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Zimmerman, after seeking to be declared indigent, hires private lawyer

Nov. 26, 2013 at 1:09 PM   |   Comments

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SANFORD, Fla., Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Floridian George Zimmerman, after doing indigence paperwork, dropped his public defender in a domestic violence case for a private attorney, his ex-lawyer said.

Zimmerman was represented by the public defender's office during his first court appearance last week after he was arrested for domestic violence. Jeff Dowdy, his former public defender, said Zimmerman now is represented by private criminal defense attorney Jayne Weintraub, the Orlando Sentinel reported Monday.

Weintraub has been on cable networks HLN and CNN as a legal commentator, including commentary on Zimmerman's murder case in the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, 17, in Sanford. Zimmerman, who said he shot the unarmed teen in self-defense, was acquitted this year.

In a motion filed by the public defender's office, Zimmerman asked that several items seized by police last week be returned because they are "not related to the [domestic violence] charges in any way and are not considered evidence" in the case. The items include an Apple iPhone, a Blackberry cellphone, a hand-held flashlight and a pocket knife.

During a search of their home, deputies found a KelTec 12-gauge shotgun, an assault rifle, a .380-caliber handgun, a 9mm handgun, a Glock 19 handgun and more than 100 rounds of ammunition, the search warrant said.

Zimmerman, 30, is accused of pointing a shotgun at Samantha Scheibe, his girlfriend, breaking a glass table, forcing Scheibe from her home and then barricading himself inside.

Unclear was how Zimmerman would pay his legal fees, the Sentinel said. In paperwork Zimmerman filed for indigence status, he claimed to have $144 on hand and to owe $2.5 million.

Weintraub didn't return the Sentinel's request for comment.

The search warrant indicated Zimmerman talked to deputies after he was taken into custody Nov. 19, telling them he and Scheibe had lived together since Aug. 23, that she was pregnant with his child and that they had agreed to separate, the Sentinel said. Scheibe later told officials she wasn't pregnant.

He told deputies Scheibe began to throw his belongings about their house, including two of his guns, the shotgun and one of the handguns.

In a recorded phone call with a dispatcher, he said he had not pointed a gun at her. He told deputies in his face-to-face interview that he had not touched or pushed her, the warrant states.

He also told deputies he recorded the argument on his cell phone, which conflicts with his request for the return of two cellphones, the Sentinel said.

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