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Jurors to hear of Trayvon Martin marijuana use before he died

July 09, 2013|By Michael Muskal

The jury in the George Zimmerman murder trial could hear about Trayvon Martin’s use of marijuana as soon as Tuesday.

Judge Debra S. Nelson has ruled that information in a toxicology report about Martin can be given to the jury. The judge had earlier decided that the information should be kept out, but reversed herself on a defense motion Monday.

The trial portion of the case enters its 11th day on Tuesday. The prosecution took nine days and more than three dozen witnesses to present its case. Compared to that, the defense has been a whirlwind.

When proceedings resume Tuesday morning, the defense will move into its second full day and its second dozen witnesses. The defense hopes to finish presenting its case this week, which could mean the sequestered jury could begin deliberations shortly thereafter.

Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, on the night of Feb. 26, 2012. The pair tussled in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., and Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense.

On Monday, the defense argued that the toxicology evidence should be admitted since Dr. Shiping Bao, the medical examiner who conducted the Martin autopsy, changed his testimony and said that the THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — found in Martin’s body could have had a physical or mental effect on Martin. Bao said last November that the THC had no effect on Martin.

In addition to the medical examiner's change of heart, the defense argued that in Zimmerman's calls to authorities, he said Martin appeared suspicious like he was on “drugs or something.”

The defense said it would have a witness ready to testify on the effect of Martin’s marijuana usage by Tuesday.

On Monday, the jury of six women heard from 10 witnesses, three of whom had also testified for the prosecution. Two were police officers who said that Martin’s father initially told them that the screams he heard on a 911 recording were not those of his son. In testimony on Monday, Martin said the police were wrong.

“This was a very emotional time for you,” prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda asked during cross-examination. “And you listened to the recording … and you pulled your chair back in disbelief,” he asked. “You realized that was the shot…”

“That killed my son, yes,” Tracy Martin said.


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michael.muskal@latimes.com

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