Zimmerman returns to court seeking bond
POSTED: Friday, June 29, 2012 - 10:00am
UPDATED: Friday, June 29, 2012 - 10:04am
NATIONAL NEWS (CNN) — George Zimmerman, the man accused of fatally shooting unarmed black teen Travyon Martin, returned to a Florida courtroom on Friday asking to be let out of jail for a second time.
Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. revoked Zimmerman's $150,000 bond on June 1 after learning that during the initial bond hearing, the 28-year-old suspect and his wife had failed to disclose he had received about $150,000 in donations, in April.
Defense attorney Mark O'Mara will argue for a similar bond on Friday, saying Zimmerman poses no danger to the community, is not a flight risk, and "cooperated fully" with police before his arrest.
Zimmerman has acknowledged shooting Martin in a February incident that put national attention on the state of race relations and gun control laws in the United States. The shooting sparked weeks of protests and rallies across the country, leading up to Zimmerman's eventual arrest.
He has argued self-defense, telling police Martin attacked him. But the special prosecutor in the case alleges the former neighborhood watch volunteer unjustly profiled and killed Martin.
He is charged with second-degree murder.
Zimmerman attended the morning hearing unshackled and wearing a suit and tie. Images of Zimmerman wearing jail garb could prejudice prospective jurors, O'Mara argued.
In a written motion seeking bond filed prior to the hearing, O'Mara said his client should be allowed out of jail despite misleading the court about the state of his finances.
"Mr. Zimmerman's failure to advise the court of the existence of the donated funds at the initial bail hearing was wrong and Mr. Zimmerman accepts responsibility for his part in allowing the court to be misled as to his true financial circumstances," O'Mara wrote. "Counsel, however, points to Mr. Zimmerman's voluntary disclosure of the fund and immediate surrender of any interest in the donated money through transfer of the fund to counsel for deposit in trust."
The money is now "under the control of an independent trustee and is not accessible to Mr. Zimmerman or his family," the motion said. "Any expenditure on behalf of Mr. Zimmerman must be approved by the fund administrator."
Authorities arrested Zimmerman's wife, Shellie Zimmerman, on a perjury charge on June 12. She is accused of lying at her husband's bond hearing about the couple's finances. She left jail later that day after meeting the conditions of a $1,000 bond, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office said.
Prosecutors alleged the couple had about $135,000 of donations at their disposal when they both told the court, under oath, they were indigent.
O'Mara said his client ended up netting a total of $204,000 via PayPal accounts -- about $150,000 of which is now in an independently managed trust after $30,000 was used to pay for "life in hiding." Some $20,000 has been kept liquid for "ongoing living expenses."
At her husband's April 20 bond hearing, Shellie Zimmerman testified she didn't know how much had been raised through the website her husband had set up before charges were filed.
Asked whether the couple had money available to assist in his defense, she replied, "Um, not -- not that I'm aware of."
In the recording of a jailhouse phone conversation, Zimmerman asks his wife, "In my account, do I have at least $100?" She answers no, and then tells him he has more like "$8, $8.60."
"So total everything, how much are we looking at?" Zimmerman asks his wife.
"Like $155," she responds.
Prosecutors claim the husband and wife were speaking in code about their available funds, an assertion Zimmerman's lawyer said the defense has "never contested."
The couple also discussed how much money could be accessed and what to do with it, including transferring funds that were raised online for his defense to accounts belonging to Zimmerman's sister and wife, prosecutors said in court filings.