Attorneys for George Zimmerman have filed a motion for prosecutors to face fines because the defense says the state has intentionally withheld access to evidence that tends to prove Zimmerman did not kill 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
The motion comes on Thursday as the defense is also seeking a delay in Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial.
At issue: photos and text messages extracted from Martin’s cellphone which the defense claims the state were “intentionally hidden” by the state. The defense released many of those items to the public Thursday after notifying prosecutors they are reserving the right to introduce them into evidence.
The defense is asking Judge Deborah Nelson to impose sanctions on the state because, it claims, the photos of drugs and a gun, and text messages about drugs, guns and fighting, “tend to negate the guilt” of Zimmerman. But the state has successfully argued against other sanctions motions in the past by showing the evidence the defense complained about is not, in fact, “exculpatory” evidence.
In its motion to delay the trial’s June 10 start, the defense argues it needs more time because -- in addition to the texts and photos – the state sprung a last-minute surprise witness on them: “a purported expert in the field of speech identification.”
On May 10, the state revealed a report from Dr. Alan Reich, who claims he can hear Martin begging for help in the background of a 911 call made during the struggle between Martin and Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012. Reich claims he can hear Martin say “I’m begging you” and “stop” during the fight. Zimmerman claims he is the one screaming for help.
While Reich had been properly disclosed as an expert in “speaker identification” – meaning he could attempt to show whose voice is heard on the tapes – the defense claims the state has improperly converted him into an expert on “speech identification,” meaning he can discern the words that are being spoken.
Also Thursday, the state filed its third motion seeking a gag order preventing all parties from talking about the case publicly.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in Martin's February 2012 death in the Retreat at Twin Lakes subdivision in Sanford. He has claimed self-defense.
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