George Zimmerman’s defense lawyers will subpoena Facebook, Twitter and Miami-Dade schools in a widespread pursuit of clues to suggest that Trayvon Martin could have thrown the first punch on the night he was killed, a sign that attorneys are going into attack mode in preparation for their case.
A series of notices were sent last week to Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and the principals of the schools Trayvon attended, advising that subpoenas for copies of the slain teen’s academic and attendance records would be issued in 10 days’ time.
Similar warnings are expected to be sent this week to the popular social networking sites where Trayvon maintained accounts, defense attorney Mark O’Mara said.
Defense lawyers argue that if the defendant’s social media sites and school records were reviewed by prosecutors, it’s only fair game for Trayvon to undergo the same scrutiny. The move underscores a shift in the defense strategy, in what the slain teen’s family lawyer calls a “witch hunt” and “character assassination.” If successful, and negative rumors about Trayvon’s social media comments that have circulated the Internet for months are proven true, they would be posted on the defense website and offered legitimacy.
O’Mara said he requested school records because he is looking for a more thorough explanation to the teenager’s suspension and any hints that he had behavior problems.
“Is there anything relevant in those records? I have no idea. I know I have to look,” O’Mara said. “In a case like this that’s so high profile, everything becomes relevant. The history of those involved — including those who have passed — becomes relevant.”
Documents posted on the defense website show notices went out on Sept. 5 to Carol City High School, Michael Krop Senior High School, Norland Middle School and the school district main office. The notices contained copies of the subpoenas, which will go out after the 10-day warning period.
The subpoenas demand disciplinary records, suspension notices, class schedules, attendance and tardiness records, FCAT and SAT test scores, report cards, as well as any information about whether Trayvon belonged to any clubs or sports activities.
The Miami Herald reported earlier this year that Trayvon had been suspended from school three times, including once just before his death in an incident in which he was caught with a baggie of marijuana residue. A school police report obtained by The Herald showed Trayvon was also suspended in October 2011 for writing on a locker.
The report said the police officer who searched Trayvon’s backpack looking for the marker found a bag of jewelry and a screwdriver described as a “burglary tool.” Trayvon’s parents claimed they had no knowledge of the jewelry incident.
O’Mara said he expects Trayvon’s parents to object to the subpoenas on behalf of the high school junior’s estate.
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents the parents, said his clients will defer to State Attorney Angela Corey on whether to file an objection on release of the records, which are private under federal law.
“All this stuff is a witch hunt to assassinate his character,” Crump said. “It’s absolutely irrelevant and a shame that they are doing this to a dead kid.”