A judge on Friday revoked bond for George Zimmerman, who is charged with second degree murder in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman has been ordered to turn himself in and be returned to jail within 48 hours.
The dramatic turn of events came as Judge Kenneth Lester ruled that Zimmerman and his family misled the court during an April bond hearing about how much money he and his family had access to. Zimmerman was released on $150,000 bond in April, after he and his family testified that they lacked any assets and Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, requested a bond of $15.000. The state had sought a bond of $1 million.
During the April 20 hearing, Zimmerman, his wife Shellie, and his parents testified that they were indigent, and had no significant assets they could sell in order to provide for his bail. Zimmerman’s parents own a home in Lake Mary, an affluent suburb near Sanford, Florida, where Zimmerman and his wife rented a townhome in the gated community where he shot Trayvon Martin. Shellie Zimmerman told Lester, in telephone testimony at the bond hearing, that neither she nor George was working or receiving unemployment benefits, and that they had no savings. When asked specifically about a website Zimmerman had set up, which was linked to a PayPal account, Shellie Zimmreman testified that she did not know how much money was in the account. Shellie Zimmerman also told the judge at that time that her brother-in-law would be the person who knew how much money was in the account, but that he was not there to talk to the judge. Shellie Zimmerman added that she did not know how long the website had been in existence, since she had not seen her husband since he went into hiding (prior to his arrest) — though they communicated daily by phone.
Prosecutors focused on Mrs. Zimmerman’s April testimony in their motion to have Zimmerman’s bond revoked, saying the “Defendant’s family members misinformed the Court (the State would use a much stronger and accurate word to describe what occurred — Defndant’s wife lied to the Court) about Defendant and his family’s finances.” The motion further stated that Zimmerman’s attorneys “told the Court that the money had now been transferred into a trust account controlled by Defense Counsel.”
Zimmerman’s previous attorneys resigned from the case in April, after losing touch with Zimmerman and learning he had set up the site without notifying them.
It later turned out that the site had taken in over $200,000 in donations. At the time bond was set, prosecutors say Zimmerman had $135,000 available.
O’Mara called the issue of Zimmerman’s finances an innocent mistake. But attorneys for Martin’s family say the disclosures go to Zimmerman, credibility, which attorney Ben Crump called crucial to his self-defense claim.
Prosecutors on Friday also said Zimmerman had a second passport, which he failed to disclose to the court. During the April 20 bond hearing, O’Mara told the judge Zimmerman’s current passport is “the only passport he has,” and said it expired in May. It was that passport which Zimmerman surrendered to the court upon receiving bond. But prosecutors on Friday said Zimmerman had a second passport, which he had applied for after reporting one stolen, and that the second passport doesn’t expire until 2014. Prosecutors said they learned about the second passport from a recorded call between Zimmerman and his wife while he was in custody in the Seminole County jail, during which Shellie Zimmerman told her husband she had a passport for him in a safety deposit box, to which Zimmerman responded, “ok, you hold onto that.”
Prosecutors said they notified authorities about the additional passport and that authorities were “on alert” in case Zimmerman “attempts to use the passport to flee the country.”
Prosecutors said they also discovered during those jailhouse calls that Zimmerman discussed deposits from his PayPal account into Shellie Zimmerman’s credit union account, and that Shellie Zimmerman knew that the calls were being recorded. And while on the phone, Shellie and George Zimmerman discussed having as little as $8 in her account, credit union statements show that on the day before the bond hearing, the Zimmermans had over $135,000 in the account, which Shellie Zimmerman had access to. Furthermore, prosecutors said George Zimmerman “fully controlled and participated in the transfer of money from the PayPal accounts to Defendant and his wife’s Credit Union Accounts,” at the same time they were claiming indigence. And that the couple “spoke in code” on the phone to avoid detection by authorities.
The court filing states that the state is “certain” that O’Mara was unaware of what Zimmerman was doing, or about the second passport, and that prosecutors are alleging that the attorney, like the state, was “misled” by Zimmerman.
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