George Zimmerman. (Photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel-Pool/Getty Images)
By Marisol Bello, USA TODAY
The attorney for the Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed an unarmed black teen says he filed an appeal to push for a new judge in the case.
Mark O'Mara said at a news conference Monday that he filed a motion with a Florida appeals court to reconsider a ruling by Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester that he would not take himself off the case.
O'Mara had filed a motion asking Lester to step down, saying the judge could not be objective after he issued a blistering order that set bond at $1 million and said George Zimmerman lied to the court about his finances.
The judge will play a crucial role when the defense has its hearing on Florida's Stand Your Ground law. Under the law, a defendant who claims self-defense is entitled to a hearing to determine whether he was in fear for his life. If the judge rules he was, the law says he had the right to use lethal force and the charges are dropped.
Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting Feb. 26. He and Trayvon Martin, 17, got into a fight at a gated complex of townhouses in Sanford. When it was over, Trayvon had been shot dead.
Zimmerman says he was in fear for his life when Trayvon slammed his head into the concrete. The prosecution says Zimmerman provoked the encounter by following Trayvon and confronting him for no reason other than that he was a black teen in a hoodie.
O'Mara said at the news conference that Zimmerman acted reasonably during the altercation. He said Zimmerman was on his back and had no choice but to shoot Trayvon, who he said was pummeling his client and slamming his head on the concrete walk.
O'Mara said he will ask whether Zimmerman can leave Seminole County. He said Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, are too fearful to work or go out in public because of threatening e-mails and letters, and the couple are running out of money for living expenses.
"He really has to live like a hermit," O'Mara said. "He's not doing well."
He said Zimmerman has raised little for his defense fund: $10,000 to $15,000 since his first televised interview, which he did with Fox News' Sean Hannity on July 18.