Zimmerman Defense Denied Use of Text Messages, Animation
(SANFORD, Fla.) -- The Florida judge presiding over the murder trial of George Zimmerman ruled Wednesday that text messages taken from Trayvon Martin's phone and an animation commissioned by the defense purporting to show the fight between Martin and Zimmerman cannot be entered as evidence.
However, Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled that the defense can use the animation as a "demonstrative exhibit" in their closings. The motion-capture animation was a snapshot of what the defense said happened the night Martin died. The animation shows Martin walking up to Zimmerman and punching him in the face, as well as Martin straddling and punching Zimmerman. It was built using Zimmerman's account of what happened and estimations made by witnesses who called 911 about the confrontation the night Martin died.
The text messages will be barred altogether. The messages, taken from Martin's phone, include one in which a female friend told Martin that he should stop fighting as well as images of a gun.
The ruling came on the day the defense said it would rest its case. It followed an acrimonious marathon hearing Tuesday that ended with the judge marching out of court as defense attorney Don West angrily called after her, complaining about the long hours and lack of time the defense had to go over evidence it said the prosecution withheld.
"I'm not getting into this," Nelson said Tuesday night, appearing fed up at the mounting tension between both sides. "Court is in recess."
As she left, West continued to address her saying, "Judge, I'm not physically able to keep up this pace much longer." Nelson walked out of the courtroom without responding to him.
Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second degree murder for shooting Trayvon Martin, 17, on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman maintains that he shot Martin in self-defense as the teenager straddled him and banged his head on the sidewalk.
Testimony on Tuesday included a neighbor of Zimmerman's who told the court that the voice screaming for help on a 911 call was Zimmerman.
In addition, renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Vincent Di Maio seemed to back up Zimmerman's account that Martin was on top and leaning over Zimmerman when he was shot.
Di Maio said that the pattern of powder burns on Martin's sweatshirt and skin indicated that his shirt was two to four inches away from Martin's chest when he was shot, suggesting, he said, that Martin was hovering or leaning over Zimmerman.
"The medical evidence is consistent with his statement," Di Maio told the court.
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