New Trayvon Martin Case Evidence: Defense Team Releases Photos, Texts That Teen Had On His Phone
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Data released Thursday by the defense from slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin's cellphone includes texts with a friend about fighting, smoking pot and being forced to move out of his mother's house because of trouble at school, as well as photos of a gun and what looks to be a potted marijuana plant.
A hearing next week will decide if the information can be used at the trial for George Zimmerman, who is charged with fatally shooting the unarmed 17-year-old last year during a confrontation at a gated community in Sanford. Prosecutors want the negative evidence omitted, but Zimmerman's defense attorney said if they try to portray his client as the antagonist and Martin as the victim, he wants to show the jury that Martin has talked about fighting before.
"If they had suggested that Trayvon is nonviolent and that George is the aggressor, I think that makes evidence of the fighting he has been involved with in the past relevant," said Mark O'Mara.
Zimmerman, 29, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, claiming self-defense and his trial starts next month. O'Mara also filed a motion Thursday asking for a delay in the start of the trial so the defense team can talk at length with an expert witness for the prosecution.
The photos released by Zimmerman's defense team also show Martin blowing smoke and extending his middle finger to the camera.
In the text messages, Martin tells a friend that his mother has told him he needs to move in with his father since he was caught skipping school. He also talks with a friend about smoking "weed."
In another section, he describes being in a fight where his opponent got more hits than he did in the first round.
Prosecutors have filed a motion asking Circuit Judge Debra Nelson to prevent the photos, texts and other personal information from being used at the trial. The hearing is set for next Tuesday when the judge also will consider the motion to delay the trial.
Attorneys for Martin's parents said in a statement that the photos and texts were irrelevant to the trial and could pollute the jury pool.
"Is the defense trying to prove Trayvon deserved to be killed by George Zimmerman because (of) the way he looked?" they said. "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."
As for the delay, O'Mara said he needed more time to review the qualifications of a prosecution witness with an expertise in speech identification. O'Mara said prosecutors only made him aware of the expert a short time ago. The expert could be used to testify whose voices were on 911 calls that captured the fatal fight between Zimmerman and Martin.
O'Mara said in an interview that he needed another month or two to prepare.
O'Mara also said in the interview that he is going to ask a judge to sequester not only the jury but the jury pool in the upcoming trial. That may involve sequestering 500 potential jurors in order to find six people who can serve on the jury, O'Mara said.
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- The Martin Story Becomes National News
New York's Daily Intelligencer blog details how the Trayvon Martin story, which hadn't received a lot of attention, <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2012/03/trayvon-martin-shooting-now-a-national-news-story.html">landed on the radars of the national media.</a> A good deal of the national attention and outrage over the case was centered around the fact that Zimmerman claimed that he shot Martin in self-defense, a category with broad meaning because of Florida's Stand Your Ground Law, and was not arrested or charged with a crime for more than a month after Martin's death.
- Seminole County State Attorney Convenes Grand Jury
Seminole County State Attorney Norm Wolfinger announces that he will be convening a grand jury to determine if Zimmerman should be charged in Martin's death. In a statement, Wolfinger said that he would be "utilizing the investigative resources" of the Seminole County grand jury which he said would be called to session on April 10. "I share in the desire of the family and the community to accurately collect and evaluate all the facts surrounding the tragic death of Trayvon Martin," Wolfinger said. "I respectfully request that the public remain patient as this process continues forward ... As I have previously stated, the public is entitled to no less than a thorough, deliberate, and just review of the facts. We intend to honor that commitment." Lawyers for the Martin family anticipated that the state attorney would call a grand jury, saying that the move is little more than "passing the buck."
- Police Chief Under Fire
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/trayvon-martin-case-george-zimmerman-bill-lee_n_1371635.html?1332389437">Sanford's city commission gave a vote of "no confidence" to beleaguered police Chief Bill Lee Jr.</a>, who was under fire for his department's investigation into the shooting.
- Police Chief 'Temporarily' Steps Down
In a brief press conference, Chief Bill Lee announced that he would be "temporarily" steppng down from his position, saying that his role in the case had become a "distraction."
- State Attorney Steps Down
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/22/trayvon-martin-state-attorney_n_1374206.html">Seminole County State Attorney Norman Wolfinger steps down</a> due to "conflict of interest."
