Defense Rests in|Zimmerman Murder Trial

     SANFORD, Fla. (CN) – The judge in George Zimmerman’s murder trial on Wednesday twice rejected motions for acquittal, and the defense rested.
     Zimmerman is charged with the second-degree murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012. His defense team rested after presenting four days of testimony from 18 witnesses.
     State prosecutors on Wednesday asked the jury also to consider two lesser charges: manslaughter and aggravated assault.
     The defense objected to the lesser offenses and was to continue arguing against them this morning.
     The jury was to return to the courtroom at 1 p.m. today to hear the state’s closing arguments.
     The defense will present its closing statements Friday.
     Zimmerman, 29, claims he killed Martin in self-defense under Florida’s “stand your ground” law. If convicted of second-degree murder he could face life in prison.
     Seminole County Judge Debra Nelson twice is presiding over the case being tried by a six-woman jury.
     Zimmerman’s attorneys on Wednesday called his former neighbor Olivia Bertalan. She described a time that two young black men broke into her home and stole her laptop and camera. The event caused her to move from the neighborhood.
     Dennis Root, a law enforcement expert who specializes in self-defense issues, testified Wednesday about Zimmerman’s condition and firearms safety.
     Root said Zimmerman was not as physically able to fight as Martin. He said he spoke to Zimmerman’s trainer, who described him as a nice person unlikely to fight.
     Root said it was not unusual to have a pre-loaded round in a gun.
     “A firearm is as safe as the person holding it,” Root said.
     Under cross-examination, Root said he would have done things differently if he were in the situation. He said Zimmerman did seem frustrated.
     Former Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee testified earlier this week that he did not arrest Zimmerman for 6 weeks because there was not enough evidence to rebut his self-defense claim.
     Zimmerman was not arrested for 44 days, after protests across the nation.
     Judge Nelson asked Zimmerman if it was his decision not to testify.
     Defense attorney Don West objected, but Nelson overruled, saying the court has a right to ask the question.
     “After consulting with my counsel, yes, your honor,” Zimmerman said.
     The state called two rebuttal witnesses Wednesday: gym owner Adam Pollock, and Arthur Fleishman, the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent who arrested Zimmerman in 2005 on a charge of battery against a law enforcement officer.
     The defense objected to both witnesses.
     Nelson ruled that Fleishman may testify today, but the state may not question Pollock about the “Zimmerman training” offered on his website.
     Zimmerman’s father, Robert Zimmerman, testified Wednesday that it was definitely his son George who was heard screaming on a 911 tape.
     Witnesses have identified the voice as both Martin and Zimmerman.
     Before court began Wednesday, Nelson ruled the defense will not be able to show a computer-animated fight reenactment, and may not introduce text messages from Martin’s phone.
     The state began its case on June 24, after two weeks of jury selection. The state called 38 witnesses and rested its case on July 5.

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