Zimmerman Trial Gets Another New Judge

An appeals panel has ordered a second judge in George Zimmerman's trial for the murder of Florida teen Trayvon Martin to step down.

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Gary Green / The Orlando Sentinel / Pool / Getty Images

George Zimmerman answers questions from his attorney Mark O'Mara in a Seminole County courthouse during his bond hearing on April 20, 2012, in Sanford, Fla.

Defense attorneys for George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer accused of second degree murder in the shooting death of Miami teen Trayvon Martin, won a legal victory this week by convincing an appeals court to replace the trial judge for a second time due to fears of judicial bias.

Deborah S. Nelson, 58, a veteran justice appointed to the bench in 1999 by then-Gov. Jeb Bush, will replace Justice Kenneth Lester after he was ordered Wednesday to step aside by the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach, Fla., the Orlando Sentinel reported. A three-judge panel ruled that Lester made “gratuitous, disparaging remarks” about Zimmerman in during the defendant’s $1 million bond hearing and that he advocated for his further criminal prosecution.

Lester, while setting Zimmerman’s bond, accused him of trying to manipulate the system and hide $130,000 he had made from a website he started to raise funds.

(MORE: George Zimmerman Makes Bail for a Second Time)

This is the second time the judge has been replaced in the trial, which is expected to begin next year. The first judge in the case, Jessica Recksiedler, recused herself just before Zimmerman’s initial bond hearing citing a conflict of interest; her husband works with Orlando lawyer Mark NeJame, who was the first attorney approached by Zimmerman’s family to represent him.

Zimmerman was released on $1 million bail in July. He stands accused of second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an incident Zimmerman maintains was self-defense. Neither his defense lawyer Mark O’Mara nor Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, have publicly commented  on the latest developments.

(MORE: Zimmerman Defense Team to Seek ‘Stand Your Ground’ Hearing)

18 comments
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Lee A. Miller
Lee A. Miller

If GZ thought the kid was late teens, how hard was it just to identify himself and call out? I'm the neighborhood watch captain, do you live here? Why all the stealth? And why isn't the case of State v Jude in AZ as media-popular? A man shoots a dog walker for waving his arms and claims self-defense? The race of the attendant parties plays too large a focus. With Martin as the victim the media sucks it in. With Jude as the perp the media buries it...

Drew Hadz
Drew Hadz

This judge deserved to be replaced... Saying that kind of crap is simply asking for the bar to replace you for not being able to shut up.

LoudRambler
LoudRambler

 I had to look up the definition of "disparaging" in a dictionary. And I am a possible juror.

 Jesus, can these guys speak like real people!

RobertSF
RobertSF

Of course, this just makes a later appeal all that more difficult. If he's convicted and appeals his conviction, the appeals court will say, "But Georgie, we already gave you everything you asked for. You're guilty."

Akil Harvey
Akil Harvey

Of course, this case will fall apart like the many other false race narratives around cases like the Duke Lacrosse Rape Fiasco/Media Perjury Case and the Twanna Brawley case.

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edited 10/1/2012......Robert, I am so dumb, I forgot they have had a trial yet (my stupid racist neighbor thinks, like you, that they already had a trial)....no trial yet, GZ is still INNCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY! despite the black racists that have showed up in my state threatening vigilante violence

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You knew it was bunk when the same race hustlers showed up for this case.

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I sure hope the Zimmerman's sue everyone involved especially Crump, Jackson, Julison, Sharpton, New Black Panthers, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, etc for their false narrative and their tamepring with evidence and tampering with witnesses.

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It will be especially fun to see Angela Nifong Corey be disbarred for her amssive misconduct

RobertSF
RobertSF

Don't be stupid. In the Lacrosse and Brawley cases, nothing actually happened. No crime at all took place. That's not the situation here. Zimmerman really did kill Martin.

DaleHerman
DaleHerman

Just killing someone does not mean it's a crime.  That's where the term justifiable homicide comes from.

Thomas
Thomas

I can't wait for the prosecution to explain just how Trayvon managed to lose George at the T and then show up magically 4 minutes later to attack George at the very same T. In the meantime George was of course busy. Chatting with the police. Staking out the perimeter. Wondering what in God's name could have happened to Trayvon. And then there he was. Just like that!

Akil Harvey
Akil Harvey

I wonder why Trayvon didnt call the police (if he was so scared)? Was it cuz he was waiting for his drug dealer to show up with some codine cough syrup.....he was tired of the DXM cough sytrup that gave the pcp like high he was getting addicted to.......Mayeb it was that Chad had told trayvon that he needed to jack the neighborhood watch guy the way he had done with the bus driver........

