George Zimmerman's Statements to Police to Be Released: Judge

Some witness info from case to be kept sealed

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The wife of George Zimmerman was arrested Tuesday on one count of perjury, accused of lying when she told a judge that the couple had limited funds during her husband's bond hearing, authorities said. At 3:30 p.m. deputies arrested Shellie Zimmerman, 25, at the location where she was living in Seminole County and took her to the local jail. Her bond was set at $1,000. She quickly bonded out of jail. (Published Tuesday, Jun 12, 2012)

    Sanford Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester issued an order that will allow George Zimmerman's statements to police concerning the Trayvon Martin shooting to be released to the public.

    However the order, issued Tuesday and released Wednesday, will restrict the release of some witness names.

    The order was issued following a hearing earlier this month where NBC 6 and several media companies were seeking to have records in the Zimmerman case that had been withheld made open to the public.

    Prosecutors had argued Zimmerman's statements are inconsistent, and Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, said his emails and text messages could prejudice potential jurors. Both sides also said they were worried that witnesses will be harassed if their names are released.

    Lester agreed, saying "Disclosure of those witnesses at this stage would not be merely delaying the inevitable; it would be unnecessarily subjecting them to public scrutiny" and restricting public access to their names and addresses "is necessary to prevent a serious and imminent threat to the administration of justice."

    As for Zimmerman's statements, Lester said they will be made public since "they do not qualify as confessions, as the Defendant does not acknowledge guilt of the essential elements of the crime."

    Since Zimmerman admitted at an earlier bond hearing that he shot Martin, "disclosure of those statements will not impact the Defendant's right to a fair trial," Lester ruled.

    The statements will be released within 15 days, Lester ordered. 

    Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder for the killing of Martin, 17, of Miami Gardens in a Sanford gated community on Feb. 26. Zimmerman claims self-defense.

    He remains behind bars following a hearing earlier this month in which Lester revoked his bond, claiming Zimmerman misled Lester and prosecutors about his finances and passport. On Tuesday, Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, was arrested on one count of perjury related to the disclosure of funds. She later bonded out of jail.

    Lester made several other rulings in Tuesday's order regarding items from the case that will be released to the public and others that will be withheld.

    Among the items that will remain under seal are Zimmerman's cell phone records and photos showing Martin's body. Other items that will be released include the autopsy report and crime scene photos that don't show Martin's body, emails sent to Sanford Police, tests performed on Zimmerman and the statements of a witness whose name will remain confidential.

    Transcripts of recorded calls from jail between Zimmerman and his wife may also be released at a later date.