Once again, second-degree murder defendant George Zimmerman has been granted another one of his demands: A Florida appeals court ruled that Judge Kenneth Lester, who has been presiding over Zimmerman’s bond hearings, will step down in the case because he is biased, according to CNN.
After finding out that both Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, lied about the amount of funds they had at the initial bond hearing held in April, Judge Lester wrote the following at the second bond hearing:
By any definition, the defendant has flouted the system,” Lester wrote. “It appears to this court that the defendant is manipulating the system for his own benefit.
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.
In response, shortly after Zimmerman posted bail for the second time, Zimmerman soon claimed that he felt he couldn’t receive a fair trial under Judge Lester and made the request for a new judge. While Lester initially refused to step down, on Wednesday, Zimmerman’s “grievances” were both aired and supported.
The Orlando Sentinel reports:
The court agreed with Zimmerman’s attorneys that Lester “made gratuitous, disparaging remarks about Mr. Zimmerman’s character; advocated for Mr. Zimmerman to be prosecuted for additional crimes; offered a personal opinion about the evidence for the prosecution; continued to hold over Mr. Zimmerman’s head the threat of future contempt proceedings, and ultimately set a bond at $1,000,000.
In addition, the appeals court wrote:
Holding this [Judge Lester’s perceived biases] over Mr. Zimmerman creates a horrible chilling effect on this case, on the defense presentation, and cements Mr. Zimmerman’s fear that he will not get a fair trial from the trial court.
While Zimmerman is yet to stand trial for shooting and killing teen Trayvon Martin in February, this is clearly a win for the defense team. Both he and his wife purposefully misrepresented their finances to the court — among other vital details — causing Zimmerman’s bail to be set at a mere $150,000 even though, at one point, Zimmerman collected $1,000 per day from those who were sympathetic to his dubious cause.
And even though Judge Lester publicly reprimanded Zimmerman for his crimes, he still granted Zimmerman bail a second time. Still, now it is the judge, who hasn’t been very popular for his decision to grant bail to Zimmerman in either instance, who is being publicly criticized for his actions.
With Zimmerman, who murdered teen Trayvon Martin back in February, yet to stand trial for his charges, it becomes increasingly clear that Zimmerman has the resources and influence to sidestep what most could not.
Must be nice.