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No new freedom for George Zimmerman; he must keep 24-hour monitor

December 11, 2012|By Michael Muskal

George Zimmerman, charged with the second-degree murder of an unarmed black teenager, will continue to have 24-hour-a-day electronic monitoring, a Florida judge ruled Tuesday.

At a hearing in Sanford, Fla., Circuit Judge Debra Nelson rejected a defense request to modify the conditions of Zimmerman’s release. The defense had sought to have the full-time GPS monitoring discontinued and permission to allow Zimmerman to go outside the county.

Tuesday’s hearing was the latest on procedural motions involving Zimmerman, who shot Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26. Zimmerman has claimed he acted in self-defense in shooting the teenager during an altercation while the prosecution has argued that the former neighborhood watch volunteer profiled Martin because of his race.

The case roiled racial tensions in Florida and became a national issue when civil rights leaders held a series of demonstrations arguing that Zimmerman, who had been initially released, should face criminal charges. A special prosecutor was appointed after weeks of demonstrations and charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder.

Zimmerman is currently free on $1-million bond and has been living in hiding as a security measure. His trial has been tentatively scheduled in mid-June and a special hearing on the self-defense argument is set for April.

Florida is one of the states that has a broad “stand-your-ground” law that gives leeway for someone to claim self-defense at a special hearing before the criminal trial begins. If successful at the hearing, Zimmerman would not have to face murder charges.

It is usual for both sides to present motions in the early phase of the criminal proceedings. In addition to seeking to loosen the conditions of his bond, the defense has been seeking more evidence from prosecutors.

In the early rulings, Nelson allowed the defense to re-depose police investigator William Erwin, who the defense says was present when police played a 911 audio for Trayvon Martin’s father.

Prosecutors also will have to turn over to the defense the original recording of Benjamin Crump's interview of a girl identified as Martin’s girlfriend. Crump is one of the attorneys for the Martin family.

The girlfriend, identified as Witness 8, says she was on the phone with Trayvon Martin in the moments before the shooting.

Other defense motions seek more records from state and federal investigations of the shooting in Sanford.

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