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Judge Debra S. Nelson ruled on Friday that defense attorneys for George Zimmerman can grant access to Trayvon Martin’s social media and school records. Judge Nelson said that Zimmerman’s attorneys need to know whether Martin’s school records and social media postings give any evidence that he had violent tendencies. Nelson ruled that the defense can subpoena the Twitter and Facebook accounts of Martin under case law because Zimmerman is making a self-defense claim, so any evidence that supports possible aggressive tendencies by Martin is valid. ”I’m glad to have some of the discovery issues resolved. Now we can move forward,” defense attorney Mark O’Mara said afterwards.
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Martin’s parents, said they didn’t think his social media activity before the shooting was valid, but they don’t have any fear of it being revealed. ”Trayvon Martin died because George Zimmerman profiled him as a criminal-minded young punk under the guise of protecting his neighborhood,” Crump said in a statement to The Associated Press. “Now Trayvon Martin is being profiled again as a MMA-loving, violent thug under the guise of pursuing justice. This has to stop. Profiling, like racism and sexism, has no place in the criminal justice system.” O’Mara said he has heard “anecdotal evidence” that the 17-year-old Martin had been involved in mixed martial arts fighting.
The judge ordered Crump to turn over a recording of a phone interview he conducted with Martin’s girlfriend, who was talking with him in the moments before his altercation with Zimmerman.
Twenty-nine-year-old Zimmerman fatally shot the 17-year-old Martin in February. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, saying he shot Martin in self-defense. He was present Friday, his first appearance in public since his July bond hearing. He and his wife, Shellie, remain in hiding somewhere in Seminole County because of safety concerns.
The judge said she would review Zimmerman’s medical records to see if they should be turned over to prosecutors. She will also take up an emergency motion filed Thursday by defense attorney Mark O’Mara that asks the court to grant depositions of several Sanford police officers, including former Chief Bill Lee. O’Mara said in the filing that he learned during a recent deposition of police Sgt. Joseph Santiago that investigators held several meetings in the weeks after the shooting and reached a consensus that Zimmerman should not be charged with a crime.
“If all those witnesses had a similar opinion, I’m very concerned of what the basis for the prosecution is,” O’Mara said. “We certainly now have a lot more to look into. I didn’t know we’d be going down this path. Now it’s been opened up to us, we’re going to investigate it to wherever it leads us.”
Nelson set another hearing for Oct. 26. The judge has scheduled Zimmerman’s trial for next June. A hearing on Zimmerman’s self-defense claim has not been scheduled, though O’Mara said this week that it could be in April or May.