Court: Zimmerman to face new judge
MIAMI — A Florida appeals court ruled yesterday that George Zimmerman, a former neighbourhood watch volunteer who fatally shot unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, should be granted a new judge in his case.
The decision from the three-judge panel came in response to a motion filed by Zimmerman’s lawyer asking the court to overturn a ruling by Judge Kenneth Lester refusing to step down from the case.
“We direct the trial judge to enter an order of disqualification,” the state’s Fifth District Court of Appeal wrote in its opinion.
One of the judges dissented in the decision.
Zimmerman, a 28-year-old who is white and Hispanic, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the February 26 shooting death of the 17-year-old Martin.
Martin was unarmed and walking back from a store when Zimmerman called a 911 dispatcher and said the teen looked suspicious. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self defence after he was attacked and Martin repeatedly slammed his head to the ground.
Martin’s killing drew national attention after police initially declined to arrest Zimmerman, citing Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defence law and the shooter’s assertion that he used deadly force because he feared his life was in danger.
In a motion filed last month seeking a new judge, Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, claimed Lester made “gratuitous” and “disparaging remarks” about Zimmerman and showed bias in a July 5 bond ruling raising his bond from $150,000 to $1 million. (Reuters)