The judge’s order portrays Zimmerman as “manipulating the system to his own benefit,” adding that “the evidence is clear that the Defendant and his wife acted in concert, but primarily at the Defendant’s direction, to conceal their cash holdings. They spoke in rudimentary code to conceal the true amount of money they were dealing with.” And the judge used one of the witnesses called by the defense: forensic accountant Adam Magill, who reviewed the Zimmerman’s finances at O’Mara’s request, to bolster that finding, noting that in his testimony, Magill “admitted that one interpretation of the Defendant’s actions was to hide money,” though Magill “also stated that it was not a very effective way to do so because all of the bank transactions were traceable.”
The judge’s order notes that Zimmerman also failed to disclose that he had a second passport — an issue Lester dismissed at the initial bond hearing in April. The order indicates that the newly discovered cash made the passport more relevant to the court, with the judge writing that “together with the passport, the money only had to be hidden for a short time for him to leave the country if the Defendant made a quick decision to flee.” Therefore, the judge writes, “it is entirely reasonable for this Court to find that, but for the requirement that he be placed on electronic monitoring, the Defendant and his wife would have fled the United States with at least $130,000 of other people’s money.”
The order rebukes nearly every aspect of O’Mara’s June 29 defense, even accusing Zimmerman of failing to correct O’Mara’s inadvertent misrepresentation to the court in declaring his client indigent in April, and stating that Zimmerman effectively misled O’Mara too, including in allowing his lawyer to represent him free of charge.
The extensive citations in the order indicate that Lester took seriously the implication in O’Mara’s defense that Lester’s original, April ruling hinged in part on the “strength” of the prosecution’s case — which O’Mara indicated Lester could not have fully known because at that time, substantial evidence had not been released as part of the discovery process. Lester made it clear that what mattered more in the second bond hearing was what O’Mara failed to present: a cogent explanation of why Zimmerman and his wife misled the court.
The $1 million bond amount means that Zimmerman would have to post at least $100,000 to a bail bondsman, along with pledged assets in the full bond amount.
In addition, the judge’s order puts harsh restrictions on Zimmerman’s movement, should he bond out. In addition to the prohibition on having any contact, direct or indirect, with Martin’s family, and the requirement that he remain on electronic monitoring, Zimmerman would not be allowed to leave Seminole County, Florida (he had previously been permitted to remain in hiding out of state); he would have to check in with authorities every 48 hours, and would not be allowed to “enter the property of the Orlando-Sanford International Airport.” Zimmerman would also not be allowed to apply for or obtain a passport, would be on a curfew, and would not be allowed to open or maintain a bank account.
“The defendant has the ability to post such bail,” the judge writes. “The increased bail is not a punishment; it is meant to allay this court’s concern that the defendant intended to flee the jurisdiction and a lesser amount would not ensure his presence in court.”
UPDATE: Reached by telephone by NBC News, Zimmerman’s defense attorney Mark O’Mara said his client cannot make a $1 million dollar bond, “so he’s not getting out of jail right now.” NBC News correspondent Jamie Novogrod reports that O’Mara added that Zimmerman’s family “does not have collateral to support a million dollar bond,” and that while the legal defense fund O’Mara set up after closing Zimmerman’s PayPal account and website in April has money it (O’Mara has previously stated that the fund has raised more than $200,000) — but “not that much” at this point. Some of the money has been spent on legal costs, O’Mara tells NBC News.
O’Mara was also asked about the condition that Zimmerman remain in Seminole County, home to the city of Sanford, where the shooting took place. O’Mara expressed concern about Zimmerman’s safety in the county, “where he is particularly well-known.” The judge had previously allowed Zimmerman to remain in hiding out of state.
UPDATE 2: Lawyers for Trayvon Martin’s family have issued the following statement:
“Trayvon’s parents would rather that the killer of their unarmed child remain in jail until the trial, however they respect the ruling of the court and the strong message this judge sent that deference to judicial integrity is paramount to all court proceedings. Furthermore, they understand that this is not a sprint to justice, but a long journey to justice that they must bear for their son Trayvon.”
Additional reporting by NBC News correspondent Jamie Novogrod.
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