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No gag order in Zimmerman case

May 1, 2012 at 5:37 PM
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SANFORD, Fla., May 1 (UPI) -- The judge in the second-degree murder trial of a Florida man who admitted to killing an unarmed teenager said there is no need for a gag order on his attorney.

Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. signed a directive Monday stating his opinion that a gag order wasn't needed. The document was made public Tuesday, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda had asked for the gag order on Mark O'Mara, the defense attorney for George Zimmerman, because O'Mara had spoken to a reporter about evidence. O'Mara said his comment was inconsequential.

Lester praised both the prosecution and the defense for their restraint in his directive declining to institute a gag order.

Meanwhile, O'Mara has set up a Twitter account, Facebook page and a Web site for his client. O'Mara said the defense team acknowledges the move is atypical but so is the case, USA Today reported Tuesday.

"We understand that it is unusual for a legal defense to maintain a social media presence on behalf of a defendant, but we also acknowledge that this is a very unusual case," O'Mara said.

Because of death threats, Zimmerman has been in hiding since he was released on bail while awaiting trial for the shooting death Trayvon Martin, 17, Feb. 26 in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman, whose parents are Hispanic and white, said he shot Martin, who is black, in self-defense under Florida's Stand Your Ground law.

O'Mara said the George Zimmerman Legal Case Web site is meant to discredit sham Web sites and social profiles that claim to be representing Zimmerman. The attorney said another Web site will be available soon to raise money.

Zimmerman previously set up his own Web site and raised more than $200,000 for his defense but the site and others were shut down so the defense team could have complete control.

"It is not in Mr. Zimmerman's best interests to speak publicly about this case and as he has hired us to represent him, we feel part of our responsibility to our client is to provide a voice for Mr. Zimmerman, but only when it is appropriate to do so," a post on Zimmerman's site reads.

Randy Reep, a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney not involved in Zimmerman's defense, said O'Mara's use of social media is unusual.

"There is layer upon layer of extraordinary behavior here," Reep told USA Today. "In criminal defense cases, when the stakes are so high, I have not seen it before. With something novel like this I would be concerned about the potential of a backfire for the client."

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