Zimmerman seeks release from jail

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IOL pic june5 usa florida george zimmerman Reuters George Zimmerman (right) arrives at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford, Florida.

Orlando - Lawyers for George Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watch volunteer charged in the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, said on Monday they would ask a judge to release him from jail again after his bail was revoked last week.

“Zimmerman's defence team will file a motion today for a second bond hearing,” the lawyers, who are led by attorney Mark O'Mara, said on their website gzlegalcase.com.

The announcement came a day after Zimmerman, 28, returned to a cell in the Seminole County jail, after a circuit court judge revoked his bond at a hearing on Friday and ordered him back into custody.

Judge Kenneth Lester Junior revoked Zimmerman's $150 000 bond, posted in April while he was awaiting trial on second-degree murder charges, after prosecutors said both he and his wife had lied about their financial status at the original bond hearing.

They failed to tell the court about at least $135 000 that anonymous donors had contributed to help bankroll Zimmerman's legal defence, and also withheld one of two valid passports issued in Zimmerman's name, the prosecutors said.

The murder case has grabbed widespread media attention and sparked debate about US race relations and guns and self-defence laws.

O'Mara said on Monday that Zimmerman, who went into hiding because of death threats after his previous release on bond, had been unfairly “thrust into the national spotlight as a racist murderer”.

Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, is charged with fatally shooting 17-year-old Martin on February 26 as the teenager walked through a gated community in Sanford where he was staying with his father.

Police initially declined to arrest Zimmerman, citing Florida's “Stand Your Ground” self-defence law, but six weeks later a special prosecutor charged him with second-degree murder. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty and said he fired in self-defence after Martin broke his nose and slammed his head into a sidewalk.

O'Mara said Zimmerman acknowledged that he had “allowed his financial situation to be misstated in court” in April. But he said Zimmerman had been “forthright and co-operative” in other regards.

“Mr Zimmerman knew a significant sum had been raised by his original fundraising website. We feel the failure to disclose these funds was caused by fear, mistrust and confusion,” O'Mara said.

“The gravity of this mistake has been directly illustrated, and Mr Zimmerman understands that this mistake has undermined his credibility, which he will have to work to repair.”

Zimmerman solicited money for his defence through a website, TheRealGeorgeZimmerman.com, that has since been taken down. It has been replaced by a new online site for contributions to Zimmerman's defence called gzdefensefund.com.

O'Mara said in the statement on Monday that $204 000 was raised through the original website and an additional $37 000 has been contributed to Zimmerman's defence through the new site. - Reuters

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