Neighbor: Martin was on top of Zimmerman throwing down punches

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SANFORD, Fla. —

Two neighbors and a police officer gave accounts Friday in George Zimmerman's murder trial that seemed to bolster the neighborhood watch volunteer's contention that he was on his back and being straddled by Trayvon Martin during a confrontation with the teen.

Neighbor Jonathan Good said it appeared the unarmed teen was straddling Zimmerman.

Another neighbor, Jonathan Manalo, said Zimmerman seemed credible when he said immediately after the fight that he had shot Martin in self-defense.

Officer Tim Smith said on the witness stand that Zimmerman's backside was covered in grass and wetter than his front side.

Good, who had perhaps the best view of the struggle between Zimmerman and Martin, testified that it appeared the unarmed teen was straddling Zimmerman and using a mixed martial arts-style of punching during their confrontation.

However, Good said he didn’t see anyone's head being slammed into the concrete sidewalk, which Zimmerman has said Martin did to him.

Good initially testified that it appeared "there were strikes being thrown, punches being thrown," but during detailed questioning he said he saw only "downward" arm movements being made and that he could not see where those punches were landing.



Zimmerman has claimed that he fatally shot 17-year-old Martin last year in self-defense as the Miami-area teen was banging his head into the concrete sidewalk behind the townhomes in a gated community.

But under prosecution questioning, Good said he never saw anyone being attacked that way during the fight between Zimmerman and Martin.

"I couldn't see that," Good said while being cross-examined.

Good, the second person to take the witness stand Friday, said he heard a noise behind his townhome in February 2012 and saw what looked like a tussle when he stepped out onto his patio to see what was happening.

He said he yelled, "What's going on? Stop it."

Good testified he saw a person in black clothing on top of another person with "white or red" clothing. He said he couldn't see faces but it looked like the person on the bottom had lighter skin.

Martin was black and was wearing a dark hoodie. Zimmerman identifies as Hispanic and was wearing a red jacket.

"It looked like there were strikes being thrown, punches being thrown," Good said.



Later, under cross-examination, he said that it looked like the person on top was straddling the other person in a mixed martial arts move known as "ground and pound."

When defense attorney Mark O'Mara asked him if the person on top was Martin, Good said, "Correct, that's what it looked like."

Good also said the person on the bottom yelled for help.

WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said when Good gave his description of his understanding of a “ground and pound mixed martial arts style,” he said something about the person on the bottom being able to get away.

Good described “ground and pound” as one person being on top in the dominant position, but he went on to say, “The person on the bottom is able to get out of that position or you know, throw punches back, but I didn't see any of that.”

Even though Good said he didn't see the person on the bottom being able to get away that night, Sheaffer said that testimony could have left a question in the minds of jurors as to whether Zimmerman could have gotten away and didn't need to shoot Martin.

“The defense has to be concerned that this witness has planted in the jury’s mind that perhaps Zimmerman didn't have to use deadly force,” said Sheaffer.

Sheaffer said if the defense is concerned enough about that, it could force them to put Zimmerman on the stand to convince the jury he could not get away and had to use deadly force.

During cross-examination, O'Mara got on his knees to recreate the fighting as he asked Good to walk him through it.

Good was in the middle of dialing 911 inside his townhome when he heard a gunshot, he said.

Good shook his head as he heard the call he made to authorities. (Listen to 911 call)

Good described to the 911 operator that someone was shot and he believed that person was dead.  

“I'm pretty sure a guy's dead out there,” he can be heard saying in the 911 call. “Holy (expletive).”

Good said he had no idea how the fight started or who started it.

Later in the day, Manalo went on to say that Zimmerman was emotionally flat after shooting Martin.

Manalo said he interpreted that as Zimmerman being calm and that his demeanor didn't come off as alarming.

Manalo, whose wife had testified earlier in the week, was the first neighbor to step outside with his flashlight to see what happened after he heard a gunshot.

Manalo took cellphone photos of a bloodied Zimmerman and Martin's body; those photos were shown to jurors on Friday. Manalo also described Martin's hands as being under his body.

After police officers arrived and handcuffed Zimmerman, he asked Manalo to call his wife and tell her what happened.
 
Manalo started to tell Zimmerman's wife that her husband had been involved in a shooting and was being questioned by police when, “He cut me off and said, ‘Just tell her I shot someone,"' Manalo said.
 
Under cross-examination, Manalo said when he asked Zimmerman what happened, Zimmerman told him, "I was defending myself, and I shot him."
 
"From what you could tell at that moment, that seemed completely true?" asked defense attorney Don West.
 
"Yes," Manalo said.

Before Good and Manalo testified, a worker at a video surveillance company that maintains cameras at the townhome community took the witness stand.

A prosecutor played two videos from surveillance cameras; one showed what looks like a person walking past a window at the complex's clubhouse, and another showed what looks like someone with a flashlight by the complex's mailboxes.

Greg McKinney said the digital clock on the video is off by 18 minutes. O'Mara got McKinney to concede the timing difference was inexact and could be more than 18 minutes.

Jurors already have seen and heard some of the state's biggest pieces of evidence, including the 911 call featuring cries for help prosecutors believe came from Martin.

Zimmerman, 29, had followed Martin in his truck and called a police dispatch number before he and the teen got into a fight.

He has denied the confrontation had anything to do with race, as Martin's family and their supporters have claimed. Zimmerman could get life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.

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