June 1, 2012
A Florida judge on Friday afternoon revoked bond for George Zimmerman, the man charged with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, and ordered that he turn himself in within 48 hours.
Prosecutors had asked Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. to revoke Zimmerman’s bond because they contend that he was disingenuous at an earlier bond hearing when Zimmerman’s family and attorney claimed that he was cash broke. The motion filed by prosecutors claims that Zimmerman “misrepresented, mislead [sic] and deceived the court.”
During a bond hearing on April 20, Lester set Zimmerman’s bond at $150,000, and days later Zimmerman walked free. It was later revealed that Zimmerman had received upward of $200,000 from supporters, a sum that he did not reveal to the judge or to his own attorneys.
At that April hearing, defense attorney Mark O’Mara questioned Shelly Zimmerman, George Zimmerman’s wife, who said she had no idea how much was in the account.
Prosecutors claimed that Zimmerman and his wife knowingly colluded to hide those funds, collected through a Paypal account attached to a website that Zimmerman launched to raise funds for his defense and thank his supporters.
“This court was led to believe they didn’t have a single penny,” Prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda said at Friday’s hearing. “It was misleading, and I don’t know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie.”
According to the conditions of Zimmerman’s release, he was to be monitored by GPS and surrender his passport.
During Friday’s motion hearing, prosecutors said that Zimmerman also failed to disclose or turn over a second passport in his possession. According to the motion, Zimmerman acquired a second passport in 2004 after filing a claim with the State Department that his original passport was lost or stolen.
But, according to prosecutors, while Zimmerman was in custody at the Seminole County jail on April 17, he had a conversation with his wife in which the couple discussed the second passport. The conversation was recorded by jail officials:
Defendant: Do you know what? I think my passport is in that bag.Shelly Zimmerman: I have one for you in safety deposit box…
Defendant: Ok, you hold on to that.
“It really is important what the judge did, because this whole case — the crux of this case — is about George Zimmerman’s credibility,” Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Martin’s family, told The Huffington Post not long after the judge’s ruling. “The court found that Zimmerman was dishonest, that he lied in court.”
Zimmerman, who was arrested 44 days after the Feb. 26 shooting in Sanford, Florida, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
At Friday’s hearing, prosecutors asked that a list of witnesses’ names and other evidence, which per Florida law would be part of the public record, not be released; defense attorney O’Mara also asked that the records be kept sealed. But a number of news organizations — including national news outlets such as the Associated Press,The New York Times, CNN and CBS News, as well as local agencies like the Orlando Sentinel – have filed a legal motion to ask that the judge allow all such documents to be made public.
The evidence, according to the Sentinel, includes five statements that Zimmerman gave authorities, crime scene photos that show Martin’s body and cellphone records for both men.
De La Rionda said that to make those records public could jeopardize the state’s case against Zimmerman.
“What’s occurring, unfortunately, are cases are being tried in the public sector as opposed to in the courtroom,” De La Rionda told Lester. “We are in a new age with Twitter, Facebook and all these things I’ve never heard of before in my career. Everybody gets to find out intimate details about witnesses. That never occurred before. Witnesses are going to be reluctant to get involved.”
- Media seeks access to more evidence in Zimmerman case (miamiherald.com)
- Zimmerman atty: Don’t judge by “piecemeal” evidence – CBS News (cbsnews.com)