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Zimmerman must surrender; bond revoked
ORLANDO, Fla. — A judge on Friday revoked the bond of the neighborhood watch volunteer charged with murdering Trayvon Martin and ordered him returned to jail within 48 hours, saying George Zimmerman and his wife misled the court about how much money they had available when his bond was set at $150,000.
Prosecutors claim Zimmerman had $135,000 available that had been raised by a website he set up. Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie, testified at the bond hearing in April that they had limited funds available since she was a nursing student and Zimmerman wasn’t working.
“He can’t sit back and obtain the benefit of a lower bond based upon those material falsehoods,” said Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester when he made his ruling.
Defense attorney Mark O'Mara said the fact that Zimmerman and his wife never used the money for anything indicated “there was no deceit.” Since his release in late April, Zimmerman has been staying at an undisclosed location for his safety.
Prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda described the Zimmermans‘ testimony as “misleading.”
“This court was led to believe they didn’t have a single penny,” said De la Rionda. “It was misleading and I don’t know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie.”
The judge said he would schedule a hearing after Zimmerman is back in custody so the neighborhood watch leader could explain himself.
Zimmerman is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder and claims self-defense. Zimmerman shot Martin in February during a confrontation at a gated community of townhouses in Sanford, Fla., where Zimmerman lived and where the 17-year-old Martin was visiting his father’s fiancee.
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Trayvon Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, said his clients have always said Zimmerman should remain in jail until trial, which O'Mara said he believed wouldn’t be until next year.
“We fully expect that the special prosecutor will make George Zimmerman’s credibility be front and center in this entire case,” Crump said. “And whatever dishonesty that comes forth by George Zimmerman that they can prove, you can best believe it will be the issue of this case and rightfully so.”
Prosecutors also said Zimmerman had failed to surrender a second passport, but Lester dismissed that concern as the equivalent of someone who has lost a driver’s license, applies for a new one and then finds the old driver’s license.
The delay in an arrest for 44 days prompted protests nationwide and led to Sanford’s police chief stepping aside so emotions could cool down.
At Friday’s court hearing, De la Rionda and O'Mara also asked a judge to stop the public release of witness names and statements made by Zimmerman to police officers. Those documents normally are part of the public record under Florida law, and the judge agreed.
Lester said he would order the release of the documents once he has reviewed them and redacted items that aren’t subject to disclosure under the state’s public records law.
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
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