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Justice system works for Trayvon's killer

By Starla Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Jul 12, 2012 - 4:03:58 PM

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In this June 29, fi le photo, George Zimmerman, left, and attorney Don West appear before Circuit Judge Kenneth R. Lester, Jr. during a bond hearing at the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center in Sanford, Fla. A Florida judge on July 5, granted bond for a second time to George Zimmerman. Bail was set at $1 million.
( - George Zimmerman is reportedly in a safe house under beefed up security somewhere in Seminole County, Fla., after being released for a second time, this time on a $1 million bond. Mr. Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old unarmed Trayvon Martin was released July 6, just one day after the judge set a new bond amount.

Among other stipulations, Mr. Zimmerman is not allowed to drink alcohol, has a 6 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. curfew, is prohibited from applying for or having a passport, and cannot leave the county without permission from the judge. He is also required to wear an electronic monitoring device.

While some analysts said the increased bond and more stringent guidelines was just punishment, others are not so sure, arguing Mr. Zimmerman should not have received a bond at all.

Hip-hop artist and activist Jasiri X, who penned a rap song dedicated to the slain teen, posted on Twitter, “The fact that George Zimmerman is free again is all you need to know about the American justice system.”

Dr. Ava Muhammad, an attorney, said regardless of the more strict stipulations, the bond is simply another manifestation of a society built on White supremacy and Black inferiority. “First of all if we go back to what it took to get an arrest, now we have to have bail set and reset,” said Dr. Muhammad.

Mr. Zimmerman, who is White and Hispanic, admitted shooting and killing Trayvon who is Black, earlier this year as the teen was making his way home from buying candy and iced tea from a local store. Mr. Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch volunteer, who was carrying a 9 mm handgun, invoked Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground defense, claiming Trayvon attacked and beat him up.

Mr. Zimmerman was not arrested until 46 days later after the incident, due to the diligence of Trayvon’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sabrina Fulton, family attorney Ben Crump and collective outrage from around the country.

“Now when bail was revoked initially it was because of fraud which is a criminal act in and of itself because there were false representations made by Zimmerman through his lawyer to the court,” said Dr. Muhammad, a former prosecutor.

Through recorded jailhouse telephone conversations, Mr. Zimmerman and his wife Shelly were accused of speaking in code regarding the over $200,000 that was donated to a website set up for his defense fund. Yet when initially questioned by the court Mrs. Zimmerman lied about family finances, telling the judge the couple had no money.

Mrs. Zimmerman was subsequently arrested and charged with perjury for failing to disclose to the court the hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations received. Mr. Zimmerman’s initial $150,000 bond was revoked April 20 and he was ordered to return to jail. Reports say the Zimmerman website receives an average of $1,000 in donations per day.

In light of the increased bond, donations to the Zimmerman site have still been pouring in. The Miami Herald quoted Mr. Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Mara as saying, “Since the $1,000,000 bond was made public on July 5, supporters have donated approximately $20,000. In the two months prior to the Court’s Order Setting Bail, the George Zimmerman Defense Fund had received approximately $55,000.” Unconfirmed reports allege the powerful Conservative billionaire Koch brothers are financing Mr. Zimmerman’s legal fees as well.

At Final Call press time, no trial date has been set and there has been no indication of when it will be set. The Final Call contacted the Florida State Attorney’s office of Angela Corey who is prosecuting the Zimmerman case, but received no response by press time.

Bishop Tavis L. Grant, national field director for the Rainbow Push Coalition, told The Final Call the new bond was what many believed should have been set in the beginning.

“Seeing wheels move so slow on one hand and on the other hand seemingly in his (Mr. Zimmerman’s) favor the restrictions that have been placed upon him are restrictions that again should have been placed on him in the beginning,” said Bishop Grant.

“I think this is bringing to our awareness of the urgent need for public policy legislation to roll back Stand Your Ground and to really look at marginalizing the Castle Law and then implementing a sense of equity. What makes this somewhat melancholy for many of us is the fact that the bond is still placed within the range of him being able to obtain it by way of the money that he has already raised,” added Bishop Grant.

“He’s a very unique defendant in that he has access to a public domain that to this day continues to fund his legal defense fund, provide him the opportunity to be out on bail pending trial,” he continued.

Dr. Muhammad said the bond holds little meaning since only 10 percent or $100,000 was required for Mr. Zimmerman’s release. According to reports, Mr. Zimmerman paid a balance of $85,000 in addition to the $15,000 he had already paid during the first bond. His parents allegedly placed their home up as collateral.

“So, $100,000 at the end of the day has no meaning for a man who clearly is receiving the endorsement and support of a racist White community. And it’s sending a message to White males in particular that this is the right thing to do. That the Stand Your Ground Law was made by White men for White men and that they will support this till the end,” Dr. Muhammad told The Final Call.

“These symbolic gestures by the court, an hour earlier curfew, to me, this has no significance whatsoever. Murder two, really I’m of the school of thought of those who are saying there shouldn’t have been any bail,” added Dr. Muhammad.

Mr. Zimmerman has already demonstrated he is a liar with an inclination to hide, argued Dr. Muhammad, noting that the suspect’s previous attorney lost track of him and did not know where he was for a time. This demonstrates a propensity to flee so no bail should have been set, continued Dr. Muhammad.

The presiding judge in the case Judge Kenneth Lester, Jr. of the 18th Judicial Circuit for Seminole County, accused Mr. Zimmerman of “blatant disregard for the judicial system” in the July 5, eight-page bond order.

A family statement issued through Atty. Crump said, “Trayvon’s parents would rather that the killer of their unarmed child remain in jail until the trial, however they respect the ruling of the court and the strong message that the judge sent that deference to judicial integrity is paramount to all court proceedings. Furthermore, they understand that this is not a sprint to justice, but a long journey to justice that they must bear for their son Trayvon.”

Dr. Muhammad said it is too early to tell if the case will even proceed to trial. “All they need to do is speed up the trial date. The trial doesn’t have to wait for a year. He’s (Zimmerman) entitled to a speedy trial, within six months so let’s have it within six months. But to have him out walking around free when it’s clear that he is capable of disappearing, I think is an injustice,” said Dr. Muhammad.