George Zimmerman Makes First Court Appearance
Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman made his first court appearance Thursday on a second-degree murder charge in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, as a court document provided new details on the prosecution’s case.
During the brief appearance, Zimmerman stood up straight, looked straight ahead and wore a gray prison jumpsuit. He spoke only to answer “Yes, sir,” twice after he was asked basic questions about the charge against him and his attorney. His hair was shaved down to stubble and he had a thin goatee, which appeared consistent with his booking photo from the day before. He had resurfaced Wednesday to turn himself in after weeks in hiding.
Judge Mark E. Herr said he found probable cause to move ahead with the case and that an arraignment would be held on May 29 before another judge.
A document prepared by prosecutors shed some light on why they chose to charge Zimmerman. The affidavit says Martin’s mother identified screams heard in the background of a 911 call as her son’s. There had been some question as to whether Martin or Zimmerman was the one calling for help. Prosecutors also interviewed a friend of Martin’s who was talking to him just before the shooting. The affidavit says Martin told the witness he was being followed and was scared.
Martin tried to run home, the affidavit says, but was followed by Zimmerman: “Zimmerman got out of his vehicle and followed Martin.” The affidavit says that “Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher” who told him to stop, and “continued to follow Martin who was trying to return to his home.” The Orlando Sentinel obtained the affidavit of probable cause before it was filed with the courthouse.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, attorney Mark O’Mara said he was concerned that the case up to now has been handled in the public eye, with details coming out in piecemeal fashion. “It’s really supposed to happen in the courtroom,” O’Mara said, deflecting questions about evidence in the case and his client’s mental state. Earlier Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show, O’Mara said Zimmerman is stressed and very tired and hoping to get bail.