July 4, 2013 in Nation/World

Expert: Teen’s DNA not on shooter’s gun

Testimony aimed at Zimmerman’s self-defense claim
Mike Schneider Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Amy Siewert, a firearms expert with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, demonstrates George Zimmerman’s gun during Zimmerman’s court trial in in Sanford, Fla., Wednesday.
(Full-size photo)

SANFORD, Fla. – Trayvon Martin’s DNA was not found on the grip of George Zimmerman’s gun, and Zimmerman’s DNA was not found under the unarmed teen’s fingernails, a law enforcement expert said Wednesday in testimony that prosecutors hope will refute the neighborhood watch volunteer’s self-defense claim.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and says he shot the 17-year-old in the chest to protect himself as Martin reached for his firearm during a fight.

Judge Debra Nelson dismissed jurors without the prosecution having rested its case as it had hoped to do by day’s end. Nelson won’t resume testimony until Friday.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement DNA expert Anthony Gorgone also testified that Zimmerman’s DNA was found among blood on a shirt Martin was wearing under his hooded sweatshirt.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement analyst Amy Siewert also testified that tearing and residue on Martin’s clothing showed the gun was directly against him when it fired.

Prosecutors have sought to portray Zimmerman as a vigilante who profiled Martin as the teen walked home on a rainy night.

They called Gorgone on the same day they presented evidence that they say shows Zimmerman had aspirations of becoming a police officer and knew about Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law. The law says a person has no duty to retreat and can invoke self-defense in killing someone, if it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm.

Zimmerman had maintained in an interview with Fox News last year that he did not know about the law.

Prosecutors say he did have knowledge of it, however, because the subject was covered in a college class on criminal justice Zimmerman attended.

They called as a witness Alexis Francisco Carter, the military attorney who taught the class. Carter described Zimmerman as one of his better students and said the neighborhood watch volunteer got an “A” in his class.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Martin last year. Martin was black; Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic. The case sparked nationwide protests and touched off a debate about race and self-defense.

Prosecutors said Zimmerman’s ability to understand criminal investigations and desire to be a police officer doesn’t show wrongdoing, but is relevant to Zimmerman’s state of mind on the night Martin was killed.

“He has applied to be a police officer before, he still wants to be one, according to some of his homework assignments. … This wasn’t some sort of passive thing,” said prosecutor Richard Mantei, who noted Zimmerman took a course on how to be a good witness and expressed a desire to go on police ride-alongs. “This is simply a fact the jury ought to know.”

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