Zimmerman & Martin moms: Screams were my son

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  • HLN is covering the George Zimmerman trial live, gavel to gavel
  • Mothers of Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin testify about screams on 911 call
  • Judge denies defense request for acquittal
  • Medical examiner: Martin was alive for one to ten minutes after he was shot
Zimmerman & Martin moms: Screams were my son

Zimmerman mom: That's my son screaming on tape

Zimmerman mom: That's my son screaming on tape

Sybrina Fulton: That's my son screaming on tape

Sybrina Fulton: That's my son screaming on tape

Live blog of today's testimony begins below.

After the prosecution in the George Zimmerman trial rested its case Friday, the defense began by calling his mother to the stand. Gladys Zimmerman told jurors the voice heard screaming for help on a 911 call made the night Trayvon Martin died is that of her son.

Zimmerman said she had heard her son scream, cry, play and yell in numerous situations over the years, which is how she was able to recognize his voice this time.

The defense then called Zimmerman’s uncle, Jorge Meza, who is also the Deputy Sheriff in Orange County, to the stand. Meza said he originally heard the call on TV and without any further information or prompts, immediately recognized his nephew’s voice.

During cross-examination, Meza also stated that as a police official, he disconnected himself from Zimmerman’s case in order to remain objective.

Both witnesses’ testimony is a stark contrast to earlier testimony Friday of Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, and Jahvaris Fulton, Martin's older brother, who both claimed the voice heard in the 911 call was Trayvon’s. Identifying that panicked voice is considered key to proving whether Zimmerman or Martin was the aggressor the night the 17-year-old was shot and killed.

Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda played the 911 call while a stoic Sybrina Fulton listened. When asked whether she recognized the screaming voice, the mother -- who earlier stated that her son was "in heaven" -- said it was that of "Trayvon Benjamin Martin."

While brief, Fulton's testimony reinforced the prosecution’s contention that Martin did not pose a threat to Zimmerman when the former neighborhood watch captain shot and killed him on February 26, 2012. Zimmerman claims he shot the teenager in self-defense.

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara asked Fulton, "As his mother, there was no doubt it was him screaming?" to which she replied, "Absolutely." O'Mara then attempted to raise the possibility that Zimmerman was not to blame for her son's death. "You certainly hope, as a mom, that your son Trayvon Martin would not have done anything that led to his death, correct?" he asked.

"What I hoped for," said Fulton, "is that nothing happened and he'd still be here. That's my hope."

Jahvaris Fulton, Martin's older brother, also testified Friday morning about the voice on the 911 call and confirmed his certainty that it belonged to his brother. The 22-year-old college student added that he had "heard him [Martin] yell" before, but "not like that." He testified that when he first heard the call, he thought it was his brother's voice but wasn't sure. "I guess I didn't want to believe it was him," Jahvaris told O'Mara. "I was clouded by shock and sadness."

A request by O'Mara to play a 2012 TV interview during which Jahvaris Fulton said he wasn't sure whether the screams were those of Martin was denied by Judge Debra Nelson. In that interview, Jahvaris told a reporter that "I would think it was my brother, but I am not completely positive that it is him." Judge Nelson ruled Jahvaris’ testimony matches what he said in that interview, so jurors would not hear it.

The specifics of the shot which killed Martin, and what it could reveal about the fatal struggle between him and Zimmerman, again returned to the court's attention as Voluscia and Seminole County associate medical examiner Bao Shiping testified about the autopsy he performed on Martin.

In testimony which turned contentious between Bao and defense attorney Don West, the medical examiner said the muzzle of Zimmerman's gun was likely in loose contact with Martin's clothing, indicating the teen was shot at close range.

Bao also said Martin did not die right away after the gunshot. "I believe he was alive for one to 10 minutes after he was shot. His heart was bleeding until there was no blood left." The medical examiner said Martin was "suffering, he was in pain" as photos from the autopsy lingered on a courtroom screen. "There is no chance he could survive. Zero."

During cross-examination, however, West expressed doubts about the condition of Martin's body and clothing when it was examined, noting the victim was not moved from the scene for about three hours. Bao would not confirm that timeline -- despite West's repeated attempts to have him do so -- because he said he was not there. As the two disputed Bao's ability to establish a timeline, Judge Nelson interjected, telling the witness to "please stop speaking so Mr. West can ask the next question."

