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10 Moments That Could Decide The Polarizing George Zimmerman Trial

Who was screaming for help in 911 tape? Was Trayvon Martin stalked and attacked? Did Zimmerman kill in self-defense? The jury will have to decide.

Posted on July 9, 2013, at 5:35 p.m. ET

1. Was it self-defense?

Orlando Sentinel, Joe Burbank, Pool / AP

Aside from what led up to the confrontation, the defense is arguing that George Zimmerman had no choice but to shoot Trayvon Martin because he feared for his life.

Jurors heard Zimmerman's story in his own words through previous interviews with police that were played in court. He said Martin punched him in his nose knocking him down and hit his head against concrete. "He just started punching me in the face, and I started screaming for help. I couldn't see. I couldn't breathe," he said in the tapes.

That's when he says Martin noticed the gun and grabbed for it. That's when he says he got to it first and shot and killed the teen.

2. "Fucking punks, these assholes always get away."

Pool / Reuters

The prosecution opened with this jarring but powerful statement, letting the jury know exactly what Zimmerman had said when he called 911. It will be up to the six female jurors to decide if Zimmerman had malice towards Martin and deserves a murder conviction or manslaughter or acquittal.

3. The friend of Martin, who spoke to him in the last moments of his life.

Getty Images

Rachel Jeantel was derided and made fun of on Twitter -- she was also fiercely defended by a Rutgers faculty member who wrote a passionate letter expressing solidarity with the teen. In many ways, the reaction to Jeantel illuminates the sharp divisions in a case where race is never far from the surface. Jeantel was raw, extremely casual in responding to questions and emotional. But the defense sought to discredit her precisely because her testimony could be damning. She painted the picture of Zimmerman stalking Martin, confronting him and escalating it to a fight before their phone call cut off.

4. Was Zimmerman or Martin on top as they fought?

Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT

In this reenactment video for Sanford police investigators, Zimmerman showed how the fight played out. A key to the case is whether jurors believe that Zimmerman or Martin were on top during the fight. The person on top would be seen as the aggressor. Witness Jeannee Nanalo said "the bigger person" was on top and after seeing the two men on the news, she could tell it was Zimmerman.

5. The jury knows Martin had a small amount of marijuana in his system.


While the judge chose not to admit some previous facts about Zimmerman or Martin before the fateful fight, she did allow jurors to learn that Martin had a small amount of marijuana in his system. The defense says this is important because Zimmerman says he believed Martin was under the influence of something.

6. Does it matter what family and friends said?

Martin's brother Jahvaris Fulton. Zimmerman's best friend, Mark Osterman. Witnesses like these obviously were close to the victim and defendant but they could also be very biased. Will jurors take their testimony into account? Not surprisingly, Fulton said the screams for help on the 911 tape were coming from Martin, while Osterman said they were Zimmerman's.

7. Martin's father takes the stand.

Pool / Getty Images

In a powerful development Monday, detectives testified that Tracy Martin, the victim's father, said the voice on the 911 tapes screaming for help was not his son. They said he looked away and mouthed the word, "No." Tracy was called to the witness stand and took issue with that characterization. He said he did not want to believe it was his son as he listened to his final moments. On the stand he said it was his son. What will the jury make of this?

8. Zimmerman's injuries

Pool / Reuters

To what degree will jurors decide his injuries show his life was in danger? Valerie Rao, a medical examiner said Zimmerman's injuries were not consistent with the amount of times he said he had been hit.

Her and a defense attorney got into a debate about whether he had a natural lump on his "funny shaped head," or if it was an injury sustained during the fight. She went with lumpy head.

9. How long did Martin live after being shot?


Shiping Bao, the medical examiner who handled Martin's autopsy changed his opinion on how long he lived after being shot. Initially he said one to three minutes. Now he says possibly ten. He says he changed his opinion after working on a similar shooting death. If Martin lived longer it could help explain why his body was in a different position than Zimmerman detailed in his explanation of the incident.

10. Knock knock jokes and ice cream Instagrams

In the end jurors will be deciding on which lawyers made their case the best. No one in the courtroom laughed when Zimmerman's defense attorney Don West made a knock knock joke to the jury on the first day of the trial. Then he and his daughters Instagrammed getting ice cream after Jeantel's testimony. He apologized for his daughters actions. Now the rest is up to the jury.