SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Newly released court documents say George Zimmerman "profiled" Trayvon Martin and confronted the unarmed teenager before he shot and killed him. Now Zimmerman’s attorney has begun what could be a lengthy legal battle to free his client from the second-degree murder charge filed in the case.
Zimmerman, who appeared before a judge on a second-degree murder charge on Thursday for the shooting death of Martin, will remain in the Seminole County Jail until a bond hearing is set.
The first step for Zimmerman attorney Mark O'Mara will be to try to get his client out of jail while the legal process continues. A hearing for the 28-year-old will be held on April 20 to determine if he will be allowed to post bail and leave jail, O'Mara said.
During a brief hearing on Friday, O'Mara said he may ask for a different judge in the case.
Judge Jessica Recksiedler said that Zimmerman initially contacted Mark NeJame to represent him, but NeJame declined. O'Mara said he may ask for a new judge because Recksiedler's husband works with NeJame.
Zimmerman did not enter a plea during theThursday's hearing, although O'Mara previously said his client ultimately will plead not guilty. Zimmerman will be able to enter a plea during his May 29 arraignment.
At some point soon, O'Mara also is expected to ask the judge for a hearing on Florida's "stand your ground" self-defense law, which gives people a broad right to use deadly force without having to retreat from a fight.
"It is going to be a facet of this defense, I'm sure," he said in an interview. "That statute has some troublesome portions to it, and we're now going to have some conversations and discussions about it as a state. But right now it is the law of Florida and it is the law that is going to have an impact on this case."
Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Martin during a Feb. 26 confrontation that started because he thought the teenager looked suspicious. The shooting happened at the Retreat at Twin Lakes, at a gated community in Sanford, where Zimmerman lived and Trayvon was visiting. But Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense.
In a short but detailed probable cause affidavit released Thursday, prosecutors said Zimmerman followed and "confronted the unarmed teen," even though dispatchers told him not to.
“Martin was unarmed and was not committing a crime,” the affidavit states.
Investigators said they think Zimmerman assumed Martin was a criminal the night of the shooting.
The document recounts how Zimmerman called police the night of the shooting and reported seeing a suspicious person. The dispatcher told him not to pursue and to wait for officers to arrive.
The document notes that Zimmerman muttered, “these a--holes always get away” and referred to “these f------ punks.”
Prosecutors believe Martin’s relatives were right when they said Zimmerman followed Trayvon for no reason even after the dispatcher told him to stop.
But, Zimmerman claims he turned around to walk back to his car when Martin attacked him.
Prosecutors said Martin's family identified the cries for help heard in the 911 calls as Trayvon's voice, not Zimmerman's.
Zimmerman appeared calm as he faced a judge on Thursday, but according to his attorney, Zimmerman didn't know he'd be arrested when he went to law enforcement.
The judge told Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, that he must set up a bond hearing in order to address the issue, meaning Zimmerman will remain in jail without bond.
Judge Mark E. Herr said he found probable cause to move ahead with the case and that an arraignment would be held on May 29 at 1:30 p.m. before another judge.
O'Mara, told WFTV the 28-year-old is in protective custody at the Seminole County Jail and that deputies are keeping a close eye on him.
O'Mara did not push for a bond because he's still working to find a safe place for his client.
Zimmerman had been in hiding out of state until Wednesday, when he turned himself in to authorities when special prosecutor Angela Corey announced his second-degree murder charge.
O'Mara said Zimmerman spent his first night in jail weeping.
"He's tired. It's been a long period of time here. He's gone through some tribulations of his own," said O'Mara. "He's stressed, again he has in effect been isolated for several weeks and that has got to take a toll."
Zimmerman chose O'Mara as his legal counsel after abandoning his former attorneys, Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner.
O'Mara said Zimmerman will plead not guilty.
On a national talk show, Martin's mother said, "I believe it was an accident. I believe it just got out of control."
Some viewers interpreted Sybrina Fulton's remark to mean she was referring to the shooting, but she said that isn't what she meant. Fulton said the encounter between Martin and Zimmerman was the accident.
Fulton clarified her statement Thursday night on Nancy Grace.
"I don't believe that it was an accident. I believe he got out of his vehicle, he had intent in his mind, he carried out the intent and that's why my son is no longer with us," said Fulton.
Zimmerman's next court hearing is set for May 29.
Because of the influx of calls from the public about the death of Martin, the city of Sanford has set up an information center to offer some answers and take public records requests. You can call them at 407-562-2778. The team will answer calls between 7 a.m. and midnight.
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