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Defense rests after George Zimmerman declines to testify

July 10, 2013 at 7:17 PM   |   Comments

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SANFORD, Fla., July 10 (UPI) -- The defense rested Wednesday after Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman declined to testify in his trial for killing an unarmed black teenager.

Zimmerman's attorneys concluded their case after Judge Debra Nelson denied their motion that she acquit Zimmerman, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel reported.

Jurors were sent home for the day after prosecutors recalled Adam Pollock, a mixed-martial-arts gym operator who testified earlier for the defense that Zimmerman used the facility to lose weight, not to learn fighting skills. Prosecutor Richard Mantei asked Pollock about a page on his gym's website the prosecutor called an "advertisement" that Zimmerman trained there. Pollock said he was "absolutely not" advertising his association with the case.

The defense then objected to the line of questioning and the judge agreed, leading to the end of Pollack's testimony.

Nelson also denied a prosecution request that she strike the testimony of defense witness John Donnelly, who violated the witness sequestration rule by sitting in court for almost two weeks before he took the stand. Donnelly, a longtime friend of Zimmerman, testified it was Zimmerman heard screaming for help on a 911 call before the fatal shot.

The Sentinel said the jurors were told they will hear the prosecution's closing arguments Thursday and will hear from the defense Friday.

Zimmerman is on trial in Sanford for second-degree murder in the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting death of Trayvon Martin -- who was 17 at the time -- as he was walking to his father's home in a gated community when Zimmerman began following him and a confrontation ensued.

Asked by Nelson Wednesday if he planned to testify, Zimmerman answered, "Not at this time."

Before resting, the defense called Zimmerman's father, who testified the voice on a 911 tape screaming for help was that of his son. Before that, Zimmerman neighbor Olivia Bertalan testified her home had been invaded by two black males who ransacked it as she hid in a closet with her son, armed with a pair of rusty scissors, the Sentinel said.

The judge earlier refused to allow Zimmerman's lawyers to show a computer animation recreating the shooting. Text messages sent by Martin at the time of the shooting also cannot be entered as evidence, Nelson ruled.

In arguments that went until 10 p.m. Tuesday, the defense had contended the animation was created by established technology from evidence in the case. Nelson said Wednesday the animation, which depicts Zimmerman and Martin as cartoon characters -- Zimmerman as Popeye and Martin as bad-guy Bluto -- could be used as a demonstrative aid in closing arguments.

Zimmerman, 29, pleaded not guilty, saying he shot Martin in self-defense after Martin knocked him to the ground, punched him in the nose, straddled him on the ground and repeatedly slammed his head into the concrete pavement.

The prosecution maintains Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watch coordinator, pursued Martin and instigated the confrontation that ended in Martin's death.

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