Zimmerman awaits judge's ruling on bail hearing
SANFORD, Fl. (NBC) -- A bail hearing in Sanford, Fla. for George Zimmerman concluded Friday after a heated exchange in which prosecutors argued for denying bond and the defense called on the judge to reinstate the defendant's $150,000 bail, which was revoked in early June.
Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lester was weighing the arguments and will issue his ruling by written order, a public information officer for the Seminole County court said. The spokesman did not offer the timing of that order.
Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in the February shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, is seeking release on bail for the second time. His initial bail of $150,000 was revoked and he was rearrested on June 3, after prosecutors argued that Zimmerman, with the aid of his wife's testimony, had misled the court about their financial picture in the first bail hearing on April 20.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, and asserted that he acted in self-defense.
Earlier in the three-hour proceedings, Zimmerman's father, Robert John Zimmerman, took the stand briefly.
After the elder Zimmerman was sworn in, defense attorney Mark O'Mara played a witness 911 tape that captured the sounds of screaming and a shot being fired during the fatal encounter between Trayvon and Zimmerman.
Under questioning by O'Mara, the elder Zimmerman said he told state investigators that the voice of the man screaming "was absolutely George's."
Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda then questioned Robert Zimmerman, asking how his son could make those screaming noises if, as George Zimmerman told police, Martin was covering his nose and mouth.
Robert Zimmerman responded, "From the look of my son's injuries, Trayvon Martin's hands were not just on his nose and mouth."
The court heard testimony from firefighter Kevin O'Rourke, of the Sanford Fire Department, who was called to the scene after the shooting. O'Rourke, who said he attended to Zimmerman, answered questions about the severity of the shooter's injuries.
"I observed that he had blood on his face and the back of his head," O'Rourke said.
He said that Zimmerman's nose was "obviously deformed," agreeing with defense attorney Don West that the injury was consistent with a broken nose. But under questioning by prosecutor de la Rionda, O'Rourke said he didn't diagnose Zimmerman with a broken nose.
The court was also shown the last minutes of a video taken by Sanford police on February 27 in which Zimmerman discusses wounds to his nose and head.
Zimmerman appeared at the hearing wearing a grey suit, after O'Mara had successfully argued that showing up in prison garb and shackles could damage his client's chances of getting a fair trial.
Martin's older brother Jahvaris Martin attended the hearing, along with Trayvon's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton. The family was escorted -- and sat with -- family attorney Benjamin Crump.
Following the money
At the start of the hearing, the first witness to testify, at the request of Zimmerman's defense attorney Mark O'Mara, was an accounting expert Adam MaGill, who detailed a series of money transfers conducted by the defendant's wife, using money contributed for his legal defense.
MaGill, who was called by the defense, said he was asked by O'Mara to look at records of money transfers from Zimmerman's PayPal account to the official legal defense fund later established by O'Mara.
The judge determined that Zimmerman and his wife Shellie misled the court about their finances his first bail hearing.
Shellie Zimmerman testified at that April 20 proceeding that she did not know how much money was in a PayPal account set up for contributions to her husband's legal defense.
In recorded telephone conversations from jail prior to that date, Zimmerman and his wife appear to discuss — in thinly disguised code — the amount of money in the account, and he instructs her to make a series of transfers to other accounts, the prosecution charges. (Read original report.)
Special Prosecutor Angela Corey used the recordings to persuade the judge to revoke the original bond for George Zimmerman. Shellie Zimmerman was arrested on June 12, charged with perjury and released on $1,000 bond.
She was not present at Friday's bond hearing for her husband.
O’Mara told NBC on Thursday that if Zimmerman is released on bond, he would go back into hiding for his own safety. The shooting death of Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in February has stirred an emotional national debate about race, gun rights and "stand your ground" laws like the one in Florida that use a broad definition of self-defense.