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News Wrap: Defense Rests in Trayvon Martin Murder Trial

July 10, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT

HARI SREENIVASAN: The defense rested in two major trials today.

Lawyers for George Zimmerman wound up their case in Sanford, Florida. The neighborhood watch volunteer is charged with fatally shooting Trayvon Martin last year. The 17-year-old was unarmed, and the case drew national attention. Zimmerman told Judge Debra Nelson this afternoon that he wouldn’t take the stand.

JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, 18th Circuit Court of Florida: What is your decision, sir?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, defendant: After consulting with counsel, not to testify, Your Honor.

DEBRA NELSON: OK. You understand that no matter what counsel says to you, it’s still your decision? Do you understand that?


DEBRA NELSON: OK. And I need to know, is it your decision to not testify in this case?


DEBRA NELSON: And are you making that decision freely and voluntarily?


HARI SREENIVASAN: Zimmerman has said he acted in self-defense. And much of the testimony has turned on who was heard yelling for help on a 911 recording. Today, his father, Robert Zimmerman, recalled investigators playing the tape for him.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, father of George Zimmerman: So, I listened to it. And then they asked me, did I recognize the voice?

MARK O’MARA, attorney for George Zimmerman: And what did you tell them?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN: I told them, absolutely. It’s my son, George.

MARK O’MARA: Is that an opinion that you still have through today?


HARI SREENIVASAN: Other witnesses, including Trayvon Martin’s mother, have testified the cries for help came from the teenager.

Defense lawyers also rested in the court-martial of the soldier who gave thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. Army Private 1st Class Bradley Manning didn’t testify. But he has said he acted to expose what he calls the U.S. military’s bloodlust in Iraq and Afghanistan. Manning faces 21 charges, including aiding the enemy.

The head of a Chicago-based railroad accused an engineer today in Saturday’s fiery train wreck in Canada. Edward Burkhardt said he believes the man failed to set the brakes properly on a train loaded with crude oil. Burkhardt made the accusation as he visited the Quebec town where 20 people were killed and 30 buildings were burned to the ground. Officials also said the number of missing or feared dead.

The crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood is intensifying in Egypt. Prosecutors ordered the arrest today of the group’s leader, Mohammed Badie, and accused him of inciting Monday’s violence in Cairo that killed more than 50 people. Supporters of the Brotherhood and deposed President Mohammed Morsi defied the crackdown and continued their protests.

FATHI ABDEL WAHHAB, Morsi supporter (through translator): Even if they arrested all the group’s members, we will sacrifice ourselves and we will continue because we have a clear case, and we will defend it peacefully, because we do have the legitimacy. We will never accept the military council’s coup.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Also today, the newly-named prime minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, worked on forming his new cabinet. But the Muslim Brotherhood signaled it will reject any offer to play a role in the transitional government.

The abortion fight in Texas has moved into a new round. Today, Republicans in the Statehouse pushed through a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks, among other things. The bill now heads to the state Senate, where it died two weeks ago in the face of a Democratic filibuster and heated protests. After that, Governor Rick Perry called a second special session. A final vote could come Friday.

The U.S. Senate failed again today to lower interest rates on student loans. The rates on federally subsidized Stafford loans doubled to 6.8 percent on July 1. Democrats wanted to return to 3.4 percent for one more year. But they fell well short of the 60 votes needed to force action.

New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall said there is no excuse for inaction.

REP. TOM UDALL, D-N.M.: We saw this coming. This bus has been approaching a cliff for a year. That ought to be time enough to turn it around, and turn it around without throwing students underneath it. I know that many of my colleagues here are trying, trying to find a long-term solution. But, today, we failed. And our nation’s students pay the cost of that failure. 

HARI SREENIVASAN: Republicans want to link the cost of student loans to rates in financial markets. Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire argued it’s more important to work out a long-term arrangement, and not a temporary patch to the problem.

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE, R-N.H.: This is such a complete, typical Washington deal. Here, we just voted on a proposal on the floor and that proposal is a one-year fix, only applies to 40 percent of student loans, so we’d be back again next year, like Groundhog Day, trying to fix this problem again.

HARI SREENIVASAN: After the vote, lawmakers from both sides said they will go back to the negotiating table to try to work out a deal. 

A federal judge in New York ruled today that Apple conspired with five major publishers to raise the price of electronic books. She ordered a trial on damages in the antitrust case. Apple had refused to settle the civil case, and said it will appeal the judge’s finding. The publishers have settled the charges against them for more than $166 million. 

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost eight points to close at 15291. The Nasdaq rose 16 points to close at 3520.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Judy.