A Florida judge ruled Tuesday that George Zimmerman’s defense team cannot mention Trayvon Martin’s suspension from school, prior marijuana use, text messages or past fighting during opening statements at next month’s trial.
During a pre-trial hearing, Judge Debra Nelson said that during the trial she will consider motions to admit the evidence on a case-by-case basis outside the presence jurors who will decide if Zimmerman is guilty of second degree murder in the shooting death of Martin.
Nelson rejected a defense request for a trial delay and ruled that it will start June 10.
“This case has dragged on long enough,” prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda said in arguing for the trial to start as scheduled.
Over the course of two hours, Nelson granted numerous motions by prosecutors, who asked that the defense be barred from bringing up details of the slain teen’s past, arguing they would not be relevant to the Feb. 26, 2012, confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin.
Defense lawyer Mark O’Mara had asked the judge not to pre-emptively exclude the evidence, saying that it bolstered their theory of the shooting – that the 17-year-old was the aggressor and Zimmerman shot him in self-defense.
“There is certainly enough evidence…that’s going to suggest Trayvon Martin involved himself ongoingly with fighting with other people,” O’Mara said.
He said the defense had obtained text messages in which Martin referred to punching someone in the nose and video in which he taped two friends who “were beating up a homeless guy.”
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