The 23-year-old daughter of one of the attorneys representing George Zimmerman in his second degree murder trial has closed her Instagram account after posting a photo and caption that the legal team have joined others in calling inappropriate.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin.
Molly West posted the “selfie” picture of herself, her sister Rachel, and her father holding ice cream cones with the caption: “We beat stupidity celebration cones” and the hashtags: “#zimmerman #defense #dadkilledit” on her Instagram page.
TheGrio confirmed with Shawn Vincent, spokesman for the Zimmerman legal team, that the cellphone picture was taken on Monday or Tuesday, and posted to the social media site on Wednesday. Don West’s arm can be seen outstretched in the photo, indicating he took the picture, which Vincent said was intended to be private. Separately, Vincent told NBC News that West and his daughters have had a tradition of going out for ice cream following his first day of trial since the women were children.
The post drew an immediate and harsh reaction online. It had attracted over 2,200 comments on Instagram as of Friday evening, most of them negative, even vulgar. On Twitter, a #mollywest hashtag attracted a slew of outraged responses, many connecting the tweet to Don West’s relentless questioning, over two days, of Rachel Jeantele, the 19-year-old friend of Martin’s who was on the phone with him until just moments before he was killed.
Vincent said the posting was unrelated to Jeantel, who was questioned in court by West after the photo was created and placed online. He also issued the following statement to theGrio:
Regarding comments his daughter Molly made on Instagram, Don West says, “Sometimes our children do things that deeply disappoint us, but we love them anyway, and we move on.” The defense team is highly sensitive to the issues that surround this case, and we understand that the way we conduct ourselves during trial is at least as important as the verdict; and Molly’s comments on Instagram are contrary to everything we stand for.
Vincent told NBC News “we understand what it means to those who look at it,” adding that the post “stands against everything we stand for and the way we have conducted ourselves for over a year.”
The elder West apologized earlier in the week after starting his opening arguments with a “knock knock” joke.
UPDATE 10:48 p.m.: Two new photos surfaced Saturday, apparently uploaded by Rachel West to her Instagram account this week (the account has since been closed.) In one of them, Rachel and Molly West are pictured together, with the caption: “rachelkwest Zimmerman trial defense room” and it is directed at @mollywesttt, Molly West’s screen name. The picture was shared with several online friends, most of whose Instagram accounts have been made private.
A second photo shows Don West questioning Rachel Jeantel, who is seen on the stand, suggesting the photo is from Wednesday or Thursday, when Jeantel was cross-examined by West. That photo is captioned: “rachelkwest Another successful day at the #zimmermantrial for the defense team.”
Screen captures of the photos were posted by a Tumble page called “Bonjour, Black Girl!”, and the page’s owner, Nicole, added the note: “SMH putting these dummies on BLAST! Are they allowed to take photos like this?” Some Twitter users who shared the photo Saturday night also speculated that the photos were taken by Rachel West in court.
Spectators in the courtroom are not permitted to take pictures during court proceedings in the Seminole County Criminal Court, where the Zimmerman trial is taking place. Only authorized media are allowed to take photographs.