Trayvon Martin's killer accused of molestation
George Zimmerman, with lawyer Mark O'Mara, testifies (R) from the stand in April at the Seminole County Courthouse for a bond hearing on second degree murder charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. (REUTERS)
A female relative accused George Zimmerman, charged in the murder of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, of sexually molesting her from age 6 to 16, according to new documents made public on Monday by prosecutors.
The female relative’s name and exact relationship to Zimmerman was deleted from an audio tape version of her witness statement that was released to the media. Identified only as ’Witness 9’ she would be aged about 27 now.
A spokesman for Zimmerman’s lawyer Mark O’Mara told Reuters the defense team was preparing a response to the molestation allegations to post on its website later this afternoon and had no immediate comment.
Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth R. Lester ordered the document released under Florida’s public records law.
O’Mara made an unsuccessful 11th hour attempt on Monday to stop the public release of the woman’s statement, filing a motion barely four minutes before prosecutors’ scheduled release of the audio recording which went ahead as planned.
O’Mara filed a motion on Friday requesting that the judge recuse himself from the case, arguing that Lester has displayed a dislike for his client, and that Zimmerman no longer thinks he will give him a fair trial.
O’Mara also sought to seal about 130 of Zimmerman’s jailhouse phone calls which were also released on Monday.
Part of the woman’s statement was released last week in which she told investigators in a separate recorded statement that Zimmerman’s family was known to be racist, but she did not recall any specific statement or act by Zimmerman to illustrate the point.
It is not clear why prosecutors released the molestation allegation, or whether they plan to use it in court if Zimmerman goes on trial. Zimmerman is accused of second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting death of Martin. He claims he shot the 17-year-old in self-defense.
The woman told investigators during a taped interview that the last time Zimmerman molested her she was 16 and Zimmerman, a new high school graduate at the time aged about 18, was temporarily living alone in a house his parents had just purchased in Lake Mary, Florida.
Asked why she waited until March 20 of this year to tell her story to law enforcement, the woman said, “This is the first time in my life that I’m not afraid of him ... he can’t get to me.”
The woman described Zimmerman molesting her during annual family get-togethers and trips.
The woman said she finally told her parents in 2005 when she was 20. She said her parents called Zimmerman to a meeting at a pizza restaurant in Lake Mary.
“Instead of talking about it, all he did was come in the room, come in the restaurant, he sat down on the end of the booth and he said ’I’m sorry’ and just got up and walked out ... my parents, their jaws dropped,” the woman said.
She said her mother discouraged her from taking further action at the time, saying it would be his word against hers, and she would wind up in jail.