George Zimmerman has filed a motion in Seminole County, Florida requesting a new trial judge—claiming current Judge Kenneth Lester is biased against him.
Is Mr. Zimmerman’s request another example of him trying to “manipulate” Florida’s judicial system?
On Friday, the accused murderer’s lawyers filed a motion claiming he feared he couldn’t receive a fair trial from Judge Lester. Apparently, Zimmerman is worried because the judge excoriated him in the findings of the second bond hearing accusing him, among other things of “manipulating the system.”
The defense motion filed to remove the judge states “the court made gratuitous, disparaging remarks about Mr. Zimmerman’s character, advocated for Zimmerman to be prosecuted for additional crimes; offers a personal opinion about the evidence for said prosecution; and continues to hold over Mr. Zimmerman’s head the threat of future contempt proceedings.”
Last Friday, George Zimmerman, 28, who is charged with second-degree murder, was released from Seminole County Jail after posting 10 percent—of a $1 million dollar bond. He was whisked away by members of his security team to an undisclosed “safe house” where he is to abide by a 6 AM to 6 PM curfew.
It was the second time he was given bail for the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin who was killed as he was returning to his father’s gated-community home in Sanford Florida on Feb. 26.
The killing has sparked controversy across America regarding race, especially since Zimmerman wasn’t arrested until April 11. The case has raised many questions about the impartiality of Sanford officials in their handling of the case. First of all, State Attorney General Norm Wolfinger overruled the recommendation of lead Detective Chris Serino who stated he didn’t find Zimmerman’s account, of the killing credible, and recommended he be charged with manslaughter. Mr. Wolfinger has since been removed from the case and was replaced by State Attorney Angela Corey.
Also, many have speculated that Zimmerman’s father, a retired magistrate, may have used his judicial connections to help thwart the investigation against his son. The Justice Department is currently investigating the case.
Zimmerman had his original bail revoked after Judge Lester ruled he and his wife deceived the court by lying about their finances to receive a favorable bail condition. A tape recording emerged revealing that the neighborhood watch volunteer and his wife were talking in code—in an attempt to conceal the true extent of the cash they had at their disposal. Reportedly, among other things, that the tape revealed was deception regarding how much money was being received by a website setup to support Zimmerman. On June 12, Shellie Zimmerman, 25, was charged with one count of perjury—and was released on a $1,000 dollar bond.
After deliberating the alleged deception of Zimmerman, Judge Lester, nonetheless, decided to give the murder defendant bail—again. However, the judge castigated the conduct of Zimmerman in his comments.
Here is some of what Judge Lester had to say:
Contrary to the image presented by the Defendant not by evidence but only by argument of counsel, it appears to this Court that the Defendant is manipulating the system to his own benefit. The evidence is clear that the Defendant and his wife acted in concert, but at the Defendant’s direction, to conceal their cash holdings…The Defendant also neglected to disclose that he had a valid second passport in his safe deposit box. Notably, together with the passport, the money only had to be hidden for a short time for him to leave the country if the Defendant made a quick decision to flee. It is entirely reasonable for this Court to find that, but for the requirement that he be placed on electronic monitoring, the Defendant and his wife would have fled the United States with at least $130,000 of other people’s money.
Judge Lester also complained about Mr. Zimmerman’s “lack of candor” and said he “flaunted the system” and perpetrated “deception” upon the court. Moreover, the judge—in referencing the findings of State Attorney Office investigator Dale Gilbreath—said “the Defendant’s actions were imminently dangerous to another and that he acted with a depraved mind regardless of human life.”
Judge Lester gave the impression he would like to lock Zimmerman up, but, that his hands were tied by legal statutes. In fact, the judge stated his objection with the prevailing view of the Supreme Court of Florida—relative to the case of State v. Paul (Florida 2001)—which states that a breach of certain bail conditions—absent something like a new criminal act—isn’t enough to deny bail. In that regard, the judge seems to have had a legitimate fear that his decision would be overruled by a higher court.
In my estimation, the judge’s deliberate explanation, in the latest bond hearing findings, makes a mockery of Zimmerman’s slanderous statements that the judge is biased against him. It seems clear the judge could’ve made a strong argument to remand the defendant to jail—an argument, which may well have withstood higher court challenges. If a murder suspect lies, and, engages in deceiving the court, shouldn’t the judge have the right to refuse bail in the interest of justice and legal integrity?
Judge Lester’s sentiments make it clear he’s convinced Mr. Zimmerman conned the court at his first bail hearing—and was hiding money and a passport with the intent of fleeing the country. Moreover, the judge hinted the defendant knew how to “manipulate the system for his benefit” because he “has taken courses in criminal justice with the intention of becoming a police officer, an attorney, a judge, or a magistrate like his father…Thus the defendant had a very sophisticated knowledge of the criminal justice system.”
Aren’t the judge’s assessments here on point? Hasn’t this defendant been “manipulating” law enforcement officials from the very beginning of this process? Didn’t he did so—perhaps, with the help of his father—when he finagled his way out of being arrested for months after he killed Trayvon? Didn’t he do so to obtain bail by lying about his financial situation? And as the judge also pointed out hasn’t “his stories changed each re-telling?”
One now has to wonder: what other legal tricks and gimmicks Zimmerman will be concocting to obstruct justice? What legal schemes are his handlers—and his father—currently cooking up? And will this murderer be allowed to pervert justice and walk away free after killing Trayvon Martin and continually manipulating the legal system?
By; Colin Benjamin