Prepared notes that Bao was reading from also drew West’s attention. When asked about them, Bao said "I typed out potential answers to your potential questions." Despite the medical examiner's protest, Judge Nelson allowed his personal notes to be copied and reviewed by both sides.

After the lunch recess, Bao continued to testify about Martin’s autopsy. Many of West’s questions about the state of the victim’s palms and fingernails, the blood for the toxicology report, and the effect of THC on Martin’s body and mind were answered with “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.”

After a brief re-direct of Bao by de la Rionda, O’Mara argued the Judgment of Acquittal motion before the judge (the jury was not present for this portion). He explained why he believed the State did not present enough direct evidence that Zimmerman did not act in self-defense. He also disputed the State’s claim that Zimmerman acted with ill will, hatred, or spite.

In his rebuttal, assistant state attorney Richard Mantei called Zimmerman a liar and pointed out inconsistencies in his version of events and the direct evidence presented in court. In the end, Judge Nelson denied the motion and said the decision is ultimately with the jury.

The court is in recess until Monday morning. 

HLN is live-blogging Zimmerman's trial. Click here for HLN's live blog of Wednesday's testimony. Read below for minute-by-minute updates:

5:23 p.m. ET: Court is in recess until Monday. 

5:20 p.m. ET: Judge Nelson excuses the jury for the weekend but asks the attorneys to approach. 

5:14 p.m. ET: O’Mara begins re-direct. He asks Meza to clarify why he disconnected himself from Zimmerman’s case. 

5:12 p.m. ET: De la Rionda begins cross-examination. He asks Meza how much details he knows about Zimmerman's case. Meza says that because of his position in the Sheriff's office, he tried to stay out of the case as much as possible. 

5:07 p.m. ET: O'Mara asks Meza if he has ever heard a 911 call with a voice in the foreground and screams for help in the background. He says yes. He explains that it was his nephew's 911 call, which he heard on the news on his TV. 

5:03 p.m. ET: Defense calls its next witness: Jorge Meza, Orange County Deputy Sheriff and Zimmerman's uncle. 

5:02 p.m. ET: O'Mara is on re-direct. He asks Zimmerman's mom to clarify her answer to de la Rionda. She is then excused with subject to recall. 

5:01 p.m. ET: De la Rionda begins cross-examination. He asks Zimmerman's mom if she has ever heard her son screaming for help before. She says no. He rests.

5:00 p.m. ET: After listening to a portion of the Call, Zimmerman's mom confirms that it is her son's voice on the 911 call. 

4:59 p.m. ET: O'Mara plays the 911 call for Zimmerman's mom to see if she can tell whose voice is on the recording. 

4:55 p.m. ET: The jury is back in the court. The State rests its case. The defense calls its first witness to the stand: Gladys Zimmerman, the defendant's mother.

4:51 p.m. ET: Judge Nelson announces that the Judgment of Acquittal motion is denied. She believes that the State has presented both direct and circumstantial evidence and that this case is going to the jury. 

4:32 p.m. ET: Mantei rests. O’Mara starts his rebuttal.

4:14 p.m. ET: Mantei argues that pointing a loaded weapon at the heart and pulling the trigger “is in fact evidence of ill will.” He responds to O'Mara's argument about ill will, saying that Zimmerman thought he knew who Martin was and that his was wrong in his assumption. He also presents several exhibits of direct evidence of Zimmerman’s ill will and calls Zimmerman a liar. He, too, cites law cases that suggest Judgment of Acquittal is not appropriate in this case. 

3:59 p.m. ET: O'Mara just finished arguing Judgment of Acquittal before Judge Nelson. Prosecution's Richard Mantei responds. 

3:38 p.m. ET: O’Mara argues that his client has asserted self-defense in his statements and that there is no direct evidence of ill will, hatred, or spite, which usually only exists between people who know each other. He adds that Zimmerman made his statements to police before hearing any witness testimony that supports his claims and cites law cases that suggest Judgment of Acquittal is appropriate in this case. 

3:20 p.m. ET: O'Mara is arguing Judgment of Acquittal motion now, in which he explains why he believes the State did not present enough evidence that Zimmerman committed a crime. 

3:19 p.m. ET: State plans to rest the case when the jury comes back in. 

