The Florida State Attorney's Office caused some havoc in newsrooms on Thursday when it released a batch of evidence in George Zimmerman's second-degree murder case, then recalled it 25 minutes later, saying it hadn't been reviewed properly. When the state re-released the information via email, it had redacted 50 pages of student records from Zimmerman's time at Seminole Community College, which are private under state law. Then it released a third version of the evidence, redacting a grainy photo of Trayvon Martin's body. The grades showed Zimmerman didn't graduate because he failed a class, which the Orlando Sentinel reports is contrary to what he's said publicly.
The snafu was more of a headache for newsrooms than a slip of crucial information: Zimmerman's performance in school is only tangentially related to the case, and the photo was barely recognizable. But it was a dangerous mistake for prosecutors under scrutiny from pretty much every national news organization. Had they accidentally released something big, there would be no stuffing it back in the bottle. Before the office recalled its evidence, Reuters' Matthew Keys had already posted it in a Scribd file, which has since been taken down, as has Keys' original tweet linking to it. (A PDF of the document can be found at Click Orlando, the website for News Channel 6.) The Orlando Sentinel managed to get a small story up based on the evidence, reporting that Trayvon Martin's blood had been found on the bag of Skittles he had gone to the store to get, an errand that resulted in his confrontation with Zimmerman, which ended with Zimmerman shooting Martin. Zimmerman says he acted in self-defense. Zimmerman is seeking a hearing under Florida's stand-your-ground laws that would see his case dismissed if successful.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.