Judge Rules Zimmerman's Defense Can't Talk About Trayvon's Texts

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 28 2013 11:07 AM

Judge Rules Zimmerman's Defense Can't Talk About Trayvon's Texts

George Zimmerman, defendant in the killing of Trayvon Martin, is sworn in as a witness in Seminole circuit court for a pre-trial hearing April 30, 2013 in Sanford, Fla.

Photo by Joe Burbank/Pool/Getty Images

We're still about two weeks out from the expected start of George Zimmerman's murder trial, but the legal battle is already well underway in Sanford, where a judge this morning handed the prosecution a string of pre-trial victories in regards to what will and won't be allowed to come up in the courtroom. CNN with the details:

[Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson] ruled that the two sides cannot bring up evidence of Martin's familiarity with guns, previous marijuana use, and previous fighting incidents. She left the door open on one issue involving marijuana. Defense attorneys say toxicology tests show Martin had enough THC—the key active ingredient in marijuana—to indicate he may have smoked the drug a couple of hours before the shooting. Nelson barred any mention of this from opening statements, but said she will rule later on whether it will be admissible after she hears defense experts' testimony about the marijuana use. ... The attorneys also cannot bring up Martin's text messages.

Those rulings will likely make things more difficult for Zimmerman's defense team, which is expected to argue that Martin was the aggressor in the incident that ended in his own death. "If they had suggested that Trayvon is nonviolent and that George is the aggressor, I think that makes evidence of the fighting he has been involved with in the past relevant," defense lawyer Mark O'Mara told the Associated Press last week after releasing texts from Martin's cellphone that discussed fighting, smoking pot and being forced to move out of his mom's house.

Orlando Sentinel has more on today's pre-trial action, which is set to continue for much of the rest of the day. The trial itself is set to begin on June 10.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 


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