Zimmerman’s lawyer apologizes for Trayvon Martin ‘fight’ video

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Mark O'Mara, attorney for George Zimmerman, speaks during a bond hearing for his clien in Seminole County Court on June 29, 2012 in Sanford, Florida.  (Photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel-Pool/Getty Images)

Mark O'Mara, attorney for George Zimmerman, speaks during a bond hearing for his clien in Seminole County Court on June 29, 2012 in Sanford, Florida. (Photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel-Pool/Getty Images)

During a court hearing last Tuesday, an attorney for George Zimmerman, accused of second degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, said the defense was in possession of video from Martin’s phone, showing that the teen videotaped “two buddies of his beating up a homeless guy.” On Sunday, the attorney, Mark O’Mara, apologized, saying he unintentionally mischaracterized the video, which was part of a cache of evidence — including photos and text messages from the Miami teen’s cellphone, either described and redacted, or posted to the defense website last week.

A statement posted to Zimmerman’s legal defense website on Sunday said:

During the Tuesday, May 28th hearing, Mr. O’Mara misstated the nature of video from Trayvon Martin’s cell phone which was included in the Defendant’s 3rd Supplemental Discovery. He stated that the video showed “two buddies of his beating up a homeless guy,” when what happened was Trayvon Martin, along with a buddy, was videotaping two homeless guys fighting each other over a bike. Though it was unintentional, it is a particular concern to us because we are and have been committed to disputing misinformation in every aspect of this case, not causing it. For that, Mr. O’Mara apologizes.

Stills from the video and a description of the contents were included in a story for the Orlando Sentinel’s website Sunday, which was taken down by the site after a reporter for the paper said a web producer accidentally posted it. According to the SentinelO’Mara released his statement and “decided against posting the video” after readers to the Orlando Sentinel site found a cached version of the story.

Ben Crump, an attorney for Martin’s parents, released a statement Monday in response to the apology, saying:

George Zimmerman’s defense team’s so called apology yesterday for manipulating and mis-characterizing information about Trayvon Martin would be laughable in any other context, if this case wasn’t about the murder of an unarmed teenager. Let’s not forget the defense team has spent weeks now engaged in a despicable campaign to assassinate the character of a dead teenager in an attempt to influence a potential jury pool. Thankfully, the judge in this case has sided with the laws of evidence in saying that such information is irrelevant to the case, reminding us all that Trayvon is not on trial, but George Zimmerman is for 2nd degree murder.

Zimmerman is claiming self-defense in the case, and O’Mara told theGrio last week that he may try to introduce texts and images from the phone that he believes could be relevant to his defense, depending on how prosecutors try the case against his client. In a court filing prior to the May 28 hearing, Zimmerman’s defense stated “there is a good faith basis to believe that Trayvon Martin had been involved in at least one pre-arranged fight and that he was a participant or a spectator at others.”
During the hearing, Judge Debra Nelson ruled that O’Mara could not refer to the cellphone contents in his opening statements, and said she would rule on the use of video and other evidence if it is later deemed relevant, and can be authenticated.
The day after the hearing, O’Mara revealed on the defense website that Zimmerman’s defense fund, which had raised over $300,000, had been exhausted. The fund subsequently raised $12,000 in 24 hours, the attorneys posted on the website on May 30th.
Jury selection in the trial begins June 10th.
Follow Joy Reid on Twitter at @TheReidReport.