This post has been updated.
The judge in the case of George Zimmerman, who is charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, will allow the defense to review the Miami teen’s school records, as well as the content of his social media accounts.
Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled Friday that Martin’s school discipline records could be relevant to Zimmerman’s self-defense claim, even though he had never met Martin. The 17-year-old was in Sanford, Florida with his father, due to a suspension from school. The defense hopes to use the records to show Martin had a history and propensity for aggression.
Nelson explained that, though Zimmerman didn’t know anything about the 17-year-old before the Feb. 26 shooting, the records could potentially show a history of aggression or other behavior by Trayvon that would be relevant to Zimmerman’s self-defense claim.
The judge also granted Zimmerman’s request to subpoena Trayvon’s social media records, as well as those of a girl who says she was on the phone with him before the shooting.
Defense attorney Mark O’Mara argued that the records could reveal Trayvon’s state of mind in the leadup to the shooting. That, O’Mara said, is crucial to the case.
“The issue in this case is who did what during those couple of minutes that we don’t know what happened,” O’Mara said. He acknowledged that it “sounds horrible” to attack the character of the alleged victim in the case, but is necessary for Zimmerman’s defense.
Meanwhile, the judge granted prosecutors access to Zimmerman’s medical records, though she will review them privately first in order to determine what should be turned over.
The medical and school records will not be released to the public, the judge said.
Martin’s parents through their attorneys had objected to the release of the school records and social media accounts.
The judge refused a separate defense request to obtain the addresses of witnesses in the case, including Martin’s parents. Nelson said in response to defense claims that they need the addresses in order to complete their investigation of the case and to depose those witnesses, in order to understand the “environment” the witnesses reside in, and potentially to interview their neighbors, that “the particular address of a witness should not impact your ability to take a deposition.”
“The state will produce those witnesses for a deposition and you can ask them what their address is,” Nelson said, adding that the state will instruct attorneys for those witnesses not to tell their clients to refuse to provide their addresses if they prefer to do so.
And the judge ruled that prosecutors can have access to Zimmerman’s medical records, after the court has had an opportunity to view them first and determine what should be turned over.
An attorney for several media entities also petitioned the court for the release of more records, including defense subpoenas, which the judge said she would review on a case by case basis.
“There’s a presumption of openness for court hearings and a presumption of openness for court documents,” said Ponce. “The time is not now to enter a blanket order,” Nelson said.
Zimmerman appeared in court with his attorneys, appearing to have gained a significant amount of weight.
Martin’s parents and their attorneys also attended Friday’s hearing.
UPDATE: Ben Crump, an attorney for Trayvon Martin’s parents released the following statement to theGrio Friday afternoon:
“Trayvon Martin died because George Zimmerman profiled him as a criminally minded young “punk” under the guise of protecting his neighborhood. And now, Trayvon Martin is being profiled again, posthumously as an MMA-loving, violent thug under the guise of pursuing justice. Neither of these assertions are true. THIS HAS TO STOP!! Profiling, like racism and sexism, has no place in our justice system.”
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