By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES — George Zimmerman, who was forced to return to jail after his bail was revoked by a Florida judge, will get a new hearing to determine if he will be released while awaiting legal proceedings in the death of Trayvon Martin.
Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester will preside over the bond hearing scheduled for June 29, the court said in a statement released Thursday. Zimmerman’s lawyers have yet to file a motion, but have indicated they will seek a new bond.
Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Martin, 17, during a February confrontation at a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman lives in the community and often patrolled it as a neighborhood watch volunteer; Martin was returning to the home of his father’s girlfriend after a visit to a convenience store.
Zimmerman has acknowledged shooting the unarmed black teenager, but argued it was self-defense.
Sanford police originally did not charge Zimmerman, but after six weeks of protests from local and national civil rights leaders, Florida Gov. Rick Scott appointed a special prosecutor who charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder. Zimmerman was arrested and released after a hearing and posting a bond of $150,000.
In arguing for the original bond, lawyers representing Zimmerman said that $150,000 was about the most the family could afford because he was unemployed and his wife, Shellie, was a full-time student.
However, Zimmerman failed to tell authorities at the bail hearing that he had raised a significant amount of money through a website created to help him. Prosecutors complained about the omission and Judge Lester last week revoked the bond, forcing Zimmerman to return to jail Sunday.
The defense has acknowledged in court and on its website that Zimmerman should have declared the added funds.
“The audio recordings of Mr. Zimmerman’s phone conversations while in jail make it clear that Mr. Zimmerman knew a significant sum had been raised by his original fund-raising website,” lawyers wrote on the official defense website. “We feel the failure to disclose these funds was caused by fear, mistrust, and confusion. The gravity of this mistake has been distinctly illustrated, and Mr. Zimmerman understands that this mistake has undermined his credibility, which he will have to work to repair.”
The defense also argues that the funds were disclosed as soon as Zimmerman told his lawyers.
According to the defense, Zimmerman raised $204,000 on the website. Of that money, about $150,000 was transferred to the current legal defense fund and $30,000 “was used to make the complicated transition from private life in Sanford, Fla., to a life in hiding as a defendant in a high-profile court case. The balance of approximately $20,000 was kept liquid to provide living expenses for the first several months as the legal process unfolds.”
In its forthcoming motion. the defense will argue that Zimmerman should be released on bond because he is not a flight risk.
“While Mr. Zimmerman acknowledges that he allowed his financial situation to be misstated in court, the defense will emphasize that in all other regards, Mr. Zimmerman has been forthright and cooperative,” according to a defense post.
“He gave several voluntary statements to the police, re-enacted the events for them, gave voice exemplars for comparison and stayed in ongoing contact with the Department of Law Enforcement during his initial stage of being in hiding. He has twice surrendered himself to law enforcement when asked to do so, and this should demonstrate that Mr. Zimmerman is not a flight risk. He has also complied with all conditions of his release, including curfew, keeping in touch with his supervising officers, and maintaining his GPS monitoring, without violation.”