3:18 p.m. ET: Judge Nelson approves both pieces of evidence de la Rionda would like to introduce to the jury: A timeline of events and weather information on the night of the shooting. 

3:12 p.m. ET: De la Rionda enters several exhibits into evidence. Jury is not present for this. 

2:56 p.m. ET: Bao is excused with subject to recall. Judge Nelson calls for a 10 minute recess. 

2:54 p.m. ET: De la Rionda also asks Bao about his autopsy report, the notes he took during the autopsy, and reviewing photos from the scene of Martin's shooting. 

2:49 p.m. ET: Bao tells de la Rionda he believes there was something between the gun and Martin's skin: Two shirts.

2:46 p.m. ET: West has finished questioning Bao. De la Rionda begins redirect.

2:38 p.m. ET: West asks Bao whether he thinks there was any distance between the skin of the victim and the gun. Bao says that based on the stipling, there was intermediate distance, which is 0.4 inches to 4 feet. 

2:33 p.m. ET: Bao says he doesn't know how much Martin may have been able to move or talk after a gunshot injury. 

2:27 p.m. ET: Bao describes the case that caused him to change his opinion of how long Martin lived after getting shot. 

2:21 p.m. ET: Questioning turns once again to how long Martin may have lived after getting shot. West is questioning Bao's sources for his testimony.

2:19 p.m. ET: West asks if blood from the abrasions could be transferred to another surface, like clothing. Bao says it’s a possibility. 

2:16 p.m. ET: Bao says the small abrasions on Martin's fingers could have happened up to two hours before his meeting with Zimmerman. He clarifies it's an estimation and that the injuries could have also come from him fight with Martin. 

2:13 p.m. ET: West asks Bao if it was his conscious decision not to photograph Martin’s palms. Bao answers that during an autopsy, he looks for something significant, like injuries or disease, and doesn’t photograph the body part if there is nothing significant. He says he usually takes 5-10 photographs for each body during an autopsy. 

2:04 p.m. ET: West is asking Bao about blood drawn for Martin's toxicology report. in this case, Bao says blood was drawn from Martin's chest for the toxicology report. Bao explains that normally, they try to get peripheral blood first, but in Martin's case, there was no blood left anywhere but his chest.

1:55 p.m. ET: West is asking Bao about the day of Martin's autopsy. Bao says he doesn't remember whether he was there for the packaging of Martin's clothing or the scraping of the fingernails.

1:52 p.m. ET: The jury is back in the courtroom. 

1:49 p.m. ET: West asks the judge for permission to question Bao about the effects of THC on Martin's mind and body. The judge only allows brief questioning, without the presence of the jury. After the jury leaves the courtroom, Bao tells the court he believes that marijuana "could have no effect or some effect" on Martin. He cannot tell how much of an effect. 

1:48 p.m. ET: Judge Nelson asked West three times to keep the focus of his questioning of Bao on the Richardson issue. After hearing testimony, court finds there is no violation of the Richardson issue. 

1:42 p.m. ET: West asked the medical examiner, “When did you change your mind on the significance levels of THC on Martin’s mind?” Bao answered, “In the last 60 days.” He also said he has spent hours doing additional research and speaking with fellow experts to come to the new conclusion that marijuana may have had an effect on Martin. 

1:38 p.m. ET: Bao cannot remember whether he told the lead prosecutor that his opinion changed about Martin’s time of death the day before today’s testimony, July 4. 

1:34 p.m. ET: West is asking Bao why he changed his opinion about how long Martin took to die after the shooting, from 1-3 minutes to 1-10 minutes.

1:27 p.m. ET: The jury is not in the courtroom for the discussion of Bao's notes. 

1:05 p.m. ET: Court is back in session and attorneys are conferring with Judge Nelson. They are discussing Bao's notes.

11:55 a.m. ET: West requests time to make copies of and review Bao's notes. He objects, but Judge Debra Nelson recesses the court for lunch. Copies will be made of his notes and Judge Nelson assures they'll be destroyed after his testimony ends.

11:53 am. ET: The defense attorneys grin while reviewing Bao's notes. From the witness stand, the medical examiner asks "Is there something funny there?"

