Judge: Zimmerman statements can be released

A judge says statements a former neighborhood watch leader made to detectives after he fatally shot Trayvon Martin can be released to the public.

But Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester ruled Wednesday that the identities of witnesses who observed the fatal confrontation between George Zimmerman and the 17-year-old Martin can stay private.

Lester's ruling was in response to a challenge news media groups, including The Associated Press, filed against efforts to seal some records.

Prosecutors and Zimmerman's defense attorney had wanted to keep private Zimmerman's statements to police after the fatal shooting in February, as well as the identities of witnesses. They had argued that their public release would jeopardize Zimmerman's chance of getting a fair hearing when he is tried for second-degree murder.

Zimmerman claims the shooting was in self-defense.