It is so much fun to listen to Deedee's testimony (Bernie de La Rionda does such an unprofessional job of interviewing this witless witness.....feeding her answers, never clarifying.....he knows she will never see the inside of a courtroom sicne she cant keep her lies straight or even be abel to enunciate tough answers like yes and know without sounding like she has 300 marbels in her mouth......and yes, i do stay in florida so i do know what teenage kids sound like locally).....

for other fun, i recommend watching the video of trayvon in the 711.....he is so suspicious in the 711 even the 711 clerk folllows him aroudn the store everywhere he goes (he, of course, has his hoodie on inside the store, cuz his rights trump any rights of those who own and operate the store).......also real fun is to see how the boys who buy his blunts are dressed (one has his entire face covered upon entering the store).......

I wonder why if trayvon was so young and so defenseless that his irresponsible father would let him roam the streets alone at night in the winter?  His mom and dad need to be arrested and sentenced for their considerable negligence

RobertSF
RobertSF

Actually, it will be easy to point out all the holes in Zimmerman's story. For example, if Zimmerman was on his way back to his truck, why did the altercation take place a good 30 feet from the T, in the direction away from his truck? That implies he was not on his way back to his truck but taking a detour down the path, looking for Martin.

Also, Zimmerman says that Martin said something to the effect of, "What's your problem?" or "Do you have a problem?" and Zimmerman says that in response to that, he said, "No," and reached into his clothing. Now, he says he reached for his phone. But in a hostile, tense street encounter, if someone reaches for something, it's perfectly reasonable to believe they're reaching for a weapon. Seeing this, Martin had no choice but to throw a punch and hope for the best. Under Florida law, Martin was just defending himself.

Be as it may, even under Florida law, you have to be in danger of death in order to be justified in using deadly force. Zimmerman argues that his superficial head injuries (which didn't even need stitches) put him in danger of death. But as the prosecutor will hopefully point out, all Zimmerman had to do was grab Martin by the wrists. Try it with a friend. You can pin someone down, and you can hit them, but you can't do both at the same time. If you're sitting on someone, and they grab your wrists, you have to be a lot stronger to break free. That's because you're not braced against anything like the guy on the floor is. He can't hit you, but you also can't break free. And Zimmerman knew the cops were on their way, so why did he have to kill Martin? He really didn't.

At the very least, it's manslaughter. It won't matter that Zimmerman didn't set out intending to kill Martin (that would be murder one). Manslaughter is for cases of poor judgment, like Zimmerman's.

Akil Harvey
Akil Harvey

I bet you didnt mind Saint Skittles punching GZ in the nose (he must have deserved it for daring to ask a question of a tresspasser - Just cuz Saint Skittles aka 'sizzurp' boy was staying nearby didnt give him permission to loiter wherever he wanted).  You prolly even think Trayvon had every right to smash GZ's head repeatly on concrete (for daring to try to protect the neighborhood and the nieghbors).

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And his parents had no responsibility at all.  If your kid has missed 53 days of school in far less than a single year, you tell the world he is an academic scholar.  if he had been suspended 3 times in one year, you claim he loved school (even though he was about to be expelled).

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if the parents never spend any time with the kid, you pretend his parents were highly involved in his life.

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If the kid is 6 feet two or six foot three (his dad was 6'5"), the media should pretend the kid was little and defenseless (I didnt know many defenseless kids on the football team when i was in high school- they were always the toughest and most aggressive kids in the school), especially not one who had played for 12 years.

DaleHerman
DaleHerman

Wait a minute.  You mean to tell me that if I'm walking some where in public amd someone is, or at least I think they are, following me and I see them put their hand in their pocket I can hit them?

DanielMiller
DanielMiller

@Gregory Christian 

Lets get something straight, you come up to me and stick your hands in my pocket and threaten me, you will get smacked down. Period. You don't get to murder someone every time you lose a fight. Grow a pair. 

Trayvon had every right to defend himself. If "poor" Zimmerman got "beat up" in the process of INITIATING a confrontation with a "suspicious" guy in hoodie (on a rainy night), tough tits!, he should have let the police handle it. But he took the law into his hands and became judge, jury and executioner.

Gregory Christian
Gregory Christian

RobertSF that is true, Martin could and did punch Zimmerman lawfully, But then again wouldn't Zimmerman then have the right to defend himself?  I guess not.

RobertSF
RobertSF

According to Zimmerman himself, he never asked Martin anything. He just reached into his pockets. That's why Martin punched him, and he was justified under Florida law to do so. Black people have the right of self-defense too, you know.

Paul Crittenden
Paul Crittenden

About freaking time!

Regina Bradley
Regina Bradley

Before getting too happy read more about the new judge as she is said to be tough, no nonsense, and hands down tough sentences such as giving a person 27 years for robbery. She is said to be pro-prosecution. Be careful for what you wish for you might get it.