George Zimmerman's bond revoked by judge, 48 hours to surrender
SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — A judge on Friday revoked the bond of the neighborhood watch volunteer charged with murdering Trayvon Martin and ordered him returned to jail within 48 hours, saying George Zimmerman and his wife misled the court about how much money they had available when his bond was set at $150,000.
Prosecutors claim Zimmerman had $135,000 available that had been raised by a website he set up. Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, testified at the bond hearing in April that they had limited funds available since she was a nursing student and Zimmerman wasn't working.
"He can't sit back and obtain the benefit of a lower bond based upon those material falsehoods," said Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester when he made his ruling.
Defense attorney Mark O'Mara said the fact that Zimmerman and his wife never used the money for anything indicated "there was no deceit." Since his release in late April, Zimmerman has been staying at an undisclosed location for his safety.
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."
Zimmerman is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder and claims self-defense. Zimmerman shot Martin in February during a confrontation at a gated community of townhouses in Sanford, Fla., where Zimmerman lived and where the 17-year-old Martin was visiting his father's fiancee.
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Trayvon Martin's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, said his clients have always said Zimmerman should remain in jail until trial, which O'Mara said he believed wouldn't be until next year.
Crump was asked if he thought that if Zimmerman would be willing to lie about his finances that he would be willing to lie about what happen the night Martin was killed.
"We fully expect that the special prosecutor will make George Zimmerman's credibility be front and center in this entire case," Crump said. "And whatever dishonesty that comes forth by George Zimmerman that they can prove, you can best believe it will be the issue of this case and rightfully so."
Prosecutors also said Zimmerman had failed to surrender a second passport, but Lester 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.
The delay in an arrest for 44 days prompted protests nationwide and led to Sanford's police chief stepping aside so emotions could cool down.
Prosecutors also argued that Zimmerman has a second passport in addition to the one he surrendered.
Zimmerman was previously released after making a bond that had been set at $150,000. On Friday, Judge Lester gave the 28-year old Zimmerman two days to turn himself in.
The defendant has repeatedly claimed he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense on the night of Feb. 26 as the teen was walking in Zimmerman's Sanford, Fla. community.
Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said Friday that George Zimmerman misled the court about how much money he 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.
At his bail hearing on the murder charge, Zimmerman’s lawyers argued that the family had limited finances. Bond was eventually set at $150,000; Zimmerman posted it and was then released. He has been in seclusion, citing death threats.
According to a transcript of the April bond hearing, Zimmerman's wife testified that they had limited funds since she was a nursing student and Zimmerman was unemployed.
But it was later revealed that Zimmerman had raised more than $200,000 from a website the family set up to solicit contributions for the defense. That money was not disclosed during the bail hearing.
On Friday, prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda described the Zimmermans' testimony as false.
“This court was led to believe they didn't have a single penny,” De la Rionda said. “It was misleading and I don't know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie.”
Defense attorney Mark O'Mara argued that the omission was simply a misunderstanding.
But Lester sided with prosecutors. Zimmerman “can't sit back and obtain the benefit of a lower bond based upon those material falsehoods,” the judge said.
Zimmerman also surrendered his passport to authorities as a condition of being released. But in their papers, prosecutors said Zimmerman had a second passport which he still has. The second passport was a replacement for the first, which reportedly was lost.