George Zimmerman, the man accused of murdering unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin during a confrontation in February, must continue to wear a GPS monitoring ankle bracelet, a Florida judge ruled Tuesday.
Zimmerman is accused of second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting of the 17-year-old in a gated Sanford, Florida community where he was on neighborhood watch. Zimmerman is claiming self-defense under Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground Law” that allows the use of lethal force if threatened.
In other developments in the case, Judge Debra Nelson also rejected a request to lower Zimmerman’s $1 million bond, and ordered that Zimmerman remain in Seminole County.
“He doesn’t need to live under constraints that a previous court imposed,” Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara had said before the ruling, according to USA Today. “This is not a person who has missed court appearances. He wants to be here. He’s looking forward to an immunity hearing and a trial.”
O’Mara also pulled out photos of Zimmerman’s bloody face from the night of the shooting and asked Nelson to consider Zimmerman’s innocence in making her ruling.
Nelson heard from both Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda and O’Mara, who also cited security concerns for his client as the primary reason for the request.
De la Rionda argued that the motion was more about publicity and less about security.
“Isn’t the defendant safer if law enforcement knows exactly where he is?” de la Rionda asked. “If there are threats, why is he appearing on national television?”
He argued that Zimmerman, who wears a bulletproof vest in public, would travel the state to raise money and sign autographs.
Nelson denied the motion, saying Zimmerman would remain under the conditions set by a previous judge. The judge did, however, agree to allow Zimmerman’s lawyers to re-depose Sanford police investigator William Erwin, whom the defense says was present when police played 911 audio for Trayvon Martin’s father. And the state also must turn over the original recording of Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump’s interview of a girl identified as Trayvon’s girlfriend, Nelson ruled.
Police say the teen’s father initially denied that the voice heard screaming on the 911 call, before the fatal shot, was his son. The girlfriend, identified as Witness 8, says she was on the phone with Trayvon in the moments before the shooting. She is a key state witness.
Zimmerman will remain free on $1 million bond, but with the GPS monitoring while awaiting a trial scheduled to start in June.
Nelson also set a “Stand Your Ground” hearing 45 days before trial where Zimmerman can argue it was self-defense and ask the judge to drop the charges.