SANFORD, FL- JUNE 3: George Zimmerman (R) is escorted out of a van in to the Seminole County Jail as he surrenders to authorities after he had his bond revoked because of allegedly misleading the court about his finances June 3, 2012 in Sanford, Florida. George Zimmerman who claims he was acting in self defense has been charged with the murder of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. (Photo by Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images)
Hide Caption
Trayvon Martin Courtesy of CNN
Hide Caption
Trayvon Martin Courtesy of CNN
Hide Caption
Parents of Trayvon Martin, mother Sybrina Fulton (R) and Tracy Martin watch a news conference with special prosecutor Angela Corey in Sanford, Fla. (Photo by Evan Vucci-Pool/Getty Images)
Hide Caption
Wideshot of Trayvon Martin murder crime scene. (Samford Police Dept.)
Hide Caption
Wideshot of Trayvon Martin murder crime scene. (Samford Police Dept.)
Hide Caption
While questions still remain, what happened the night George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin has become clearer with the release of medical examiner's reports, photos and video. Photographer: Sanford PD
Hide Caption

More evidence to be released in Trayvon Martin case, judge rules

a a a a
Share this story

(CNN) -- A judge has ordered the release of additional evidence in the Trayvon Martin case, including an autopsy report, photographs of the crime scene and details of what George Zimmerman said to police the night he shot the Florida teen.

Attorneys for Zimmerman had argued that his conversations with Sanford, Florida, police the night of the February 26 shooting should not be made public under a state law dealing with "the substance of a confession of a person arrested," but Circuit Judge Kenneth R. Lester Jr. ruled Tuesday that the law did not apply.

"The only element conceded by the defendant is that he shot and killed the victim, but he does not concede any other elements of second-degree murder. ... Since the defendant admitted at his bond hearing that he shot the victim, disclosure of those statements will not impact the defendant's right to a fair trial," Lester said in a written order. His ruling was in response to media requests for the release of more information in the case.

E-mails to the Sanford Police Department, cell phone records listing dates and times that Zimmerman contacted police and copies of witness statements should be released, Lester said.

But Lester ruled that the court would not release the names and addresses of witnesses before the trial.

"The innocent witnesses who have performed their civil and moral duty by reporting what they observed to law enforcement should not have their lives turned upside-down for having done so," he said.

Cell phone records not dealing with calls from Zimmerman to police will also remain sealed, he said, as will photographs of Martin's body after the shooting.

Prosecution and defense lawyers had argued that a host of material should remain sealed.

The intense public attention on the case is a chief reason certain information should remain out of the public eye, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda said in a motion filed last month.

Releasing too much "will result in this matter being tried in the press rather than in court, and an inability to seat a fair and impartial jury in Seminole County," he argued. De la Rionda also voiced worries about witnesses being "reluctant to testify" for fear that their privacy would be violated and other witnesses being "harassed by media representatives."

De la Rionda also requested that the judge seal statements Zimmerman made to law enforcement officers, some of which may be used against him at trial because they were "inconsistent with the physical evidence and statements of witnesses."

Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, filed his own motion agreeing with the prosecution's desire not to release material. He said the defense wants 1,000 e-mails received by Sanford police to be sealed, plus statements by Zimmerman.

Scott Ponce of the Miami-based law firm Holland & Knight argued for more disclosure on behalf of various newspapers, TV stations and their parent companies.

"The broad secrecy the state seeks ... is not supported by statute, constitution or case law, and it certainly cannot be justified in this prosecution," he said.

Ponce had argued that civilian witnesses' names and addresses couldn't be sealed under Florida's public records law, because they would not be "defamatory" or "jeopardize the safety" of a witness.

In his six-page order, Lester noted the media scrutiny of the case.

"News stories have been routinely disseminated presenting opinion and rumors as fact. Any person who has logged onto a news website in the last three months has at the least seen a headline relating to the case," he wrote. "As noted, common sense tells this court that the full disclosure of information, as sought by the media interveners, will irreparably harm the...ability to receive a fair trial."

Zimmerman, 28, has pleaded not guilty. He has been in custody at the Seminole County's John E. Polk Correctional Facility since June 3, two days after Lester revoked his bond. A bail hearing is scheduled for June 29.

Zimmerman's wife was charged with perjury this week for allegedly lying at his bond hearing about the couple's finances.

CNN's Vivian Kuo contributed to this report.
 

Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More Trayvon Martin Stories
George Zimmerman's wife is filing for divorce
George Zimmerman's wife is filing for divorce

George Zimmerman's wife is filing for divorce.

Juror: I owe Trayvon's family an apology
Juror: I owe Trayvon's family an apology

The second juror to speak publicly about George Zimmerman's trial tells ABC News that she feels the neighborhood watch volunteer got away…

Zimmerman trial discussed at forum
Zimmerman trial discussed at forum

The Cincinnati Human Relations Commission hosted a public forum Monday night in an effort to bridge the gaps that have formed since a jury…

4 jurors distance themselves from B37
4 jurors distance themselves from B37

The four jurors issued a brief statement on court stationary saying that the opinions expressed by Juror B37 to CNN's Anderson Cooper on…

Juror: Zimmerman had right to defend
Juror: Zimmerman had right to defend

A juror in the George Zimmerman trial said Monday that the actions of the neighborhood watch volunteer and Trayvon Martin both led to the…

Florida cities on guard for unrest
Florida cities on guard for unrest

Police and city leaders in Florida say they have taken precautionary steps for the possibility of mass protests or even civil unrest if…

Zimmerman portrayed as vigilante
Zimmerman portrayed as vigilante

George Zimmerman was fed up with "punks" getting away with crime and shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin "because he wanted to," not because he…

Photo appears to show Zimmerman bleeding
Photo appears to show Zimmerman bleeding

A photo posted online Monday shows George Zimmerman with blood on his nose and lips. His attorneys say it was taken the night unarmed teen…

Fatal FL shooting like Martin case?
Fatal FL shooting like Martin case?

The fatal shooting of a Florida teenager who was listening to loud music in a car a week ago has drawn comparisons to the Trayvon Martin…

Tentative June trial set in Martin case
Tentative June trial set in Martin case

A judge set a tentative trial date next year for a neighborhood watch volunteer charged with fatally shooting Trayvon Martin.