Prosecutors also accused Zimmerman of failing to turn over a second passport he owns as a condition of his bail. O’Mara said Zimmerman had lost his passport several years ago and obtained a new one, only to later discover the original passport when moving recently. Once he discovered the original passport, Zimmerman gave it to his lawyer. The judge sided with the defense and found that Zimmerman did not deliberately hide the second passport.
Also on Friday, Judge Lester said he would grant in large part the requests of The Miami Herald and other media organizations to make public more of the evidence gathered in the case and now kept under seal.
Last month, prosecutors released much of the witness statements and other evidence in the case, but withheld some key materials, including the names of witnesses and transcripts of statements Zimmerman gave to investigators.
Prosecutors argued that Zimmerman’s statements to police amounted to confessions, which are exempt from public-records law. But the judge said Zimmerman’s statements would likely bolster Zimmerman’s defense.
Lester said he would spend the next 30 days reviewing the material before deciding what should be released and what, if anything, must be withheld to ensure a fair trial for Zimmerman.
De la Rionda and O’Mara argued that witness names should be withheld to protect them from potential threats in the high-profile case, and that the release of other information could fuel the hothouse atmosphere of the case and prevent Zimmerman from getting a fair trial.
But the judge said he expected about 90 percent of the information requested by the media would be released — though he’s not pleased about it.
“The law basically favors full, complete and open disclosures,” the judge said. “It’s the law that we’re stuck with, unfortunately.”
Miami Herald staff writer Frances Robles contributed to this story.