The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

July 10, 2013

Defense rests case in George Zimerman trial

(Continued)

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and says he shot an unarmed Martin in self-defense during a scuffle in the townhome complex where he lived in February 2012. Martin was there visiting his father and his father's fiancee. Some civil rights activists argued that the initial delay in charging Zimmerman was influenced by Martin's race. Martin was black and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic. The 44-day delay in Zimmerman's arrest led to protests around the nation.

Earlier Wednesday, defense attorneys called public safety consultant Dennis Root to testify that Martin was in better physical shape than Zimmerman, and that the neighborhood watch volunteer wasn't any athlete.

"He would find himself lacking when compared to Mr. Martin," Root said of Zimmerman.

During cross-examination of Root, prosecutor John Guy used a life-sized foam mannequin in front of the jury to simulate the body positions of Zimmerman and Martin at the time of the shooting.

Straddling the dummy, Guy proposed a scenario in which Martin was on top of Zimmerman and asked Root if it was possible that Martin was backing away from Zimmerman at the time of the fatal gunshot.

"Yes," Root said.

Root also said he may have taken different actions if he were in Zimmerman's situation, but said that "it's just a matter of what you as the individual view as options."

Using the same mannequin during further questioning of Root, defense attorney Mark O'Mara challenged the notion of Martin retreating. Root said that while multiple gun angles were possible, he had no specific information to say what position Martin was in when he was shot.

"I think you're not going to be involved in a conflict like this without it being dynamic," Root said.

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