Zimmerman prosecutors can use 'profiling' but not 'racial profiling'

June 21, 2013 at 1:30 PM

SANFORD, Fla., June 21 (UPI) -- Prosecutors in the George Zimmerman murder case in Florida may use "profiling" but not the specific "racial profiling" in opening statements, a judge ruled.

While Seminole Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson drew the line prosecutors must toe concerning "profiling" and something more specific Friday, she said prosecutors may also use terms such as "vigilante" and "wannabe cop," The Miami Herald reported.

Defense lawyers had asked Nelson to prohibit prosecutors from using the terms because they were "inflammatory" against their client, accused of shooting and killing Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager, last year in Sanford, Fla.

Zimmerman, a 29-year-old Hispanic-American, is charged with fatally shooting Martin, a 17-year-old black, as Martin was walking to his father's home buying candy and a drink at a convenience store. Zimmerman, a former Neighborhood Watch volunteer, said the shooting was in self defense after Martin attacked him.

Nelson, however, said prosecutors can describe what they believe the evidence will show.

"We don't intend to say he was solely profiled because of race," prosecutor John Guy said, noting people may be profiled because of age or clothing.

Nelson's ruling came during a brief court hearing Friday in preparation for Monday's opening statements.

Nelson has not ruled on whether jurors can hear expert testimony about a key 911 recording that includes sounds of the struggle during which Martin was killed and Zimmerman was wounded. State audio experts who analyzed the recording suggested in pretrial hearings it indicated the teen was crying out in fear.

If the experts are allowed to testify in full, they may be able to persuade jurors Zimmerman, not Martin, was the aggressor, the Herald said.

An all-female, six-member jury and four alternates will hear the case, expected to last between two and four weeks.

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