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The George Zimmerman murder trial is captivating the country, bringing a renewed focus to issues of racial profiling and self-defense.
Prosecutors are out to shatter claims that Zimmerman killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in self-defense, but the state's case took a bizarre turn Friday when one witness’ testimony appeared to support some of Zimmerman's claims.
John Good lives in the subdivision where the deadly confrontation took place. He's one of the few people who actually saw some of what took place that evening in February 2012.
“Well going back to when they were vertical I could tell the person on the bottom had a lighter skinned color,” said Good.
The statement suggests Martin had the tactical advantage, implying he was the aggressor.
Good then qualified his testimony, saying the person on top was in a ground and pound position.
“The person on top being able to punch the person on the bottom. But the person on the bottom also has a chance to get out or punch the person on top. It’s back and forth,” he explained.
It was no doubt damaging testimony for the state, but prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda also had Good contradict Zimmerman’s claim that Martin slammed his head into the ground.
Good continued to word his answers carefully, in an attempt to remain objective.
When asked who was yelling for help, he testified he could not unequivocally say who was yelling for help, but said rational thinking led him to believe it was the person on the bottom.
When asked who was yelling for help, he testified he could not unequivocally say whose voice he heard, but said rational thinking led him to believe it was the person on the bottom.
Good also told the court “he [Martin] was more in a straddle position, and arm movements were going downward,” instead of saying he witnessed Martin punching Zimmerman.
“It’s all about who the jury believes and who they think is trustworthy. When I watched John Good testify today he wasn’t on either side,” said Diane Dimond, investigative journalist for the Daily Beast. “He wasn’t on Trayvon Martin’s side and he wasn’t on George Zimmerman’s side. But what he said I thought was much more compelling for the defense case, even though he was a prosecution witness.”
Also on the stand was Jonathan Manalo, Zimmerman’s neighbor and the first person to speak with Zimmerman after Martin was shot.
“He wasn’t acting like anything different,” said Manalo when describing the defendant’s behavior after shooting Martin. “I mean he was coherent, he was responding to my questions, like it was nothing, just like any other person.”
The prosecution focused on George Zimmerman’s demeanor with most of the other witnesses testifying that he was very calm after the shooting, but it’s unclear if that will influence the jury.
“I think the jurors watching him in court and his ‘usual demeanor’ is going to be a lot more important than that little snippet of testimony,” said Dimond.
Regardless of how Good and Manalo sway the jury they may be the best witnesses the defense and prosecution can supply.
“There were no real mechanical witnesses,” said CNN Reporter Martin Savidge. “That’s the best they’ve got.”