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Should autopsy photos be released in Trayvon Martin case?

11:46 PM, Apr 23, 2012   |    comments
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SANFORD, Fla. - As the world was watching George Zimmerman walk out of jail in Sanford wearing a bulletproof vest, there were more questions looming in the controversial case of slain teenager Trayvon Martin.

Should autopsy and crime scene photos be released?

Just as the media sought to gain access to sensitive photos in the Casey Anthony case, news organizations are once again trying to get documents released surrounding the highly publicized case out of Sanford.

Some secret court documents have already been released. In fact, in the latest materials revealed, Zimmerman's attorneys told the court they had a "grave concern" for their client's safety.

They also pointed out that his family received "death threats."

If you look closely at the video of Zimmerman leaving court, you can see the outline of a bulletproof vest under his jacket.

Zimmerman's defense attorney, Mark O'Mara, said, "It's a long long process. This is the first few steps of it, and he's still very worried that he's facing a life sentence on a second degree murder charge."

Court documents also point out that during his bond hearing last Friday, Zimmerman specifically requested to appear in court in his own clothing, and that his attorneys did not want him to appear in a prison uniform.

The state argued Zimmerman's lawyers were trying to manipulate his media image to make him look more favorable to potential jurors.

Several organizations, including 10 News' parent company Gannett, have filed motions for the release of documents in the Trayvon Martin case. Some of those documents were released earlier today.

The judge will decide on whether or not sensitive materials such as autopsy results or crime scene photos will be made public record.

"In cases like this, you want to make sure the bell doesn't get rung. You can't un-ring it," says 10 News legal analyst Jon Douglas.

Douglas has handled many high-profile cases and says, ultimately, he thinks the judge will make a split ruling. He thinks some sensitive documents will remain sealed, while others will become public record.

Either way, he says, the judge has to be careful.

"Autopsy photos are such gut-wrenching photos, that he would run such a high risk of those photos not being received well," Douglas said.

Douglas also points out that the judge's decision as to whether or not certain documents are released might be based on Trayvon Martin's age. "They're going to be looked at on a case by case basis to determine what is appropriate for the public records and what should be sealed. One thing to remember is Trayvon Martin is a juvenile. He's under 18," he said.

Zimmerman's lawyers and the special prosecutor, Angela Corey, want these sensitive documents to remain sealed.

George Zimmerman is now outfitted with an ankle monitor and will most likely be housed at an undisclosed location outside the state.

His arraignment is scheduled for May 8, although he will not be there in person.  His attorney has already filed paperwork entering a not guilty plea.

Photo Gallery: Trayvon Martin photos

More Trayvon Martin stories:

NRA no longer silent on Trayvon Martin, Stand Your Ground law

George Zimmerman arrested, charged with second degree murder

Trayvon Martin songs flood YouTube

"Fake" Trayvon Martin picture circulates on the web

911 calls released

Racial slur uttered during call?

Trayvon Martin's death renews Stand Your Ground debate

Who is George Zimmerman?

George Zimmerman seeks donations on new website

Street sign hacked with hate message

New Black Panther Party touts reward, revenge

Father: Trayvon "saved my life"

Bubba the Love Sponge comments on Trayvon Martin

Obama: "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon"

Geraldo: Hoodie to blame for Trayvon's death

No grand jury for Trayvon Martin case

George Zimmerman's lawyers withdraw from case



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