Just as more and more evidence emerges that George Zimmerman and supporters, perhaps even including his wife, may have been colluding to mislead the court in securing a lower bond for him, public outrage continues to swell over rumblings his attorneys could now be plotting a course of action where they will seek to have such incriminating testimony completely stricken from the record if and when the case ever goes to trial.
Randy McLean and David Hill, a pair of high-powered Orlando defense attorneys closely monitoring the case, told the Orlando Sentinel they fully expect Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s lead attorney, to challenge the admissibility of his client’s bond revocation on the grounds it is irrelevant to the overall disposition of the case.
“The other key witness unfortunately is deceased,” said McClean, in rationalizing his theory. “Basically, Zimmerman is going to be asking the jury to believe his version of the facts…and his credibility is absolutely critical to the case.”
Clad in a black checkered shirt and light-colored jeans, Zimmerman walked into the Sanford County Jail mere minutes before the 48 hour deadline Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lester had imposed for him to surrender to in connection with the shooting death of 17-year-old Florida teen Trayvon Martin late February. Zimmerman was remanded back to custody earlier in the week after prosecutors presented overwhelming evidence he knowingly lied about his finances in gaining a cash bond of just $15,000 upon his release.
At that very moment, prosecutor Bernie De La Rionda exhibited to the court that Zimmerman, who now faces second-degree murder charges, had access to at least $135,000 in funds that had been raised for his defense via his website and PayPal donations.
“The court was led to believe they didn’t have a single penny… he declared himself financially indigent,” De La Rionda boomed before the court. “If this money wasn’t relevant why did they have to lie about it? I don’t know what other words to use besides that it was a blatant lie.”
So brazen, in fact, that even as Zimmerman moved to turn himself in, Martin family lead attorney Benjamin Crump still fumed over what he perceives as the son of a former Orange County magistrate court judge’s clear and flagrant disrespect of the law.
“The Martin family has always maintained that he should remain in custody until a trial,” Crump said of Zimmerman, who maintains he only acted in self-defense and should be absolved under Florida’s controversial “stand your ground law” because Martin ultimately attacked and beat him into near unconsciousness.
“This is such an important ruling because, once again, George Zimmerman’s credibility is the issue,” added Crump. “Judge Lester’s ruling in this matter is so important because it causes everyone to focus on Zimmerman’s credibility… this is crucial when it is only Zimmerman’s testimony that Trayvon attacked him and all the objective evidence says he pursued, confronted and shot Trayvon.”
Raising Crump’s ire all the more are released phone recordings presented by prosecutors which capture Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, cryptically speaking in coded language about shielding the monies they’d collected from the court, including one conversation where she is actually at a credit union speaking with a teller about transferring the funds into various private accounts.
Along with prosecutors, Crump alludes to the fact the couple knew their conversations were being recorded as perhaps further evidence of Zimmerman’s reckless disregard for all authority.
In a case that has garnered national attention and sparked widespread debate about race and gun laws all across this nation, the unarmed Martin was shot to death just steps from his father’s gated community home admitingly by Zimmerman, whom prosecutors contend profiled the teen and ignored a dispatcher’s prescient orders to cease with trailing the teen.
In initial police reports, Chris Serino, the lead detective first assigned to the case, sought to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter, scribbling in his notes of constant inconsistencies in his story. Since then, prosecutors have argued the entire incident could have been avoided had Zimmerman not took such an aggressive and demonstrative stance in confronting the unsuspecting victim.
“If Trayvon Martin had done any of the things George Zimmerman is accused of, he would have been in jail from the first day and he would have stayed there,” said Crump.
In a tweet on Twitter, Martin’s mom, Sybrina, wrote: “Praise God,” while his brother Jahvaris tweeted: “Zimmerman has been locked back up. I hope he stays in jail. Children will be much safer.”
Alarming prosecutors all the more are reports of a second passport Zimmerman was in possession of, but failed to make the court aware of at the time he was required to surrender all such documentation. Testimony shows that his lawyers contend he only obtained a second one after informing the State Department years ago he had misplaced the first. In any event, at a time when it was thought he had surrendered all such materials, he was still in possession of valid paperwork, permitting him to travel worldwide.
In one recorded phone call, Zimmerman is heard telling his wife he thought the second passport was stored in a bag, to which she replied “I have one for you in a safety deposit box.” At that point, Zimmerman replies: “OK, you hold on to that.”
Devastating as all those findings may be, Zimmerman’s troubles may not end there. Shelly Zimmerman may now be facing contempt or perjury charges herself which could land her behind bars for at least six months.
“She flat out lied, prosecutors outlined in a court submitted affidavit of her testimony. He and his wife intentionally deceived this court.”
Just the same, O’Mara is expected to request a new bond hearing early this week hoping to have a new bond set for his client on the strength of his voluntary surrender demonstrates he hardly pose a flight risk.
Glenn Minnis is a NYC-based sports and culture writer. Follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.