George Zimmerman to appear before judge in Seminole County
Neighborhood watch leader fatally shot Trayvon Martin in Sanford
George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch leader who shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Sanford, will appear before a judge on Thursday at John E. Polk Correctional Facility.
Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara tells Local 6 he was meeting with his client around noon Thursday, prior to his 1:30 p.m. first appearance hearing. O'Mara said his client will be entering a plea of not guilty and that he has already filed a bond motion.
The bond schedule for the second-degree murder charge Zimmerman is facing suggests no bond. But O'Mara said the judge could take into consideration the details of the case and the fact that Zimmerman doesn't have a significant criminal past, allowing Zimmerman to have a set bond.
The judge could also deny bond or set a hearing to deal with the bond at a later date.
Zimmerman arrived at the jail Wednesday night with Florida Department of Law Enforcement officials riding in a black SUV, appearing to be trying to cover his face from the media, at 8:23 p.m. He was booked into the jail at 8:30 p.m. on a no bond status, records show. He is expected to have his first appearance at 1:30 p.m. Thursday before Judge Mark E. Herr. O'Mara said he will hold a news conference after the hearing.
VIDEO: Zimmerman arrives at jail
Zimmerman appeared to say nothing to the media or authorities as he arrived, dressed in a flannel shirt and with a black jacket draped over his head. Authorities said Zimmerman turned himself in to the FDLE office in Jacksonville earlier Wednesday.
Deputies released Zimmerman's purchases in the jail so far, showing that he has already spent $79.84 less than a day after he was booked. His purchases include contact lens solution, clothing, along with cards, a crossword puzzle and word search book, and food items, such as cookies, white cheddar popcorn, four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a bag of Jolly Ranchers.
Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger held a news conference just after Zimmerman was booked. He said he would not release where Zimmerman will be placed in the facility and added that Zimmerman will not receive special treatment while in jail, but they are taking safety precautions at the jail.
"Absolutely not, he will be treated like any other inmate," Eslinger said. "We have a policy that will protect certain inmates as a result of the threats against their lives, and that will all be taken into consideration."
Zimmerman was taken into custody earlier Wednesday on second-degree murder charges in the teen's death.
While in jail, Zimmerman will be screened for his mental and physical health.
"I cannot imagine living in George Zimmerman's shoes for the past number of weeks, only because he has been at the focus of a lot of anger, maybe confusion," O'Mara said at a news conference Wednesday.
Special prosecutor Angela Corey made the announcement at a news conference in Jacksonville. Corey said Zimmerman turned himself in to FDLE authorities but wouldn't say where he was prior to that.
Corey said the decision to bring charges was based on the facts and the law, declaring: "We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition."
When asked by Local 6 reporter Tony Pipitone what specific evidence was uncovered to bring the charges against Zimmerman, Corey said she wouldn't discuss details about the case.
"That will be in court, detailed evidence -- that's why we try cases in court," Corey said. "That would be commenting on the facts of the case, and we are not going to do that at this time."
Martin's parents spoke shortly after the announcement, thanking supporters who have marched, rallied and protested with them.
"First all, I want to say, 'Thank God,' said Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton. "We simply wanted an arrest. We wanted nothing more, nothing less. We wanted an arrest and we got it and I say, 'Thank you, thank you, God.'"
"We'd just like to thank everyone once again for being compassionate
This is just the beginning. We’ve got a long way to go, but we have faith. We will march and march and march," said Tracy Martin, Trayvon's father.
In a statement, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said, "This matter is now in the hands of the judicial system and I am confident justice will prevail."
Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and is typically charged when there is a fight or other confrontation that results in death and where there is no premeditated plan to kill someone.
Prior to Corey's announcement, Local 6 News learned that O'Mara, Local 6's legal expert, had been retained to represent Zimmerman.
"I'm expecting a lot of work and hopefully justice in the end," said O'Mara, who added that Zimmerman is OK but concerned about his future.
Lawyers who had been representing Zimmerman announced Tuesday that they were no longer handling his case because they hadn't heard from him since Sunday. They said he was suffering from high levels of stress.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that he would act if evidence of a civil rights crime is found in the shooting.
Martin, 17, was shot and killed Feb. 26 by Zimmerman, 28, who reported to police that a suspicious man was walking through his Sanford community.
Although details of the incident remain murky, what is known is that Martin, who was African-American, ventured out from his father's fiancee's home to get a snack at a nearby convenience store. As he walked home with a bag of Skittles and an Arizona iced tea, he was shot and killed by Zimmerman, who is Hispanic.
Zimmerman claims the shooting was in self-defense after Martin attacked him and slammed his head against the sidewalk, according to police.
Martin's death has triggered a nationwide debate about race in America and Florida's "stand your ground" law, which allows people to use deadly force anywhere they feel a reasonable threat of death or serious injury.
On the night of the shooting, Sanford police questioned Zimmerman and released him without charges. Authorities said Zimmerman was not immediately charged because there were no grounds, at the outset, to disprove his account that he'd acted to protect himself.
Thousands have converged on Sanford to join in protests calling for Zimmerman's arrest and criticizing the police department's handling of the case.
Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.
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