Trayvon Martin Drugs: Jury Will Hear About Martin's Marijuana Use
The six-member jury of the George Zimmerman trial will see evidence of Trayvon Martin's marijuana use any day now, and as early as Tuesday.
Judge Debra Nelson ruled on Monday that the defense can show information in a toxicology report of Martin can be shown to the jury. The evidence is expected to show that Martin had small amounts of THC, a chemical found in marijuana, in his system when he died.
The introduction of this fact into evidence could prove key to the defense's case. As he watched Martin from his car, Zimmerman observed to a 911 operator that the teen's behavior was strange, and stated that he thought Martin might be "on drugs or something."
Dr. Shiping Bao, the medical examiner who conducted Martin's autopsy, testified on Monday that the THC in Martin's system could have had a physical or mental effect on Martin. He said that he had changed his opinion since last November, when he stated that the THC had no effect.
Judge Nelson had previously ruled that evidence of Martin's drug use was not admissible in court. Prosecutors argued the amount of THC in Martin's system was so minimal that it was uncertain what effect it had on Martin. They also accused the defense of trying to "backdoor some very negative character evidence" into the trial.
In May, attorneys revealed pictures found on Martin's cell phone which featured smoke escaping from Martin's mouth. Other images showed a small marijuana plant and a handgun.
In addition, text messages from Martin's phono contained multiple references to marijuana. "I got weed nd I get money Friday," a message sent from his phone reads. "I hid m weed," said another. "its wrapped."
Some, including Martin familiy attorney Benjamin Crump, see Martin's drug use as irrelevant to the case and label it an attempt by the defense to play into racist stereotypes.
"Is the defense trying to prove Trayvon deserved to be killed by George Zimmerman because (of) the way he looked?" Crump said in a statement. If so, this stereotypical and closed-minded thinking is the same mindset that caused George Zimmerman to get out of his car and pursue Trayvon, an unarmed kid who he didn't know."
Regardless of its probative value, it's clear that this new evidence of Martin's drug use will only be damaging for Martin. "It's a negative notch against the victim," said a CNN analyst. "Any time the defense can do something like that, it's a score for the defense."
Gabe Grand is an editorialist for PolicyMic who covers the George Zimmerman trial. For more live updates and opinions on the proceedings, follow him on Twitter.