MIAMI — Intending to draw a fuller, perhaps more negative portrait of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed teenager who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in 2012, a lawyer for Zimmerman released new material Thursday that depicted Martin as troubled at school and enamored of a “gangsta” culture.
In a series of text messages from November 2011 to February 2012, Martin wrote that he had been suspended from school for cutting classes. In the messages, he said his mother had “kicked” him out of the house and told him to move in with his father. In one message, Martin described himself as “gangsta.” Other texts refer to his involvement in fights and reveal an interest in guns
. Martin, 17, also texted that he smoked marijuana, which was revealed in toxicology reports, and mentioned he had it wrapped up for the bus ride from Miami, where he lived, to Orlando, where he was going to stay with his father during his suspension in February 2012.
In one text, he riffed on his suspension shortly before he was killed Feb. 26. Martin was suspended for 10 days after school officials found in his backpack a plastic bag that contained traces of marijuana.
Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s lawyer, appeared to be offering prospective jurors in the Zimmerman case, scheduled to start in June, another version of Martin’s life. The evidence would presumably counter any attempt by prosecutors to portray Martin, who had no criminal record, as a victim with an unblemished personal life.
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Zimmerman, 29, who is charged with second-degree murder in Martin’s death, has said he shot Martin in self-defense after Martin attacked him. Martin was inside a gated community, walking to his father’s girlfriend’s home in Sanford, Fla., when Zimmerman, a neighborhood-watch volunteer, saw him. He reported Martin to the police as a suspicious person and got out of the car to follow him, prosecutors said. Zimmerman, who has pleaded not guilty, told police that after Martin attacked him, he fired one shot into Martin’s chest.
On Tuesday, the judge in the case, Debra Nelson of the Seminole County Circuit Court in Sanford, will decide whether to allow the jury to see Martin’s texts and unflattering photos of him, and learn of his marijuana use and his suspension. The prosecutor has urged her to keep them out of the trial.