Photos and VideosMore Photos and Videos
George Zimmerman appears before Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. Friday, April 20, during a bond hearing in Sanford.
The neighborhood watch volunteer charged with killing Trayvon Martin will have a lot of explaining to do when he asks a judge to release him on bond Friday.
The last time George Zimmerman asked for bond, he and his wife misled the judge about how much money they had. Prosecutors seized on the deception in the days after that April hearing and persuaded a judge to put Zimmerman back behind bars.
On Friday, Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. is giving Zimmerman another chance to be set free.
If Zimmerman's explanation is really weak, the judge could keep him in jail, said Orlando-area defense attorney Randy McClean, who is following the case.
"If he really comes across as being genuine and has a reasonable explanation, because I don't see how it could be a great explanation, then I think Lester will probably pump up the conditions, up his monetary conditions and let him back on bond," McClean said.
Lester revoked Zimmerman's $150,000 bond earlier this month after prosecutors told the judge a website Zimmerman created for his legal defense had raised $135,000 at the time of his first bond hearing. Zimmerman and his wife did not mention the money then, and Shellie Zimmerman even said the couple had limited resources because she was a student and wasn't working.
Prosecutors also said the couple talked in code during recorded jailhouse conversations about how to transfer the donations to different bank accounts. For example, at one point George Zimmerman asked how much money in total they had. She replied "$155." Prosecutors allege that was code for $155,000. Their reference to "Peter Pan" was code for the PayPal system through which the donations were made, prosecutors said.
Shellie Zimmerman has since been charged with perjury. She is out of jail on $1,000 bond and her arraignment is set for July 31.
George Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder for fatally shooting the unarmed 17-year-old Martin on Feb. 26 at a gated apartment community in Sanford. He claims the shooting was self-defense under the state's "Stand Your Ground" law.
He is being held in protective custody in isolation at the Sanford County Jail.
Defense attorney Mark O'Mara told NBC News on Thursday that his client presents no flight risk and no threat to the public. Those are the two primary issues the judge will weigh in determining whether to set bond.
The only question should be the bond amount required by the judge, O'Mara said.
"If it is a truly large amount of money, then those supporters who are out there who have already supported him are going to have to sort of dig deeper into their pockets because quite honestly, I need him out to help me work on the defense,” O’Mara said. "We have, let's say, a hundred hours, 120 hours, of documents and videos and audios. I want him available to me so that I can interact with him."
"And jail is not supposed to be punishment before trial," he added. "It's only to ensure that you come back to the courtroom, and he has shown that time and time again."
The judge has said that working in Zimmerman's favor is the fact that he turned himself in when charges were filed and kept law enforcement informed of his location when he went into hiding because of threats against him and his family. Weighing against him is the seriousness of the charge as well as other brushes with the law, including an arrest for resisting an undercover officer.
"Most importantly, though, is the fact that he has now demonstrated that he does not properly respect the law or the integrity of the judicial process," the judge wrote in an order earlier this month.
O'Mara has argued in court papers that Zimmerman proved he wasn't a flight risk by returning to jail when his bond was revoked. O'Mara also argued that the bulk of the more than $200,000 raised by the website has now been turned over to a third-party administrator and Zimmerman has no control over the funds.
Putting the money in a trust was smart because "now you can argue that the client does not have direct access to that money to flee the jurisdiction of the court," said Blaine McChesney, an Orlando criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor.
Prosecutors have also argued Zimmerman had a second passport he didn't tell the judge about, but the judge dismissed any worries about it, comparing it to when somebody loses a driver's license, applies for another one and then finds the old license.
Zimmerman will be allowed to wear street clothes Friday.
O'Mara told NBC News he did not expect his client's wife to appear at the courthouse, because of the risk that she might incriminate herself in connection with her perjury charge.
McChesney said there is a good chance the judge will deny bond, in part because of the jailhouse recordings about the money transfers.
"It shows a premeditated intent to hide that," McChesney said.
The only witnesses O'Mara has listed are two bail bondsmen. But at the last hearing, Zimmerman surprised many people by taking the stand himself and apologizing to Martin's family.
It may be up to only Zimmerman to re-establish his credibility with the judge, whether he testifies or his lawyer talks for him.
"Credibility is an issue. So O'Mara is going to certainly have to make apologies or Zimmerman will have to make apologies for what happened, and they're going to have to convince the court that he is a good bond risk," said Karin Moore, a law professor at Florida A&M University College of Law in Orlando.