Attorneys for accused murderer George Zimmerman are seeking to admit text messages sent by 17-year-old victim Trayvon Martin, that may bolster the defense's case that Martin was the aggressor in the altercation last year in which Zimmerman shot the unarmed Martin and killed him.
In the texts, sent in November, 2011, Martin appears to describe losing a fight. “ He got mo hits cause in da 1st round [sic],” Martin texted. “He had me on da ground nd I couldn’t do ntn.”
Defense attorneys are arguing that the texts, sent months before the encounter with Zimmerman, are relevant to Martin's emotional state at the time of his death. The court filing states that the text messages “may assist the jury in understanding why Trayvon Martin chose to hide and then confront George Zimmerman rather than simply going home.”
Attorneys also hope to introduce photos purported to depict Martin using marijuana. Prosecutors insist that the texts and photos have no bearing on the facts of the case. Attorneys for Martin's family said the attempt to introduce the texts is “desperate and pathetic attempt by the defense to pollute and sway the jury pool.”
The evening of February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida, self-described “neighborhood watch” member Zimmerman saw Martin walking on the sidewalk. He contacted police, saying "This guy looks like he's up to no good, or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about."According to a police report, "there is no indication that Trayvon Martin was involved in any criminal activity at the time of the encounter.”
Zimmerman left his vehicle and accosted Martin. He then shot the unarmed teenager once in the chest, killing him. Zimmerman claims that Martin attacked him first.
As Martin was African-American and Zimmerman is Hispanic-American, the case has inflamed debate about racial profiling, as well as gun control laws. Florida has a controversial "Stand Your Ground” law that protects persons who use lethal force in self-defense.
Court-watchers suggest that the attempt to introduce unflattering evidence about Martin may be a tactic to prevent prosecutors from presenting similarly damning evidence about Zimmerman.
A hearing will be held next week to consider which items will be admitted as evidence.