SANFORD, Florida (AP) — The DNA of a U.S. teenage shooting victim was not found on the grip of the gun of the man accused of killing him, and the accused's DNA wasn't found under the teen's fingernails, a law enforcement expert said Wednesday. Prosecutors hope the testimony will disprove the shooter's claim that he did it in self-defense.
The murder trial of George Zimmerman has drawn national attention to issues of race — 17-year-old victim Trayvon Martin was black — and self-defense gun laws.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty and says he shot the teen in the chest to protect himself as Martin reached for his gun during a nighttime fight in his Florida gated community.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement DNA expert Anthony Gorgone's testimony came on the same day that prosecutors presented evidence about Zimmerman's work in a college criminal justice course, which they say shows the neighborhood watch volunteer knew about Florida's self-defense law and had aspirations of becoming a police officer.
Zimmerman had maintained in an interview with Fox News last year that he did not know about the law, which says a person can invoke self-defense in killing someone if it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm.
Prosecutors have sought to portray Zimmerman as a vigilante who profiled Martin as the teen walked home on a rainy night. They said Zimmerman's ability to understand criminal investigations and desire to be a police officer doesn't show wrongdoing, but is relevant to his state of mind on the night Martin was killed.
Defense attorney Mark 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.