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Trayvon Martin's character is under attack, his parents say

October 19, 2012|By Michael Muskal

George Zimmerman's attorneys can subpoena the school records of Trayvon Martin, a judge ruled Friday during a hearing in the celebrated Florida case that has ignited racial tensions.

Circuit Judge Debra Nelson ruled that Zimmerman's defense team can seek the school records but must keep the information confidential. The ruling was the first in a scheduled afternoon of arguments in the case. In general, Zimmerman's lawyers are seeking more evidence in the case, some of which they contend the state has been slow to deliver.

Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Martin, 17, on Feb 26. in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman has acknowledged shooting the unarmed teenager, but has said he acted in self-defense.

PHOTOS: Moments in the Trayvon Martin case

Before the hearing, Martin's parents told reporters that Zimmerman's defense has been attacking their son's character.

"I feel that Trayvon's school records are not relevant in this case," Martin's father, Tracy Martin, said at the televised news conference.

"It is wrong to subpoena his records on so many levels," said Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump, who called the defense request "the old classic method of attacking the victim." The family has maintained for months that defense was trying to tarnish Trayvon Martin's character.

He added, however, that Zimmerman's medical records, which are being sought by the prosecution, "are very relevant in the case."

The hearing returns Zimmerman, who has been free on bail but in hiding, to the public limelight. Wearing a blue blazer and khaki pants, the former neighborhood watch volunteer arrived at the courthouse at about 1 p.m.

Earlier this week, Nelson set a tentative trial date for June, but defense lawyers have said they expect the date to be pushed back because of the large number of pending issues.

Among the issues still outstanding are a defense request for more time to interview witnesses and a prosecution request to seal some records. The prosecution wants all defense motions to remain under seal, a move it has said that will prevent the jury pool from becoming tainted.

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