The previous witness, police investigator Chris Serino, said he played the recording for Martin and asked him if he thought the screaming voice was Trayvon’s.
“He looked away and under his breath, as I interpreted it, said, ‘No,’ ” Serino testified.
Five friends of Zimmerman testified that they believed the screaming voice was his. The most emphatic was John Donnelly, who described the defendant as a “dear friend” who is like a “son.”
Donnelly said he recognized Zimmerman’s voice based on his experience distinguishing the screams of his fellow soldiers as a combat medic in Vietnam.
“There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that is George Zimmerman,” Donnelly said, with his head turned to the jury, his eyes red and filled with tears. “I wished to God I didn’t have that ability to understand that.”
Donnelly also said he has donated $3,000 to Zimmerman’s legal fund and expenses, and bought about $1,700 in clothing for Zimmerman to wear at trial.
Almost lost in the proceedings was the testimony of former Sanford, Fla., Police Chief Bill Lee Jr., who made his first public comments about the case since he was fired due to his department’s handling of the investigation, particularly the decision not to initially arrest Zimmerman after the shooting.
Lee told the jurors he’d recommended that each of Trayvon’s relatives hear the 911 call individually “so their decision is not influenced.” Instead, they listened to it as a group.
Lee said he “offered to be present” for the playing of the recording, but was shut out by his boss, the Sanford city manager, who later terminated him. The family listened to the recording in the presence of the city manager and Sanford’s mayor, a fact that the defense may argue indicates that the investigation was driven not by the police but by political pressure to quell the public outcry.
Corey Dade, an award-winning journalist based in Washington, D.C., is a former national correspondent at NPR and political reporter at the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe and other news organizations. Follow him on Twitter.