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July 6, 2013

Relatives clash over 911 call

SANFORD, Fla. — The mothers of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman listened Friday to the same 911 recording of someone screaming for help, and each said she was convinced the voice was that of her own son.

The starkly conflicting testimony over the potentially crucial piece of evidence came midway through Zimmerman’s murder trial in the 2012 shooting of the unarmed 17-year-old.

“I heard my son screaming,” Sybrina Fulton, the teenager’s mother, said firmly after she was played a recording in which distant, high-pitched wails could be heard in the background as a Zimmerman neighbor asked a dispatcher to send police. Moments later on the call, there was a gunshot and the crying stopped.

Gladys Zimmerman, though, testified she recognized the voice all too well: “My son.” Asked how she could be certain, she said: “Because it’s my son.”

The testimony came on a dramatic, action-packed day in which the prosecution rested its case and the judge rejected a defense request to acquit Zimmerman on the second-degree murder charge.

The question of whose voice is on the recording could be crucial to the jury in deciding who was the aggressor in the confrontation between the neighborhood watch volunteer and the teenager.

The identity of the person sharply divided the two families: Martin’s half brother, 22-year-old Jahvaris Fulton, testified that the cries came from the teen. And Zimmerman’s uncle, Jose Meza, said he knew it was Zimmerman’s voice from “the moment I heard it. ... I thought, that is George.”

The prosecution rested after calling 38 witnesses over two weeks. Defense attorney Mark O’Mara promptly asked the judge to acquit Zimmerman, arguing that the prosecution had failed to prove its case.

O’Mara said an “enormous” amount of evidence showed that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, and he argued that Zimmerman had reasonable grounds to believe he was in danger, and acted without the “ill will, hatred and spite” necessary to prove second-degree murder.

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