Zimmerman Trial: State Running Out of Time

For much of the trial, the defense has beaten the prosecution at its own game.

Defense attorneys Mark O'Mara (left) and Don West with George Zimmerman at the July 3 proceedings (pool/Getty Images)
Defense attorneys Mark O'Mara (left) and Don West with George Zimmerman at the July 3 proceedings (pool/Getty Images)

(The Root) — The prosecution did not meet its goal of resting the case against George Zimmerman on Wednesday. That may be a good thing for the state because prosecutors arguably have not met their burden of proving that Zimmerman murdered Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

On the eighth day of testimony, the state presented the first DNA and blood evidence in the case in a continuing focus on discrediting Zimmerman’s claim that he fatally shot the unarmed 17-year-old in self-defense.

An expert testified that Trayvon’s DNA was not found on Zimmerman’s gun or holster, results the state are expected to use in closing argument to try to undermine Zimmerman’s account that Trayvon grabbed the gun as they fought.

During the testimony by Anthony Gorgone, an analyst for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, jurors for the first time saw the red, hooded sweatshirt Trayvon wore that night that has since become a symbol of public outcry over his death last year. As Gorgone explained his findings, prosecutors frequently held up the sweatshirt, encased in a clear glass frame, to show the bullet hole in the heart area surrounded by a large bloodstain.

Gorgone told jurors he did not find Zimmerman’s DNA on the hooded sweatshirt or in scrapings of Trayvon’s fingernails.

The results are significant, given Zimmerman’s version of the altercation. He says Trayvon punched him in the face, knocking him on his back, and then straddled him, punched him 25 to 30 times, cut off his breathing by placing his hands over his mouth and nose and repeatedly bashed his head against the sidewalk.

The prosecution is expected to argue that Trayvon couldn’t have dealt out such a vicious, bloody beating without getting Zimmerman’s DNA on his sweatshirt or fingernails.

“You did not find any of George Zimmerman’s DNA on that?” Assistant State Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda said.

“There was nothing that matched,” Gorgone said.

For emphasis, Rionda asked again: “You also tested the hoodie’s right sleeves and left sleeves, and you didn’t find any of George Zimmerman’s DNA on there, right?”

Judge Debra Nelson broke in before Gorgone replied, saying, “Asking and answered.”

Gorgone did testify that he recovered Zimmerman’s DNA from a single blood stain near the bottom of the sweatshirt Trayvon was wearing under the hoodie. DNA also came from a sleeve cuff, but he said the sample wasn’t sufficient to be identified as Zimmerman’s.

On cross-examination by the defense, Gorgone acknowledged that Trayvon’s clothes were improperly stored in a plastic bag while still wet. He said it’s possible that the packaging degraded the DNA evidence.