Nightly News   |  June 24, 2013

Gripping start to Zimmerman trial

In opening statements the prosecution began by playing an expletive-laced audio tape of George Zimmerman from a taped call he made to police, while the defense began with a knock-knock joke, then later apologized. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. NBC’s Ron Mott reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> trayvon martin, george zimmerman is claiming self-defense. ron mott covering the trial in sanford, florida. good evening.

>> reporter: good evening. as the attorneys, judge, and jury settling in. the prosecutor opened his case with a jolt, a stream of profanities.

>> [ bleep ] punks. these [ bleep ] always get away.

>> reporter: a quote of george zimmerman 's words to a police dispatcher, before trayvon martin was shot and killed. getting an already tense case off to a gripping start.

>> george zimmerman did not shoot trayvon martin because he to. he shot him for the worst of all reasons, because he wanted to.

>> reporter: zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

>> i shot him, point blank.

>> reporter: telling police he fired in self-defense after martin attacked him.

>> knock knock, who's there?

>> reporter: and defense attorney began his case with a joke.

>> george zimmerman who? good. you are on the jury.

>> reporter: west later apologized. detailing the call, saying martin who initiated the encounter and attacked zimmerman .

>> reporter: he armed himself with the con kreelt sidewalk and used it to smash zimmerman 's head. no different than if he picked up a brick or bashed a head against the wall. that's a deadly weapon.

>> reporter: the state's first several witnesses talked about basic facts leading up to the shooting.

>> so you think he's yelling hop help?

>> yes.

>> reporter: determining who was screaming will not help.

>> if they can, that may be the answer as to whether george zimmerman committed the crime of murder.

>> the judge ordered the jury sequestered. jurors will spend tonight and many others in the foreseeable future together.

>> ron mott, thanks. we should note, george zimmerman sued the parent company of nbc news for defamation. the company denies his allegations.