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George Zimmerman's attorney appeals judge's decision to stay on case

Joe Burbank / EPA file

George Zimmerman, right, with is attorney Mark O'Mara appears in front of Circuit Judge Kenneth R. Lester Jr. during a bond hearing at the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center in Sanford, Fla. on June 29, 2012.

George Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, is pushing forward with his fight for a new judge to take over the case.

O’Mara announced Monday he will appeal the decision of Seminole County Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. to stay on the case in which Zimmerman faces a second-degree murder charge in the death of Trayvon Martin.

O’Mara filed a motion last month asking Lester to recuse himself, saying the defense had lost faith in the judge’s objectivity because Lester reset Zimmerman's bond after finding out how much money his online defense fund had actually raised. 

Lester originally granted Zimmerman a $150,000 bond, but when prosecutors argued that Zimmerman and his wife misled the court about their financial state, he revoked the bond, accusing Zimmerman of getting ready to skip town with a cache of donations totaling about $130,000. Lester put Zimmerman back in jail for several weeks and then set a $1 million bond for Zimmerman, an amount that nearly wiped his defense fund.

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Lester ruled on Aug. 1 that he would not remove himself from the case because the defense motion asking him to step down was “legally insufficient.”  

O’Mara had 30 days to file an appeal. Now O’Mara is asking the Fifth District Court of Appeal to reconsider Lester’s ruling. He filed a 27-page motion at the Daytona Beach courthouse Monday. 

“We’re not going to take any chance of short-cutting my client’s constitutional rights,” O’Mara told reporters outside his office Monday.

O’Mara also discussed his recent announcement that the defense will seek a hearing under Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law, telling reporters that he believes the facts of the case show that Zimmerman had no option but to shoot.

“Facts do not seem to support a stand your ground case,” O’Mara said. “I think the facts suggest in this case that what probably happened was my client was reacting to having his nose broken.”

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O’Mara also said that Zimmerman will seek permission from Lester – or, if his appeal succeeds, a new judge – to leave Seminole County because he is living in fear.

“He really has to live as a hermit, unfortunately,” O’Mara said.

Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed while walking through a Sanford, Fla., neighborhood in February.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense. 

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