George Zimmerman, not Trayvon Martin, is on trial

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Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, sits with her attorney Benjamin Crump, during a pre-trial hearing for George Zimmerman, the accused shooter of Martin, on May 28, in Sanford, Fla. (AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Joe Burbank, Pool)

 

Attorneys for George Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin, won’t be able to mention Martin’s drug use, suspension from school, or past fighting during opening statements in Zimmerman’s trial, which begins June 10.

At a hearing last Tuesday in Seminole County court, Circuit Judge Debra Steinberg Nelson also rejected a defense request to delay the trial.

The judge was justified in ruling to deny a string of defense motions concerning evidence that was intended to portray Martin as a troubled teenager with a propensity for fighting and an interest in guns.

Prosecutors correctly argued that such evidence had nothing to do with Martin’s death.

Some legal observers have said that Zimmerman’s attorneys should have known that the evidence they presented on Martin’s character would be rejected by a judge.

They make a credible argument that lawyers for Zimmerman released information about the photos last week not because they thought it would be accepted but to sway, pollute and influence the jury.

The question has never been whether Martin was a perfect teenager. His character is not on trial.

The question is whether Zimmerman shot Martin as he claimed in self-defense in Sanford, Fla. on Feb. 26, 2012. The question is what happened on the night Martin was killed. Martin’s behavior prior to that night is not relevant because Zimmerman did not know him prior to the killing.

As Benjamin Crump, the Martin family’s lawyer, correctly pointed out lawyers for Zimmerman were wrong to portray Martin as drug-using, brawling and gun-loving teenager.

“Trayvon Martin did not have a gun,” Crump said after the hearing. “Trayvon Martin did not get out of the car to chase anybody. Trayvon Martin did not shoot and kill anybody. Trayvon Martin is not on trial.”

Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune

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