Is a dead boy’s past relevant to the trial of the man charged with murdering him? That’s the question posed by prosecutors in the murder trial of George Zimmerman, who asked a judge to bar evidence relating to Trayvon Martin’s school records, text messages, and drug use. Martin was shot by Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, on February 26, 2012, during a violent encounter.
The specifics of the case, particularly whether or not Zimmerman’s description of Martin as a suspicious person based on race and the failure of the Sanford Police Department to charge Zimmerman or investigate the incident, have caught national attention, and only upon further scrutiny was Zimmerman charged with second degree murder.
WKMG reports that Florida prosecutors recently asked the judge in the trial to bar evidence relating to Martin’s troubles in school, texts he may have sent prior to his death, and his social media use in the case against Zimmerman. They claim that the defense may attempt to paint an unflattering picture of Martin, when the focus of the trial should be on the events that occurred specifically between Martin and Zimmerman. Prosecutors have also asked the judge to prevent use of Martin’s toxicology report, which indicated that he had a high level of marijuana in his blood the night he was shot and killed. Zimmerman’s attorneys have expressed interest in presenting this evidence, along with information about a fight Martin was in shortly before his death and the fact that he wore fake gold teeth.
Conversely, Zimmerman’s defense attorneys have asked the judge to exclude the testimony of a voice expert regarding a recording of the incident created from Zimmerman’s 911 call. While the expert has said that he has identified shouts of “stop” on the recording as coming from Martin, attorneys say that the expert’s methods are unreliable.
Though these types of evidence are being discussed in advance of the trial, this does not mean that they will be presented; the attorneys are simply allowing the judge to determine what should be referenced within the confines of the trial and what may eventually be ruled inadmissible.