News Column

Zimmerman Witness Says Trayvon on Top in 'Tussle'

June 28, 2013

J Jurors in the trial of George Zimmerman this morning heard testimony from a witness who said 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was on top of Zimmerman in the moments before the shooting, in what he described as a mixed-martial-arts-style position.

Court is currently in recess. Testimony resumes at 1 p.m.

This morning, the state called John Good, a Zimmerman neighbor. He said he heard noises outside and when he looked, saw two people "tussling." He said that the person on top was wearing dark clothes, and the person on the bottom was wearing white or red and had lighter skin.

According to the evidence in the case, Zimmerman was wearing red that night. Trayvon was in a dark-grey or black hooded sweatshirt. Good was later asked if he now believes Trayvon was on the top and Zimmerman on the bottom: "Correct... that's what it looked like," he said.

Good said it appeared the person on top was "straddling" the other person, and that it looked like there were "punches being thrown" and someone called for help.

He said he couldn't be 100 percent sure who said "help," but thought it was Zimmerman. He also said he couldn't absolutely confirm punches were thrown, only that he saw "downward movement."

Good described Trayvon's position over Zimmerman as MMA-style, calling it "ground and pound," a common term in that sport.

He said he saw the fight move to the sidewalk. However, he said he didn't see the person on top slam the bottom person's head on the concrete, as Zimmerman says Trayvon did.

Jurors also heard Good's call to 911, in which he reports the fight and gunshot. Of Trayvon, he said in the call: "It looks like he's been shot and he's dead."

The first witness called to testify today was Greg McKinney, of Tampa-based U.S. Security Alliance, the company responsible for the video surveillance cameras in Zimmerman's neighborhood.

During McKinney's testimony, jurors saw video from cameras at the Retreat at Twin Lakes clubhouse. They didn't show much, though a light was briefly seen in the distance.

Among those who still haven't taken the witness stand in the high profile case are lead Sanford police investigator Christopher Serino, the medical examiner who autopsied the Miami Gardens teen and Trayvon's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton. Some or all could testify today.

Testimony began Monday, after opening statements. Attorneys in the case estimated testimony and evidence would take two to four weeks, and defense attorney Mark O'Mara said Thursday they're on schedule so far.

Jurors spent much of the past two days hearing from 19-year-old Rachel Jeantel, often described as the state's star witness. She was on the phone with Trayvon in the moments before his shooting, and says he relayed details to her as Zimmerman pursued him through the Retreat at Twin Lakes.

The defense spent hours on Thursday attempting to highlight inconsistencies in Jeantel's account, and she admitted she left details out of her initial account to law enforcement -- including that Trayvon described Zimmerman as a "creepy-ass cracker" -- explaining that she was sitting with Fulton at the time and didn't want hurt her feelings.

Jeantel previously admitted in testimony that she initially lied about her age, and about being in the hospital at the time of Trayvon's wake. She said she didn't attend because she didn't want to see the teen's body.

The trial will continue to be closely watched across the nation. When Sanford police didn't arrest Zimmerman after the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting, citing his self-defense claim, it prompted widespread civil-rights protests, in Sanford and across the globe.

Zimmerman, 29, was later charged with second-degree murder by a special prosecutor. He says he fired in self-defense after Trayvon attacked him. Zimmerman faces up to life in prison if convicted as charged.


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