ORLANDO, Fla.— George Zimmerman’s defense attorneys on May 23 released information from 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s cellphone that include the teen texting with a friend about smoking marijuana and photos that show him blowing smoke and extending his middle finger to the camera.

The release came ahead of a hearing that will determine whether the texts and photos can be used at the trial for Zimmerman, who is charged with fatally shooting Martin last year during a confrontation at a gated community in Sanford.

He is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder, claiming self-defense. His trial starts next month.

The photos also show a gun and what appears to be a potted marijuana plant.

In the text messages, Martin tells a friend that his mother has told him he needs to move out of her house and move in with his father since he was caught skipping school. He also talks with a friend about smoking “weed.”

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 May 28.

Zimmerman’s defense attorney, Mark O’Mara told The Associated Press last week that the materials could be relevant if prosecutors put a spotlight on Martin and his character.

“If the state puts at issue Trayvon, who he was. If the state makes that an issue, we get to respond to that,” O’Mara said.

Attorneys for Martin’s parents said in a statement that the photos and texts were irrelevant to the trial.

“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.”


Mike Schneider

Associated Press