DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Aug. 29 (UPI) -- An appeals court in Florida Wednesday ruled George Zimmerman should get a new judge in his second-degree murder trial for killing unarmed teen Trayvon Martin.
A three-judge panel of the Fifth District Court of Appeal ordered Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. to "enter an order of disqualification which requests the chief circuit judge to appoint a successor judge," the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The appeals court found Lester should be removed from the case for having written in a July 5 ruling that Zimmerman was "manipulating" the court system. Lester set bail at $1 million in that ruling but accused Zimmerman of showing "blatant disregard for the judicial system."
Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, arguing for a new judge, said he did not believe Lester could treat his client fairly.
"Although many of the allegations in Zimmerman's motion [for a new judge], standing alone, do not meet the legal sufficiency test, and while this is admittedly a close call, upon careful review we find that the allegations, taken together, meet the threshold test of legal sufficiency," the appeal court judges wrote.
Prosecutors argued Lester's remark was based on evidence that Zimmerman and his wife had been hiding assets and were not truthful about that during an April bond hearing.
Zimmerman, 28, shot and killed Martin, who was 17, in Sanford, Fla., Feb. 26. He has claimed self-defense.