The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

July 10, 2013

Defense seeks to introduce Trayvon Martin's texts

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — Defense attorneys asked a Florida judge on Tuesday to introduce Trayvon Martin's text messages and a Facebook posting dealing with fighting as evidence at George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial.

As defense attorneys neared the finish of their presentation, they called computer analyst Richard Connor to read to the judge text messages he found on the 17-year-old Martin's phone in which he purportedly recounted a fight he had been in to a friend.

Martin was unarmed when he was fatally shot by Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, in February 2012 in a gated community in Sanford. Martin was black and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic; some activists argued that the initially delay in charging Zimmerman was influenced by Martin's race.

Jurors were out of the courtroom as defense attorneys presented their arguments about the text messages. Judge Debra Nelson heard the testimony during a hearing late Thursday. She had ruled that information about Martin's interest in guns and fighting couldn't be used during opening statements, but she had left open the possibility that they could be introduced later.

As the hearing dragged past 10 p.m., defense attorney Don West complained that the defense hadn't been given Martin's cellphone data by prosecutors in a timely manner, which would have allowed them to authenticate the messages.

"It's simply unfair for Mr. Zimmerman not to be able to put on his defense because of these tactics," West said.

When a frustrated Nelson abruptly told the attorneys that she would rule Wednesday, West continued to address her after she officially had adjourned for the evening. He complained about a schedule that had lawyers working weekends and taking multiple depositions during the trial, in which jurors have been sequestered.

Prosecutor John Guy said jurors shouldn't be presented with the text messages and photos of a gun found on Martin's phone, as well as a Facebook posting from a half-brother asking Martin when he was going to teach him how to fight.

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