By Steve Almasy
(CNN) — Text messages sent from Trayvon Martin’s cell phone the day he was killed show he had been arguing with someone on the phone and was “hostile,” attorneys for George Zimmerman wrote in a recent court filing.
Zimmerman’s lawyers argue the texts are relevant to the case, in which the unarmed teenager was fatally shot by the neighborhood watch volunteer during a confrontation in a Sanford, Florida, neighborhood in February 2012.
The texts speak to Martin’s demeanor and emotional state, the Thursday filing said, and “may assist the jury in understanding why Trayvon Martin chose to hide then confront George Zimmerman rather than simply going home.”
The filing said the texts were mostly with “Witness 8,” and the messages showed Martin and the friend were “hostile and angry with each other at various points throughout the day.”
Martin, 17, was talking on the phone with Witness 8 when he and Zimmerman met as Martin walked to the house of his father’s fiancee after a trip to a nearby convenience store.
Also in the document, Zimmerman’s attorneys say the court should also consider text messages sent before that day, because they establish Martin’s marijuana use and fights he had been involved in.
“This (fighting) evidence is admissible in support of Mr. Zimmerman’s self-defense claim regarding the abilities and capacity of Trayvon Martin as an experienced fighter,” Zimmerman’s attorneys wrote.
The attorney for Martin’s family, Benjamin Crump, said Thursday that evidence and other details — like the defense’s assertion that Martin had removable gold tooth caps — are “irrelevant.” He predicted they would never be used at Zimmerman’s trial.
“Is the defense trying to prove Trayvon deserved to be killed by George Zimmerman because (of) the way he looked?” Crump asked in a statement.
“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. The pretrial release of these irrelevant red herrings is a desperate and pathetic attempt by the defense to pollute and sway the jury pool.”
Instead, he said, jurors will focus on Zimmerman’s arrest for battery on a police officer, a domestic violence injunction and other issues he said demonstrate a “propensity for violence.”
Other items taken from Martin’s phone included text-message discussions of drugs and pictures of a gun and marijuana plants.
Lead defense attorney Mark O’Mara said he will try to use the evidence if prosecutors attempt to attack Zimmerman’s character during his trial on second-degree murder charges, set to begin next month.
Also Thursday, O’Mara filed a request that his client’s trial be delayed.
Much of the new evidence disclosed Thursday in filings by Zimmerman’s attorneys comes from Martin’s cell phone, including photos showing a semiautomatic pistol and ammunition and small marijuana plants growing in pots.
In another picture, Martin is pictured making obscene gestures in an apparent self-portrait. Others show him with friends and in other settings.
Zimmerman recently waived his right to a pretrial hearing under Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which allows people to use deadly force when threatened regardless of where they are.
His attorneys will claim self-defense at trial.
A representative of the special prosecutor handling the case did not return an e-mail message Thursday seeking comment on the evidence.
Prosecutors renewed their motion for a gag order in the case Thursday because, they said, they’re concerned about finding an impartial jury given the “inordinate amount of media coverage.”
Two previous gag order requests by the prosecution have been denied.
In-Session’s Jessica Thill and CNN’s David Mattingly, Marylynn Ryan, Rich Phillips and Dana Ford contributed to this report.
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