George Zimmerman’s statement as to what he told Sanford Police the night he shot Trayvon Martin will be released to the public in the next two weeks.
On Tuesday, Judge Kenneth Lester issued an order granting, in part, a motion filed by several media companies seeking to have evidence in the case released that had previously been withheld from the public, namely Zimmerman’s conversation to the police.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, prosecutors argued that Zimmerman's statements to law enforcement should remain sealed, under an exemption in Florida's public records law that bars the release of confessions. Zimmerman admits to shooting Trayvon, but says he did so in self-defense.
After reviewing Zimmerman's statements, Lester concluded that they are not confessions.
Zimmerman "does not acknowledge guilt of the essential elements of the crime. The only element conceded by the defendant is that he shot and killed the victim, but he does not concede any other elements of second-degree murder."
Lester ordered the statements released within 15 days.
The judge did not, however, grant other requests of the media -- chief among them, the names of unidentified civilian witnesses in the case.
Lester wrote that identifying them would subject them to intense scrutiny and possible intimidation and present a "serious and imminent threat" to a fair trial.
"The innocent witnesses who have performed their civic or moral duty by reporting what they observed to law enforcement should not have their lives turned upside-down for having done so," he wrote.
Lester acknowledged that, in the past, that information has been public, even in high profile cases. But, Lester wrote, "the world has changed."
"Any person who has logged onto a news website in the last three months has at the least seen a headline relating to this case," he wrote, adding that stories "have routinely been disseminated presenting opinion and rumors as fact."
Among Lester's other rulings: "Tests" performed on Zimmerman, likely referring to a voice-stress test performed by police, the rough equivalent of a lie-detector test, can be made public, but most of Zimmerman's phone records will not be.
Among the thousands of pieces of evidence set to be released, photos depicting Trayvon's body will not.
The next hearing in the case is sheduled for June 29 as Zimmerman continues to sit in a cell as he faces a second-degree murder charge in the Feb. 26 shooting.
SOURCE: Orlando Sentinel