SANFORD, Fla. - A new list of evidence in the George Zimmerman case includes, for the first time, the names of several civilian witnesses - including several local firearms dealers and instructors - but it remains unclear what their roles will be in the neighborhood watch volunteer's prosecution, if any.
Among the newly named witnesses is Khaled Akkawi, owner of Shoot Straight, and several of his employees. Why? Akkawi told the Orlando Sentinel the Federal Bureau of Investigation paid him a visit several weeks after the shooting with a photo of Zimmerman, wanting to know if Zimmerman had been to the chain's gun stores and ranges.
But according to Akkawi, there is a stronger connection to Zimmerman's shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
"He bought the gun from us," Akkawi said.
Earlier Friday, Akkawi - who stresses that he is a strong supporter of Florida's stand-your-ground law, which has come under fire since the Feb. 26 shooting - expressed surprise when told he was named as a witness in the case. But after thinking about it further, he said there were several possible reasons.
In addition to the gun sale, Akkawi said, Zimmerman visited Shoot Straight's Casselberry location on multiple occasions, had fired on the ranges and interacted with employees. The store also is a major National Rifle Association recruiter, he said, and his employees have testified in court as experts in the past.
Prosecutors on Thursday released to defense attorneys hundreds of pages of new evidence in the murder case, including witness statements, nearly a dozen FBI reports and jail records.
The new evidence also includes email to or from Zimmerman, unspecified email involving Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, the cell phone records of Trayvon's father and surveillance video from a bank.
Defense attorney Mark O'Mara received the evidence Thursday, he wrote in a blog post.
A list of the evidence made available this morning identifies dozens of new witnesses, 21 of them whose names are being withheld to protect their privacy. Many other new witnesses also are named, including employees with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Seminole County Sheriff's Office and Sanford Police Department.
Among the witnesses whose names were released:
-Akkawi, the manager of his Apopka, Fla., store and two employees of the Shoot Straight in Casselberry.
-Matt Brantly Jr. and D' Andre Stinnett of Brantly & Associates, a Central Florida tactical firearms training facility.
-John Wright, a Sanford private investigator. Wright told the Orlando Sentinel he was hired by the Martin family, but declined to elaborate.
-Scott McLeod, a former Seminole County sheriff's deputy now working at Chuluota Sportsmen's Club.
-Two men identified in social media as current or former employees of the Gander Mountain store in Lake Mary, Fla.
Much of the new evidence is in the form of reports written by people at the scene or those who were part of the investigation. An eight-page report from Sanford Fire-Rescue is also on the list.
Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26 as the unarmed Miami Gardens teenager was walking back from a 7-Eleven. Zimmerman told police he acted in self-defense.
The new evidence list does not detail what each piece of evidence reveals.
For example, it lists 10 FBI reports. They appear to be summaries of witness interviews by individual agents.
The list also suggests prosecutors have looked at Zimmerman's past arrest and his online activity.
)2012 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)
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