George Zimmerman asks for new judge again
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – The ex-neighborhood watch volunteer charged with killing Trayvon Martin asked for a new judge Friday, claiming the current one is biased because he said George Zimmerman had “flaunted the system.”
Zimmerman said in a motion he feared he would be unable to get a fair “stand your ground” hearing or a fair trial with Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester presiding over the case. Lester was appointed in April after Zimmerman claimed a potential conflict of interest with the original judge.
Earlier this month, Lester said in an order granting Zimmerman bond that Zimmerman had “under any definition … flaunted the system” by failing to disclose at an April bond hearing that he had raised $135,000 from donations for his legal defense.
Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie, testified at the bond hearing that they had limited resources since she was a student and Zimmerman wasn’t working. Zimmerman said nothing to correct his wife’s testimony.
Lester at the time allowed Zimmerman to be released on a $150,000 bond. The judge revoked the bond after prosecutors presented jailhouse recordings of Zimmerman instructing his wife on how to transfer funds raised from a website to different bank accounts.
Zimmerman returned to jail in June but left last week after Lester granted him a $1 million bond, saying state law compelled him to grant bail. In the second bond order, the judge said it appeared Zimmerman was preparing to flee to avoid prosecution based on the money he had raised and his possession of second passport that he had failed to disclose to the court.
Zimmerman argued that showed bias.
“The court makes sweeping generalizations about Mr. Zimmerman based on limited information and disregards the evidence that contradicts those conclusions,” Zimmerman said in the motion.
A spokeswoman for the state attorney’s office said in an email Friday that prosecutors object to the defense motion and will file a formal response early next week.
A spokeswoman for the judge said he wouldn’t comment Friday but would address the matter later.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense.
Under Florida law, Zimmerman could request a “stand your ground” hearing that would allow him to argue his self-defense case before a judge and without jury. The judge could then either drop the charges or set a trial date.
“Mr. Zimmerman fears that the court has already decided that he is not worthy of belief regardless of the type of proceeding or the corroborating evidence that would support his testimony,” the motion said.
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