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At Murder Trial, Friends Say It's Zimmerman's Voice On Tape

George Zimmerman in a Sanford, Fla., courtroom on Monday.
Joe Burbank/pool
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George Zimmerman in a Sanford, Fla., courtroom on Monday.

The key takeaway from Monday morning's testimony at the trial of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin is that the defense produced three people to say they're convinced it is Zimmerman's voice that can be heard calling for help on the recording of a 911 call.

The Miami Herald writes that:

"Two of George Zimmerman's best friends — a married couple who wrote a book on the case — testified Monday that they could hear their friend yelling for help on a 911 call before the gunshot that killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin."

According to The Orlando Sentinel:

"Jurors also heard from longtime Zimmerman friend Leanne Benjamin, who also testified the screams were Zimmerman's. She said she'd heard him yell before, when they worked on a local political campaign together."

Their testimony follows Friday's appearances on the witness stand by Travon's mother, who said she's convinced "that's my son screaming" on the 911 recording, and his brother, who said he believes it is Trayvon's voice. Zimmerman's mother, though, testified Friday that she's convinced it's her son, not Trayvon.

Seventeen-year-old Trayvon was killed on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman, a self-styled neighborhood watch volunteer, had called police to say there was a "suspicious" person in the area. At some point, the two came into contact. Zimmerman says he shot Trayvon in self defense, after the younger man attacked him. Trayvon's family members and their supporters say Zimmerman racially profiled the African-American teen and should not have followed him. They also dispute Zimmerman's claim that he acted in self defense. The case reignited a national discussion about race relations.

Whose voice can be heard on the recording (of a call made by neighbor) is important to the case. If it is Zimmerman's voice, that would buttress his claim of self defense. If it is Trayvon's, that would support the prosecution's case against Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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