State Goes Public with Zimmerman Cousin’s Molestation Claims

Posted July 17, 2012 in Criminal Law by

George Zimmerman (AP Photo/Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel, Pool)

The prosecutor in the George Zimmerman trial released more witness testimony on Monday, July 16, in which a cousin of Zimmerman claims he molested her over a ten year period when they were children. Zimmerman is accused of second-degree murder in the February shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was walking in Zimmerman’s neighborhood.

According to the witness, Zimmerman allegedly groped and fondled her, starting when they were 8 and 6, respectively, on family visits. The incidents continued until she was 16.

Zimmerman’s defense team, led by Mark O’Mara, was aware of the testimony of so-called “Witness #9” and moved to block its public release back in June but was unsuccessful. “The content of this statement is not relevant to the issues of this case, and it would not be admissible in the State’s case in chief,” claimed the defense in the motion.

“The motion further contends that this irrelevant statement should be withheld from public dissemination because of the substantial risk that public disclosure will lead to widespread hostile publicity which would substantially impair the Defendant’s fair trial rights, and would pose a serious threat to the administration of justice,” according to a press release on O’Mara’s “George Zimmerman Legal Case” website.

O’Mara also noted that the defense tried to get the prosecution to not release Witness #9’s statements until the judge rules on the pending motion to disqualify himself, also filed by the defense last week. The prosecution, led by special prosecutor Angela Corey, has not appeared impressed by the motion to disqualify and made the disclosure anyway.

It’s worth noting that the defense hasn’t taken issue with other seemingly-irrelevant evidence being released publicly – as long as it painted a positive picture of Zimmerman: FBI interviews released by the prosecution on July 12 indicated that witnesses say Zimmerman is not a racist (but other evidence of his character also surfaced).

Whether Zimmerman will be charged based on his cousin’s accusations is unclear and may depend on the laws of the states – Virginia and Florida – where the molestation allegedly occurred. Either way, O’Mara’s legal team is on high alert, and you can bet they’re actively searching for any other evidence of Zimmerman’s dark side so they can get in front of it.

They’re also coming for the cousin: “In the next several weeks, there will be reciprocal discovery filed regarding Witness #9’s statement,” says the defense press release. Her anonymity won’t last for long.

Do you think the cousin’s testimony is relevant to the Trayvon Martin murder case? Share your opinion by leaving a comment below.

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