SANFORD, Fla. - A new judge was named Thursday in the George Zimmerman murder trial, a day after an appeals court ruled that Judge Kenneth Lester had to be removed from the case.
Criminal Administrative Judge Debra Nelson, a 13-year veteran, will now preside over the second-degree murder case. Nelson has overseen cases such as the trial for the men convicted of murdering a Lake Brantley High School football player in 2009. Nelson is also presiding over Shellie Zimmerman's perjury case.
Zimmerman, 28, is charged with murder in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed while walking through a gated Sanford community in February.
Zimmerman's attorney, former Local 6 legal analyst Mark O'Mara, had asked the court earlier this month to overturn Lester's decision not to leave the case. O'Mara contended that the judge made disparaging remarks about Zimmerman's character and advocated for additional charges against him in setting his $1 million bond in July.
Lester refused to recuse himself on Aug. 1, saying the motion was "legally insufficient," but two judges on a three-judge appeals panel agreed with O'Mara in an opinion issued Wednesday.
O'Mara previously said if he won the appeal, he could re-file previous motions ruled on by Lester.
Lester is the second judge to be removed from Zimmerman's case.
Judge Jessica Recksiedler first recused herself from the case in April because of a conflict of interest. Her husband works with attorney Mark NeJame, who has commented on the case as a legal analyst for CNN.
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