Text messages from the phone of Trayvon Martin, who was killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Florida last February, show Martin had an argument with someone and was "angry" on the night of the incident, defense attorneys have alleged.
"This is relevant to Mr. Martin's overall demeanor that day and relevant to his emotional state," Zimmerman's attorneys have written in a new court filing, according to NBC. They argue the messages "may assist the jury in understanding why Trayvon Martin chose to hide and then confront George Zimmerman rather than simply going home."
Zimmerman, who has pleaded innocent, is accused of second degree murder and his trial is scheduled for June 10.
Seventeen-year-old Martin, an African American, was shot dead on Feb. 26, 2012, by then 28-year-old George Zimmerman, who is a white Hispanic. While the shooter claims he acted in self-defense, many believe Martin's killing was a racist attack. Zimmerman reportedly made racially-charged statements on a 911 call. Martin, who was carrying a bag of Skittles candy and an iced tea, was returning to his father's fiancée's house in Sanford, Fla., from a convenience store at the time of the incident.
Prosecutors say the messages are not relevant to the case. The court in Sanford is scheduled to decide on the admissibility of evidence this week.
The evidence cited by Zimmerman's attorneys includes two pictures of a handgun and text messages that seemingly refer to an organized fight and smoking marijuana. A November 2011 message reads, "He got mo hits cause in da 1st round. He had me on da ground nd I couldn't do ntn."
"This evidence is admissible in support of Mr. Zimmerman's self-defense claim regarding the abilities and capacity of Trayvon Martin as an experienced fighter," the defense attorneys wrote in the filing, according to CNN.
It's a "desperate and pathetic attempt by the defense to pollute and sway the jury pool," Martin's family lawyer, Benjamin Crump, said in a statement. "Is the defense trying to prove Trayvon deserved to be killed by George Zimmerman because the way he looked?
"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."
Prosecutors, on the other hand, have a photocopy of a 2005 MySpace page, on which Zimmerman seems to be disparaging Mexicans – among other materials.
Defense attorneys, who are requesting the court to delay the trial, are likely to use the "evidence" they have if prosecutors seek to attack Zimmerman's character.
Martin's death prompted a national conversation about racism, gun use and the state's self-defense laws.
After the shooting, President Obama said, "I can only imagine what these parents are going through. When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids, and I think every parent in American should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this… You know, if I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon."
Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, told reporters last year that she thanks Jesus Christ for the arrest of Zimmerman. "We simply wanted an arrest, and we got it. And so I say 'Thank you Lord, Thank you Jesus,'" Fulton said.