(The Root) — Jurors on Tuesday could hear evidence that Florida teen Trayvon Martin may have been under the influence of marijuana on the night he was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, possibly making him hostile.
Attorneys for Zimmerman, who is on trial for second-degree murder, are expected to call an expert to testify that the marijuana could have made the 17-year-old more aggressive. Their argument draws on Trayvon’s toxicology report, which indicates that a small amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, was in his system. The medical examiner who wrote the report has testified the drug may have impaired Trayvon or affected his behavior that night.
The introduction of the toxicology report, based on the judge’s decision on Monday, delivers a significant victory for the defense’s efforts to establish that Trayvon attacked the 28-year-old Zimmerman, forcing the neighborhood-watch volunteer to shoot Trayvon in self-defense. When Zimmerman first spotted Trayvon and reported him to as “suspicious” to a police dispatcher, he said Trayvon appeared if he might be “on drugs or something.”
The prosecution objected to allowing the toxicology report, accusing the defense of trying to “backdoor” evidence of Trayvon’s alleged bad character into the trial. The judge said withholding the report from the jury would be an “error” because it contains facts about Trayvon’s condition during the altercation. The prosecution will be permitted to call its own expert to contradict the defense’s witness.
The question of whether Zimmerman also had drugs in his system has been hotly debated. Police did not test him for illegal substances or alcohol after the shooting. A report last year of Zimmerman’s medical records noted he’d been prescribed Adderall and Temazepam prior to the shooting. Adderall is used most commonly to treat attention deficit disorder. Temazepam, or Restoril, is given for anxiety and insomnia. Side effects for both medications, reported in a small portion of patients, include agitation and mood swings.
The prosecution has not pressed to introduce Zimmerman’s prescriptions at trial.
The judge’s ruling overshadowed a day of testimony put on by the defense that sought to portray Zimmerman as gentle and kind. The testimony also centered on whether it was Trayvon’s or Zimmerman’s voice heard screaming for help on a 911 call seconds before the shooting.
The courtroom fell silent when Trayvon’s father took the stand for the first time. Tracy Martin told jurors his son screamed for help on the 911 call before being killed by Zimmerman, denying police testimony that he had initially ruled out Trayvon’s voice.
“I kind of pushed away from the table and just kind of shook my head and said, ‘I can’t tell,’ ” Tracy Martin said of his comments to a police investigator. “I never said, ‘No, that’s not my son’s voice.’ ” Martin added on cross-examination by the prosecution that he later listened about 20 times to the 911 recording, which includes the sound of the fatal gunshot: “I was listening to my son’s cries for help. I was listening to my son’s life being taken.”