The Herald Bulletin

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July 9, 2013

Zimmerman defense trying to get Trayvon Martin texts introduced

SANFORD, Fla. — Defense attorneys on Tuesday tried to get Trayvon Martin's text messages and cellphone photos dealing with fighting and guns introduced at George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial as they neared the finish of their presentation.

Zimmerman's attorneys called a forensics computer analyst to tell the judge presiding over the trial that text messages on Martin's cellphone showed he was trying to buy or sell a gun. The analyst, Richard Connor, read to the judge text messages he found on Martin's phone that describe Martin recounting a fight he had been in to a friend.

Jurors were out of the courtroom. The testimony was given to Judge Debra Nelson to help her decide whether to allow the defense to use them. She had ruled that information about Martin's interest in guns and fighting couldn't be used during opening statements. But she left open the possibility that they could be introduced later.

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.

"It would mislead the jury and be prejudicial," Guy said. "It doesn't tell us about Trayvon Martin and certainly doesn't tell us what George Zimmerman knew about Trayvon Martin."

However, defense attorney Don West said they were relevant.

"It relates to his physical capabilities, his knowledge of fighting," West said.

The effort to get the text messages and cellphone images introduced came after the judge said she would rule Wednesday on whether a defense animation depicting the fatal struggle between Martin and Zimmerman can be played for jurors.

Nelson held an evidence hearing with jurors out of the courtroom, but ultimately postponed her decision — and more arguments on the matter — until later in the afternoon. Prosecutors object to the animation, saying it isn't an accurate depiction.

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