Zimmerman judge delays ruling on animation, Martin's texts

Lesser charge for Zimmerman?
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Story highlights

  • Judge in Zimmerman trial delays ruling on defense's re-creation of the altercation
  • She also delays decision on admitting Trayvon Martin's texts in late-evening hearing
  • A forensic pathologist testifies for the defense, describes Martin's last moments
  • He describes "a through-and-through hole of the right ventricle" of Martin's heart

In a hearing Tuesday outside of the jury's presence, attorneys in the George Zimmerman trial argued about whether jurors should see the defense's 3D re-creation of the altercation between the neighborhood watch captain and Trayvon Martin.

The defense also wants jurors to hear about Martin's text messages, which reportedly show he had been in fights and was trying to purchase a gun.

The judge recessed court right before 10 p.m. ET, saying she would wait until Wednesday morning to make decisions on both of these issues. Defense attorney Don West vented his frustration as the judge left the bench, saying he was having trouble keeping up with the long hours and fast-paced schedule of the trial.

"I'm not physically able to keep up this pace much longer," West said. "It's 10 o'clock at night. We started this morning. We've had full days every day, weekends, depositions at night."

Animator Daniel Schumaker said he uses crime scene evidence and the same motion capture technology used in movies like "Iron Man" to design his digital re-creations of alleged crimes. The defense said Schumaker's computer animation would help the jury understand how the confrontation between Martin and Zimmerman unfolded. The prosecution argued the animated re-enactment makes assumptions, and it's not based on evidence in the case.

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"To have an animation that goes back to the jury room that they can play over and over again ... gives a certain weight to something that this court is not particularly certain comports with the evidence presented at the trial," said Judge Debra Nelson. Nelson said she wanted to read the case law and wait until Wednesday before making her ruling on the animation's admissibility.

The hearing, which went so late that the courtroom lights set on an automatic timer went out, continued Tuesday evening after testimony had wrapped for the day. The defense even had to ask the judge to extend Zimmerman's curfew, which is set for 10 p.m. ET. Zimmerman's defense team told Nelson that it plans to rest its case sometime on Wednesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, a forensic pathologist testified for the defense, describing Martin's traumatic last moments alive as he bled to death in the grass after being shot at close range.

"If he was involved in a struggle, you expect his heart to be going, beating -- especially after he had been shot -- more than a 100 times a minute," said Dr. Vincent Di Maio, adding that the way Martin died supports Zimmerman's version of the shooting.

"You are losing 1,500 cc's (cubic centimeters) in a minute. That's about a quarter of his blood supply. In a second minute, if you can assume the same rate. Actually the heart would probably be beating faster for the second minute. He is going to lose another 1,500. Well that means he has lost more than 50%of his blood supply."

Zimmerman appeared to be paying close attention during the testimony. Tracy Martin, the victim's father, was in attendance but didn't show much emotion as he heard the details of how his son may have died. Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, was not in attendance.

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Di Maio said that given that the entry point of the bullet was a "contact wound" -- meaning at close range -- Trayvon Martin never had a chance. "In this case you have a through-and-through hole of the right ventricle, and then you have at least one hole if not two into the right lung. So you are losing blood, and every time the heart contracts, it pumps blood out the two holes in the ventricle and at least one hole in the lung."

Di Maio also said Martin's gunshot wound indicates the gun was up against the teen's clothing, about 2 to 4 inches away from the skin. He also said the weight of the canned drink in Martin's hoodie pocket may have been pulling his clothing away from his body by a few inches if Martin was on top of Zimmerman, as the former neighborhood watch volunteer has claimed.

In any event, "He is going to be dead between one and three minutes after being shot," said Di Maio.

Martin, 17, had been walking through the Retreat at Twin Lakes -- the gated community in Sanford, Florida, where Zimmerman lived -- on February 26, 2012, when the two got into a physical altercation. Zimmerman told the police he shot Martin in self-defense while holding the gun in his right hand at point-blank range. He said the teenager was on top of him at the time. Di Maio said the medical evidence is consistent with how Zimmerman has described shooting the teenager.

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Di Maio explained to the jury Tuesday that Martin may have lost consciousness between 10 and 15 seconds after being shot and may have been able to talk or make voluntary movement during those last seconds. Zimmerman has said that Martin said, "You got me," after being shot.