The case against George Zimmerman was shaken with the release of information revealing that a woman told investigators that she was molested by the shooter of Trayvon Martin and that he does not like Black people.
The woman, who has been identified only as "Witness 9," told investigators that Zimmerman had molested her when they were children, explaining that he is about two years older than she is. Witness 9 said the molestation started when she was six and continued until she was 16.
With regard to the shooting of the teenage Trayvon Martin, she said: “I don’t know what happened,” the woman said on the recording released by prosecutors last month. “I don’t know at all who this kid was, or anything else. But I know George. And I know that he does not like Black people, and he would start something.”
Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman's lawyer, had sought for portions of "Witness 9's" statements to remain sealed. He argued that the information was not relevant to the case of his client.
Kenneth R. Lester, a Seminole County Circuit Judge, took a different view. He said that Florida's public record law prevents such information from being kept secret. By law, evidence the prosecution turns over to the defense — called "discovery" — is public record.
Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 killing of the 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. He has pleaded not guilty, saying he shot the teenager in self-defense. He invoked Florida’s controversial "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows citizens to use deadly force against another person if they consider themselves to be in danger.
Prosecutors in the case as well as Trayvon's parents and their lawyers have contended that the teenager was racially profiled by Zimmerman. Trayvon was Black. Zimmerman's father is white and his mother is Peruvian.
Meanwhile, a recent poll indicated that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is supported by residents of that state. The Mason-Dixon Polling & Research organization conducted the poll, which found that nearly 65 percent say the 2005 law does not need to be changed.
The “Stand Your Ground” law allows people to use deadly force to defend themselves if they believe they are in danger. The law has been the object of nationwide criticism from civil rights groups following Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin. They have complained that the law encourages vigilante justice.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Joe Burbank, Pool, File)