Zimmerman's defense team files appeal to remove judge from case

(CNN) -- Lawyers for George Zimmerman, the Florida man charged with murder in the death of teenager Trayvon Martin, said Monday that they are appealing a judge's decision not to step aside in the controversial case.

In a one-sentence order issued August 1, Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said that defense lawyers' July request that he recuse himself was "legally insufficient."

The same team announced Monday on a website they've set up that they'd since filed a petition for writ of prohibition asking Florida's fifth district appeals court to try to remove Lester from the case. The office of lawyer Mark O'Mara later confirmed to CNN that the appeal was filed Monday.

"Right now, of course, he is still the trial judge on the case, (and) we're still moving forward with whatever we have to do or need to do," O'Mara said of Lester on Monday, according to CNN affiliate WESH. "But the appellate court will handle what's called this extraordinary writ as quickly as they can."

On April 20, weeks after the February 26 shooting and nine days after charges were issued, Lester set a $150,000 bond for Zimmerman. But the judge revoked that bond in June, after learning that Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, had misrepresented their financial situation during a court hearing, including failing to disclose more than $150,000 in donations from the public.

In his order last month, Lester said that the new $1 million bail order was not a punishment but an amount that assured the court that Zimmerman would not abscond.

In his ruling, Lester wrote about the first bond hearing and noted an undisclosed second passport kept in Zimmerman's safe deposit box.

"Notably, 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," the judge said. "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."

Lester wrote that the defendant's plans to flee were "thwarted."

Days later, the defense team filed a motion in circuit court saying Zimmerman cannot get a fair trial because Lester used "gratuitous, disparaging" language in his second bail order.

"Mr. Zimmerman has lost faith in the objectivity of this court and has a reasonable, well-founded fear that he will not receive a fair trial by this court," his lawyers said in the document.

Zimmerman's attorneys particularly took issue with two of the judge's comments: "Under any definition, the defendant has flouted the system," citing the definition of flout, and "The defendant has tried to manipulate the system when he has been presented the opportunity to do so."

The 28-year-old Zimmerman is free after posting the more recent $1 million bond. He's charged with second-degree murder in the death of Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black teen who was shot and killed while walking through Zimmerman's Sanford, Florida, neighborhood.

Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense during a struggle, but prosecutors say he ignored a 911 dispatcher's advice not to follow the teen.
 

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

or Subscribe now so you can share your opinion! It’s only a penny for a month trial.

More Trayvon Martin Stories
George Zimmerman's wife is filing for divorce
George Zimmerman's wife is filing for divorce

George Zimmerman's wife is filing for divorce.

Juror: I owe Trayvon's family an apology
Juror: I owe Trayvon's family an apology

The second juror to speak publicly about George Zimmerman's trial tells ABC News that she feels the neighborhood watch volunteer got away…

Zimmerman trial discussed at forum
Zimmerman trial discussed at forum

The Cincinnati Human Relations Commission hosted a public forum Monday night in an effort to bridge the gaps that have formed since a jury…

4 jurors distance themselves from B37
4 jurors distance themselves from B37

The four jurors issued a brief statement on court stationary saying that the opinions expressed by Juror B37 to CNN's Anderson Cooper on…

Juror: Zimmerman had right to defend
Juror: Zimmerman had right to defend

A juror in the George Zimmerman trial said Monday that the actions of the neighborhood watch volunteer and Trayvon Martin both led to the…

Florida cities on guard for unrest
Florida cities on guard for unrest

Police and city leaders in Florida say they have taken precautionary steps for the possibility of mass protests or even civil unrest if…

Zimmerman portrayed as vigilante
Zimmerman portrayed as vigilante

George Zimmerman was fed up with "punks" getting away with crime and shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin "because he wanted to," not because he…

Photo appears to show Zimmerman bleeding
Photo appears to show Zimmerman bleeding

A photo posted online Monday shows George Zimmerman with blood on his nose and lips. His attorneys say it was taken the night unarmed teen…

Fatal FL shooting like Martin case?
Fatal FL shooting like Martin case?

The fatal shooting of a Florida teenager who was listening to loud music in a car a week ago has drawn comparisons to the Trayvon Martin…

Tentative June trial set in Martin case
Tentative June trial set in Martin case

A judge set a tentative trial date next year for a neighborhood watch volunteer charged with fatally shooting Trayvon Martin.