George Zimmerman Trial: Defense can't use fight animation

12:33 PM, Jul 10, 2013   |    comments
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Video: George Zimmerman defense can't use fight animation

This June 20, 2013 file photo, George Zimmerman listens as his defense counsel Mark O'Mara questions potential jurors during Zimmerman's trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Florida


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  • SANFORD, Florida (CBS NEWS) -- After extensive arguments from defense attorneys and prosecutors, a central Florida judge has ruled that Trayvon Martin's cellphone texts on fighting and a defense animation depicting the fight between Martin and George Zimmerman won't be introduced as evidence at Zimmerman's trial.

    Judge Debra Nelson made her ruling Wednesday morning, a day after she heard arguments on the matter outside of the presence of the jury. Nelson mulled whether the animation and text messages should be introduced in the hearing after prosecutors asked her to bar the evidence from trial.

    The judge says the animation can't be introduced as evidence that can be reviewed by jurors during their deliberations but defense attorneys may be able to use it during closing arguments as a demonstrative exhibit.

    The hearing began Tuesday morning and began again after a day of testimony late Tuesday afternoon, stretching so late into the evening that the courtroom lights at one point automatically switched off.

    The judge walked out of the courtroom as defense attorney Don West was still speaking during a tense moment at the end of the marathon proceeding.

    During the hearing Tuesday night, the defense called to the stand Richard Connor, who said he discovered hidden text messages from the memory of Trayvon Martin's phone. Defense attorney Don West had argued the texts were relevant since they showed Martin's interest in fighting and physical capabilities.

    Tuesday, prosecutor John Guy said the text messages were misleading and taken out of context. "It's rank speculation what any of this means," Guy said.

    The judge says she agrees with prosecutors' objections to introducing the 17-year-old's text messages.

    Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, is charged with second-degree murder for shooting and killing Martin during a fight in Zimmerman's neighborhood. He's pleading not guilty, claiming self-defense.

    The animation, played in court during the hearing, depicts Trayvon Martin punching George Zimmerman in the face as the struggle begins, and later straddling him, as Zimmerman claimed he did. Prosecutors claimed it was inaccurate and could confuse the jury. Defense expert Daniel Schumaker, who developed the animation, said he went to the crime scene and had employees in motion-capture suits re-enact what happened based on coroner photographs, police reports, the coroner's report, witness depositions and photos taken by responding police officers.

    "This is a murder trial. This isn't Casblanca. This isn't Iron Man," prosecutor Richard Mantei told the judge.

    Tuesday, Nelson expressed some concern with allowing the animation to be introduced into evidence and sent back with jurors as they deliberate.

    "To have an animation that goes back to the jury room that they can play over and over again like they can the 911 call and the reenactment and those other things gives a certain weight to certain things this court is not particularly certain that comports with the evidence presented at the trial," Nelson said.

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