The special prosecutor in the George Zimmerman case on Friday fired a technology director who raised concerns that prosecuting attorneys might have withheld evidence from the defense team.
The Florida Times-Union reported that Ben Kruidbos, 42, was fired from his $80,000-a-year job via a hand-delivered letter accusing him of poor performance and violating public records laws.
The letter, written by the managing director for State Attorney Angela Corey’s office, said Kruidbos “can never again be trusted to step foot in this office,” the Times Union reported.
In January, according to the Jacksonville newspaper, Kruidbos extracted photographs and text messages from a source file found on shooting victim Trayvon Martin’s cellphone, including a picture of a hand holding a gun, a text message about a gun transaction and what appeared to be a photo of a marijuana plant.
Concerned that lead prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda had not turned over the information to Zimmerman’s defense attorneys, Kruidbos contacted attorney Wesley White, a Corey critic who resigned from the prosecutor’s office in December, the Times-Union reported.
White learned that defense attorneys had not received Kruidbos’s report of what he found on the phone, but they had received the source file and had their own experts extract the information.
At a hearing in May to determine whether prosecutors should be sanctioned for their handling of evidence in the case, White was questioned by Zimmerman’s attorneys and identified Kruidhos as the person from the prosecutor’s office who had contacted him, according to the Times-Union. Kruidhos was placed on paid administrative leave the same day, May 28.
Shortly before that, he was given a raise for “meritorious performance,” according to a document in his personnel file dated May 16, the Times Union reported.
But in the letter firing him, Kruidhos was told his “egregious lack of regard for the sensitive nature of the information handled by this office is completely abhorrent. You have proven to be completely untrustworthy.”
The letter also said Kruidhos “apparently questioned the ethics” of de la Rionda.
Kruidhos told the Times-Union it “is not really my place to decide” ethics questions about the prosecutor.
According to the Times-Union, Circuit Judge Debra Nelson put off a ruling on the motion to sanction prosecutors until the trial is over.
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