CASE AGAINST ZIMMERMAN
Shocking statements from a witness we've never heard from in the Case of Against George Zimmerman.
Approximately 120 calls were released Monday, as well as key statement from witness No. 9 from back in March.
The woman said on the interview she has known the family since she was a child. She said they were family friends. According to her, Zimmerman's family made racist comments in the past. She told investigators the Zimmerman's "don't like black people if they don't act like white people. They like black people if they act white."
The witness told investigators Zimmerman's mother told her that she did not like President Barack Obama because he was black.
The witness also claims that Zimmerman abused her when she was six.
Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O'Mara, tried to keep to keep testimony from witness No. 9 from being released to the public. He feared it could bring hostility towards Zimmerman. He also says the witness is lying.
“She said that in an anonymous phone call to the police one day and she talked about how everyone is a racist and it seems when that didn’t get traction the next day she comes up with the story about sexual abuse," O'Mara said in an interview Monday. "It’s interesting that she calls the whole family a racist yet when the FBI did their investigation they made the conclusion that George is absolutely not a racist and that there was no support for that contention. So now I think that FBI investigation, the results of it puts her credibility in question.”
O'Mara also released the following statement Monday regarding the witness:
"Today the State released Witness #9's Statements along with Mr. Zimmerman's phone calls from jail in response to the Court's July 13 order.
In her statements, Witness #9... alleges that Mr. Zimmerman inappropriately touched her beginning when she was 6 and Mr. Zimmerman was almost 8, and that it continued on occasion until she was 16 and Mr. Zimmerman was 17.
The defense moved to block the public release of Witness #9's statement in a motion filed on June 18, 2012 contending "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." 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.
That request was denied on July 13, 2012 by Judge Lester. Because there is a Motion for Disqualification pending, this morning, we asked the prosecution not to release Witness #9's statement until there was a ruling on the Motion for Disqualification. This is an appropriate request as, should the motion for disqualification be granted, reconsideration of recent rulings by the judge is appropriate. However, the prosecution elected to make the public disclosure anyway.
Now that this statement is part of the public record, the defense will vigorously defend Mr. Zimmerman against the allegations. In the next several weeks, there will be reciprocal discovery filed regarding Witness #9's statement."
Many of the calls are between Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie. In them you can hear the worry in his voice.
Shellie asks her husband if he's been eating and tells him she loves him. It's clear they are talking in code at times.
He even asks her at one point if she can tell him something in code.
One criminal defense attorney we spoke with said using code was not a good idea.
“Often as criminal defense attorneys, our clients say and do things that we really wished they wouldn’t do. So to just so blatantly show that you are trying to mislead eventually the court, because that is what they eventually did,” said attorney Joy Ragan.
We have a team of reporters and producers going through the documents right now.
- Witness No. 9 audio tape 1
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Could Lester recuse himself?
We could know soon whether the judge who's presiding over the Case Against George Zimmerman will recuse himself.
Zimmerman's attorneys filed a motion Friday to disqualify Judge Kenneth Lester. The motion claims their client cannot get a fair trial or a fair Stand Your Ground hearing from the court.
In the filing, attorney Mark O’Mara specifically cited the new bail Judge Lester set for Zimmerman earlier this month. The motion said Lester made questionable remarks about Zimmerman's character, even saying Zimmerman should be "prosecuted for additional crimes," and is holding the threat of future contempt proceedings over Zimmerman's head.
Meanwhile, the State Attorney's Office is expected to release new evidence in the case, Monday. Included could contain testimony from witness No. 9 and more taped calls. O'Mara fought to keep that witness testimony private, saying it could bring quote "hostility" towards Zimmerman.
Analyst: Judge may recuse himself
Legal analyst David Fussell thinks the Judge Lester may grant this motion.
“The question is whether Mr. Zimmerman feels like he can get a fair trial from this judge, and if they put all the language in there from the order the judge issued, he’ll probably grant the motion to recuse," Fussell explained.
The first judge assigned to the case, Jessica Recksiedler, stepped down in April 2012 because of a personal conflict of interest.
However, this time, the reason for Judge Lester stepping down would be because of a perceived personal bias and a perceived negative opinion of Zimmerman.
Zimmerman is currently out on bond as he faces second-degree murder charges for shooting and killing teen.
“He doesn’t want to try the case and have it reversed on appeal, and probably doesn’t want to take a lot of time and have this case go up to the appellate court now. I would suspect after he reads it, considers it and thinks it over, he’ll probably recuse himself," Fussell concluded.
Near the end of the 13-page motion, Zimmerman’s attorneys quoted legal precedence saying, “every litigant is entitled to nothing less than the cold neutrality of an impartial judge," claiming Judge Kenneth Lester is not capable of being impartial anymore.
We reached out to the Florida Court System for Lester's reaction, and were told the judge is not allowed to comment on pending legal cases.
Fussell said we should expect a decision from Judge Lester early next week.