On Wednesday, June 26, Judge Nelson allowed in several previous non-emergency 911 calls made by George Zimmerman into the trial.
Background: George Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch volunteer who, over a span of many years, made numerous, around 50, calls to the non-emergency 911 number reporting on “suspicious” behavior. This suspicious behavior ranged from persons loitering to slow cars.
The State: The State wanted to bring in 5 of these previously made phone calls to show Zimmerman's “state of mind.” The prosecutors argued that these 5 calls show that Zimmerman had the state of mind to look for something happening, that he was thinking about seeing suspicious behavior when he went out that night.
The Defense: The Defense argument is that first, these are prejudicial and irrelevant. They are irrelevant because the only thing that matters is the time period from when Zimmerman called the police that night until after Trayvon Martin was shot. The calls are prejudicial because they could paint the picture Zimmerman is looking for trouble and is predisposed to look for trouble.
The Court: The Court allowed the previously recorded calls into the trial.
Analysis: Evidence of someone's state of mind is allowed into a trial. Seldom if ever is the jury able to crawl inside the mind of those involved in a altercation and fully understand what happened. So how does the jury figure this out? They are presented with all kinds of direct and circumstantial evidence to explain what happened. State of mind evidence helps complete the story and give the jury the full story of what was happening in the time, both in the environment and in the heads of the participants.
Some argue the previous calls are hearsay in that they are “out of court statements” however, they are not offered for the truth of what they are actually saying. For example, if one call is about a slow car, it is not being offered by the prosecution to prove a car was driving slow, its not being offered for its “truth” so it is not hearsay. The call is being offered to show how George Zimmerman thinks and this gives the jury insight as to what he was thinking at the time of the shooting.
The calls could help Zimmerman to show he typically listened to the 911 operators and that he was just a concerned citizen. The calls could also help the defense to show he was not an angry man who cursed and was out for vengeance.
In reality, it only matters what the Jury thinks about the calls.