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Judge says Trayvon Martin pot use can be admitted in Zimmerman trial

July 08, 2013|By Michael Muskal
  • Lawyers confer with Judge Debra S. Nelson in the George Zimmerman murder trial in Sanford, Fla.
Lawyers confer with Judge Debra S. Nelson in the George Zimmerman murder… (Joe Burbank / Pool Photo )

The judge in the George Zimmerman murder trial reversed course Monday and ruled that the jury may be told that teenager Trayvon Martin had small amounts of marijuana in his body when he was shot and killed.

The ruling by Judge Debra S. Nelson came after the defense reopened the issue. She rejected a prosecution argument that evidence about Martin's drug use would be prejudicial. The defense maintained that it was relevant because Zimmerman believed Martin was under the influence at the time he spotted him in his neighborhood.

Nelson had originally ruled to keep the toxicology results out of the case.

But last week, Dr. Shiping Bao, an associate medical examiner who conducted the autopsy of 17-year-old Martin, testified that the amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, found in Martin’s body could have had a physical or mental effect on him. In November, Bao had said that the amount of the drug was too small to have an effect.

Martin was shot on Feb. 26, 2012, by Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder. Zimmerman says he fired in self-defense after Martin attacked him during a confrontation in a gated community in Sanford, Fla.

The night of the shooting, Martin had been with friends who live in the community. The teenager left and went to a convenience store, where he bought candy and a soft drink.

While returning to the home where he was staying, Martin was seen by Zimmerman, who described him as suspicious in a telephone call to authorities. Zimmerman and Martin then had a confrontation.

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