Friday, February 23, 2018
News Roundup

Lawyer testifies that Zimmerman prosecution didn't hand over evidence

ORLANDO — A court employee who retrieved photos and deleted text messages from Trayvon Martin's cellphone has been placed on administrative leave after an attorney testified that prosecutors didn't properly turn over the evidence to the defense, an attorney said Wednesday.

Former prosecutor Wesley White said he was ethically obligated to reveal that 4th Judicial Circuit Information Technology director Ben Kruidbos retrieved the data that weren't turned over.

Kruidbos was placed on leave shortly after White testified during a hearing in George Zimmerman's second-degree murder case on Tuesday. White said Kruidbos was interviewed by state attorney investigators twice before the action was taken.

White said he wasn't surprised by possible evidence violations by Zimmerman prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda.

"I was saddened by it, but I'm not surprised," he said.

Phone and email messages left at the office of Fourth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Angela Corey were not immediately returned.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in 17-year-old Martin's killing and has pleaded not guilty, saying he acted in self-defense. Circuit Judge Debra Nelson has denied a defense motion to delay the trial, which is scheduled to begin on June 10.

White led the Nassau County state attorney's office before resigning in December, citing differences of opinion with Corey. He is now in private practice.

White said the photos Kruidbos retrieved were of a hand holding a gun and one depicted drugs. The content of the text messages wasn't specified.

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara has previously brought a handful of motions alleging that the state attorney's office had been slow to turn over other evidence.

O'Mara reported on the defense team's website Wednesday that Zimmerman's defense fund had less than $5,000 left. The fund had raised almost $315,000 by January.

His attorneys are calculating that Zimmerman needs another $120,000 to put on a good defense, or even another $75,000 to give him a fighting chance.

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