Judge: Zimmerman Statements Can Be Released

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Statements a former neighborhood watch leader made to detectives after he fatally shot Trayvon Martin can be released to the public, a judge ruled Wednesday.
But Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said that the identities of witnesses who observed the fatal confrontation in February between George Zimmerman and the 17-year-old Martin can stay private, provided the witnesses haven't been identified previously.
"The innocent witnesses who have performed their civic or moral duty by reporting what they observed to law enforcement should not have their lives turned upside-down for having done so," Lester wrote.
Lester's ruling was in response to a challenge news media groups, including The Associated Press, filed against efforts to seal some records.
Prosecutors and Zimmerman's defense attorney had wanted to keep both Zimmerman's statements and the witnesses' identities private. They had argued that their public release would jeopardize Zimmerman's chance of getting a fair hearing when he is tried for second-degree murder. Zimmerman claims the shooting was in self-defense.
The judge said disclosing Zimmerman's statements to police detectives wouldn't jeopardize his ability to get a fair trial. He also ruled that tests given to Zimmerman after the shooting could be released, as well as some crime-scene photos and Zimmerman's recorded telephone calls from jail.
Some of those jailhouse calls involve Zimmerman directing his wife, Shellie, to transfer funds raised on a website to different bank accounts. Those jailhouse calls were cited by prosecutors, who successfully asked the judge to revoke Zimmerman's $150,000 bond earlier this month. Prosecutors accuse Zimmerman and his wife of misleading the judge about how much money they had available for his bond at a bail hearing in April. Shellie Zimmerman was arrested Tuesday on a charge of making a false statement under oath.
Zimmerman has a second bond hearing scheduled for the end of the month.

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  • by Anonymous on Jun 14, 2012 at 07:39 AM
    I don't care what they release because the man wouldn't know the truth if it bit him. I think the soon this goes to trial the better, because at this point I wouldn't believe anything either he or his wife says. She is now looking a perjury for lying to the judge. Any one who donated money to his defense fund should be angry as she transfered the money to a private account in her name. That is not for defense. That is fraud. At this point I figure between him and his wife, if their lips are moving they are both liars. I feel sorry for anyone who donated money to the defense fund that ended up in her private account.
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