• State attorney employee fired in Zimmerman case


    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A State Attorney's Office employee has been fired after testifying about concerns that prosecutors didn't turn over photos and text messages from Trayvon Martin's cellphone to the defense in George Zimmerman's murder case.

    Ben Kruidbos told the defense in the George Zimmerman trial they may not have had all the same information the state had about what was found on Trayvon Martin's phone, said Cheryl Peek, managing director of the State Attorney's Office in the letter sent to Kruidbos.

    Kruidbos received a termination letter Thursday accusing him of misconduct and "violating numerous state attorney's office policies and procedures."

    Kruidbos is accused of accessing several SAO computers on March 18. In the letter, SAO called it hacking into sensitive employee disciplinary matters and personal health information.

    Kruidbos is accused of tampering with former assistant state attorney Wes White's cellphone, iPad and laptop computer. In the letter, he's accused of deleting public records information on White's computer. White is now Kruidbos' attorney.

    The letter states he was questioned by four SAO directors about his unauthorized access of various SAO computers.

    He was only one of two people who copied information from a computer drive without permission, leading to a demotion, according to the letter.

    Kruidbos testified on May 28 and is accused of never telling the state he talked to the defense. The state also accused him of lying under oath, according to the letter.

    Peek stated in the letter that Kruidbos is also accused of deleting information from his computer when it should have been turned over to the SAO.

    Ben Kruidbos was fired from State Attorney's Office July 11, the same date as the letter.

    Attorney Wesley White says Kruidbos wasn't surprised by the firing.

    Kruidbos retrieved photos and deleted text messages from Martin's cellphone and testified during a hearing June 6. Zimmerman's attorneys were seeking sanctions against the state for not properly turning over the evidence from Martin's phone.

    Judge Debra Nelson said she would revisit the matter at the trial's end.

    The Florida Civil Rights Organization said Friday night it is calling on State Attorney Angela Corey to rehire Kruidbos and condemns Corey's decision to fire him.

    FCRA president J. Willie David said in the release the public must have trust in its state attorneys and that the rules of discovery allows a level playing field for all sides.

    "The firing of Ben Kruidbos by State Attorney Corey is a disturbing trend toward persecuting those who dare to speak out to protect our system of government for fairness and justice," said FCRA civil rights attorney Shayan Elahi in the release. "Far too many cases have been revisited and overturned because the justice system has suppressed evidence or has purposely cast victims or defendants in a false light."

    "Regardless of the media's interpretation or public opinion, Trayvon Martin's family has a right to know the truth whether it is in the favor of his rights or not," explained David.


    PREVIOUS STORY: Heated exchanges highlight hearing in Zimmerman case

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Next Up: