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Multiple Discoveries from NASA's New Horizons Pluto Mission

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Boston Police Closing In On Suspects

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George Zimmerman's Bond Revoked As Judge Rules He 'Deceived" Court
2012-06-02 01:58:44 (225 weeks ago)
Posted By: Intellpuke
George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain accused of murdering Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, had his bail revoked on Friday for "deceiving" a court over the amount of donations made to his defense fund.

Circuit judge Kenneth Lester Jr ordered that Zimmerman, 28, must turn himself in within 48 hours after hearing from prosecutors that the defendant and his wife Shellie had more than $135,000 available to them from donations to a PayPal account set up on his private website soon after his arrest in April for the shooting on 26 February.

Assistant state attorney Bernie de la Rionda told Lester that the couple did not declare the money at an earlier hearing, at which Zimmerman was freed on bail of $150,000.

"This court was led to believe that they didn't have a single penny," he said, adding that Zimmerman's wife had "flat out lied".

In his motion demanding that Zimmerman be taken back into custody, de la Rionda argued that: "Defendant has intentionally deceived the court with the assistance of his wife, Shellie Zimmerman. During the jail phone calls both of them spoke in code to hide what they were doing."

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Additionally, the motion stated that Zimmerman, who was required to surrender his passport as a condition of bail, had a second one that could make him a flight risk.

In phone conversations recorded by prison authorities, de la Rionda alleged, the couple discussed a second, valid U.S. passport hidden in a safe deposit box. Zimmerman, he said, had earlier handed authorities a passport due to expire in May, claiming it was his only one.

Benjamin Crump, lawyer for Martin's parents Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, welcomed the ruling, claiming that if Zimmerman lied about his finances then his account of the shooting must also be in question.

"We fully expect that the special prosecutor will make George Zimmerman's credibility front and center in this entire case," he said.

"And whatever dishonesty that comes forth by George Zimmerman that they can prove, you can best believe it will be the issue of this case, and rightfully so."

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara, meanwhile, maintained his client had not lied. "There was no deceit," he said, pointing out that Zimmerman had not used the money for anything.

Zimmerman, of Hispanic descent, is charged with the second-degree murder of Martin, who was 17, during an encounter at the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated development in Sanford, where the defendant lives and the teenager was visiting.

Special prosecutor Angela Corey alleges that Zimmerman pursued and killed the unarmed Martin as he returned from a shop with sweets and a soft drink.

In a call to 911 immediately prior to the shooting, Zimmerman told a police dispatcher that he was following a black male he considered to be "suspicious".
Zimmerman, who has pleaded not guilty because he said he acted in self-defense, has been in hiding since he was freed, but must now report back to the Sanford County Jail.

The money in question was raised on a private website he set up prior to his appointment of O'Mara, who discontinued the site and set up a formal defense fund with more secure oversight.

Lester also heard a request by a number of media outlets not to seal key documents in the case that identify civilian witnesses, and agreed to make a decision within 30 days.

Prosecutors, with support from O'Mara, argued that they should not be released because it could prejudice the chances of a fair trial, and risk the future co-operation from those whose testimony could be crucial to the case.

Attorneys for newspapers including the Orlando Sentinel said the documents in question were already public, and it was up to the prosecution to prove how they might be prejudicial.

"The standard for closing discovery is very high," said Rachel Fugate, the Sentinel's lawyer. "Discovery in Florida has traditionally been open. Florida hasn't encountered problems seating juries and giving defendants fair trials."

As a result of Lester's decision, a second round of documents due to be released into the public domain will now likely remain sealed for the immediate future.

O'Mara is pressing for his own 30-day period to review any documents before they are released in case they contain anything he considers might harm his client.

"We understand that 30 days can seem like a long time, especially to a public with an appetite for information in the era of the 24-hour news cycle, but consider a 30-day review in the context of the entire defense timeline," he said in a press release.

"We expect a second round of discovery from the prosecution so on, and we are simply requesting a short amount of time to process it."

Sanford police department detectives originally released Zimmerman on the night of the shooting after he claimed Martin attacked him and broke his nose. Injuries to his head were clearly visible on photographs released by prosecutors to the media last month.

The decision prompted several weeks of public outrage and demonstrations before Florida governor Rick Scott appointed Corey to take over the case and Zimmerman was charged.

No trial is expected before the middle of next year. Zimmerman faces life in prison if convicted.

Intellpuke: You can read this article by Guardian correspondent Richard Luscombe, reporting from Miami, Florida, in context here:

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