George Zimmerman defense loses two battles; avoids marijuana

Day 12 of George Zimmerman trial testimony


SANFORD, Fla. – In a high-stakes show down that is nearing to an end, George Zimmerman's defense team took two heavy hits Wednesday. The defense rested their case without letting jurors know about Trayvon Martin's use of marijuana.

Zimmerman told the judge he was not going to testify in the trial. After court was in recess, defense attorney Mark O'Mara said that Zimmerman had already told his story many times. Jurors were able to watch a July 12, 2012 nationally televised interview and the filmed reenactment Zimmerman did for Sanford Police after the Feb. 26, 2012 fatal shooting.

Most legal experts following the trial --  including Local 10's legal analyst Lee Stapleton -- said it was a very smart move to not have Zimmerman testify.  And many Florida criminal defense attorneys, including Orlando attorney Lyle Mazin, were not surprised with the defense's move.

"The state has presented witness after witness and statement after statement to support Zimmerman's theory of self defense," Mazin said. "There is little to no reason at all for Zimmerman to take the stand."

The defense had to deal with the pieces of evidence excluded from the trial.


Defense wanted jurors to see text messages and pictures from Trayvon Martin's phone. Some of the text messages showed he had been involved in fights and wanted to buy a gun days before Zimmerman killed him.

During arguments, defense attorney Don West said that not admitting the text messages was "a violation of the U.S. and the Florida Constitutions."

Judge Debra Nelson did not allow the text messages. After attorneys argued Tuesday night, she said she had authentication issues.


Nelson also ruled Wednesday that the defense could not enter an animation depicting the Feb. 26, 2012 fight into evidence. The animation -- which shows Trayvon punching Zimmerman -- could be used for demonstration purposes during closing arguments, the judge ruled.

During arguments Tuesday, prosecutor Richard Mantei said the animation was not accurate enough to be entered into evidence.

"This is a murder trial. This isn't 'Casablanca.' This isn't 'Iron Man,'" Mantei said.


On Monday, Nelson ruled in the defense's favor when she said Trayvon's toxicology report could be admitted into evidence, as the defense had requested.

Prosecutor John Guy said the report was "highly prejudicial." Nelson said it would be an "error" not to allow the jury to see it. 

This was after testimony from the medical examiner that opened the door for the possibility that the low levels of THC found in Trayvon's blood could have affected his behavior.

 O'Mara said Wednesday the defense decided not to bring up the marijuana use because they decided to protect the memory of the 17-year-old.


There were flashes of anger in the courtroom before the defense rested their case Wednesday.

When Nelson asked Zimmerman if he was going to testify, West objected three times. Nelson raised her voice and replied with emphasis the third time.

"I'm asking your client questions ... your objection is OVER RULED!"

Tuesday night was frustrating for both the defense and Nelson, as West complained that he could not keep up with Nelson's pace.

The stress is high. If the jury is not convinced that Zimmerman killed in self-defense and he is found guilty of second-degree murder, he can face life in prison.