Lawyers for George Zimmerman, the man accused of second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin, have filed a motion requesting that a Florida judge delay his trial and that the teenager's school records and social media posts be released.
In the motion, Zimmerman's legal team says Martin's Facebook and Twitter activity "is discoverable as it is reasonably calculated to lead to relevant admissible evidence." His lawyers have also requested Martin's cell phone information, saying that Martin's communications will help them prepare Zimmerman's defense.
A hearing on the requests is scheduled for Oct. 19.
According to the Associated Press, Zimmerman's attorneys said in their most recent motion, made public Monday, that they expect to depose between 50 and 75 witnesses and that more time is needed to review all of the prosecution's evidence.
Martin's family, through their lead attorney, Benjamin Crump, expressed anger and frustration at any attempt to use Martin's records to turn the tables on what they believe is a clear-cut case of racial profiling and murder.
"Trayvon's parents maintain that his school records and Facebook page are completely irrelevant to George Zimmerman's decision to get out of his car to profile, pursue, and shoot their son in the heart," Crump wrote in an emailed statement to reporters.
"How does George Zimmerman's review of Trayvon Martin's high school and middle school records and Facebook page bear any relevance to Zimmerman's decision to pull the trigger and kill a seventeen year old child? Is this going to be a new legal standard we are setting -- for a murderer to review the school records and Facebook page of his teenage victim to determine whether or not he should have killed him?"
Zimmerman shot and killed Martin on Feb. 26 in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., an Orlando suburb. Zimmerman, a volunteer member of the neighborhood watch, spotted Martin entering the neighborhood on his way back to his father's house from a nearby convenience store.
Not long after, Zimmerman followed Martin and a confrontation ensued, during which Zimmerman pulled out a handgun and fired a single, fatal shot into Martin's chest.
Zimmerman was not immediately arrested and from the outset claimed the killing was in self-defense. Zimmerman claims he shot the 17-year-old Martin after a life-or-death struggle in which Martin repeatedly hit his head against the sidewalk and announced that he intended to kill Zimmerman.
But Martin's family and supporters say that Zimmerman racially profiled, followed and murdered Martin, who was unarmed at the time.
The killing sparked national outrage. In the weeks and months after Martin's death, Zimmerman's supporters and conservative websites used Martin's online social activity, in some cases mistaking other individuals for Martin, to paint him as a violent, troubled young man. A white supremacy group hacked his Twitter account and a number of images, many of which were not in fact Martin, began circulating in emails railing against Martin and a so-called liberal media bias.
In the email from Crump, he said, "There was a small group of hateful and racist people, who attempted to destroy [Martin's] legacy, reputation, and image."
"These people hacked this dead youth's social media accounts, his email account, and stooped as low as to plaster the internet with photoshopped and fake images purporting to be Trayvon," Crump said. "On the advice of counsel, and with the intent to preserve Trayvon's public reputation, Trayvon Martin's parents deactivated all of his electronic accounts."
On Monday night, Zimmerman's mother, Gladys Zimmerman, gave her first televised interview on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."
Gladys Zimmerman said that her son was not a racist and that the media's portrayal of the shooting had unfairly skewed public perception of her son. She called the aftermath of the shooting a "nightmare."
"It felt like I couldn't believe what had happened. I felt that the world had turned upside-down," she told Morgan, speaking from a darkened location to protect her identity.
She apologized to Martin's family but maintained her son's innocence, and stated that even with her son facing the possibility of 25 or 30 years in prison, she believes the legal system will yield a fair result.
"I believe in the judicial system," Gladys Zimmerman said. "I believe from the beginning that he is innocent ... There is justice in America, and I believe in justice."
"I'm deeply sorry for what had happened. It is a tremendous tragedy for both families," she said.
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