ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman made statements to police that help establish his guilt in the second-degree murder case against him for killing unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, prosecutors said in a court filing on Thursday.
The claim came in a motion by prosecutors to keep some of Zimmerman’s statements under seal pending his trial in a case that triggered civil rights protests across the United States, while sparking widespread debate over guns, self-defense laws and U.S. race relations.
“Defendant (Zimmerman) has provided law enforcement with numerous statements, some of which are contradictory, and are inconsistent with the physical evidence and statements of witnesses,” the prosecutors said in their court filing.
They said the statements by Zimmerman were admissible in court and “in conjunction with other statements and evidence help to establish defendant’s guilt in this case.”
The court filing offered no details about the statements Zimmerman made to police or other law enforcement officials. It said Florida’s public records law had no provision requiring “the disclosure of a confession” of a defendant.
“The state asserts that this provision includes an admission of a defendant that could be used against him at trial,” the filing said.
Zimmerman, 28 is charged with shooting and killing the 17-year-old Martin as he walked through a gated residential community in Sanford, Florida, near Orlando, on February 26.
Police initially declined to arrest Zimmerman, citing Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law, but a special prosecutor who was subsequently appointed charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty.
In a separate court filing on Thursday, Zimmerman’s lawyer Mark O‘Mara joined in the motion to keep his client’s statements out of the public eye for the time being.
“There is the possibility that these statements may be subject to motions to suppress, if there is a potentially involuntary statement elicited from Mr. Zimmerman,” O‘Mara said.
“The release of that information would be highly prejudicial to Mr. Zimmerman’s case, and again, would adversely affect the proper administration of justice,” he said.
O‘Mara also asked the judge to withhold what he said were thousands of emails received by the Sanford police about the case, some of which are racially charged, and Zimmerman’s own text messages, emails and journal entries obtained by prosecutors as part of their evidence gathering.
Seminole County Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lester set a June 1 hearing to consider the motions for a protective order.
Writing by Tom Brown and Philip Barbara