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Zimmerman's attorneys: Make Ben Crump sit down and answer questions
[February 13, 2013]

Zimmerman's attorneys: Make Ben Crump sit down and answer questions

Feb 13, 2013 (Orlando Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- George Zimmerman's lawyers have asked a judge to require Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Trayvon Martin's family, to answer questions under oath, despite a 15-page affidavit he filed last week, hoping to avoid that face-to-face exchange.

In paperwork made public today, defense attorney Donald West asked Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson to again order Crump to appear for a deposition and answer questions about an interview he conducted of the state's most important witness, a young woman who spoke to Trayvon moments before he was shot.

In a separate development, attorneys in the case have set a hastily-scheduled hearing for 4 p.m. tomorrow to discuss whether Zimmerman's "stand your ground" hearing, at which he's expected to ask for immunity, should be delayed.

In October the judge ordered that it be concluded by April 26 and that Zimmerman stand trial on June 10. At a hearing last week, defense attorney Mark O'Mara argued that he needed more time, but the judge said no to his request for a trial delay.

At tomorrow's hearing, which the defendant will not attend, it's expected that O'Mara will ask for a delay in the "stand your ground" hearing. In paperwork filed yesterday, the defense attorney asked to discuss its timing.

As for Crump, at an Oct. 19 hearing, the judge ordered him to answer a very limited number of questions about a recorded interview he made of a young Miami woman who was on the phone with Trayvon just before he was killed.

The judge directed Crump to list who was present for that interview, which took place March 19 in a Miami-area home, and she told him to provide Zimmerman's lawyers with a clearer copy of the recording.

Crump had been scheduled for deposition Feb. 5, but at a hearing that morning, the judge postponed it indefinitely to give her and attorneys time to read the just-filed affidavit.

In it, Crump gives the names of many of the people who were present when the call was recorded but not all. His affidavit says he had earlier disclosed a complete list of those present to defense attorneys.

His affidavit also offers an explanation about why the quality of the recording was so poor.

The young woman was not in the room; she was on the other end of a cell phone call; she was on "speaker phone"; and Crump had a bad connection and kept switching cell phones, according to his affidavit.

Crump attorney Bruce Blackwell said on Feb. 5 that he would not produce Crump for a deposition without a court order.

Yesterday, West filed a motion, asking for that order.

"Mr. Crump's lengthy and often detailed affidavit illustrates that Mr. Crump does have information relevant to the offense charged and is therefore subject to the rule governing depositions of unlisted witnesses," West wrote.

Since her Oct. 19 order, prosecutors have provided Zimmerman's attorneys with a new, more audible version of that recording, although, they complain the words are still hard to make out.

The 18-year-old woman at the center of dispute was interviewed by Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda April 2 in Jacksonville and gave him the same general account as she told Crump.

Trayvon is the unarmed black 17-year-old killed by Zimmerman, a 29-year-old Neighborhood Watch volunteer, in Sanford Feb. 26.

He is awaiting trial on a charge of second-degree murder. He says he acted in self-defense.

A neighbor called 911 a few seconds before the shooting, and a voice can be heard in the background screaming for help.

Trayvon's mother told authorities that the voice was Trayvon's. Zimmerman says it is him.

In another case development, Zimmerman's attorneys have asked the judge to issue subpoenas to Trayvon's parents, brother and cousin for all recordings they have of Trayvon's voice from 2010, '11 and '12.

They filed a similar request Monday for recordings in the possession of the young Miami woman, identified in court records as "witness 8." or 407-650-6394.

___ (c)2013 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) Visit The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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