George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin
The trial of George Zimmerman started in earnest this week in Sanford, Fla., where he killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. A jury of six women – five white and one Black Hispanic – has been set to hear the case.
The proceedings culminate more than a year of protests and debate over the racially charged case in which 17-year-old Martin, who is Black, was shot while walking home to his father’s house after going to a neighborhood store for iced tea and Skittles.
Police tapes appear to make it clear that Zimmerman, a White Hispanic Neighborhood Watch captain, pursued Martin, profiling him as a troublemaker. The key question that the jury must solve is whether Zimmerman should be found guilty of second degree murder or whether he was acting in self-defense after a struggle ensued between the two.
Judge Debra Nelson has ruled out expert testimony on whether it was Zimmerman or Martin screaming for help, heard in the background on police 911 tapes. Two experts had said it is Trayvon Martin’s voice. But, an FBI analyst said the recording is too short for that opinion to be conclusive.
Despite the ruling against expert testimony on the audio, relatives of either Martin or Zimmerman are allowed to testify whose voice they believe it is, including Martin’s mother.
The high profile case is being viewed as yet another hallmark of racism in America, where Black men are often victims of police profiling and brutality.