SANFORD, Fla. — When opening statements begin Monday in the murder trial of George Zimmerman, prosecutors will be able to tell the jury that Trayvon Martin was profiled and Zimmerman was a wannabe cop, the judge in the case ruled Friday.
Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled on a defense motion seeking to block those phrases from trial. The state can also say vigilante and can say that Zimmerman confronted Martin, Nelson ruled.
But she said prosecutors should avoid saying Martin was racially profiled on the night he was shot.
Prosecutor John Guy said Friday that the state didnt plan to say the teen was profiled solely by race: There are a number of ways someone could be profiled, he said.
Defense attorney Mark OMara countered that profiling and racial profiling are inseparable as concepts: Its like peanut butter and jelly, he said.
Nelson told OMara that if the states case doesnt live up to its opening statement, the defense is free to point that out in closing arguments.
If they dont prove it, they dont prove it, the judge said.
Another major ruling in the trial was expected Friday, but did not materialize.
Nelson was expected to rule on whether state expert witnesses will be allowed to testify about who was screaming in the background of a 911 call before Martins shooting.
But Nelson said in court Friday that shes still working on that ruling, which might not come until Monday.
The states forensic audio analysts say its likely Martin, not Zimmerman, was the source of the screams, captured by a neighbors 911 call.
The judge has heard several days testimony on the science used by the states experts.
One of the states experts, Alan R. Reich, says the voice he identified as Martin is heard yelling Im begging you, something the other experts havent said.
Several defense experts, one of them employed with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, testified that the science used by the state shouldnt be trusted.
Assistant State Attorney Richard Mantei told the judge on Thursday that the states experts are using long-established techniques, and that Florida law supports letting them present their opinions.
The evidence should be heard by the jury, and let them decide, Mantei said.
Defense attorney Donald West lambasted the state experts: One, Tom Owen, is using the case to promote new voice identification software in which he has a financial stake, West said. Mantei countered that Owens interest is minuscule.
West said the other experts havent heard what Reich claims to hear because its not there. His report should begin, It was a dark and stormy night, the defense lawyer said.
During the session Friday morning, West got into an argument with the judge about two statements by Zimmerman that defense attorneys want witnesses to tell jurors about.
One would come from one of the first people on the scene the night of the shooting. That person told attorneys he heard Zimmerman say that he had to shoot Martin because the teenager was beating him up.
The other would come from a Sanford police officer who quickly got to the scene. He told attorneys that Zimmerman said he had been calling for help but that no one would help him. The judge put off hearing argument about that until next week.
Zimmerman, a former Neighborhood Watch volunteer, shot Martin after an altercation in a Sanford townhome community on Feb. 26, 2012. He is charged with second-degree murder.
Prosecutors allege Zimmerman profiled, pursued and killed the unarmed Miami Gardens, Fla., 17-year-old. Zimmerman says he fired in self-defense.