Media argues against sealing Zimmerman records

A consortium of more than a dozen media groups including The Associated Press is asking a judge not to seal some records in the case of the man charged with killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The 13 media groups on Friday will ask the judge to ignore a request by prosecutors and defendant George Zimmerman's attorney to not publicly release the names of witnesses and some statements the neighborhood watch captain made to police.

Prosecutors and Zimmerman's attorney fear witnesses will be harassed if their names are publicized. Prosecutors also say some of Zimmerman's statements are inconsistent.

The media groups say those aren't good enough reasons to keep what is usually a public record from being released.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, has pleaded not guilty to killing Martin and is claiming self-defense. Zimmerman shot Martin last February during a confrontation at a gated community of townhomes in Sanford, Fla., where Zimmerman lived and where Martin was visiting his father's fiancee.

The delay in an arrest for 44 days prompted protests nationwide and led to Sanford's police chief stepping aside so emotions could cool down.

Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, said on a website he created for the case that he doesn't expect the case to be ready for trial until next year.

O'Mara said he expects to call on 50 witnesses who need to be deposed before he decides whether to file a "stand your ground" motion which would ask for a hearing before a judge without a jury. At the hearing, Zimmerman would argue self-defense under the Florida law which gives wide latitude to use deadly force rather than retreat in a fight if people believe they are in danger of being killed or seriously injured.