“Trayvon Martin is not on trial,” said Benjamin Crump, Trayvon Martin’s family’s attorney.
More than a week before opening statements in the trial of Martin’s killing, the defense is already looking for ways to slander the dead 17-year-old’s name. Pictures and information from Martin’s cellphone that have surfaced paint the teen in a different light, according to his killer’s attorney’s.
However, Judge Debra Nelson, who is overseeing the case, said that the new information cannot be used in the opening arguments as the selection for jurors gets underway but can be used later on in the trial.
Pictures on the phone include images of Martin smoking what appears to be marijuana, holding a firearm and making what might be considered obscene gestures. Text messages recovered from the phone also reveal text messages that he was angry with someone.
Lawyers representing Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, said that the images give what they believe is another side of Martin not portrayed in the media and that they plan to use the new information in their case. According to Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, Martin’s alleged marijuana use may have contributed to what happened the night he was shot.
“[Marijuana] is known to cause paranoia and aggression in some,” O’Mara said at a press conference this week. “And [Martin] is an experienced fighter. We have a lot of evidence that marijuana use had something to do with the event.”
O’Mara added that text messages found on Martin’s phone about moving out of his mother’s house and fighting is relevant to the case. He also said that the public has been “misled” about the type of person Martin really was.
Zimmerman maintains that he was using self-defense when he fatally shot Martin, who was unarmed, last February in Sanford, Fla. The case attracted national attention due to the fact that Zimmerman was initially freed by police after the shooting.
Later receiving second-degree murder charges, Zimmerman pled not guilty and awaits trial on June 10. Zimmerman’s attorney said that while Zimmerman has been awaiting trial in his home, he has gained over 120 pounds due to “stress.”
Since Zimmerman’s arraignment last year, his legal team has searched for various avenues to make Martin out to be the aggressor in the situation. Previously, attorneys tried to use Martin’s school records and social media activity as means to slander his name.
“Trayvon Martin did not have a gun. Trayvon Martin did not get out [of] the car to chase anybody. Trayvon Martin did not shoot and kill anybody,” Crump said. “The police didn’t even do a drug and alcohol analysis on a self-confessed killer of an unarmed kid. They didn’t even do a background check. They took his word as the gospel. They didn’t knock on doors to see if this was somebody’s kid.”