11:50 a.m. ET: Bao is reading his answers off personal notes. "I typed out potential answers to your potential questions." West asks to see the notes, but Bao replied "I'd rather you not." Judge Nelson tells him both sides' attorneys are entitled to view his notes.

11:46 a.m. ET: West asks if Martin's wet clothes were sealed in a plastic bag before examination. "If anybody do that, he'll be gone the next day. This is a very basic concept," Bao says. He adds it's standard procedure to use a paper bag instead of a plastic bag for clothing.

11:38 a.m. ET: West and Bao are arguing about his not responding to West's question about the autopsy timeline. Judge Nelson tells the witness to "please stop speaking so Mr. West can ask the next question."

11:32 a.m. ET: West asks Bao about the time which passed between when Martin was shot and when his body was removed from the scene. West says it was a little less than three hours (approx. 7:15 p.m. to 10:10 p.m.) though Bao will not confirm that since he was not at the scene himself.

11:25 a.m. ET: Don West begins cross-examination of medical examiner Bao.

11:13 a.m. ET: Direct examination ends. Court is in a ten minute recess.

11:02 a.m. ET: "I believe Trayvon Martin was alive for one to ten minutes after he was shot." Confirms he could still feel pain.

11:00 a.m. ET: Medical examiner says he has "zero opinion" on the position of the body when Trayvon Martin was shot.

10:52 a.m. ET: Bao says, "I believe he was alive for one to ten minutes after he was shot. His heart was bleeding until there was no blood left." Of the single, fatal shot he adds, "There is no chance he could survive. Zero."

10:51 a.m. ET: He described the path of the bullet: "Perforations of anterior wall of space between 5th and 6th ribs. Bullet went through the pericardial sac, right ventricle of the heart, posterior wall of right ventricle of the heart. We recovered 1700 milliliters of blood in the right lower cavity, 1000 milliliters of blood in the left cavity."

10:50 a.m. ET: Tracy Martin and George Zimmerman look up at the display showing the autopsy photos of Trayvon Martin.

10:48 a.m. ET: Bao notes presence also of a small, "superficial aberration caused by blunt force trauma" on Martin's left hand. No injuries found on right hand.

10:45 a.m. ET: Sybrina Fulton left the courtroom before this testimony began. Martin's dad, Tracy Martin, is in the courtroom and looking up at the autopsy photos.

10:44 a.m. ET: Body of Trayvon Martin is seen on the autopsy table by jurors. Martin was 5'11", 158 pounds when he was killed, says Bao. The medical examiner says he was otherwise healthy.

10:40 a.m. ET: Bao is reviewing photos depicting Martin's clothing and a 3/8" bullet hole "consistent with an entrance wound."

10:37 a.m. ET: The first several photos, Bao says, show the bag in which Martin's body was held.

10:36 a.m. ET: Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda is displaying autopsy photos. Trayvon Martin's father is seen rubbing his eyes.

10:29 a.m. ET: Bao says it's his opinion Martin did not die immediately and was "suffering, he was in pain" after the gunshot. Defense attorney Don West objects, saying Bao is making an emotional appeal and it's not relevant. The objection is sustained.

10:28 a.m. ET: Bao is describing Martin's wounds and the path of the bullet, which was located behind his heart, behind his right ventricle. Bao says the bullet also went through one of Martin's lungs.

10:22 a.m. ET: Bao says he has performed more than 3,000 autopsies, about 150 to 200 on homicide victims. He says the manner of Travon Martin's death was homicide.

10:20 a.m. ET: He is an expert in forensic pathology. Bao conducted the final autopsy on Trayvon Martin and determined the cause of death to be a gunshot wound to the chest.

10:17 a.m. ET: Fulton has been excused after identifying a button her son always wore. The State now calls Dr. Shiping Bao, the associate medical examiner in Voluscia and Seminole Counties. He is licensed in Florida and Texas.

10:12 a.m. ET: After a delay, the court is taking a five-minute recess.

10:03 a.m. ET: Jahvaris Fulton has been excused. State recalls Sybrina Fulton.

10:02 a.m. ET: Under re-direct, Jahvaris Fulton confirms hearing the 911 call that first time was emotional and he was in denial about his brother's death. Asked if he now believes it's Trayvon Martin on that tape he says, "yes."

10:00 a.m. ET: O'Mara ends his questioning.

