Judge will allow past Zimmerman calls to police as evidence in - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Judge will allow past Zimmerman calls to police as evidence in murder trial

Jurors in the George Zimmerman murder trial will hear about nearly 50 calls the defendant made to police prior to his fatal confrontation with Florida teen Trayvon Martin, evidence the prosecution believes will show the defendant was a neighborhood busybody who often eyed strangers with suspicion.

Zimmerman, 29, called the police close to 50 times over an eight-year period to report such things as slow vehicles, loitering strangers in the neighborhood and open garages.

Judge Debra Nelson ruled Wednesday to allow the prosecution to introduce recordings of five of those calls. 

The prosecution argues the calls are indicative of Zimmerman's overzealousness in pursuing people he considered to be suspicious -- and of his state of mind on the night he shot the unarmed teen.

The recordings show Zimmerman's "ill will," prosecutor Richard Mantei said.

"It shows the context in which the defendant sought out his encounter with Trayvon Martin," he said.


Zimmerman defense attorney Mark O'Mara argued that the calls were irrelevant and that nothing matters but the seven or eight minutes before his client fired the deadly shot into Martin's chest.

The prosecution is "going to ask the jury to make a leap from a good, responsible, citizen behavior to seething behavior," O'Mara said.

In the calls, Zimmerman identifies himself as a neighborhood watch volunteer and recounts that his neighborhood has had a rash of recent break-ins. In one call, he asks that officers respond quickly since the suspects "typically get away quickly."

In another, he describes suspicious black men hanging around a garage and mentions his neighborhood had a recent garage break-in.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Martin. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

The jury must decide whether Zimmerman shot and killed the 17-year-old African-American teen in self defense, or if he stalked the youth and provoked the deadly 2012 confrontation.

One alternate juror, B-72, was dismissed Wednesday due to reasons unrelated to the case, according to Judge Debra Nelson.

B-72, a self-described power lifter and arm wrestler, was one of only two men chosen as alternate jurors. The jury is made up of six women.

Witnesses for the prosecution continued to take the stand Wednesday, beginning with Jane Surdyka, one of George Zimmerman's neighbors who lived in the neighborhood where the confrontation took place.

Surdyka says she was in a second-floor bedroom of her townhome when she heard scuffling outside on a rainy night in February 2012.

She says she heard an aggressive voice and a softer voice exchanging words for several minutes.

Surdyka says she then heard cries for help and believes it was a boy's voice crying out.

On Tuesday, another resident of the gated community in Sanford, Fla., took the stand. Selene Bahadoor testified she heard movement from left to right behind the town-house where she lived, and when she looked out of her window she saw arms flailing and what sounded like someone saying, "No" or "Uh."

"I saw figures, arms flailing," Bahadoor said. "It looked like arms moving."

Bahadoor said she left to turn off a stove and then heard a gunshot. The next time she looked out, she saw a body in the grass behind her townhome, she testified.

In cross-examining her, O'Mara accused Bahadoor of never mentioning the left-to-right movement in previous interviews. He also confronted her with a post she made on Facebook in which she "liked" a petition that championed the arrest of Zimmerman.

Zimmerman contends he lost track of Martin and was returning to his car when he was attacked. But Bahadoor's testimony appeared to suggest Zimmerman was moving away from his vehicle.

The state's Witness No. 8, also known as Rachel, is expected to testify at some point this week. Rachel was the last to speak with Martin before he was killed.

Rachel has said in previous written testimony that she was on the phone with Martin as he described the events that led up to the confrontation with Zimmerman. She described Martin as scared when he noticed a man, Zimmerman, following him. She said she urged him to run away.

Rachel has said she last heard Martin say, "Why are you following me?" then she heard the sound of someone falling and the phone went dead.

Ben Crump, attorney for the Martin family, has said her testimony further undermines the defense's argument that the 17-year-old was the aggressor, Reuters reports.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty, claiming he shot the teen in self-defense.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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