Update — see post-hearing analysis at bottom of post.

At a hearing today, the Judge in the George Zimmerman case granted the prosecution’s motion to exclude all mention of Trayvon Martin’s social media use, including images and text relating to fighting and marijuana use.

We mentioned some of this evidence in our prior post.

The Judge’s ruling addressed Opening Statements and jury selection, and leaves open the possibility that if the prosecution somehow opens the door to the evidence, it could come in at trial, but for now, it’s out.

In a bombshell revelation, Zimmerman’s attorney asserted for the first time that Martin videotaped friends beating up a homeless man. I didn’t hear that part of the court hearing, but here is what an Orlando Sentinel reporter tweeted:

[UPDATE — Zimmerman’s attorney retracted the statement above:

During the Tuesday, May 28th hearing, Mr. O’Mara misstated the nature of video from Trayvon Martin’s cell phone which was included in the Defendant’s 3rd Supplemental Discovery. He stated that the video showed “two buddies of his beating up a homeless guy,” when what happened was Trayvon Martin, along with a buddy, was videotaping two homeless guys fighting each other over a bike. Though it was unintentional, it is a particular concern to us because we are and have been committed to disputing misinformation in every aspect of this case, not causing it. For that, Mr. O’Mara apologizes.


Here are live tweets of other rulings from Orlando Sentinel reporters:

UPDATE – So what does the exclusion of this evidence of Trayvon’s alleged bad behavior mean?

Superficially it is a blow to the defense, since it doesn’t get to paint the alleged victim as a bad person. But, that only holds so long as the prosecution stays away from trying to portray Trayvon as a “good” person — the second the prosecution opens the door to Trayvon’s character, the defense will seek to introduce the evidence and the Judge may very well reconsider.

So this ruling ties the prosecution’s hands, since so much of its media case and the public perception nurtured by the family attorneys was based on demonizing Zimmerman based on his past and building up Trayvon as a “good kid” who wasn’t looking for trouble. The second the prosecution strays from the facts as to what happened, this ruling may go out the door.

Since the facts revealed so far — including Zimmerman’s statements which are consistent with documented and photographed injuries and at least some eyewitness accounts — create a reasonable doubt, the prosecution has hurt itself by not being able to introduce character evidence. That’s not a bad thing for the justice system, since the facts of what happened should control, but it does take away one of the prosecution’s main cards.


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