Zimmerman prosecutor fires IT director who testified about missing exculpatory material
Posted Jul 15, 2013 8:52 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The prosecutor in the George Zimmerman case has fired an information technology director who testified he was concerned that the office had failed to give exculpatory materials to defense lawyers.
IT director Ben Kruidbos learned about his dismissal in a letter dispatched by the managing director of the office overseen by State Attorney Angela Corey, report Jacksonville.com, CNN and Fox News. The letter informed Kruidbos that he “can never again be trusted to step foot in this office.”
Kruidbos had extracted photos from the cell phone of shooting victim Trayvon Martin that reportedly showed a gun, a marijuana plant and jewelry, as well as a text message referring to a gun transaction, the stories say. Kruidbos contacted a lawyer for advice when he became concerned that the lead prosecutor may not have given his report to the defense. Kruidbos’ lawyer then contacted Zimmerman’s lawyers and learned they had not received the information.
Zimmerman’s lawyers subpoenaed Kruidbos to testify in a sanctions hearing; the judge deferred a ruling until after the trial. Zimmerman was acquitted on Saturday evening.
The dismissal letter says Kruidbos should have taken his concerns to someone in the prosecutor’s office. “Your egregious lack of regard for the sensitive nature of the information handled by this office is completely abhorrent,” the letter said. “You have proven to be completely untrustworthy. Because of your deliberate, willful and unscrupulous actions, you can never again be trusted to step foot in this office.”
The letter also contends that Kruidbos did a poor job overseeing the IT department and improperly erased data from a laptop. Kruidbos denied the letter’s allegations in an interview with Jacksonville.com. He said he acted because of “genuine concerns” and he contacted a lawyer because he was concerned he could face “legal exposure” if his report wasn’t turned over to the defense.
But the letter dismissed Kruidbos’ concerns of legal exposure as as "feigned and spurious," according to the CNN account. The letter said Kruidbos’ liability concern was "nothing more than shameful manipulation in a shallow, but obvious, attempt to cloak yourself in the protection of the whistleblower law."