Judge Limits Evidence in|Zimmerman’s Murder Trial

SANFORD, Fla. (CN) – George Zimmerman’s defense attorneys cannot delay his trial for six weeks and may use limited evidence to explain why he killed Trayvon Martin – but not photos of the teenager’s gold teeth or text messages from his phone, a Florida judge ruled Tuesday.
     Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for shooting to death the unarmed 17-year-old Martin on Feb. 26, 2012. Whether Zimmerman killed him is not an issue. He claims it was self-defense, justified by Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
     His trial is set to begin June 10.
     Seminole County Judge Debra Nelson ruled Tuesday that Zimmerman’s attorneys may not mention Martin’s suspensions from school, his use of marijuana, his gold teeth or text messages from his phone.
     Nelson also denied a request to allow jurors to visit the shooting scene.
     Jurors will be referred to only by number, cannot be photographed and will not be sequestered, Nelson ruled.
     Zimmerman was not present at the hearing.
     Nelson said that any previous fights in which Martin was involved, his social media statements and screen names cannot be used in opening arguments but may be mentioned as the trial progresses.
     She denied prosecutors’ request for a gag order to keep defense attorneys from talking to reporters about the case.
     Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Mara argued that Martin’s history of fighting and marijuana use was relevant because his behavior may have been affected by it.
     O’Mara also claimed that prosecutors held back evidence it had; he is seeking sanctions. Judge Nelson will hold a hearing on that next week.
     Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump commended the judge for limiting what the jury hears about Martin’s past.
     “Trayvon Martin did not have a gun,” Crump said. “Trayvon Martin did not get out of the car to chase anybody. Trayvon Martin did not shoot and kill anybody. Trayvon Martin is not on trial.”

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