Zimmerman appeared 'shocked' Trayvon Martin was dead, prosecution witness says

Sanford police Detective Doris Singleton, a prosecution witness in the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman, said he did not show any anger or ill-will toward Trayvon Martin during questioning after the shooting.

Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/AP
Sanford police officer Doris Singleton holds up a copy of George Zimmerman's written statement from the night of the shooting, while testifying in Seminole circuit court, in Sanford, Fla., Monday, July 1.

The first police officer to interview George Zimmerman the night he shot Trayvon Martin testified Monday that Mr. Zimmerman appeared “shocked” when she told him Trayvon was dead.

“He’s dead?” Detective Doris Singleton, the Sanford police investigator, recalled Mr. Zimmerman saying in an interview at the Sanford police station the night of Feb. 26, 2012.  

“I thought you knew that,” Detective Singleton told the court she said in reply. “He kind of slung his head and just shook it,” she testified.

Singleton, a prosecution witness, also said during cross-examination by defense attorney Mark O’Mara that Zimmerman did not show any anger or ill will when talking about Trayvon that night. In order to convict Zimmerman, who is facing second-degree murder chargers, prosecutors must show that he acted with ill will or a depraved mind.

Prosecutors, led by assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda, sought to cast doubt on Zimmerman’s statements to police.

“Mr. Zimmerman, wouldn’t you agree, was trying to convince you that he hadn’t done anything wrong?” Mr. de la Rionda asked Singleton.

Prosecutors also tried to point to discrepancies in Zimmerman’s oral testimony to Singleton and the written statement he made just after the interview.

In particular, de la Rionda focused on Zimmerman’s repeated reference to Trayvon as “the suspect” in his written statement, but not in verbal testimony. Singleton testified that she didn’t ask Zimmerman to use that language and that it is the term officers use to refer to suspected criminals.

That testimony may be important for prosecutors since they are tying to portray Zimmerman as a “vigilante” who wanted to be a police office and profiled the unarmed black teenager the night of Feb. 26, 2012.

Also Monday, prosecutors called to the witness stand an FBI voice analyst who testified that a 911 call that captured shouts for help was too short and too far away to be used for evaluation.

"That type of sample is not fit for voice comparison," the analyst, Hirotaka Nakasone, said.

Mr. Nakasone was one of the audio experts whose testimony at a pretrial hearing discredited state voice experts who said Trayvon was the one screaming. The state experts were prohibited from testifying in the trial because the judge said there was not enough evidence to prove their techniques are tested or reliable. 

Nakasone testified Monday that people familiar with the voices of Trayvon and Zimmerman would be the best people to identify the voices, but that there is a risk of increased listener bias. Trayvon’s parents and Zimmerman’s father both say it’s their son screaming in the tape.

The potential witness list for Zimmerman's trial includes about 200 people, including family members of both Zimmerman and Trayvon, according to USA Today. More than 20 witnesses testified last week in the opening week of the much-anticipated trial. Trayvon’s death and the initial decision of the Sanford Police Department not to arrest Zimmerman sparked hundreds of protests across the country and a national debate about race, equal justice, self defense, and gun control. Zimmerman was arrested 44 days after the shooting following the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Zimmerman has said he fatally shot Trayvon in February 2012 in self-defense in the midst of a fight in which the teenager was banging his head into a concrete sidewalk. The volunteer watchman has pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder charges, for which he could get life in prison if convicted.

The state argued in its opening statement that Zimmerman profiled and followed Trayvon in his truck and called a police dispatch number before he and the teen got into a fight behind townhomes in the gated community he was patrolling.

Zimmerman has denied that the confrontation had anything to do with race, as Martin's family and their supporters have claimed.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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