Zimmerman jury begins sequestration day before opening statements

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SANFORD, Fla. —

Jurors in the George Zimmerman trial are expected to begin their sequestration at an undisclosed location on Sunday, less than 24 hours before the start of opening statements.

The jurors are required to report to a hotel to the begin the sequester. Court officials have been mum on the details, but the jury will likely have limited access to cable TV, newspapers and the internet. Additionally, in-person or phone contact with family members will be strictly monitored.

The six jurors and four alternates will be taken to the Seminole County Courthouse Monday morning before opening statements begin at 9 a.m.

The jury will be sequestered for the entire duration of the trial, including on weekends. Attorneys have predicted that the trial will last between two and four weeks.

On Saturday, the judge ruled that two of the state's audio experts will not be allowed to testify at the trial. The testimony of Tom Owen and Dr. Alan Reich will be excluded from the trial.

"The scientific methodologies and techniques used by Mr. Owen and Dr. Reich are not reliable as they are not sufficiently established and not generally accepted in the scientific community," the ruling stated.

The court accepted the testimony of one state audio expert and the defense's three experts.

"The Court accepts the opinions of Drs. French, Doddington, Nakasone and Wayman that reliable comparison of normal speech to the screams in the 911 call is not possible," the ruling stated.

In her order, Judge Debra Nelson said Dr. French, a defense expert, had the strongest testimony.

"The Court found the testimony of Dr. French to be the most compelling of the witnesses presented," Nelson wrote in her order.

Zimmerman shot and killed the 17-year-old in Sanford in February of 2012. He has pleaded not guilty to a second-degree murder charge.

Leading up to the shooting, Zimmerman called 911 to report a suspicious man walking through the neighborhood.



“This guy looks like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something,” Zimmerman told the dispatcher.

Zimmerman told police the teenager stared him down then ran.

“Are you following him?" asked the 911 dispatcher.

“Yeah,” said Zimmerman.

“OK, we don’t need you to do that,” the dispatcher responded.

“OK,” Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said Martin then ambushed him, punched him in the nose, pinned him to the ground and pounded his head on the sidewalk.

Neighbors heard fighting and called 911. In the background of one of those calls, someone can be heard screaming, "Help, help, help."

That night, Zimmerman said he yelled for help, but when no one came, he fired in self-defense, killing Martin.

Following the shooting, Martin's father first told police it was not his son calling for help.



Channel 9’s first full report on the case focused on Zimmerman, who wasn’t arrested right way.

Police said evidence supported self-defense but state attorney Norm Wolfinger would decide on charges.

Martin's family's lawyers got the national media involved and pushed for an arrest.  Martin’s father then said it was his son who was pleading for help.

“We just don't understand why the Sanford Police Department is sitting on their hands on this,” said Martin’s father, Tracy Martin.

In the months following the shooting, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton came to Sanford, accusing police of racism, and protesters demanded an arrest.

Wolfinger and Sanford’s police chief at the time, Bill Lee, stepped aside and the governor appointed Jacksonville state attorney Angela Corey, who charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder and accused him of stalking the teenager.

Follow Kathi Belich on Twitter at @KBelichWFTV for gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial.