In refusing to delay the June 10 trial of George Zimmerman charged with the second-degree murder of black teenager Trayvon Martin a year ago February, Circuit Judge Debra Nelson also put limits on what evidence the defense may present in its efforts to keep Zimmerman out of jail.
Nelson ruled that Zimmerman’s lawyers can’t say anything about Martin’s school records, his past history of fighting, his use of marijuana, his gold teeth, or any photos or text messages that were found on his cellphone following the shooting. This means that his three school suspensions for tardiness, for his use of marijuana, or for defacing school property using a spray can to write “WTF” on its walls are all inadmissible. It also means that evidence that his mother forced him to move out because of his bad behavior is also inadmissible. And any suggestion that that he had “an attitude” shown in a photograph described by the Huffington Post as “extending his middle finger[s] to the camera” is also inadmissible. The judge also ruled as inadmissible evidence from a toxicology test showing Martin had marijuana in his system the night of his killing.
In addition, the judge approved a motion by the prosecution that would keep Zimmerman from testifying about his lack of prior felony convictions. Such testimony would be helpful in limiting, under Florida law, any sentencing he might receive if he is found guilty.
However, despite these limitations, to be successful the prosecution of Zimmerman by the State of Florida has a big hill to climb. Under Florida law, to prove that Zimmerman committed second-degree murder, as he was charged in the Affidavit of Probable Cause filed by Florida State Attorney Angela Corey two months after the incident, the prosecution “must show that the defendant acted according to a ‘depraved mind’ without regard for human life.” It must defend against the claim that Zimmerman was justified in using deadly force to keep from being seriously injured or killed himself during the incident.
Florida state law rules that, if convicted, Zimmerman could spend up to 30 years in jail.
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