Jury hears Zimmerman police interview; immigration benefits for gay husband

July 1, 2013
FLORIDA
Zimmerman jurors hear police interview

Jurors in the George Zimmerman murder trial Monday heard testimony and recordings of the neighborhood watch volunteer describing his fight with 17-year-old Trayvon Martin to police and how he feared for his life before he shot the teen.

Zimmerman said in his first interview at the police station that he saw Martin walking through his neighborhood on a dark, rainy night while Zimmerman was driving to the grocery store. He told Officer Doris Singleton that he didn’t recognize Martin and that there had been recent break-ins at his townhouse complex.

“These guys always get away,” Zimmerman told Singleton, a statement similar to one that prosecutors have used previously to try to show that Zimmerman was increasingly frustrated with the burglaries and his encounter with Martin was a breaking point.

Zimmerman told the police officer that he lost track of Martin and got out of his truck to look for a street name he could relay to a police dispatcher. When the dispatcher suggested that Zimmerman didn’t need to follow Martin, Zimmerman started to head back to his vehicle. At that point, Zimmerman said Martin jumped out of some bushes, punched him and he fell to the ground.

Zimmerman said that Martin began hitting his head against the sidewalk as Zimmerman yelled for help and that Martin told him, “You’re going to die tonight.”

With Zimmerman’s shirt and jacket pushed up during the struggle and his holstered gun now visible, he thought Martin was reaching for his firearm holstered at his waist. Zimmerman told the officer that he shot Martin and the teen said, “You got me.”

Jurors also heard from the lead detective in the case, Officer Chris Serino, who asked him several pointed questions about whether the teenager could have felt threatened because Zimmerman was following him.

— Associated Press

FLORIDA
Gay couple to receive immigration benefits

A Bulgarian graduate student and his American husband are the first gay couple in the nation to have their application for immigration benefits approved after the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriages, their lawyer says.

The approval means that Traian Popov, in the United States on a student visa, will be able to apply for a green card and eventually U.S. citizenship. But he won’t be able to work or visit his family back home for at least another three to six months while his application is being processed. And his marriage to Julian Marsh, performed in New York, won’t be recognized in Florida, where they live.

“It’s unbelievable how that impacts you,” Marsh said Sunday. “They make you feel more and more like a second-class citizen and they don’t want you. And that’s how I feel about Florida.”

— Associated Press

MASSACHUSETTs
Tearful apology at Bulger trial

A former FBI agent who admitted taking payoffs from James “Whitey” Bulger offered a tearful apology Monday to the family of one of Bulger’s alleged murder victims, but the man’s widow said his words “didn’t mean anything.”

The apology came as John Morris was being cross-examined by a defense attorney at Bulger’s racketeering trial. Bulger, 83, is charged with participating in 19 murders in the 1970s and ’80s while he allegedly led the notorious Winter Hill Gang.

Morris testified that he told fellow FBI agent John Connolly that Edward “Brian” Halloran had given authorities information about a murder Bulger’s gang was suspected of committing. At the time, Morris and Connolly — his subordinate — had corrupt relationships with Bulger, who Morris said was a longtime FBI informant at the same time he was committing a litany of crimes.

Prosecutors say Halloran and Michael Donahue — a bystander who had offered Halloran a ride home — were killed in 1982 after Connolly leaked the information to Bulger. Bulger is accused of firing a gun at the car as the two men left a Boston restaurant.

— Associated Press

Jackson sentencing delayed: A federal judge Monday postponed the sentencing hearing for former Illinois congressman Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D) and his wife, Sandi, noting that it was being done to “accommodate the court.” U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson did not set a new date in the case in which Jackson illegally spent $750,000 in campaign money on personal items.

Statue of Liberty reopens: Months after Hurricane Sandy swamped her little island, the Statue of Liberty will finally welcome visitors again on Independence Day. Sandy made landfall one day after the statue’s 126th birthday, flooding most of the 12 acres that she stands upon with water that surged as high as eight feet. Lady Liberty herself was spared, but the surrounding grounds on Liberty Island took a beating.

Airport security supervisor fired: A security supervisor contracted to work at New York’s Kennedy International Airport has been fired after he accidentally e-mailed a photo of his private parts to his bosses. Officials say Gerard Robson mistakenly attached the image to a June 21 message. Robson apologized, via e-mail, but it was too late.

— From news services

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