- Reuters/Orange County Sheriff's Office
Opening statements were read in the George Zimmerman murder trial in Seminole County Circuit Court on Monday, more than one year after the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.
Dressed in a grey suit and seemingly glum, Zimmerman sat before six female jurors as both prosecutors and the defense made opening statements in a case that previously sparked civil rights rallies across the nation.
Zimmerman, who admittedly shot and killed Martin on February 26, 2012, appeared to be just as stunned as the courtroom as prosecutor John Guy used inflammatory language while recounting what the self-appointed neighborhood watch captain told a police dispatcher in a phone call shortly before the fatal shooting.
"F------ punks. These a-------. They always get away," Guy told the court while quoting Zimmerman.
Zimmerman, 28, was described as viewing Martin, who was 17 at the time of his death, as "someone about to a commit a crime in his neighborhood ... And he acted on it. That's why we're here ... He shot him for the worst of all reasons: because he wanted to," Guy said.
Zimmerman, who maintains that he killed Martin in self-defense, is charged with second-degree murder. If convicted, he faces up to life in state prison. His attorneys made it clear that they would fight to clear him of any wrongdoing.
"He shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense after being viciously attacked," defense attorney Don West told jurors. "I think the evidence will show that this is a sad case ... There are no monsters here."
Martin's parents, who were present in court for the trial, maintain that their son was profiled and murdered by Zimmerman.
"George Zimmerman, for whatever reasons, profiled. He made conscious decisions to get out of his car and pursue Trayvon, who was unarmed, and shot him in the heart, and Trayvon is not here to tell us his version," Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump previously said.
In October, results from forensic tests showed that Zimmerman's was the only DNA that could be identified on the grip of the gun that was used to kill Martin. Attorneys for Zimmerman are expected to argue that the teen allegedly reached for his gun in an attempt to kill him first.
The results go against Zimmerman's claims and instead appear to support the Martin family's theory that Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, profiled their African-American son before murdering him outside of a gated community in Sanford, Fla.