On Tuesday, the judge in the Trayvon Martin murder case placed limits on what defense attorneys for the man accused of killing the Florida teen will be able to talk about in their opening statements.
When the trial of George Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Martin, begins in June, his attorneys will not be allowed to mention Martin’s marijuana use, fighting or high school suspension during opening arguments. Circuit Judge Debra Nelson also decreed that jurors will not be allowed to travel to the shooting scene during trial.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to killing the 17-year-old, saying he acted in self-defense. He did not attend Tuesday's hearing. Nelson called the request to let jurors see the crime scene "a logistical nightmare."
Mark O’Mara, a lawyer for Zimmerman, argued in court that Martin’s alleged marijuana use would have made him more aggressive and paranoid and could have led to him attacking Zimmerman, the AP reported. "We have a lot of evidence that marijuana use had something to do with the event," O'Mara said. "It could have affected his behavior."
“All of that fits in squarely to what the defense is going to present: That George Zimmerman was put in the position that he had to act in self-defense. How could you keep us from arguing that?”
Nelson responded: “The rules of evidence keep you from doing it.”
An attorney for the deceased teen’s family, Benjamin Crump, said Martin’s parents were pleased with the judge's rulings.
"Trayvon Martin is not on trial," Crump said.
Although they won’t be allowed in the case’s opening statements, Nelson ruled that some of Martin's texts and other social media statements could be allowed later in the trial.