No Immediate Ruling at George Zimmerman Bond Hearing

Zimmerman seeking second release on bond

There was no immediate ruling made during a dramatic, trial-like hearing Friday to decide whether to grant George Zimmerman bond for a second time in the Trayvon Martin shooting case.

Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said he needs time to review evidence in the case before he makes a decision. He will issue his ruling in a written order, and it could come as early as next week, said Michelle Kennedy spokeswoman for the 18th Judicial Circuit.

The almost three-hour long hearing turned into a mini-trial, with Zimmerman's father, a probation officer, an EMT who treated him, and an accounting expert, all testifying.

Lester had revoked Zimmerman's $150,000 bond earlier this month after prosecutors said Zimmerman and his wife had misled them about his finances and passport at a bond hearing in April.

Prosecutors said Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, indicated they had limited funds and didn't mention that a website created for his legal defense had raised some $135,000.

A statement was posted on Zimmerman's legal case website after the hearing.

"In today’s hearing, as part of the defense team’s presentation on the Motion to Set Reasonable Bond, evidence was introduced to the court to show the weaknesses in the State’s murder case against Mr. Zimmerman and to support Mr. Zimmerman’s consistently maintained position that he acted in self defense. Further, we submitted evidence through the testimony of a forensic expert verifying that all the money in question has been properly accounted for. The Court will review the evidence submitted, and we anticipate a decision on bond will be made early next week. The defense requested that the court reinstate the original $150,000 bond," the statement said.

Wearing a suit and tie, Zimmerman appeared before Lester in the packed Sanford courtroom at 9:30 a.m.

George Zimmerman Case Photos

Martin's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, both arrived at the hearing shortly before it began along with his brother, Jahvaris Martin.

Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, had considered calling his client to the stand to make a statement but declined after Lester ruled Zimmerman couldn't avoid questioning from prosecutors. 

"If he wants to testify, I'll give him the same opportunity, he can't pick and choose what he wants to say, how he wants to put on this case with respect to not being subject to cross examination," Lester said. "Doesn't work that way, if he wants to testify, there's the stand, he can testify if he doesn't want to testify, I'll respect that."

While much of the hearing centered around donations Zimmerman had received through PayPal, O'Mara also presented evidence on injuries Zimmerman received the night of the shooting.

He also played a 911 call from the night of the shooting in which a voice is heard yelling for help in the background.

Zimmerman's father, Robert Zimmerman, testified that the voice was his son's.

"It was absolutely George's," Robert Zimmerman said.

Prosecutors say Martin's family identified the voice as Martin's.

Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda questioned the elder Zimmerman about how his son could have yelled if Martin was covering his nose and mouth, as police say Zimmerman told them. Robert Zimmerman said his son's injuries showed otherwise.

"From the looks of my son's injuries, Trayvon Martin's hands were not just on his nose and mouth," he said.

The first witness called by O'Mara was forensic accounting expert Adam Magill, who had evaluated Zimmerman's assets.

Magill testified that over $205,000 was donated to Zimmerman with a total of $24,386.96 going toward living expenses and debt payments.

Two checks, one for over $122,000 and another for over $24,000 were given to O'Mara from Zimmerman, Magill testified.

De la Rionda questioned Magill about transfers made from Zimmerman's PayPal account to his bank accounts that were just under $10,000.

Prosecutors had said the couple was caught on jailhouse recordings of phone calls talking in code about the money they had. Shellie Zimmerman was arrested on a perjury charge and later bonded out of jail.

Magill testified the transfers were in those amounts to comply with PayPal rules and not to deceive authorities.

"They used code, they used other words other than '9,000 dollars' to make sure that whoever was listening wasn't aware of what was going on," de la Rionda said. "Why was that done? It was done to hide the money, so that they could deceive the court, lie to the court."

"The maneuverings of the PayPal money in and out were just that, maneuverings without any true negative intent," O'Mara said, adding that there was no "grand conspiracy."

Complete Trayvon Martin Shooting Coverage

O'Mara, has said the money raised by the website was put into a trust, which Zimmerman has no control over. O'Mara says his client isn't a flight risk, citing the fact he turned himself in when his bond was revoked.

After Magill testified, O'Mara played a video showing Zimmerman discussing his injuries after the shooting. Kevin O'Rourke, a Sanford Fire Department EMT who responded to the scene the night of the shooting, was called to testify to Zimmerman's injuries.

O'Rourke said Zimmerman had lacerations and a significant amount of blood on his head.

"A good 45 percent of his head and face were covered in blood," said O'Rourke, who testified he recommended Zimmerman be looked at by a doctor and that his head would probably need stitches.

April Photos From the George Zimmerman Case

Also called to testify was Seminole County probation officer Adam Vincent, who supervised Zimmerman after his first release on bond in April and said he had no issues with Zimmerman.

"We never had any problems with Mr. Zimmerman while he was under our supervision," Vincent said. "For all intents and purposes he was a model client."

O'Mara said he brought in all the evidence and testimony at Thursday's hearing because it had a bearing on whether Zimmerman would get bond.

"Because the strength of the evidence is an issue that the judge mentioned in his order revoking bond, I think the judge was focused on that he believed the evidence was strong, because all he saw was the probable cause affidavit, and a few other statements from the state and I felt the need to respond to the judge's concern over the strength of the evidence by bringing in all the other evidence, which you can make your own determination as to whether or not that helps the state's case or help's the defense case," O'Mara said.

Zimmerman, 28, was arrested and charged in April in the shooting of Martin, 17, on Feb. 26 in a gated community in Sanford. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty and claims the shooting was self-defense.

O'Mara asked Lester to set Zimmerman's bond at the previous $150,000, while de la Rionda asked for Zimmerman to be held without bail.

"All we have is George Zimmerman's version saying that Trayvon Martin attacked him and that's why credibility is so important in this matter and George Zimmerman has very serious credibility issues and we pray that the court looks at all those issues," Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump said after the hearing.

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