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George Zimmerman must stay on 24-hour GPS monitor
SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman must remain under 24-hour GPS monitoring while awaiting trial in the fatal shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and must stay in the county despite the defense’s concerns about his safety, a judge ruled Tuesday.
The defense presented a lengthy bond modification argument to Judge Debra Nelson that included Mr. Zimmerman’s probation officer testifying that the former neighborhood watch volunteer was complying with all terms of his release on a $1 million bond.
Following a rebuttal by the prosecutors, Judge Nelson, without explanation, denied the request for modification of the bond terms.
Mr. Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the killing of 17-year-old Martin following an altercation in Sanford in February. He has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
Besides dropping the monitoring, the defense also wanted Mr. Zimmerman to be able to live outside the Seminole County jurisdiction where the shooting took place because of what defense attorney Mark O’Mara said were ongoing concerns about his safety.
“I really want to try (the case) in the courtroom, and I’m ready to try it,” Mr. O’Mara said during his argument. “What I don’t want is my client not to make it to that courtroom.”
Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda took issue with the contention that Mr. Zimmerman had genuine concern for his safety or that he needed to be completely released from monitoring to assist in his defense.
“My recollection is this defendant has appeared on national television … but there are so many threats against him and he’s so scared?” Mr. de la Rionda said. “He can’t have it both ways.”
In July, Mr. Zimmerman did a lengthy on-air interview with Sean Hannity from Fox News.
Mr. Zimmerman previously was granted permission for limited travel to Orange County to meet his attorneys. That remains in place.
The 29-year-old’s bond restrictions were put in place by former Judge Kenneth Lester. Judge Lester revoked Mr. Zimmerman’s original bond in June after ruling Mr. Zimmerman and his wife had misled the court about their finances when his bail was set in April at $150,000. It was eventually raised to $1 million, and the additional GPS restrictions were put in place.
Judge Nelson has set a trial date for June 10. She also set a “stand your ground” hearing 45 days before trial at which Mr. Zimmerman can argue it was self-defense and ask the judge to drop the charges.
The judge also set aside hearing dates in January, February and March for any outstanding pretrial matters.
The bond issue was one of several motions Judge Nelson heard Tuesday. Nearly all of the remaining matters dealt with unreleased documents or depositions the defense wanted the judge to assist it in acquiring.
The documents included FBI reports of its communications with witnesses and local investigators, as well as various investigative reports from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that the defense said it was having trouble obtaining.
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