The State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman took a wild turn late Tuesday evening, as defense attorney Don West got in a heated conversation with Judge Debra Nelson just before 10:oo p.m. Nelson had just expressed her intent to block testimony and evidence recovered from deleted messages on Trayvon Martin’s cell phone.
A forensic expert discovered more than 600 items on Trayvon’s cell phone, including texts and photos between Trayvon and other people with specific references to criminal activity — particularly fighting, drugs, and firearms.
Everyone in the courtroom likely understood which “someone” deleted the evidence, but attorneys and Judge Nelson were very careful not to name Martin.
The forensic expert testified that he recovered multiple conversations between Trayvon Martin and specific family members and friends discussing multi-round street fights and schoolyard fights in which Trayvon Martin had participated. Martin’s half-brother, Demetrius Martin, even asked Trayvon when he would teach him how to fight. Trayvon Martin’s family appeared to know Trayvon was a street fighter.
Most troubling, Conner found multiple conversations — between four and six — where Trayvon discussed attempting to buy black-market guns.
The guns Martin discussed acquiring included a Smith & Wesson Sigma pistol and a .38 Special revolver. One conversation showed Martin trying to sell a .22 revolver, suggesting he was already in possession of it.
One of the participants in one of the gun conversations was a Fulton, possibly a relative on his mother’s side. All of these conversations took place immediately in the days and weeks before Trayvon Martin left Miami for Sanford.
The reason these conversations were hidden until recently is that the deleted texts were created by a password-protected hidden app designed to beat police surveillance by hiding data and data types as different kinds of files than what the police would be looking for.
The key facts in this development:
- Trayvon Martin’s phone was password-protected. The password protection starts automatically after being left unattended for a certain amount of time.
- The “stealth” app designed to further conceal Trayvon’s conversations about weapons, fighting, drugs, and pornography had an additional layer of password protection. He had to log into the phone first, and then to this app to access these conversations or delete them.
- There were thousands of messages, texts, photos, Tweets, Facebook posts, and other bits of evidence hidden this way.
- People who participated in these conversations are all documented by screen name, real name, phone number, social media personas, etc. They are all easily identified and could be deposed — if the defense is given time to do so.
- The state hid this evidence until right before the beginning of the trial, when the prosecution’s Wesley White came forward to present testimony that the state was hiding and may have destroyed evidence. The defense has had no time to recover this data and to depose every witness.