image by DonkeyHotey on creative commons, flickr
W9 is George Zimmerman’s cousin. On Monday, July 16th at 11 am, the prosecution released her tape recorded statements to the media in which she accused George Zimmerman and his family of being racially prejudiced against African Americans and George Zimmerman specifically of sexually molesting her multiple times during a 10-year period that began when she was 6 years old and he was 8. She is now 26 and he is 28. The two families have lived in the same community and socialized together often during that period.
She said the molestation incidents involved fondling and digital penetration of her vagina. She said she finally ended the sexual abuse by getting away from him and running out of the house. She told her parents and they told his parents. Due to pressure from her parents and because she feared Zimmerman would hurt her, she decided not to report the sexual abuse to the police. After that Zimmerman was no longer invited to family social events.
She first contacted the police anonymously two days after Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, She told them he was racially prejudiced and capable of hurting people.
They interviewed her a second time after he was in jail charged with second degree murder. When they asked her why she had waited so long to report the sexual abuse, she said it was the first time she felt safe.
A virtual tsunami of outrage and disgust swept the country and the world after the media reported W9′s accusations and various news organizations posted her two tape recorded statements on their websites.
Anticipating the public furor that would follow the release of the tape recorded statements, Zimmerman’s defense attorney, Mark O’Mara, posted the following statement on his website:
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 [pursuant to Florida's Sunshine Law] 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 [defense] Motion for Disqualification [of Judge Lester] pending, this morning [Monday, July 16th], 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.
Did Mark O’Mara handle this matter appropriately, or did he fumble the ball?
For the following reasons, I contend that he fumbled the ball prejudicing his client.
Let’s review the facts, keeping in mind that W9 made two statements. Statement 1 was about race and Statement 2 was about sexual molestation.
Read the rest of this entry →