Zimmerman Headed To Jail After Bond Is Revoked
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In Sanford, Florida, a surprising development at a hearing for George Zimmerman. He's the Neighborhood Watch volunteer charged in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The African-American teenager's family contends he was a victim of racial profiling.
Well, today, Judge Kenneth Lester revoked Zimmerman's bail, and gave him 48 hours to turn himself in to authorities. That action came after prosecutors presented evidence that Zimmerman and his wife misled the court about their finances and hid the fact that Zimmerman has a second passport.
NPR's Greg Allen reports.
GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: It was expected to be a routine hearing on motions by media organizations, to open more of the documents and evidence in the case to public view. What wasn't expected was a motion filed by prosecutors, asking the court revoke George Zimmerman's bond.
Assistant state attorney Bernie De La Rionda told the court that during his bond hearing on April 20th, both Zimmerman and his wife deliberately deceived the court on a couple of matters. At that hearing, Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Meara, turned in to the court what he said was his client's only passport. But prosecutors say they determined Zimmerman actually had a second passport.
But for Zimmerman, even more damning was the evidence prosecutors presented about his finances. Before he hired O'Meara as his attorney, Zimmerman set up a website to fund his defense, that accumulated some $200,000 in donations before it was shut down. At the time of the bond hearing on April 20th, Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, told the court she and her husband didn't have the money to assist in paying bail, later set by the judge at $150,000.
Asked about the website and how much money in donations had been received, she said she didn't know. Now, prosecutors say, there's clear evidence Zimmerman and his wife knew about the $200,000 that had been received. In their motion, prosecutors include transcripts of recorded jailhouse conversations in which Zimmerman and his wife apparently used coded language to discuss the website account - how much money is in it, and how much to withdraw.
According to prosecutors, at least two of the calls took place while Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, was accessing the account at a credit union. Prosecutor Bernie De La Rionda laid it all out today in court.
BERNIE DE LA RIONDA: And the defendant, through Ms. Zimmerman, lied to this court about the amount of money they had. Now, I would argue to the court that that is an egregious violation, in terms of the representations that were made to this court. It was misleading - and I don't know what other words to use, other than it was a blatant lie.
ALLEN: Prosecutors say they believe Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Meara, was also misled by the couple about the passport and the money in their website account. That's a point O'Meara tried to make today with Judge Lester.
MARK O'MEARA: Was there a misrepresentation to you? I said in my letter, I wouldn't - had I known about it, the day before the hearing...
JUDGE KENNETH LESTER: That's not the issue.
O'MEARA: ...it would have been moved out of their hands.
LESTER: That's not the issue.
LESTER: You know what the issue is. The issue is, does your client get to sit there like a potted palm, and let you lead me down the primrose path?
ALLEN: At the end of the hearing, a clearly displeased Judge Lester ordered Zimmerman to turn himself in to the Seminole County sheriff within 48 hours. O'Meara says he hopes the revocation of bail is temporary, and the judge will give Zimmerman another chance soon to explain his behavior, and consider releasing him on bail.
The attorney representing Trayvon Martin's family, Benjamin Crump, said after the hearing he believes Zimmerman should remain in jail until he stands trial. And Crump said Zimmerman's lies to the court hurt his credibility as to what happened on that night in February, when he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
Greg Allen, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.