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Trayvon Martin text messages reveal a troubling side

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Trayvon Martin text messages reveal a troubling side May 23, 2013

Marc Caputo, The Miami Herald


MIAMI--In the months and days before his shooting death, Trayvon Martin was getting in fights, getting high on marijuana, getting suspended from school and talking with friends about getting a gun, according to cell-phone text messages defense lawyers for shooter George Zimmerman released Thursday.


Martin's chronically misspelled slang-filled messages -- as well as pictures of a semi-automatic pistol, marijuana plants and Martin flipping up his middle fingers -- are all part of Zimmerman's defense plan to put the Miami Gardens 17-year-old posthumously on trial.


"So you just turning into a lil hoodlum," one friend, whose name has been withheld, texted Martin.


Martin replied with a denial: "No not at all."


At one point, Martin joked that the friend was "soft."


"Boy don't get one planted in ya chest," the friend joked back.


The message, a reference to being shot, eerily foreshadowed Martin's fate three months later.


On a rainy Feb. 27, 2012, evening, Zimmerman shot Martin at an apartment complex in Sanford, where the teen was sent to live with his dad to get back on track.


That night, Martin was returning from a convenience store where he had just bought a pack of Skittles and iced tea. Zimmerman said he believed the young man in the hoodie sweatshirt was up to no good.


No one witnessed who threw the first punch at whom or why.


But soon Martin was dead from a Sig Sauer gunshot wound, Zimmerman was in police custody and the nation began debating Florida's deadly force law known as "Stand Your Ground."


The law offers protections for some shooters in public places, but Zimmerman was still charged with second-degree murder by a special prosecutor appointed by Gov. Rick Scott. Zimmerman is pleading self defense and said Martin attacked him.

Trial is scheduled for June 10.


Although Zimmerman might not take the stand, his statements given to police and his 911 calls on the night of the shooting are major pieces of evidence. Zimmerman's defense lawyers hope to counter with Martin's text messages and his troubled record at school. A Central Florida judge must now decide whether the evidence is relevant to the case. The prosecution and Martin's family says it isn't.


Martin's family's attorney, Benjamin Crump, said in a written statement that the defense was displaying "stereotypical and close-minded thinking" in signaling that it planned to use Martin's messages and photos, including pictures of him blowing smoke and showing off gold teeth.


"The only photos or videos that are relevant or admissible at trial are those of Trayvon taken the day he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman," Crump said. "There is no evidence that Trayvon either had gold teeth nor gave anybody the finger the night he was shot and killed. Therefore those pictures are irrelevant and will not be admitted into evidence."


The text messages, some of which are redacted, don't make clear whom Martin was talking to at different times. Sometimes it appears he's joking with a friend, other times with a girlfriend and, in at least one instance, with his father.


Some of the earliest text messages begin in early November 2011, in which Martin indicates he got suspended from school for being in a fistfight.


Later in the month, on the 21st, he exchanged messages with at least one friend about an after-school fight.


One of Martin's cell phone pictures shows two teens about to square off against one another as a third stands in the middle like a referee. Martin said he fought a rival who "snitched on me."


Martin: "I lost da 1st round :) but won da 2nd nd 3rd."


Friend: "Ohhh So It Wass 3 Rounds? Damn well at least yu wonn lol but yuu needa stop fighting."


Martin: "Nay im not done with fool..... he gone hav 2 see me again."


Friend: "Nooo... Stop, yuu waint gonn bee satisified till yuh suspended again, huh?"


Martin told another friend at the time that his mother wanted him to move in with his dad after he was suspended.

"Da police caught me outta skool," Martin wrote.


Months later, Martin appeared to get in trouble again, but suggested on Jan. 6, 2012, that he was an innocent bystander: "'I was watcn a fight nd a teacher say I hit em." The following month he complained he got in trouble for something "I didn't do."


In between these messages, he appears to flirt with a girl and talk extensively about smoking marijuana, or "kush." One friend called him a "WEEDHEAD."


Martin's troubles appeared to get worse and, on Feb. 13, he explained to a friend that he was serving "10 dayz" of suspension.

Five days later, he repeatedly appears to inquire about a gun with a friend: "U got heat??" Hours later he's asked by text: "You want a 22 revolver?" The friend who sent the message said it was bought by "my mommy."


On Feb. 21, Martin appeared to be heading to Sanford to live with his father. But he hadn't lost interest in guns.

"U wanna share a .380?" he asked one friend.


Hours after that, someone who appears to be his father sent him text messages about staying in Sanford.


"Show much respect to (redacted) and adjust to my Lady & (redacted). Show them that you a good kid and you want positive things around you," his father, Tracy Martin, wrote Trayvon.


A minute later he followed up: "Be a big brother and not a DONKEY......LOVE DAD."

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