Carter also explained the concept of “imperfect self-defense,” when a person is being threatened but then counters with a force disproportionately greater than the force used against them.
“They would have the right to defend themselves?” said defense attorney Don West.
“Right,” Carter said.
Another instructor, Seminole County State College professor Scott Pleasants, testified that Zimmerman had taken his online criminal justice class. Pleasants’ testimony via Skype from Colorado, broadcast live on television, was interrupted when he started getting inundated with Skype calls.
Zimmerman, 29, 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 after there was a 44-day delay in Zimmerman’s arrest, and it 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.”
When he was interviewed by detectives, Zimmerman spoke “in written police jargon” and talked about “justifiable use of force.” He also said he “‘unholstered my firearm,’ not ‘I pulled my gun,’” Mantei said.
Defense attorney Mark O’Mara argued the items are irrelevant and asked the judge not to allow them.
“There is no relevance and the suggested relevance will be far more outweighed by the prejudice,” O’Mara said.
O’Mara said Tuesday that if prosecutors start bringing up Zimmerman’s past, the defense will dig into Martin’s past, including fights. The judge had ruled previously that Martin’s past fights, drug use and school records couldn’t be mentioned in opening statements.