ORLANDO, Fla. — George Zimmerman’s lawyers Wednesday notified prosecutors that their witness list now includes a who’s who of the Sanford Police Department’s chain of command at the time of Trayvon Martin’s death, including the police chief, major crimes captain, sergeant and case detectives.
It is an unusual defense strategy. Police officers typically testify for the state, explaining how they gathered the evidence that that led to charges.
In this case, it suggests that Zimmerman’s attorneys believe the testimony of Sanford officers will help — not hurt — their client.
The list has on it a dozen names, including former chief Bill Lee; Bob O’Connor, the major crimes captain who oversaw the investigation; Lt. Randy Smith, the former sergeant who supervised the detectives investigating the case; and lead investigator Chris Serino.
Zimmerman, 29, a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, shot and killed Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, Feb. 26 after Zimmerman called police, describing the teenager as suspicious.
Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense after the high school junior attacked him, pinned him to the ground, beat him and tried to take away Zimmerman’s handgun.
Defense attorney Mark O’Mara on Friday said he was surprised when Sanford police Sgt. Joseph Santiago testified during a deposition last week that after more than two weeks of daily meetings at the police department at which officers agreed there was not enough evidence to charge Zimmerman, Serino signed paperwork that he turned over to Wolfinger, saying he had probable cause to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter.
Santiago is one of the 12 Sanford police officers on today’s new witness list.