Bail revoked in Trayvon Martin shooting case

Judge rules George Zimmerman misled court about his available funds and orders him to return to custody within 48 hours.

    Bail revoked in Trayvon Martin shooting case
    Zimmerman says that he shot 17-year-old Martin, who was unarmed, in self-defence [Reuters]

    A Florida judge has revoked the bail of the neighbourhood watch volunteer who has been charged with shooting dead Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black youth.

    George Zimmerman has been ordered to return to custody within 48 hours of when the order was made on Friday.

    The 28-year-old has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and says he acted in self-defence when he shot the 17-year-old Martin.

    The shooting occured in February during a confrontation at a gated community of houses in Sanford, Florida, where Zimmerman lived and where Martin was visiting his father's fiance.

    The neighbourhood watch volunteer's arrest was delayed by 44 days, however, leading to protests across the US that forced the Sanford police chief to resign.

    Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said that Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, misled the court about how much money they had available when his bond was set for $150,000 in April.

    Prosecutors claim Zimmerman had $135,000 available that had been raised by a website he set up.

    Zimmerman's wife, however, testified at a bond hearing that the couple had access to limited funds, as she was a nursing student and Zimmerman was not working.

    "He can't sit back and obtain the benefit of a lower bond based upon those material falsehoods," Lester said.

    Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's lawyer, said that the fact that Zimmerman and his wife had not used the money indicated that "there was no deceit".

    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."

    Public record controversy

    Prosecutors also said Zimmerman had failed to surrender a second passport, but the judge 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.

    At the hearing on Friday, both De la Rionda and O'Mara asked the judge to halt the public release of witness names and statements made by Zimmerman to police officers.

    Those documents are normally part of the public record, under Florida state law.

    "What's occurring, unfortunately, are cases are being tried in the public sector as opposed to in the courtroom," De La Rionda said.

    "We are in a new age with Twitter, Facebook, and all these things I've never heard of before in my career.

    "Everybody gets to find out intimate details about witnesses that never occurred before. Witnesses are going to be reluctant to get involved."

    A consortium of more than a dozen media groups has asked the judge to ignore the request, saying that such records are meant to be publically available under the law.

    O'Mara said Friday on a website that he does not expect the case to be ready for trial until next year.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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