Detective Returns to Stand in Zimmerman Trial

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  • SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — The lead police detective who investigated the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in central Florida last year was to return to the witness stand Tuesday for a second day to testify about his investigation.

    Sanford Police detective Chris Serino and another investigator, Doris Singleton, testified Monday about their investigation as jurors heard a series of police interviews in which the detectives grow more pointed in their questioning of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer later charged with second-degree murder in Martin’s death. Zimmerman maintains he was acting in self-defense.

    In an early interview, just hours after the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting, Singleton recounted that Zimmerman noticed a cross she was wearing and said: “In Catholic religion, it’s always wrong to kill someone.”

    Singleton said she responded, “If what you’re telling me is true, I don’t think that what God meant was that you couldn’t save your own life.”

    But in an interview days later, Singleton and Serino suggest that Zimmerman was running after Martin before the confrontation. They also ask Zimmerman why he didn’t explain to Martin why he was following him. The officers insinuate that Martin may have been “creeped out” by being followed.

    “Do you think he was scared?” Singleton asked Zimmerman in one video interview.

    Under cross-examination, though, Serino said Zimmerman seemed straightforward in his answers and didn’t show any anger when talking about Martin. Serino said the increasingly pointed questioning is a tactic known as a “challenge interview,” where detectives try to break someone’s story to make sure they’re telling the truth.

    Zimmerman has said he fatally shot the unarmed black teen in self-defense in February, 2012, because he says Martin was banging his head into a concrete sidewalk behind townhomes in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman, 29, could get life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.

    The state argued during its opening statement that Zimmerman profiled and followed Martin in his truck and called a police dispatch number before he and the teenager got into a fight. Zimmerman has denied the confrontation had anything to do with race, as Martin’s family and their supporters have claimed. A 44-day delay in Zimmerman’s arrest led to protests around the nation; he was ultimately charged by a Florida special prosecutor. Zimmerman’s father is white and his mother is Hispanic.

    In his first interview at the police station, Zimmerman said he saw Martin walking through his neighborhood on a dark, rainy night while Zimmerman was driving to the grocery store. He told Singleton that he didn’t recognize Martin and that there had been recent break-ins at his townhome complex.

    “These guys always get away,” Zimmerman told Singleton, a statement similar to one that prosecutors have pointed to previously to try to show that Zimmerman was increasingly frustrated with the burglaries and that his encounter with Martin was a breaking point.

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