Prosecutor Wants Judge to Stay on George Zimmerman Case

Prosecutor responds to Zimmerman's motion to disqualify judge

Tuesday, Jul 17, 2012  |  Updated 2:53 PM EDT
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George Zimmerman was released from jail July 6, a day after a judge set his second bond at $1 million. Zimmerman left the Seminole County Jail wearing a suit with a white dress shirt shortly before 3 p.m. West, one of Zimmerman's attorneys, said his client is very happy.

George Zimmerman was released from jail July 6, a day after a judge set his second bond at $1 million. Zimmerman left the Seminole County Jail wearing a suit with a white dress shirt shortly before 3 p.m. West, one of Zimmerman's attorneys, said his client is very happy.

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Prosecutors say the judge in the George Zimmerman case should continue to preside over the trial, according to a motion filed Tuesday

The motion was filed in response to Zimmerman's motion filed last week asking that Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. be disqualified from the case.

Zimmerman says Lester's comments in a bond order led him to believe Lester is prejudiced against him. The judge said in the order that Zimmerman and his wife misled him about their finances.

In his motion, Zimmerman argues that Lester made "gratuitous, disparaging remarks" about his character in a July 5 ruling setting Zimmerman's bond at $1 million.

The response from prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda argued that Lester should stay on the case.

"If a party doesn't like a court's findings that doesn't mean they have the right to ask for a new judge," he wrote.

Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin in a gated community in Sanford in February. He has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense in the shooting of Martin, 17.

Lester has granted Zimmerman bond twice, and given him other privileges that de la Rionda argues show that the judge isn't prejudiced towards Zimmerman.

"Despite supposedly being biased against him, the Court has TWICE granted him bond in this high-profile homicide case, and in fact has exercised its discretion on numerous occasions to grant Defendant benefits not ordinarily enjoyed by the criminal accused," de la Rionda wrote. "For example, Defendant has been permitted to live outside the State of Florida, to have witnesses testify telephonically, and to appear in court in civilian clothing and without shackles even while he was incarcerated."

A spokeswoman for the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit said Friday that she expects the judge will respond in a timely fashion to Zimmerman's motion.

 

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