Zimmerman denied lower bond

Dec. 11, 2012 at 2:28 PM
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SANFORD, Fla., Dec. 11 (UPI) -- A Florida judge denied requests by accused killer George Zimmerman's lawyer to lower Zimmerman's bail and remove a GPS tracking device.

Seminole County Circuit Judge Debra Nelson heard arguments on a number of evidentiary and procedural points in the trial over the death of teenager Trayvon Martin, the Orlando Sentinel said Tuesday. Zimmerman lawyer Mark O'Mara told Nelson there was a presumption of innocence and displayed a picture of the defendant with a bloody nose taken after the incident that left Martin dead of a gunshot wound. Nelson denied Zimmerman's request to lower his bond amount and kept in place the GPS tracking device Zimmerman must wear. He is not allowed to leave Seminole County except to travel to O'Mara's office in Orange County.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford chased down Martin, who was unarmed and walking home from a store to his father's house the night of Feb. 26. A scuffle ensued and Zimmerman shot Martin, though Zimmerman contends he was acting in self-defense.

O'Mara argued his client had received threats in Seminole County and needed to be moved for his own safety. Prosecutors questioned that logic.

"Isn't the defendant safer if law enforcement knows exactly where he is?" prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda asked. "If there are threats, why is he appearing on national television?"

Nelson also ruled on several points of evidence:

-- Prosecutors will have to turn over their initial interview with Martin's girlfriend, a key point of evidence because Martin was on the phone with the girl just moments before his death.

-- Zimmerman's defense team will be allowed to re-depose Sanford police investigator William Erwin, who initially played the 911 call recording for Martin's father. Defense lawyers contend Erwin was present when Tracy Martin said the screams for help were not his son, but has since changed his story.

-- Furthermore, the state will have to notify defense lawyers of any witnesses who believe the screams were coming from Zimmerman and not Martin and defense lawyers will be allowed to depose them to consider adding them to a defense witness roster.

The next hearing in the case is set for Jan. 8. A hearing on whether charges should be dismissed on the grounds of Florida's controversial stand-your-ground law is set for April. A trial is tentatively set for June.

A separate political action committee formed by the Martin family to change Florida's stand your ground law appears to be faltering. "Change for Trayvon," a political fundraising group the family formed, did not impact November's elections and politicians question whether a push to reverse the law in the capital would be successful.

Despite its controversial nature, particularly in the black community, the stand-your-ground statute remains popular in Florida, with a recent poll finding 56 percent of state residents in favor of it.

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