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Zimmerman lawyer argues for bond, says he's not a flight risk

June 25, 2012|By Michael Muskal
  • After his bond was revoked, George Zimmerman returns to the John E. Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman poses no threat to the community and should be released a second time on bail, his attorney said.
After his bond was revoked, George Zimmerman returns to the John E. Polk… (Joshua C. Cruey / Associated…)

George Zimmerman, who has been in jail for more than three weeks because his bond was revoked, should again be freed on bail to await criminal proceedings on charges that he killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, according to a defense motion released Monday.

Zimmerman, 28, is scheduled for a bail hearing on Friday. His first bail bond of $150,000 was revoked June 1 after prosecutors accused him and his wife of misleading the court about how much money they had raised via donations to a website they controlled. Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie, faces perjury charges in connection with her testimony at the first hearing.

In his motion for reasonable bail, defense attorney Mark O’Mara wrote that Zimmerman remains a good candidate for bail because is not a flight risk and has followed all of the conditions law enforcement has requested. In addition, O’Mara says, Zimmerman accepts responsibility for the financial problems that led to the bond being revoked.

“Mr. Zimmerman's failure to advise the court of the existence of the donated funds at the initial bail hearing was wrong and Mr. Zimmerman accepts responsibility for his part in allowing the court to be misled as to his true financial circumstances,” O'Mara wrote. “Counsel, however, points to Mr. Zimmerman's voluntary disclosure of the fund and immediate surrender of any interest in the donated money through transfer of the fund to counsel for deposit in trust.”

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the death of  Martin, an African American 17-year-old. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, argued that he acted in self-defense when he shot Martin to death on the night of Feb. 26 in front of a gated community in Sanford, Fla. Local police did not charge Zimmerman at the time, but after six weeks of protests by civil-rights activists, as well as national demonstrations, a special prosecutor charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder.

On April 20, the court granted Zimmerman bail on various conditions including the posting of a $150,000 bond. The prosecution had sought no bond, or one of $1 million. In granting the lesser amount, the court cited the defense argument that the family could not afford to pay the higher amount and that Zimmerman was not a flight risk.

During the hearing, Shellie Zimmerman testified that the couple had limited funds because she was a full-time nursing student and he was unemployed. Prosecutors, however, later argued that jailhouse telephone calls between Zimmerman and his wife before the hearing illustrated how he instructed his wife to move around funds from the website to her account.

The initial website has since been shut down, attorney O’Mara said.

The money is now “under the control of an independent trustee and is not accessible to Mr. Zimmerman or his family,” the motion said. “Any expenditure on behalf of Mr. Zimmerman must be approved by the fund administrator.”

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Join Michael on Google+. Email: michael.muskal@latimes.com

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