George Zimmerman Jury Hears Key 911 Tapes in Start of Trial


For the next two to four weeks, the jury might hear from neighbors who saw or heard some kind of struggle between both men on Feb. 26, 2012, and called 911 for help. But none of the potential witnesses saw who initiated the altercation, nor intervened even when one of the two men cried out for help.

Who was howling for help in those 911 tapes might become one of the most important questions to be weighed by the jury of six woman. They will have to decide for themselves after Circuit Judge Debra Nelson banned the testimony of two audio experts who said they could hear Martin begging for his life on those tapes.

After opening statements, the state is expected to begin calling witnesses to the stand. Among those who will eventually testify is a young woman known as W8 who was on the phone with Martin five minutes before he was shot and said the teen was unnerved by and afraid of Zimmerman.

A jury might also eventually watch a re-enactment video filmed by police as Zimmerman, with bandages on his head, recounted his version of events to investigators. Zimmerman gave several video and audio statements to police in the days after the shooting, and his legal team says that might be the reason he never takes the stand in this case.

"At a minimum, what's at stake is a potential life sentence for [Zimmerman], who believes, as do his supporters, that he was the victim, and not Trayvon," Eiglarsh, the attorney, said. "But because of the long history of racial tension in Stanford, Florida, there are many people who believe that the only verdict that speaks the truth, the only justice, is guilty."

The case has gripped and divided the central Florida community of Sanford from the beginning. The Seminole County courthouse instituted a lottery for the public interested in watching the case, and set up protest areas for those looking to vocalize their opinion. But only a handful of protestors showed up during the nine-day jury selection.

The six jurors and four alternates who will hear opening statements are now isolated, away from their homes, with minimal contact with family and friends until the trial ends.

Both sides say sequestration will help eliminate juror exposure to outside influence as this controversial case kicks off. It's one of the few areas of agreement between all sides.

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