9:57 a.m. ET: O'Mara addresses Fulton about hearing the 911 call for the first time, in the Sanford, Florida's mayor's office with his family and family attorneys. Fulton tells O'Mara, "I didn't want to listen to them again." after hearing the tapes twice that day. "It's emotional, I didn't want to listen to it."

9:53 a.m. ET: Court is back in session. Resumes with testimony of Jahvaris Fulton.

9:23 a.m. ET: Court is now in recess. There is an issue with the evidence locker and a locksmith has been summoned to fix the lock and retrieve the evidence.

9:23 a.m. ET: Judge Nelson denies request to play tape in court because "his answer is the same today as it was then, so that's not impeachment." Says there is no legal basis for playing interview for the jury.

9:22 a.m. ET: Court reporter is reading back Fulton's testimony as defense seeks impeachment. Judge Nelson that's "not impeachment." O'Mara continues to seek tape be played for jurors.

9:17 a.m. ET: Prosecutor John Guy says Fulton "did not equivocate" in his answer on the stand. He said at the time he wasn't sure it was his brother and again today he said he wasn't sure at the time.

9:16 a.m. ET: Tape is played while jury remains out. Reporter asks, "Who did you hear?" Fulton: "I'm not sure. Honestly, I haven't even listened to it that good. I've heard it. I would think it was my brother, but I am not completely positive that it is him." Interview was March 31, 2012.

9:15 a.m. ET: O'Mara says the tape should be played because Fulton has not sufficiently answered the question about what he told the Miami TV reporter. Moves for impeachment of Fulton.

9:13 a.m. ET: O'Mara asks to play the interview Jahvaris Fulton gave where he's asked about the identity of the voice on the 911 call. The jury is excused while the request is considered.

9:11 a.m. ET: "When I heard it in the mayor's office (for the first time), I guess I didn't want to believe it was him," Fulton says. "I was clouded by shock and sadness." O'Mara says the interview he gave was two weeks after that first listen. Fulton says he did not hear tape again in the interim.

9:10 a.m. ET: Mark O'Mara recalls Fulton interview where he once said he was not initially certain whose voice was screaming.

9:09 a.m. ET: Jahvaris Fulton says he's heard 911 call of his brother's shooting "10 to 15 times". "Whose voice do you recognize?" he's asked. "My brother's." Fulton says he's "heard him yell" before, but "not like that." Direct examination ends.

9:07 a.m. ET: "We were very close" Fulton says of relationship with his brother.

9:05 a.m. ET: Trayvon Martin's older brother, Jahvaris Fulton, 22, is called to testify. He is a student at Florida International University

9:04 a.m. ET: O'Mara to Fulton: "You certainly hope, as a mom, that your son Trayvon Martin would not have done anything that led to his death, correct?" Fulton replies, "What I hoped for is that nothing happened and he'd still be here. That's my hope."  Then says "I don't believe he was" responsible for his own death. Sybrina Fulton is excused from the stand.

9:03 a.m. ET: Defense has no further questions. De la Rionda begins redirect.

9:02 a.m. ET: O'Mara asks if anyone had told Fulton she would be played the tape that day, to "prepare yourself" for it. "No," she says.

9:00 a.m. ET: "As his mother, there was no doubt it was him screaming?" O'Mara asks. "Absolutely," Fulton replies.

8:58 a.m. ET: Fulton says hearing the call was "absolutely" one of the worst things she ever experienced.

8:58 a.m. ET: O'Mara is asking Fulton about the first time she heard the 911 tape and reviews the people who were present.

8:55 a.m. ET: Mark O'Mara begins the cross-examination of Sybrina Fulton.

8:53 a.m. ET: The 911 call of Trayvon Martin's shooting is being played in court. Fulton says she recognizes the screaming as that of "Trayvon Benjamin Martin". No more questions from prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda.

8:52 a.m. ET: Fulton is asked about Martin's tattoos. She confirms he had two: praying hands on right upper shoulder with his grandmother and great-grandmother's name and Sybrina's name on his left wrist.

8:40 a.m. ET: The State has called Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, to testify.

8:35 a.m. ET: Court has been called into session. The parents of Trayvon Martin are in attendance in their usual seats behind the prosecution's table.

Follow Jonathan Anker on Twitter @JonFromHLN

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