Attorneys for George Zimmerman, the man charged with second-degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year, released photos and text messages from the teen's phone Thursday, which the defense contends are important evidence.
A hearing on whether the texts can be admitted as evidence is scheduled for Tuesday. Prosecutors don't want jurors to consider the communications, which discuss fighting, marijuana use and an incident that resulted in Martin being kicked out of his mother's home.
"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," Mark O'Mara, an attorney for Zimmerman, told The Associated Press.
"If the issue of Trayvon Martin's propensity for violence becomes relevant, then the jury can consider the fact that he had several pictures of a gun and of course his text messages talked about his attempts to purchase a gun," O'Mara said Thursday on Fox News.
"If we are talking about who Trayvon Martin was that night, if that becomes relevant regarding how the state represents it, then the idea that this was a person who was familiar with fighting, familiar with getting on top of somebody... I think that's very relevant for a jury to look back and say what did happen in that one minute or so that we don't have audio evidence for," O'Mara added.
"Is the defense trying to prove Trayvon deserved to be killed by George Zimmerman?" asked Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump in a Thursday statement quoted by UPI.
Martin was shot and killed February 26, 2012, after returning from a store where he purchased an iced tea and a bag of Skittles. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who frequently reported complaints to police, called 911 that night to say he observed a person he deemed "up to no good" walking through the area. Moments later he shot and killed Martin, which he claims happened in self-defense during a scuffle.
For the past year there's been significant debate over what details about Martin's life are appropriate for the public - and jurors - to evaluate. In March 2012, The Daily Caller published a large collection of tweets from Martin's Twitter account, which provided insight into Martin's personality, but also prompted discussion about how much information is appropriate to disclose about a possible crime's victim.