Posted: 4:44 p.m. Thursday, May 23, 2013

Zimmerman defense hopes cellphone pics show Trayvon Martin as aggressive

Trayvon Martin 05/23/13
Trayvon Martin 05/23/13

ORLANDO, Fla. —

George Zimmerman's legal team released new evidence Thursday pulled from 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's cellphone, which included dozens of text messages the defense said could show Martin had a history of being aggressive.

Zimmerman has maintained he shot and killed the 17-year-old Martin in self-defense as the teen was attacking him near his Sanford home. He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges.

Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, could use several videos that were extracted from Martin's cellphone, as well as several videos from the Miami Dade Schools Police Department and Martin's school records.

Circuit Judge Debra Nelson allowed the defense to delve into Martin's personal life and phone records, ruling the information could be relevant if it showed the teenager had a propensity for violence.

WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said there's a good chance the judge will allow the evidence, because it is relevant to the defense argument that Martin started the fight.

Photos retrieved from Martin's cellphone show a handgun and someone holding the gun, though it's unclear if he's the one holding it.

There are also dozens of text messages the defense said it could present as evidence in Zimmerman's trial.

Some of the texts retrieved from the cellphone appear to show the teen was talking to someone about selling a firearm.

"I think that gun purchase and gun possession by an underage person is an indication that they may be a tendency toward violence," said O'Mara.

Other texts show Martin talked about fighting and even about being suspended after his teacher accused him of hitting someone.

One texting sequence shows how Martin said he fought with someone who "snitched" on him and after a friend warns him he'll be suspended again, Martin responds, "I'm not done wit fool," and, "He aint breed nuff 4 me, only his nose."

Records show Zimmerman's nose was broken and bleeding after his fight with the teenager. Special prosecutors said Zimmerman profiled the teenager, instigated a fight and then opened fire, but Zimmerman said he shot in self-defense.

The Martin family's attorney, Natalie Jackson, called the photos and texts "irrelevant" and told Channel 9 they were "meant solely to prejudice a potential jury pool in the days leading up to the trial."

But Sheaffer said the judge might allow the defense evidence in.

"The defense certainly has the right to show that Trayvon Martin might have been the aggressor in this situation. They can do so by showing he had a reputation as a fighter or aggressive," Sheaffer said.

There will be a hearing next week so the judge can determine which evidence will be used at the trial.

Other evidence photos retrieved from Martin's phone show him blowing smoke, and more images show what appears to be a marijuana plant.

There are also multiple emails and a video that was posted to Martin's YouTube channel.

In the meantime, O'Mara is also asking a judge to deny prosecutors' request that the teen's marijuana use be off limits.

He filed a motion Monday claiming that Martin likely was under the influence of marijuana at the time of his death in February 2012.

Attorney Don West said that could be relevant to a jury evaluating Martin's actions the night he was shot.

Zimmerman's trial is scheduled to start June 10.

Prosecutors have asked a judge not to allow Martin's drug use or other personal matters to be used at trial.

You can watch the trial live on WFTV.com beginning June 10.

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