Judge rejects Zimmerman request for greater freedom
ORLANDO, Fla. - George Zimmerman must remain on GPS monitoring and stay in Seminole County as he continues to await trial a judge ruled today, rejecting the second-degree murder defendant’s latest request for greater freedom.
At a wide-ranging hearing, Circuit Judge Debra Nelson heard argument on an array of issues, including defense requests for greater access to evidence from state and federal investigations into the Feb. 26 shooting of Trayvon Martin.
On the bond issue, the defense argued Zimmerman has been well-behaved: Since his current, $1 million bond was put in place, Zimmerman has not violated its terms, a probation officer testified during the hearing.
But defense attorney Mark O’Mara went beyond that, arguing that the evidence also favors his client’s freedom. Pulling out a bloody photograph of Zimmerman’s nose from the night of the shooting, O’Mara said the court must consider “undeniable evidence of innocence” that he said exists in the case.
“The very issue of his innocence is an issue for you to consider,” he said to the judge. O’Mara also argued his client needs to travel to assist his defense, and is not safe in Seminole County, where he has received threats.
However, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda argued it’s money and publicity - not safety - that the Zimmerman team is after.
“Isn’t the defendant safer if law enforcement knows exactly where he is?” de la Rionda said. “If there are threats, why is he appearing on national television?”
Why does Zimmerman want to travel? De la Rionda made reference to a recently announced plan to send signed thank-you notes to defense-fund donors. “Maybe it’s for autographs,” he said.
After hearing argument, Nelson denied the defense motion.
Zimmerman’s bond has repeatedly been a contested issue in the case. He was granted and released on $150,000 bond soon after his arrest, but that bond was revoked after prosecutors alleged that Zimmerman and his wife had conspired to hide money. Zimmerman’s wife, who testified that she and her husband were broke, was charged with perjury.
Zimmerman was later granted his current $1 million bond.
The case is currently set for trial in June, with hearings expected at least once a month before then. The next court date was tentatively set for Jan. 8.
A hearing is also expected in April for Zimmerman to argue he should be immune from prosecution under Florida’s the controversial “stand your ground” law.