George Zimmerman speaks, but won’t testify in his defense (+video)
The man at the center of the Trayvon Martin murder case told Judge Debra Nelson on Wednesday he will not take the stand – one of several last minute moves by Zimmerman's defense team.
In what may be his last utterances in the Trayvon Martin murder trial, former neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman said Wednesday afternoon he had made the decision not to testify in his own defense.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Florida vs. George Zimmerman: Case closed?
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Florida circuit court Judge Debra Nelson asked Mr. Zimmerman if he had been threatened or coerced into not testifying, and the 29-year-old answered no.
Though not unexpected, Zimmerman’s move was one of several last-minute machinations as the high-profile trial winds down, amid concerns by some law enforcement officials in Florida that a not-guilty verdict could cause civic unrest.
Earlier this week, defense attorneys said they’d introduce witnesses to talk about how marijuana use by the 17-year-old Trayvon could have affected his decisionmaking on the night he was killed, but instead the defense put a “use of force” expert on the stand to talk about fight dynamics before resting its case.
The prosecution called back Adam Pollock, the owner of a gym where Zimmerman trained, causing a minor uproar when it suggested he was using his training of Zimmerman as an advertising pitch, thus undermining the credibility of his testimony. Mr. Pollock, ironically, testified for the prosecution, causing Judge Nelson to wonder why the prosecution is trying to impeach its own witness. Pollock ultimately did not retake the stand.
The stakes as the case winds down are high. Now on Day 21, the trial has clarified, but not solidified, the last two minutes of Trayvon’s life, when he got into an altercation with Zimmerman. The defendant had gotten out of his car to follow Trayvon after calling him “suspicious” and “on drugs or something.”
The case inspired widespread rallies and “Million Hoodie Marches” in early 2012, after Sanford, Fla., police refused to charge Zimmerman with a crime, saying they couldn’t counter his self-defense claim. A special state prosecutor indicted him 44 days later. The trial began June 10.
The sequence of events Wednesday did give some clues as to the defense’s thinking as it closed its case. Firstly, Zimmerman testifying on his own behalf may have caused more harm than good, opening himself up to cross-examination about a series of alleged inconsistencies in his version of events.