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The trial of George Zimmerman concluded on Saturday when a jury of six women returned a verdict of “not guilty”. Regardless of whether or not you believe the jury got the decision right, we can all agree that 17 years is too young for anyone to leave this world.
Everybody is entitled to their own opinion on the ruling, but we want to continue to focus on the legal issues that have come light throughout the trial. We’re not going to sit here are tell you why the jury was right or wrong; instead, we want to discuss two troubling revelations that were exposed during the trial.
Employee Fired For Testifying
One story that has gone largely unnoticed in the immediate aftermath of the trial is that of Ben Kruidbos, the employee of the Florida State Attorney’s Office who was fired from his job shortly after testifying that prosecutors withheld evidence from George Zimmerman’s defense team.
Kruidbos, who served as director of information technology at the State Attorney’s Office, had been placed on paid administrative leave on May 26, but has since been terminated from his position.
The news is concerning because Kruidbos recently went on record saying images taken from Trayvon Martin’s cell phone had been intentionally left off of the evidence that was given to Zimmerman’s defense team. Among other things, Kruidbos said the withheld evidence included:
- Images of Martin blowing smoke;
- Images of marijuana; and
- Deleted text messages regarding the transaction of a firearm.
Kruidbos testified that he noticed some information was missing from the 900-page Florida Department of Law Enforcement report he printed off a few months ago. Fearing that both sides did not have all of the information needed to make their cases, he noted his concerns to the State Attorney’s Office and to prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda. Kriodbos said a report of his findings was more than three times larger than the report that was given to the defense.
In his testimony, Kruidbos said 2,958 photos were listed in the report, but his report listed over 4,200 photos.
Kruidbos said he thought he was doing the right thing by reporting the missing information. In fact, he thought he could be held accountable if it was found that he knew about the missing records and failed to report it. Not wanting to be held liable, Kruidbos spoke up, saying “all information is important in the process to ensure it’s a fair trial.”
Despite doing what he thought was right, Kruidbos received a six-page dismissal letter on Friday, the same day the case was handed over to the jury. The termination letter read, “It has come to our attention that you violated numerous State Attorney’s Office (SAO) policies and procedures and have engaged in deliberate misconduct that is especially egregious in light of your position.”
The letter concluded: “Because of your deliberate, willful and unscrupulous actions, you can never again be trusted to step foot in this office. Your have left us with no choice but to terminate your employment.”
Criminal defense attorney Avery Appelman said if Kruidbos was fired for revealing evidence damaging to his own side, it sets a troubling precedence.
“The sad truth is that some people will do some very shady things in order to get an outcome they want. Whether it be a child claiming they didn’t get touched in a game of tag, or a prosecutor withholding evidence damaging to their side, some people intentionally bend or break the rules as they see fit,” said Appelman. “This IT director should be praised for revealing all the possible evidence so both sides can have a fair trial, and instead, he gets fired for aiding the opponent.”
Department of Justice Picking Sides?
Another concerning news story was revealed late last week when it was uncovered that the US Department of Justice funded protests against George Zimmerman.
Judicial Watch first revealed their findings after filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Justice. They uncovered that a small unit in the DOJ called the Community Relations Service was sent to Sanford, FL to organize rallies against George Zimmerman.
Some of the receipts revealed CRS spent thousands of dollars protesting Zimmerman in the form of:
- “Support for protest deployment”
- “Technical assistance and onsite medication” during planned demonstrations
The unit’s involvement in organizing protests against Zimmerman is particularly concerning when you consider their mission statement, which reads that they are to practice “impartial mediation practices and conflict resolution.”
Criminal defense attorney Melvin Welch said the information reveals a larger political agenda.
“It’s an ugly thing when the blindfold is pulled off Lady Justice so that she can adjust the balance of the scales,” said Welch.
Related sources: CNN Justice, Free Republic, Judicial Watch