Zimmerman judge: 'Profiled,' other terms, OK
Updated On: Jun 21 2013 09:11:28 PM CDT
When opening statements in George Zimmerman's trial begin Monday, prosecutors are free to use words such as "vigilante" and characterize Zimmerman's actions before his fatal confrontation with Trayvon Martin as "profiling," the judge ruled Friday.
The defense had sought to bar the phrases, labeling them as "defamatory."
"If they (prosecutors) don't prove it, they don't prove it," Judge Debra Nelson. "That's the state's case."
Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch captain, is charged with second-degree murder for killing 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, Florida, on Feb. 26, 2012. He claims he shot the teenager in self-defense.
Zimmerman's defense attorneys had wanted Nelson to prohibit the following descriptors of Zimmerman, saying that they were disparaging:
-- "Racially profiled" (or any variation)
-- "Self-appointed neighborhood watch captain"
-- "Wannabe cop"
-- "He got out of the car after the police (or dispatcher) told him not to"
-- "He confronted Trayvon Martin"
Nelson said she would allow the prosecution to use these terms, because these terms amount to the prosecutor's case against Zimmerman.
However, Nelson did add one caveat that might help the defense. Prosecutors cannot say Zimmerman profiled Martin based solely on race, but can include other factors such as age.
Nelson said she will try to make a ruling later on the admissibility of technology used to analyze the screams on a 911 call from the night of the shooting. Court proceedings began Friday at 9 a.m. ET to handle any outstanding issues before opening statements begin Monday.
The technology may be key to the prosecution's case, because their experts' testimony may be able to shed light on what was said between Zimmerman and Martin moments before the teenager was shot.
If the analysis indicates Martin screamed for help, it could hurt the credibility of Zimmerman's claim that he acted in self-defense.
The law states that, for technology to be admissible, it must be "generally accepted" in the particular field it's applied to. Zimmerman's attorneys are arguing the technology does not satisfy that threshold.
On June 6, defense expert Hirotaka Nakasone, an audio engineer for the FBI, expressed his doubts about using the recordings.
"A screaming voice is too far for us to address," Nakasone said. "It might mislead in the worst case."
Opening statements in Zimmerman's trial are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. ET Monday.
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