News Column

Zimmerman Trying to 'Co-opt the Mantle of Victimhood', Prosecutor Says

Dec. 11, 2012

Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel

George Zimmerman
George Zimmerman

In a blistering response to a recent filing by George Zimmerman's defense team, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda accuses the second-degree murder defendant of attempting "to co-opt the mantle of victimhood for himself."

Zimmerman's legal team had asked Circuit Judge Debra Nelson to force an attorney for the family of Trayvon Martin, the Miami Gardens teen shot by Zimmerman Feb. 26 in Sanford, to turn over a recorded interview of a witness described as the teen's girlfriend.

In its filing, the defense argued Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump was not forthcoming in response to requests for the original copy of the recording of the girl, who is identified in prosecution documents as "Witness 8."

That request is set to be among several motions heard by Nelson Tuesday. On Monday, de la Rionda fired back at what he described as the Zimmerman team's "revisionist history."

"No matter how often, how viciously, or how vociferously Defense Counsel tries to attack Mr. Crump and make him a feature of this case, he is not the issue," de la Rionda writes in his response."... he is clearly more interested in defending his own supposed 'reputation' than in permitting a judge and/or a jury to consider his actions."

De la Rionda goes on to explain that prosectors have arranged for the recording device to be turned over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, as the defense requested.

Nelson previously ruled Crump should bring the recording to his deposition by the defense, but defense attorney Donald West later argued in his motion that the Zimmerman team needed it sooner.

Several motions are set to be heard in the case at a hearing Tuesday, including defense requests for additional records from a federal investigation of the shooting, and a request to remove Zimmerman from GPS monitoring.

Witness 8 has told prosecutors she was on the phone with Trayvon in the moments before the shooting, and her testimony corroborates the state's position.

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