SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — A Florida judge ruled Wednesday that Trayvon Martin‘s cellphone text messages about fighting and a defense animation depicting the struggle between Martin and George Zimmerman won’t be introduced as evidence at Zimmerman’s trial.
Judge Debra Nelson made her ruling a day after she heard arguments on the matter. Prosecutors had claimed the texts were irrelevant and taken out of context. They also objected to the computer animation, questioning its accuracy and saying it would mislead jurors.
“This is a murder trial. This isn’t ‘Casablanca.’ This isn’t ‘Iron Man,’” prosecutor Richard Mantei said.
The judge seemed concerned about the animation’s accuracy during arguments. While the animation can’t be introduced as evidence that can be reviewed by jurors during their deliberations, defense attorneys may be able to use it during closing arguments, she ruled.
“To have an animation go back into jury room that they can play over and over again gives a certain weight to something that this court isn’t exactly certain comports with the evidence presented at trial,” Nelson said Wednesday night.
The judge agreed with prosecutors’ concerns about introducing the 17-year-old’s text messages. But defense attorney Don West had argued the texts were relevant since they showed Martin’s interest in fighting and physical capabilities.
Defense attorneys on Wednesday called one of their last witnesses as they started winding down their case. Public safety consultant Dennis Root testified that Martin was in better physical shape than Zimmerman, and that the neighborhood watch volunteer wasn’t any athlete.
“He would find himself lacking when compared to Mr. Martin,” Root said of Zimmerman.
Martin was unarmed and returning from a store when he was fatally shot by Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, during a struggle on a dark, rainy night in February 2012. Martin was black and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic. Some civil rights activists argued that the initial delay in charging Zimmerman was influenced by Martin’s race. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and says he shot Martin in self-defense.
Jurors spent a significant part of Tuesday listening to a defense expert on gunshot wounds testify that the trajectory of the bullet and gunpowder on Martin’s body support Zimmerman’s account that the teenager was on top of the defendant when he shot and killed Martin.