Judge limits evidence Zimmerman's lawyers can present

May 28, 2013 at 2:24 PM
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ORLANDO, Fla., May 28 (UPI) -- A Florida judge ruled Tuesday that lawyers for George Zimmerman cannot tell the jury Trayvon Martin had a history of fighting and had marijuana in his system.

Circuit Court Judge Debra Nelson also refused a request by Zimmerman's lawyers to postpone the trial, now scheduled to begin June 10, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, is charged with allegedly killing Martin, 17, in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Martin, who was unarmed, was walking to a relative's house after a trip to the store in February 2012.

Prosecutors say Zimmerman continued to follow Martin, who was black, after a 911 operator suggested he back off. Zimmerman's lawyers say Martin attacked him and the killing was self-defense.

In addition to blocking the defense from telling the jury a toxicology test found the active ingredient for marijuana in Martin's system, Nelson said they cannot use evidence that Martin had been suspended from school and had a history of fighting.

Some critical issues have yet to be decided. Prosecutors want to use the testimony of Alan Reich, an expert who prepared a report on recordings of 911 calls.

Reich said he could hear Martin screaming and saying "I'm begging you" as background in a call made by a neighbor, while Zimmerman said "These shall be." FBI analysts said they could not identify the person screaming.

During Tuesday's two-hour hearing, Nelson ruled Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, can be compelled to give a deposition. But the judge said Shellie Zimmerman, who is charged with perjury, can invoke her Fifth Amendment right to avoid incriminating herself.

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