Zimmerman Loses Key Evidentiary Battle

trayon-martin-picture1tmgunhandsmWe previously discussed the effort of the defense team for George Zimmerman to introduce text messages, pictures, and history showing that Trayvon Martin had a history of discipline and drug problems. Judge Debra Nelson ruled today that most of this evidence would be kept out despite the fact that Zimmerman’s history and prior statements will be likely introduced. Zimmerman is arguing that it was Martin who attacked him and that this evidence shows a troubled teen with an obsession with guns and gangsta culture.


As I mentioned before, some of these pictures in my view can be kept out of the trial. However, the defense has a legitimate right to evidence showing a prior disposition — just as the prosecution has that right. What is striking is that the prosecution wants to introduce a host of pre-statements and actions to paint Zimmerman as a racist or violent individual. However, they oppose such evidence related to Martin. Zimmerman’s defense is that Martin attacked him and he wants to show that Martin had problems before that night, including his mother demanding that he leave the house and live with his father.

The images come from Martin’s Huawei phone including what may be a self-picture of Martin holding a Smith and Wesson handgun. However, while it appears taken by the person holding the cellphone, there is no proof it is Martin unless the defense has found contemporary witnesses. Other photos show the gun and potted marijuana plants. The defense also wants to introduce evidence that Martin was suspended for fighting from school. This includes texts from November 2011 in which he says that his mother has kicked him out of the house after “da police caught me outta skool.” His friend responds “So you just turning into a lil hoodlum.” Martin responds “Naw, I’m a gangsta.” In other messages, Martin discusses guns like one that asks “U wanna share a .380 w/ (blacked out).”

tmfingerssmallImages like Martin flipping the bird at the camera strike me as prejudicial and best kept out of the trial.

The judge left open the possible introduction of some evidence if it becomes relevant later. However, for now, the evidence is out. I understand the order on some of the evidence, but I am less convinced on other pieces of evidence. For example, Nelson declined for now to rule admissible toxicology tests showing Martin had enough THC — the key active ingredient in marijuana — to indicate he may have smoked the drug a couple of hours before the shooting. It seems to me that contemporaneous drug use within hours of the incident in the case would be relevant to Zimmerman’s defense.

Nelson did not appear particularly concerned by the failure of the prosecution to turn over critical pieces of evidence to the defense — a common complaint over alleged prosecutorial misconduct.

She also barred evidence on the delay to arrest Zimmerman despite it indicated that police and prosecutors viewed the case as a likely matter of self-defense. She also ruled against a defense motion to have the jury visit the crime scene, which she described as “disingenuous” in light of another defense motion requesting anonymity for the jury. I fail to see the basis for that dig at the defense and it undermined Nelson’s credibility on the evidentiary motions.

There is an obvious concern over the publicity and public anger surrounding the case and how it affected the prosecutors and the court. As stated earlier, I believe the prosecutors yielded to public pressure in overcharging the case. While Nelson came down hard against the defense today, many judges favor the prosecution in such motions. The rulings however do raise the concern that character evidence will be introduced against Zimmerman but denied to his defense in discussing Martin. It may come down to whether the prosecutor trips the wire in its examinations but the remaining evidence will not be available during the key opening arguments for the defense.

Source: CNN

103 thoughts on “Zimmerman Loses Key Evidentiary Battle

  1. Oh wow, new evidence dump shows that Zimmerman trained in a gym that specializes in teaching MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighting and even “submission grappling” so that his story about being “mounted” and “slammed” and “punched” and beaten to a pulp without the ability to do the slightest defensive action against it becomes even more transparently untrue and even more ridiculous. Hey you guys who thought a thimble-full of blood meant “shooter is innocent”: Nobody ever promised that you could kill an innocent kid while not getting so much as a scratch; nobody cares if you got a boo boo while you committed murder. You killed, you lied, and you’re goin’ to trial directed by prosecutor Angela Corey and not even Dershowitz can save you from that. 😈