- President Obama Speaks Out
President Obama <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/23/obama-trayvon-martin_n_1375083.html?ref=trayvon-martin">issues his first public statement</a> about the case.
- Police Video Shows Zimmerman Night Of Shooting
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/28/trayvon-martin-police-video_n_1386764.html">Newly released video of George Zimmerman</a> at the Sanford Police Department the night he shot Trayvon Martin to death show the neighborhood watch volunteer without blood on his clothing or bruises on his face or head.
- George Zimmerman Launches FundraIsing Website
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/travon-martin-george-zimmerman_n_1412693.html?utm_hp_ref=trayvon-martin">Zimmerman launches an official fundraising site</a> to help pay his legal fees.
- George Zimmerman Charged With Second-Degree Murder
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/george-zimmerman-trayvon-martin-charged-second-degree-murder_n_1417198.html">Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey announced</a> that George Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder.
- Judge Grants Zimmerman Bail
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/20/george-zimmerman-bail-hearing_n_1440175.html?ref=black-voices">Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester set Zimmerman's bond at $150,000</a>
- New Photograph Shows George Zimmerman's Bloodied Head
A new photograph released by ABC News shows a bloodied George Zimmerman with injuries on the back of his head. The photo, which was reportedly taken three minutes after Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, could serve as possible evidence supporting the neighborhood watch volunteer's claim of his violent confrontation with the teen.
- Zimmerman Bond Revoked
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/01/george-zimmermans-bond-re_n_1563304.html">A Florida judge revoked bond for George Zimmerman</a>, and ordered that he turn himself in within 48 hours. Prosecutors had asked Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. to revoke Zimmerman's bond because they contend that he was disingenuous at an earlier bond hearing when Zimmerman's family and attorney claimed that he was cash broke. The motion filed by prosecutors claimed that Zimmerman "misrepresented, mislead [sic] and deceived the court."
- Shellie Zimmerman Arrested
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/12/shellie-zimmerman-arrested-george-zimmerman-wife_n_1591153.html?utm_hp_ref=trayvon-martin">George Zimmerman's wife Shellie, was arrested</a> and charged with one count of perjury, according to law enforcement officials.
- George Zimmerman Released From Jail
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/06/george-zimmerman-released_n_1654831.html">George Zimmerman left a Florida jail</a> after posting a $1 million bond that a judge set for him Thursday, Bay News 9 reports. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester, who revoked Zimmerman's bond in June for misleading the court about how much money he had, said he set the bail significantly higher to circumvent the possibility of Zimmerman using hidden funds to flee the country.
- Judge Ordered To Step Down
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/29/george-zimmerman-judge-lester_n_1841293.html">Florida's Fifth District Court of Appeal rules that Judge Kenneth Lester should enter a motion to disqualify himself</a> in George Zimmerman's second-degree murder case. Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara asked the court earlier this month to overturn a previous ruling by Lester not to leave the case.
- Trial Date Set
George Zimmerman's murder trial for the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/17/george-zimmerman-trial-date-set-june-10-2013_n_1973469.html">set for June 10, 2013</a>
- Zimmerman Must Remain In County On 24-Hour GPS Monitor Until Trial
George Zimmerman ordered remain under 24-hour GPS monitoring while awaiting trial in the fatal shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and must stay in the county despite the defense's concerns about his safety.
- George Zimmerman Denied Delay Of Trayvon Martin Trial
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/05/george-zimmerman-denied-trayvon-martin-trial_n_2623282.html?utm_hp_ref=trayvon-martin">A Florida judge rejected a bid by George Zimmerman to delay his June trial</a> for the murder of unarmed, black teenager Trayvon Martin, whom he shot and killed a year ago. Zimmerman is expected to appear in court for an April hearing where his lawyers plan to argue that he should be immune from prosecution in the case because of Florida's Stand Your Ground Law. The National Rifle Association (NRA) heavily lobbied Florida legislators to pass the law in 2005 and encouraged lawmakers not to change it after Martin's death.
Major Events In The Trayvon Martin Case
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The Martin Story Becomes National News
New York's Daily Intelligencer blog details how the Trayvon Martin story, which hadn't received a lot of attention, landed on the radars of the national media. A good deal of the national attention and outrage over the case was centered around the fact that Zimmerman claimed that he shot Martin in self-defense, a category with broad meaning because of Florida's Stand Your Ground Law, and was not arrested or charged with a crime for more than a month after Martin's death.
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