Zimmerman requesting new bond hearing, aims to get out of jail again
(CNN) — George Zimmerman’s lawyers have vowed to file a motion asking a Florida judge for a new bond hearing for their client Monday, June 4th, a day after the murder suspect returned to jail on a judge’s order.
The 28-year-old Florida man accused in the death of Trayvon Martin had been free on bond for weeks until Sunday afternoon, when he turned himself in to authorities in Seminole County, Florida.
Zimmerman become a focus of intense national attention earlier this year, after he fatally shot the unarmed African-American teenager who had just gone out to buy a bag of Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea at a 7-Eleven in Sanford, Florida.
The neighborhood watch volunteer had claimed the February 26 shooting was in self-defense. Martin’s family and civil rights activists from around the nation contended Zimmerman, who is white Hispanic, racially profiled the 17-year-old and ignored a 911 dispatcher’s request not to follow him.
In April, Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder after the case was referred to a state attorney for a review. He was released from custody later that month after posting bail.
But on Friday, Seminole County Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. ordered Zimmerman back to jail, accusing the suspect of not being truthful about how much money he had access to when his bond was set months earlier.
At the time, his wife told the court under oath that the family was indigent. But prosecutors alleged, in fact, Zimmerman had $135,000.
Addressing reporters after last week’s ruling, lead defense attorney Mark O’Mara expressed hope that his client’s detention once again would be short-lived.
“The revocation of bond, I hope, is temporary,” O’Mara said. “I hope that they will give us a day in court to explain George’s behavior and look at all the circumstances … in determining what (Lester) is going to do about letting him back out on bond.”
The defense team, in an online statement posted Sunday, pointed to the fact that Zimmerman turned himself in voluntarily, and within the 48-hour limit mandated by Judge Lester, as proof “that he is not a flight risk.”
For now, Zimmerman is being held on no-bail status in administrative confinement at Seminole County’s John E. Polk Correctional Facility, Sheriff Donald Eslinger said. Equipped with two beds and a toilet, his cell is designed to hold two inmates and is about 67 square feet, the sheriff’s office said.
Zimmerman is “anticipated” to stand trial sometime next year, according to his defense team. His return to jail centers around a pool of money that appears to have been donated to Zimmerman through a website he set up to help with a legal defense fund.
Citing recorded jailhouse conversations between Zimmerman and his wife, prosecutors alleged the two spoke in code when discussing the money in a credit union account, according to a court documents filed last Friday by State Attorney Angela B. Corey.
Zimmerman “fully controlled and participated in the transfer of money from the PayPal account to defendant and his wife’s credit union accounts,” Corey said in court records. “This occurred prior to the time defendant was arguing to the court that he was indigent and his wife had no money.”
The judge “relied on false representations and statements” by Zimmerman and his wife when the court set his bond at $150,000, Corey said. Zimmerman was required to post only 10% of that.
Lester appeared angry that the court had not been told about the money.
“Does your client get to sit there like a potted palm and let you lead me down the primrose path?” he asked Zimmerman’s lawyer. “That’s the issue.”
Defense lawyers contend, in an online statement, that “the vast majority of the funds in question are in an independently managed trust” that Zimmerman and his attorneys can not access directly.
O’Mara said in an interview with CNN that his client, who was not in court for Friday’s hearing is “frustrated because he now has to come out of hiding.”
“You need to realize we’re still talking about a 28-year-old who’s being charged with a crime he does not believe he committed, and his whole life has been turned upside down. So I think that it all needs to be kept in context.”