On Wednesday morning, Judge Debra Nelson ruled that the defense team for George Zimmerman would not be allowed to introduce as evidence the text messages and pictures from Trayvon Martin’s cell phone or introduce the computer animation created by a firm that the defense hired.
Judge Nelson and both lawyers went late in to the night for a hearing on July 9, discussing the submission of evidence. In May, the Zimmerman defense team leaked pictures and text messages allegedly from Trayvon Martin’s phone in order to compromise the teen’s image in the public.
The cell phone reportedly had text messages about purchasing a gun, photos of a gun, and discussions about fighting. And because the defense was not able to say for sure (which is called “authenticate”) that these messages were from Trayvon Martin, the judge ruled that they were not admissible early Wednesday morning.
Zimmerman’s team also wanted to show a computer animation to the jury based upon their version of events, but because Judge Nelson believed that the jury may be persuaded that the animation was indeed the actually way things occurred, she decided that this, too, would not be admissable in court. While they will not be permitted to show the animation during the trial, the defense may use it during closing arguments.
On Tuesday, the defense — in an effort to bolster their claim of self-defense — called on forensic pathologist Dr. Vincent DiMaio, who was paid $2,400 by the defense team, to testify that George Zimmerman’s gun was 2 to 4 inches from Trayvon’s body when shot. During testimony, DiMaio continued to establish the position that Zimmerman’s claim that Martin was over him was highly likely.
Unfortunately for the defense, under strong cross-examination, DiMaio admitted that the gunshot may be consistent with Trayvon Martin pulling away from Zimmerman, which would help offset the claim of self-defense by Zimmerman’s trial team.
Dr. DiMaio also testified about that the head injuries sustained by Zimmerman were consistent with Zimmerman’s claims of being hit against the sidewalk. Dr. DiMaio also said that he believed Zimmerman was punched in the nose and his nose was broken.
In other testimony, Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte was called to testify about the 911 tapes being played for the family of Trayvon Martin. Bonaparte, who obviously was a resistant witness, discussed that the tape was played as a courtesy to the Martin family and not in consideration of the recording being evidence. Upon being grilled by the defense, Bonaparte remained strong in his position that it was a courtesy and was not looked at as evidence at the time. The defense attempted to show that Trayvon Martin’s family influenced one another into believing that the screams heard on the 911 call were that of Trayvon.
The screams on the tape as well as who was on top during the scuffle have become major issues in this trial. However, the most important issue is who the aggressor was. With hope, the jury will be able to keep this significant detail at the forefront of their minds.
Eric L. Welch Guster is founder and managing attorney of Guster Law Firm in Birmingham, Ala., handling criminal and civil matters, catastrophic injuries, criminal defense, and civil rights litigation. Mr. Guster has become a go-to lawyer for the New York Times, NewsOne, NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, Black America Web, and various radio programs about various court issues and high-profile cases.