Judge Revokes Zimmerman's Bond

By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown
By: CNN Posted By Doug Brown

(CNN) -- A Florida judge revoked bond Friday for George Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin.

Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. ordered Zimmerman to surrender to the county sheriff within 48 hours.

Lester accused Zimmerman of having misrepresented how much money he had when his bond was originally set in April.

The decision came after prosecutors asked Lester to revoke the bond.

Prosecutors argued that Zimmerman "misrepresented, misled and deceived the court" during the April bond hearing not only about his family's financial circumstances but also about whether he had a U.S. passport.

Outside the courthouse, a lawyer for the family of Martin said Friday's decision is significant. "Judge Lester's finding that George Zimmerman was dishonest is very important because his credibility is the most important thing in this entire case," Benjamin Crump told reporters.

"Remember, this is only George Zimmerman's testimony that says Trayvon Martin attacked him. All the other evidence suggests that George Zimmerman pursued and confronted Trayvon Martin. Therefore, that's why this is such an important ruling today."

Martin, 17, was shot to death February 26 while walking in a Sanford, Florida, neighborhood where he was staying during a visit with his father. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, told police he shot the teenager in self-defense.

The incident spurred protests among people who criticized police handling of the investigation and said Martin, who was unarmed and carrying a bag of Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea at the time of his death, was racially profiled. The slain teen was African-American and Zimmerman is Hispanic.

Zimmerman, 28, was charged with second-degree murder on April 11 and has been free on bail.

In court documents, State Attorney Angela B. Corey acknowledged she was making strongly worded assertions in describing how Zimmerman's wife represented his finances.

Zimmerman's defense team stated during an April court hearing that Zimmerman's "family members misinformed the court (the state would use a much stronger and accurate word to describe what occurred -- defendant's wife lied to the court) about defendant and his family's finances," Corey wrote in court papers.

She also said that Zimmerman has two passports, and the passport that he surrendered to the court at the April hearing was one that Zimmerman had reported stolen on March 8, 2004, court papers said. That passport was valid until May 2012, Corey said.

Zimmerman received a second passport on March 26, 2004, and that one is valid until 2014, she said.

The prosecutor asked the court that Zimmerman be ordered to surrender the second passport to authorities.

Zimmerman spoke of the second passport while in the Seminole County Jail in a phone call to his wife that authorities recorded, Corey said. Court records provided a partial transcript:

Zimmerman: "Do you know what? I think my passport is in that bag."

Shelly Zimmerman: "I have one for you in safety deposit box ..."

Zimmerman: "OK, you hold onto that."

Prosecutors have informed federal authorities about Zimmerman's second passport in case he attempts to use it "to flee the country," Corey said.

But Lester appeared to accept the explanation from Zimmerman's lawyer that his client had given him the second passport, and the lawyer simply forgot to hand it over to authorities until Friday.

Regarding Zimmerman's finances, Corey alleged that tape-recorded phone calls in April between Zimmerman, while he was in Seminole County Jail, and his wife showed that the couple "spoke in code to hide what they were doing" regarding more than $135,000 in a credit union account belonging to the couple.

The money was apparently donated to Zimmerman's website.

Zimmerman "fully controlled and participated in the transfer of money from the PayPal account to defendant and his wife's credit union accounts," Corey said in court records. "This occurred prior to the time defendant was arguing to the court that he was indigent and his wife had no money."

In late April, Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, said that the money raised by the website was put into a trust account that the attorney controls.

But Corey stated in court documents Friday: "The money still belongs to defendant and he can demand it at any time."

Court papers provided a partial transcript of a phone call allegedly showing the code used by Zimmerman and his wife on April 16:

Zimmerman: "In my account do I have at least $100?"

His wife: "No."

Zimmerman: "How close am I?"

His wife: "$8. $8.60."

Zimmerman: "Really. So total everything how much are we looking at?"

His wife: "Like $155."

The prosecutor said the judge "relied on false representations and statements" by Zimmerman and his wife when the court set his bond at $150,000. He was required to post only 10% of that.

Corey argued that the court should revoke the bond or increase it "substantially."

Lester appeared angry that the court had not been told about the money. "Does your client get to sit there like a potted palm and let you lead me down the primrose path?" he asked Zimmerman's lawyer. "That's the issue."

Outside the courthouse, O'Mara said he hopes the judge's revocation of bond would be temporary. "I hope he'll give us a day in court to explain George's behavior and look at all the circumstances," the lawyer said. "I understand the state's position; I disagree with it."

Meanwhile, Zimmerman's defense team and prosecutors were both on the same side in court Friday afternoon fighting media companies' request to release more information in the case.

Prosecution and defense lawyers argued that a host of material should remain sealed.

The intense public attention on the case is a chief reason certain information should remain out of the public eye, Bernardo de la Rionda of State Attorney Angela Corey's office said in a motion filed earlier this month.

He argued that releasing too much "will result in this matter being tried in the press rather than in court, and an inability to seat a fair and impartial jury in Seminole County." De la Rionda also voiced worries about witnesses being "reluctant to testify" for fear that their privacy would be violated and other witnesses being "harassed by media representatives."

Specifically, the state wants the names and addresses of witnesses kept out of the public record. It asks for the same for crime scene and autopsy photos, a 911 recording of the incident and cell phone records of Martin, Zimmerman and one witness.

De la Rionda is also requesting a judge seal statements Zimmerman made to law enforcement officers, some of which may be used against him at trial because they were "inconsistent with the physical evidence and statements of witnesses."

Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, filed his own motion agreeing with the prosecution's desire not to release material. He said the defense wants 1,000 e-mails received by Sanford police to be sealed, plus statements by Zimmerman. He asked that text messages, e-mail messages or journals made by the defendant be kept private, at least until they can be reviewed.

Scott Ponce of the Miami-based law firm Holland & Knight argued for more disclosure on behalf of various newspapers, TV stations and their parent companies.

The opposing arguments were laid out in motions filed in advance of Friday's hearing.

Attorneys in Zimmerman case want evidence sealed.

This week, Ponce filed responses to the prosecution and defense positions, addressing them point by point.

"The broad secrecy the state seeks ... is not supported by statute, constitution or case law, and it certainly cannot be justified in this prosecution," he said.

Ponce argued that civilian witnesses' names and addresses cannot be sealed under Florida's public records law, because they would not be "defamatory" or "jeopardize the safety" of a witness. He said the state hasn't proven anyone is in jeopardy. The contested cell phone records may be reviewed and, if need be, have parts redacted, but they shouldn't be withheld entirely, he said.

Ponce said Zimmerman's statements to police should not be treated as "confessions," which would not be made public before trial.

HLN's Josey Crews, CNN's Michael Martinez and InSession's Nancy Leung contributed to this report.


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