June 2, 2012 in Nation/World

Zimmerman ordered to return to custody

Accused of lying about finances at hearing
Kyle Hightower Associated Press
 

SANFORD, Fla. – Trayvon Martin’s shooter must return to jail, a judge ordered Friday in a strongly worded ruling that said George Zimmerman and his wife lied to the court about their finances to obtain bond.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder for the February shooting. The neighborhood watch volunteer says he shot Martin in self-defense because the unarmed 17-year-old was beating him up after confronting Zimmerman about following him in a gated community outside Orlando.

Zimmerman was arrested 44 days after the killing, and during a bond hearing in April, his wife, Shellie, testified that the couple had limited funds available.

Prosecutors pointed out in their motion that Zimmerman actually had $135,000 available then. It had been raised from donations through a website he set up and they suggested more has been collected since and deposited in a bank account.

Shellie Zimmerman was asked about the website at the hearing, but she said she didn’t know how much money had been raised. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester set bail at $150,000. The 28-year-old was freed a few days later after posting $15,000 in cash and has since been in hiding.

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 judge agreed and ordered Zimmerman returned to jail by Sunday afternoon.

“Does your client get to sit there like a potted plant and lead the court down the primrose path? That’s the issue,” Lester said. “He can’t sit back and obtain the benefit of a lower bond based upon those material falsehoods.”

The judge questioning Zimmerman’s truthfulness could undermine the defendant’s credibility if it is brought up at trial, which could happen, and may complicate how his defense presents him as a witness, said Orlando-area attorney Randy McClean, who is a former prosecutor.

© Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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