Defendant asks for new judge in US shooting
SANFORD, Florida (AP) — The neighborhood watch volunteer charged with killing an unarmed black teenager in Florida asked a judge in the case to step down Monday after she revealed a potential conflict of interest.
George Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, filed the request and said Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler revealed the potential conflict last week.
Zimmerman was charged last week with second-degree murder in Trayvon Martin’s Feb. 26 death. The lack of an arrest in the shooting inspired weeks of protests nationwide.
Zimmerman is pleading not guilty, saying it was self-defense.
Recksiedler’s potential conflict involves her husband, who works with attorney Mark NeJame. Zimmerman’s family first approached NeJame about representing Zimmerman. He declined and referred them to O’Mara.
Also Monday, Florida’s governor rejected any suggestions that charges were filed in the case because of public pressure. Rick Scott said he doesn’t believe special prosecutor Angela Corey is influenced by anything but the facts.
News organizations in Florida, including The Associated Press, are challenging the sealing of records related to the case against Zimmerman.
O’Mara asked for the records to be sealed last week.
Records such as full police reports, autopsy reports and transcripts of witness interviews are normally public under Florida law. Zimmerman’s case doesn’t meet the standards that are typically used to create an exemption, according to the motion filed by the news organizations.
Those standards allow the sealing of records if their public release would create an imminent threat to the administration of justice, if there are no alternatives for protecting a defendant’s right to a fair trial and if closing the records protects the rights of the person being tried.
A spokeswoman for Corey said her office was reviewing the media motion but had no immediate comment. O’Mara didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment on Monday.
Hearings for the requests by O’Mara and the news organizations have not immediately been scheduled. If a new judge is assigned to the case, Zimmerman’s bail hearing — originally scheduled for Friday — could be pushed back.
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