USA TODAY International Edition

Trayvon Martin’s dad says he heard son scream

Testimony contradict­s what one investigat­or has said about 911 call

- Yamiche Alcindor

The father of Trayvon Martin told a jury Monday that he believes a 911 tape contains “my son’s last cry for help” on the night he was fatally shot by George Zimmerman.

“I was listening to my son’s last cry for help,” Tracy Martin testified, referring to screams he heard on tape. “I was listening to his life being taken.”

Tracy Martin said he never told officers he didn’t recognize Trayvon’s voice in a 911 call made the night his son was shot in February 2012, despite an investigat­or’s previous testimony that the elder Martin originally told police that he didn’t think he could hear his son on the tape.

Tracy Martin claimed to the jury Monday that he was simply unsure and told officials, “I can’t tell.”

The testimony by Tracy Martin and other witnesses who heard the 911 call could be crucial as Zimmerman’s lawyers try to show that Trayvon was the aggressor and that Zimmerman shot him in self- defense. The 17- year- old was shot by Zimmerman, a neighborho­od watch volunteer after Zimmerman claims Trayvon jumped him in a dark residentia­l area.

Tracy Martin said he listened to the taped call at least 20 times at the Sanford mayor’s office.

After that, he said, he was convinced that the voice screaming was Trayvon’s.

Police Officer Christophe­r Serino, the lead investigat­or in the shooting death, testified earlier in the day that Trayvon’s father had listened to the 911 calls placed during the confrontat­ion and had said it was not Trayvon heard screaming for help in the background.

Friends and former co- workers of

“I was listening to my son’s last cry for help. I was listening to his life being taken.”

Tracy Martin, father of Trayvon Martin

Zimmerman’s also testified, saying it was Zimmerman’s voice screaming for help.

“I have no doubt in ( my) mind that’s his voice,” said Geri Russo, a former co- worker of Zimmerman’s, echoing testimony of several other defense witnesses.

Former Sanford police chief Bill Lee testified that he recommende­d the 911 recording be played for family members of Trayvon Martin individ- ually rather than in a group to avoid any improper influences.

Lee said Sanford’s city manager, Norton Bonaparte, didn’t heed his recommenda­tions and instead gathered the family members in a room and played the tape for all of them.

The former police chief added that he had offered to be in the room when the 911 recording was played but that Bonaparte declined to have him or other law enforcemen­t officials there. Lee added that it was rare for the mayor and city manager to become involved in police investigat­ions.

Bonaparte later fired Lee for the way that police handled the investigat­ion.

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