Will George Zimmerman get out of jail after $135,000 lie?
George Zimmerman's attorney plans to seek a new bond hearing after a Florida judge put Zimmerman back in jail Sunday for lying about his finances. Zimmerman's attorney says he'll apologize to Judge Lester.
Miami — George Zimmerman's attorney says he expects to file a motion Monday seeking a new bond hearing for Trayvon Martin's shooter, who surrendered to authorities in central Florida after a judge revoked his bond.
Wearing a button-down checkered shirt, blue jeans and sneakers, a handcuffed Zimmerman was escorted by two deputy sheriffs from a white minivan into the Seminole County jail Sunday afternoon. He did not answer shouted questions from reporters as he was led inside the jail to be booked, photographed and processed.
The former neighborhood watch volunteer is charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting February of Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in a gated community in Sanford, outside Orlando. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty, claiming he acted in self-defense.
Defense attorney Mark O'Mara carefully chose his words in addressing his next move before Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lester, who on Friday said he believed Zimmerman and his wife had lied to the court in April about their finances to obtain a lower bond.
"He is in custody now," O'Mara said of Zimmerman, 28. "He's going to remain there until we get back before Judge Lester if and when he grants us a bond hearing. It sounded like he might consider it. But that is going to be based upon the motion itself."
O'Mara went on to say Sunday that he thinks the defense "explanation, or apology if it is, should go directly to the person who deserves it, in this case that is Judge Lester."
"Again, (we are) just hoping that the judge will give us an audience so we can further explain away why what happened seems to have happened," O'Mara said.
The judge on Friday gave Zimmerman two days to surrender, and about 40 minutes before the 2:30 p.m. Sunday deadline, the Seminole County jail website listed Zimmerman as an inmate. He was being held without bail and had $500 in his jail account, the website showed. A new booking photo showed a clean-shaven Zimmerman, with a fuller head of hair than the crew cut he sported in his April booking photo.
Seminole County Sheriff Donald Eslinger said Zimmerman turned himself in to two sheriff's deputies around 1:25 p.m. near the jail, and was then driven there.
"He is quiet and cooperative," Eslinger said at a news conference after Zimmerman's surrender.
The sheriff's office said Zimmerman would be in a cell by himself, separated from the general population, because the case is so high-profile. Zimmerman will not have access to a TV.
Prosecutors said last week that Zimmerman and his wife told the judge at a bond hearing in April that they had limited money, even though he had raised about $135,000 through a website set up for his legal defense. They suggested more has been collected since and deposited in a bank account. Defense attorneys say the matter is a misunderstanding.
Zimmerman, who was charged in April in the death of the 17-year-old Martin, was ordered by a judge Friday to return to jail. Zimmerman had been staying at an undisclosed location for his safety.
The judge said Friday he would schedule a hearing after Zimmerman was back in custody so he could explain himself.
His legal team said Sunday they hope Zimmerman's voluntary surrender will show he is not a flight risk. The money Zimmerman has raised is in an independent trust and cannot be directly accessed by Zimmerman or his attorneys, according to a news release.
Zimmerman maintains that he shot Martin in self-defense under Florida's so-called "stand-your-ground" law because the teenager was beating him up after confronting him about following Martin. Zimmerman had called 911 to complain about suspicious activity. Martin was walking from a convenience store to the home of his father's fiancée in the same gated community where Zimmerman lived.
Legal experts say Zimmerman's credibility could become an issue at trial, noting that the case hinges on jurors believing Zimmerman's account of what happened the night in February when Martin was killed.
Police in Sanford did not immediately arrest Zimmerman, citing the Florida stand-your-ground law that gives wide latitude to the use of deadly force rather than retreat in an altercation if someone believes he or she is in danger of being killed or seriously injured.
Protests were held across the nation, and the case spurred an emotional debate about whether race was a factor in Zimmerman's actions and in the initial police handling of the case. Zimmerman's father is white and his mother is from Peru.
After a special prosecutor eventually brought charges against Zimmerman, he was arrested 44 days after the killing.
Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, was asked about the website at the April bond hearing, but she said she didn't know how much money had been raised. The judge set bail at $150,000. Zimmerman was freed a few days later after posting $15,000 in cash — which is typical.
Prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda complained Friday, "This court was led to believe they didn't have a single penny. It was misleading and I don't know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie."
The defense countered that Zimmerman and his wife never used the money for anything, which indicated "there was no deceit."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.