of how he got into a fight with Trayvon Martin.

De la Rionda argued the statement was improper because one witness isn't allowed to give an opinion on the credibility of another witness. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara argued it was proper because Serino was vetting Zimmerman's veracity in his probe.

Judge Debra Nelson told jurors to disregard the statement.

"This is an improper comment," the judge said.

De la Rionda then questioned Serino about his opinion given Monday that he didn't believe Zimmerman displayed any ill will or spite to Martin. Prosecutors must prove there was ill will, spite or a depraved mind by the defendant to get a second-degree murder conviction.

The prosecutor played back a police call Zimmerman had made to report Martin in the neighborhood: Zimmerman uses an expletive, refers to "punks" and then says, "These a-------. They always get away." The prosecutor asked the investigator if those words showed some spite, and Serino conceded it could be construed that way.

Next, de la Rionda challenged Serino's contention that he found Zimmerman's story without major inconsistencies. The prosecutor played back Zimmerman's police interview in which investigators question Zimmerman about small differences in the neighborhood volunteer's story. The prosecutor also pointed out Zimmerman claimed that after he shot Martin, he spread out the teen's arms. But a photo taken immediately after the shooting shows Martin's arms under his body.

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