SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — A judge ruled Friday that attorneys for a Florida neighborhood watch volunteer can inspect the school records and social media postings of the unarmed teenager he is accused of murdering.
Judge Debra S. Nelson said that defendant George Zimmerman's attorneys need to know whether Trayvon Martin's school records and social media postings give any evidence that he had violent tendencies.
The 29-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. Nelson set another hearing for Oct. 26.
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.
In Nelson's first full hearing since taking over the case in late August, she held attorneys from both sides to short arguments before conveying her rulings. She warned them about bickering with each other.
"I'm glad to have some of the discovery issues resolved. Now we can move forward," defense attorney Mark O'Mara said afterwards.
A message left with a spokesperson for the state attorney seeking comment was not immediately returned.
In regards to the emergency motion, O'Mara said in the filing he 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.
O'Mara contends that information was only learned through a question during the deposition of Santiago and that the state never disclosed the existence of the meetings or what was discussed during them.
"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."