Judge hears earlier Zimmerman calls to police

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Associated Press

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) - The judge at the murder trial of George Zimmerman has now heard recordings of five calls to police dispatchers in which Zimmerman complained about "suspicious" characters in his neighborhood.
   
The calls were made in the six months before Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin in February of last year. In each of the calls, Zimmerman describes the suspicious characters as black males.
   
Prosecutors want the jury to hear the tapes, arguing that they show Zimmerman's state of mind -- and his increasing ill will at people he viewed as suspicious who were walking through his neighborhood.
   
A defense lawyer, though, argues that the calls were irrelevant -- and that no previous incidents have any bearing on whether Zimmerman is guilty or innocent in this case.
   
The judge says she will make a ruling after reviewing prior cases.
   
This is the first full day of testimony at Zimmerman's trial. Prosecutors today called the former coordinator of a police department's neighborhood watch program, who testified that she had worked with Zimmerman to set up a watch program in his neighborhood. When she was asked by a prosecutor whether neighborhood watch participants should follow or engage with suspicious people, she answered "no."

Earlier story:

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) - A prosecutor says past police dispatcher calls made by George Zimmerman should be presented to jurors at his second-degree murder trial.
   
Prosecutor Richard Mantei told a Florida judge Tuesday that the half-dozen calls are central to the prosecution's argument that he committed second-degree murder since it shows his state of mind. The prosecutor says it shows ill will and provides context to his fatal encounter with 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
   
Zimmerman is pleading not guilty, claiming self-defense.
   
His defense attorney says the calls are irrelevant and shouldn't be introduced.

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