News groups fight to open Trayvon Martin shooting files

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A group of news organizations in Florida, including The Associated Press, on Monday filed a challenge to the sealing of records in the criminal case of a neighborhood watch volunteer charged with killing an unarmed teenager.

The news organizations filed a motion in Seminole County Circuit Court in an effort that is being led by The Miami Herald.

Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, last week asked that the records be sealed. No hearing date for the media’s motion was immediately set.

Records such as full police reports, autopsy reports and transcripts of witness interviews are normally public under Florida law.

The motion by the news organizations says Zimmerman’s case doesn’t meet the standards that are typically used to create an exemption to those laws. Those standards allow the sealing of records if their public release would create an imminent threat to the administration of justice, if there are no alternatives for protecting a defendant’s right to a fair trial and if closing the records protects the rights of the person being tried.

“The closure order and the manner in which it was entered are contrary to law,” the media organizations said in the motion.

A spokeswoman for the special prosecutor in the case said her office was reviewing the media motion but had no immediate comment. O’Mara didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment.

Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder last week for fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in a gated community in Sanford, near Orlando. He is pleading not guilty and says he acted in self-defense.

The delay in an arrest for almost a month and a half inspired protests nationwide.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.