George Zimmerman, the ex-neighborhood watch volunteer who was acquitted at trial in the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012, is suing Martin's parents, prosecutors and others claiming false evidence was used at the trial.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Florida state court and seeks $100 million in damages, also claims defamation by Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump, according to a Wednesday news release from Zimmerman's attorney, Larry Klayman.
Klayman, the founder of the conservative group Freedom Watch, said the suit is a result of newly discovered evidence in a new book and film by director Joel Gilbert, called "The Trayvon Hoax: Unmasking the Witness Fraud that Divided America."
The book claims the key witness in Zimmerman's 2013 murder trial, Rachel Jeantel, was an imposter and fake witness, Klayman said. Jeantel had testified that she was on the phone with Martin moments before he was killed but the book claims Jeantel was not on the phone with Martin and lied repeatedly to cause Zimmerman's arrest, Klayman said.
According to Klayman, Gilbert claims Jeantel was substituted for the real phone witness when that person "refused to bear false witness against Zimmerman."
In a statement Wednesday, Jeantel's attorney, Rod Vareen, called Zimmerman's lawsuit "frivolous."
"My client is done speaking about George Zimmerman and her involvement in the case. Her testimony at trial was accurate and her relationship with Trayvon Martin was however she defined it," Vareen said.
Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting of Martin, who was from Miami Gardens and visiting his father in Sanford at the time, on the grounds of self-defense. He had been facing a possible life sentence.
The lawsuit names Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, along with Crump, the prosecutors in Zimmerman's trial and others, who "are alleged to either have known about or should have known about the witness fraud, obstructed justice, or lied repeatedly under oath in order to cover up their knowledge of the witness fraud."
Crump released a statement Wednesday on behalf of himself, Fulton and Tracy Martin, calling the suit "unfounded and reckless."
"This plaintiff continues to display a callous disregard for everyone but himself, revictimizing individuals whose lives were shattered by his own misguided actions. He would have us believe that he is the innocent victim of a deep conspiracy, despite the complete lack of any credible evidence to support his outlandish claims," Crump's statement read.
Klayman, Zimmerman and the filmmaker Gilbert had been scheduled to hold a press conference at Coral Gables Art Cinema Thursday to discuss the case, but the theater said they canceled the event after discovering the details of it.