  2. Daily Kos did an analysis of the cell phone photo taken of the defendant while he was sitting in the police car (the bloody nose photo), the EMT report the night of, and the Nurse Practitioner’s report of the defendant’s visit to her the day after he killed Trayvon. Link to the article which includes the EMT and Nurse Practitioner reports. A few pertinent excerpts here.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/06/03/1213239/-Officer-s-Cellphone-Pics-Show-Zimmerman-May-NOT-Have-Been-Punched-the-Night-he-Killed-Trayvon

    “To prove Zimmerman lied about being ‘told’ by EMS that he had a broken nose, the EMS report does not state he has a broken nose. The EMT report simply says his nose is ‘tender,’ the ‘mucous membrane is normal’ and that all of Zimmerman’s injuries have ‘minor bleeding,’ nothing at all about an alleged ‘broken nose.'”

    “Note also, on page 3 of Zimmerman’s Family Physician Report, the Physician Assistant states that his nostrils were not bleeding and did not note any dried blood in the nostrils (nares) and wrote ‘does not appear to have septal deviation; which, when put all together along with the EMS report, it tells me Zimmerman was not punched in the nose 25 to 30 times 16 hours earlier.”

  3. Link to the Sept. 2012 letter from the defense to the prosecutor and the pertinent excerpt.

    gzdocs.com/documents/0313/mfr_exhibits/exhibit_d.pdf

    “13. You mentioned that you had seen a video connected to him [Trayvon Martin] in some way regarding a bicycle. We were previously unaware of anything like that, but later saw a clip taken from his cell phone SIM card that may have been what you were referencing.”

  4. Link to the Appeals Court decision LeaNder speaks of and an excerpt. There was a also a finding that Mr. Crump is not opposing counsel even though he has represented the Martin family in a civil lawsuit for wrongful death and is planning another against his killer.

    http://tmwarriors.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/131233_dc03_06032013_035832_i.pdf

    In concluding that the trial court erred in denying Zimmerman an opportunity to depose Crump, we caution that any deposition of Crump is to be limited to inquiry of circumstances surrounding the interview of Witness 8 and the contents of such interview. Defense counsel may not inquire into Crump’s mental impressions regarding Witness 8, nor may counsel inquire as to the reasons why Crump conducted the interview in the manner in which he did. Additionally, we believe the work product privilege precludes defense counsel from making inquiry as to the reason(s) Crump attempted to locate Witness 8 and the methods employed to do so.

    The deposition contemplated by our opinion should be relatively short and straight forward. We are confident that the trial judge will be able to take the steps necessary to ensure the deposition is limited to the subject areas describe above.

  5. I wonder if we will get Jonathan Turley’s opinion on the decision by the appellate court concerning the deposition of Benjamin Crump.

    Strictly it follows judge Nelson’s decisions in allowing Benjamin Crump as witness for a very limited set of questions concerning his interview with DeeDee. While defense up to the writ of certoriari seemed to develop an ever expanding almost feral appetite in search of a universe of absolutely necessary inquiries into every word Crump ever said post February 26. And into how he manipulated DeeDee to say what she did.

    In the extreme Right’s GZ support camp it is welcomed with a mix of celebrations and popcorn on one hand and a growing suspicion the three judges, which they assume were involved, could be part of the conspiracy against GZ. After all there are rumors out there in O’Mara’s financial support camp that not only one but three invented DeeDee’s exist, and that the cell phone that was found on the scene wasn’t Trayvon’s at all. Thus it is really urgent desire in this camp he looks closely into how DeeDee was invented and thus could be impeached.

    If the decision was a political one, it does not help much to satisfy desires, after all they share O’Mara’s political conspiracy theory fed by many of O’Mara’s motions. GZ the sacrificial lamp on the altar of ultimately Black Power. They want to see O’Mara being given the chance to lure this big conspiracy and how he invented DeeDee out of Benjamin Crump.

