Seminole County Sheriff's Office, File, Associated Press
SANFORD, Fla. — George Zimmerman's defense staged a sort of mini-trial Friday at the neighborhood watch leader's bond hearing, trying to poke holes in the prosecution's case by calling his father to testify and playing a chilling 911 call from the night he fatally shot Trayvon Martin.
Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester did not indicate when he might make a decision. He said he needed time to weigh evidence after he revoked Zimmerman's bond earlier this month when prosecutors told the judge Zimmerman and his wife misled the court about how much money they had during the April bond hearing.
Prosecutors said a website Zimmerman created for his legal defense had raised $135,000 at the time of his first bond hearing, and Zimmerman and his wife did not mention the money then.
Zimmerman's attorney briefly considered calling his client to the stand, but ultimately decided against it.
Much of the bond hearing focused on the donations raised through a PayPal account and how it was repeatedly transferred between bank accounts Zimmerman and his wife controlled.
"It was done to hide the money so they could deceive the court, lie to the court. Mrs. Zimmerman lied to the court and this defendant just sat there and let it happen," prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda said.
Zimmerman's attorney attempted to show there was no effort to hide the money from the judge.
"It is not the grand conspiracy the state seems to suggest," attorney Mark O'Mara said.
There was also a great deal of evidence and testimony about the head injuries Zimmerman suffered the night of the fight with Martin, including a broken nose and cuts on his skull. Zimmerman was also described by a probation officer as a "model client" who had not violated any of his previous bond conditions.
At times, the bond hearing had the flavor of a trial or a self-defense hearing, with both sides presenting what sounded like opening statements.
Attorneys for Zimmerman called prosecutors' case weak and said he gave 11 voluntary statements to police and re-enacted the shooting with authorities. O'Mara twice played a chilling 911 call in which someone is repeatedly screaming "help" in the background. A gunshot is also heard on the recording.
George Zimmerman's father took the witness stand and testified that he was certain that it was his son yelling for help on the tape.
Prosecutors argued they had evidence that Zimmerman was the aggressor and chased Martin, who they said acted in self-defense.
But the judge was not ruling on the merits of the case. Instead, the judge was focused on what happened at the previous bond hearing.
Zimmerman's attorney called an expert on finances to testify, attempting to show that Zimmerman and his wife did not try to hide anything.
"All the ends and outs match perfectly," said Adam Magill, a financial forensic specialist.
But Magill also testified that moving the money around from different accounts would "make it appear that you didn't have the money."
Prosecutors also said the couple talked in code during recorded jailhouse conversations about how to transfer the donations to different bank accounts. At one point, George Zimmerman asked how much money they had. She replied "$155." Prosecutors allege that was code for $155,000. Their reference to "Peter Pan" was code for the PayPal system through which the donations were made, prosecutors said.
Shellie Zimmerman has since been charged with perjury. She is out of jail on $1,000 bond and her arraignment is set for July 31.
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