This past Thursday, George Zimmerman's attorneys released new evidence relevant to the upcoming trial of their client on a second-degree murder charge for the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
The Martin family attorneys say the evidence is irrelevant. They are wrong. It is damning. The text messages and photos from Martin's cell phone tell a story wildly at odds with the one the State of Florida and the media have been peddling for more than a year, but one altogether truer and sadder.
In the way of recap, in February 2012, Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Florida, shot and killed the seventeen-year-old Martin.
Taking their cue from the Martin family's attorneys, Reuters ran the first national article on the shooting ten days after it happened. Zimmerman was a "loose cannon." He profiled Martin, stalked him, and shot him, disregarding police instructions. Martin, by contrast, was a "good kid." He had hoped to be a pilot. He was simply bringing the soon-to-be iconic iced tea and Skittles home to his "little brother."
This story was pure fable from the beginning, and the attorneys knew it. Even before going public, they moved to seal Martin's school records, and with good reason. Consider this exchange between Martin and a female friend on November 21, three months before his death. After he told her he was "tired and sore" from a fight, she asked him why he fought. "Bae" is shorthand for "babe."
MARTIN: Cause man dat nigga snitched on me
FRIEND: Bae y you always fightinqq man, you got suspended?
MARTIN: Naw we thumped afta skool in a duckd off spot
FRIEND: Ohh, Well Damee
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 bae Forreal
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: Naw but he aint breed nuff 4 me, only his nose
As his social media accounts show, Martin was a student of mixed martial arts. The fight followed the MMA format. A day later, he would tell a friend that his opponent "got mo hits cause in da 1st round he had me on da ground nd I couldn't do ntn." As his girlfriend complained, Martin was "always" fighting. He was also something of a sadist. His opponent, after all, did not bleed enough. Why might this be relevant?
Witness #6, the best of the eyewitnesses to the shooting, told the Sanford PD that a there was a "black man in a black hoodie on top of either a white guy ... or an Hispanic guy in a red sweater on the ground yelling out help," and that black man on top was "throwing down blows on the guy MMA [mixed martial arts] style."
Martin was not the innocent little boy that the media relentlessly and corruptly portrayed him to be. At the time of his death, he was five feet, eleven inches and weighed 158 pounds. To put this in perspective, legendary boxer Tommy "The Hitman" Hearns was six feet, one inch and 145 pounds when he first won the world welterweight title as a twenty-one-year-old.
Before leaving for Orlando on February 21, 2012, Martin had already missed 53 days of school that year and been suspended three times, most recently for possessing drug paraphernalia, the time before that for getting caught with women's jewelry and a burglary tool. Why might this be relevant?
When George Zimmerman first spotted Martin near the shortcut into a community plagued by burglaries and home invasions, he told the dispatcher, "This guy looks like he's up to no good. Or he's on drugs or something." Zimmerman might have been right on both counts.
Had the school district police not been ordered to suppress crime statistics, especially for black males, Martin would likely have been arrested at least twice, and that might have snapped his parents out of their fog. Instead, as the new evidence reveals, he was allowed to live out his increasingly angry, aberrant life as though he were merely a bit mischievous.
On November 22, the day after the MMA-style fight, Martin told a friend that his mother "just kicked me out" and that he had to move in with his father. When the friend asked why, Martin answered, "Da police caught me outta skool."
"U a hoodlum," said the friend. "Naw," said Martin. "I'm a gangsta." Incredibly, his death would transform this wannabe gangster into a saintly little boy, or, in the words of Florida State Attorney Angela Corey, a "precious victim."
On December 21, 2011, Martin told a friend, "dam I just got in trouble 4 sum sh** I aint even do." His mother, Sybrina Fulton, was dismayed. "Pack up your clothes now," she texted him. "I love u but I think u being w/ ur Dad is best."
Martin lived with his mother only intermittently and spent even less time with his father, who was then living with a sister in the Miami area.
On December 22, Martin confided to a girlfriend, "I got in trouble." She asked, "What did you do now." As was typical, Martin took no responsibility. "I aint do ntn . . . . call me." The friend had other priorities: "I'm about to get my nails done so you gotta wait a few."
On the day before Christmas, Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, texted him: "I'm concerned about u but I'm praying for u and I want U to pray for yourself EVERYDAY, ok." She was texting the son she used to know. The Trayvon who was about to turn seventeen, she knew next to nothing about.
On January 6, 2012, Martin got into trouble at school again. When asked why, he told a friend, "Caus I was watcn a fight nd a teacher say I hit em." Said the friend, "Idk how u be getting in trouble an sh**." By this time, Martin's mother had thrown him out of the house for "fightn," and he had moved in with his aunt and uncle.
The multiple texts about "weed" and the photos of marijuana plants confirmed his interests in drugs -- a friend called him "weedhead" -- but the new photos pointed to an even more dangerous new hobby -- namely, guns. Indeed, one of the photos of Martin's showed a hand, likely Martin's own, on a pistol.
On February 21, 2012, Martin took the bus for Orlando to stay with his father's girlfriend, Brandy Green. He was free to travel because his school had suspended him for marijuana. The bust did little to sober him up. "I hid m weed," he confided to a female friend, afraid that they might have searched him on the bus. He texted later that day, "I got weed nd I get money Friday."
The saddest messages among these texts come from the parents who indulged him. They had all but lost control of their son but chose not to see how far out of control he had spun. Like so many divorced parents, they were torn between punishing him and appeasing him.
The father, Tracy Martin, texted his son during this trip to Orlando. "Show much respect to [Green] and adjust to my Lady & [her son]. Show them you a good kid and you want positive things aroud you." His mother texted him as well: "R u comfortable on the bus?? Go to sleep n u will be there soon."
In between these texts, Martin was negotiating to buy a handgun with a friend. "U wanna share a .380?" he asked. Guns excited him. "U got heat??" he enthused earlier upon learning that a friend had access to a gun.
Upon leaving Miami, Martin seemed to be growing angrier. On February 21, he texted a girlfriend who was pouting about another girl, presumably in Sanford. Wrote Martin, "f*** u cuz I neva text ha 2 day I made dat sh** up so u leav me df alone bout it."
Two days later on February 23, a friend tried to warn Martin off some behavior that troubled even the friend. "I ain't ya parent," he texted him, "but gsh** thro it away." Martin was not in the mood to be lectured to. "Y u gotta knock my hustle??" he shot back.
On February 26, bored and likely high, Martin was in no mood to be challenged by some small "white" guy who was trying to maintain a visual on him until the police arrived.
"As I headed back to my vehicle the suspect emerged from the darkness and said, 'You got a problem?'" Zimmerman would tell the Sanford PD. When Zimmerman answered, "No," Martin said, "You do now." As it turned out, both of them had a problem. Martin's proved fatal.
Martin's parents failed him. The school system failed him. The sad vestiges of the civil rights movement betrayed him, and the media betrayed America. This all comes at a cost, and the piper has yet to be paid.