    So victory yes, but disappointment and a growing suspicion that “the three” anonymous judges are ultimately part of the big conspiracy against GZ too.

    As I wrote above, a theme that is fed perfectly by superlawyer O’Mara himself in many of his recent motions up to the writ of certiorari and its stark political argument at the end.. The same superlawyer O’Mara who forgot the fact that he saw the clip by Trayvon about the two homeless guys fighting for a bicycle already before Sept. 19, 2012, as can be seen in a letter by West to de la Rionda. A letter they added as appendix to at least three recent of motions against Crump, the State and the writ of certiorari. So it’s hard to believe that his suggestion during the last bond hearing that Trayvon took a video with his cell phone of friends beating up homeless guys was a mistake. It was pure calculation.

    Oh, there is something else Trayvon took a photo of an underage girl. See how it works?

    Janus faced polite O’Mara feeding conspiracy theories and the rage out there in search for money?

    I surely hope for America, that it will not work, but then?

  6. Zimmerman didn’t realize that there would be 911 calls from other residents of RTL that night, so he thought the only person who could possibly describe the events were: himself and… oh, see, just HIMSELF. Why do I say that he didn’t expect others to call 911?

    1. HE told a neighbor NOT TO CALL 911, according to his own statement; and

    2. The HOA newsletter had already advised all residents to call HIM, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, if they saw anything suspicious.

    He thought he would be the only ear-witness and the only eye-witness and therefore, his word would be law. He lied about self-defense because very obviously, there was NO self-defense except Trayvon Martin’s unsuccessful attempts at self-defense once he was accosted by the creepy guy who had been following him in a car and on foot in the dark. I am betting the State has evidence that George Zimmerman’s gun was DRAWN, pointed at Trayvon and ready to fire well before either of the parties hit the ground.

  7. http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/29/3422519/lawyer-zimmerman-prosecutor-withheld.html

    ORLANDO, Fla. — A court employee who retrieved photos and deleted text messages from Trayvon Martin’s cellphone has been placed on administrative leave after an attorney testified that prosecutors didn’t properly turn over the evidence to the defense, an attorney said Wednesday.

    Former prosecutor Wesley White said he was ethically obligated to reveal that Fourth Judicial Circuit Information Technology Director Ben Kruidbos retrieved the data that weren’t turned over.

    Kruidbos was placed on leave shortly after White testified during a hearing in George Zimmerman’s second-degree murder case on Tuesday. White said Kruidbos was interviewed by state attorney investigators twice before the action was taken.

    White said he wasn’t surprised of possible evidence violations by Zimmerman prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda.

    “I was saddened by it, but I’m not surprised,” he said.

    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/29/3422519/lawyer-zimmerman-prosecutor-withheld.html#storylink=cpy

  8. @ Ralph Adamo:

    The Court will allow all sorts of prejudicial nonsense into the record to paint Zimmerman as a mad, racist, evil, killer. The Court will not allow any evidence into the record, however, that would show Martin to be the same or worse.

    Really? You think the court will allow the State to “paint” Zimmerman as a “mad, racist, evil killer”? Well he DID admit that he is the killer, right? So all they have to do now is prove he was mad, racist and evil?

    Let’s see. For “mad” we have: “I feel like he saw my gun.”
    For racist, we have: “The suspect emerged from the darkness…”
    For evil, we have: [In answer to Hannity’s question about whether Zimmerman regrets ANYTHING HE DID THAT NIGHT:] No. I feel like it was all God’s plan…

    So. You think although Trayvon Martin never killed anybody, it would be a fair trial if the defense was allowed to show that Trayvon Martin was WORSE THAN A MAD, RACIST, EVIL KILLER?

    Um… how?

  9. Mike Spindell — hey, good buddy. :mrgreen:

    OS: Remember Gilbert & Sullivan: “I have a little list … they never would be missed…”

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