By Rene Stutzman, Orlando Sentinel –
SANFORD, Fla. — The judge in the George Zimmerman case agreed Friday to let him travel to Orange County — but only to see his lawyers.
Defense attorney Don West had asked Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. to let Zimmerman, 28, move out of Seminole County.
Lester said no, that would entail too much planning and coordination with local law-enforcement agencies, who are required to monitor Zimmerman’s whereabouts 24 hours a day.
Last month, Lester agreed to free Zimmerman from the Seminole County Jail, provided he post $1 million in bail, wear a satellite tracking device, check in with law enforcement every 48 hours and stay within the county’s confines.
On Feb. 26, Zimmerman, a Sanford Neighborhood Watch volunteer, shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, setting off weeks of civil-rights rallies.
Zimmerman was not arrested for six weeks. He told Sanford police that Martin punched him in the nose, knocking him to the ground, then got on top of him and began banging his head on a sidewalk. He fired one shot, he said, in self-defense.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder. He was not at Friday’s hearing, which lasted eight minutes.
The judge did not rule out the possibility of Zimmerman eventually moving out of Seminole County but said that would require a detailed plan of where he would move and a clear explanation of why he should be permitted to move.
“Right now, it’s not going to be carte blanche,” the judge said.
Afterward, defense attorney Mark O’Mara said he may ask the judge to allow Zimmerman to move to another state. Confining him to one county, O’Mara said, makes it easier for anyone who is trying to track Zimmerman down to find him.
Zimmerman remains in hiding, O’Mara said, living in a small place and, in general, not going outside.
Lester ruled in favor of Zimmerman, at least partially, on another matter Friday: He won’t allow the defendant’s medical records to become public.
Lester said he would review them in private and later listen to lawyers argue about them in a closed court session.
O’Mara had asked the judge to quash a subpoena for Zimmerman’s medical records from an Altamonte Springs doctor’s office.
O’Mara described the subpoena as overly broad, seeking irrelevant information and a breach of his client’s privacy even if they disclose only a “hangnail, a bunion.”
Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda argued in court paperwork that he needs to know more about injuries Zimmerman says he suffered the night he shot and killed Martin.
O’Mara released three pages of Zimmerman’s medical records from the same doctor’s office several weeks ago. They show that the day after the shooting, a physician’s assistant diagnosed Zimmerman with a fractured nose, two black eyes, two cuts to the back of his head and a back injury.
An appeals court is still considering whether to boot Lester off the case. The state on Thursday filed a 26-page pleading, urging the Fifth District Court of Appeal to leave him in place.
Assistant Attorney General Pamela Koller wrote that Lester gave Zimmerman “a well-deserved tongue-lashing” in a July 5 bond order in which the judge accused the defendant of manipulating the court system by failing to disclose that he and his wife had $130,000 and a spare passport.
But in the same order Koller pointed out that Lester ruled in Zimmerman’s favor, granting his request to be released on bail.
When a judge does that, Koller wrote, no reasonable defendant should fear judicial bias.
Also Friday, de la Rionda handed over to O’Mara the most recent batch of state evidence, according to court paperwork. Most of the records should become public in the next week or so.