|George Zimmerman's Bond Revoked|
|BY MATT GUTMAN AND SENI TIENABESO||May 31, 2012, 9:09 PM|
A judge revoked bond today for George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of a Florida teenager in his gated community, and ordered him to surrender himself in 48 hours.
Prosecutors had filed a motion today to revoke his bond, accusing Zimmerman of "deceiving" the court about his finances, even going so far as to discuss it in code words with his wife, and his possession of a second passport, which he apparently acquired two weeks after the shooting.
On April 9, with the case making national headlines, Zimmerman launched a website with a PayPal link. Within days, he'd raised more than $200,000.
But later that month, Mark O'Mara, an attorney for Zimmerman, told the court at a bond hearing, "As far as his financial abilities, unfortunately, this is a family of very short means."
"The court was led to believe that they didn't have a single penny," said prosecutor Bernie De La Rionda. "If this [the money] wasn't relevant to bond then why did they lie about it? I don't know what other words to use besides that it was a blatant lie."
Today, the judge seemed to agree.
"They were well aware of the money that was available," Judge Kenneth Lester.
In recordings of conversations released today during a court hearing, Zimmerman and his wife, Shelly Zimmerman, speak in code -- reducing the amounts in their financial accounts by a factor of 1,000. Prosecutors said the couple knew that their jailhouse conversations were likely being recorded.
In some of the phone calls between the two, she is at a credit union that was linked to his PayPal account and speaking to a teller. The prosecution said that despite being in jail, Zimmerman was "intimately involved in the deposit and transfer of money into various accounts."
In the conversations, prosecutors said, Zimmerman and his wife also cryptically talk about his second passport in a safety deposit box they shared.
Although one of his passports was due to expire in May, prosecutors said today, Zimmerman applied for a second passport, informing the State Department that the original had been lost or stolen.
Zimmerman is accused of tracking down and killing teenager Trayvon Martin, who caught the attention of the neighborhood watch captain in his gated Florida community.
The new documents show that Zimmerman had $135,000 in his bank account the day before his bail hearing -- in which he declared himself financially indigent.
Ben Crump, the Martins' family attorney, said that Trayvon Martin's parents had always maintained that Zimmerman should remain in custody until a trial.
"If the shoe was on the other foot, Trayvon Martin would have been put in jail," Crump said.
The prosecution and defense also have banded together against more than a dozen media companies' demands to uncork another batch of sealed records that could reveal much more about both Zimmerman and Martin that night.
The attorneys for Zimmerman and the state will likely try to keep sealed Zimmerman's statements to police, his text messages and the names and addresses of 22 witnesses who saw or heard the fighting between Zimmerman and Martin Feb. 26.
Both sides have argued that given the intense controversy and scrutiny over the shooting, keeping a lid on public information about the identity of witnesses and Zimmerman's allegedly inconsistent statements given to police the night of the shooting would enable them to more fairly pursue justice.
However, the media companies countered that violates Florida's especially open public records laws. The judge ruled that under Florida law, more information needed to be made public. He also said that he needed 30 days to do that.
Zimmerman has claimed that he shot the unarmed 17-year-old Feb. 26 in self-defense.
The prosecution has accused the neighborhood watchman of "profiling" Martin, who is black; following him; and entering into a confrontation that eventually led him to draw his weapon and shoot Martin in the chest.
Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara wrote on his blog that once he receives all the evidence from the state he will begin deposing about 50 witnesses, including experts. He added the trial is now not expected to begin until 2013.
O'Mara has brought on a new co-counsel to help him with the case, Orlando attorney Donald West, who specializes in murder cases.
West resigned from his post at the federal public defender's office in Orlando specifically to join O'Mara and defend Zimmerman.