George Zimmerman Makes Court Appearance In Trayvon Martin Shooting

NEW YORK | Friday, April 13th, 2012 3:51am EDT

George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer arrested Wednesday in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, faced a judge for the first time.

George Zimmerman, center, stands with his attorney Mark O'Mara, right, and a Seminole County Deputy during a court hearing Thursday April 12, 2012, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of the 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Photo: YouTube

George Zimmerman made his first courtroom appearance Thursday in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, reports The Huff Post.

During the short court 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.

Zimmerman’s hair was shaved down to stubble and he had a thin goatee. His hands were shackled in front of him.

A cause affidavit filed in the second-degree murder case failed to disclose much new evidence, tells MSN BC.

However, the four-page affidavit did offers a few new pieces of information. It says, that “Zimmerman confronted Martin,” an apparent contradiction of Zimmerman’s version of the events.

“Zimmerman … observed Martin and assumed Martin was a criminal,” the affidavit said. “Zimmerman felt Martin did not belong in the gated community and called the police.”

According to Yahoo!, the affidavit says: “Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher” who told him to stop, and “continued to follow Martin who was trying to return to his home.”

It also states that Trayvon’s mother identified the screams for help heard in a 911 call as those of her son.

Prosecutors interviewed a friend of Martin’s who was talking to him over the phone moments before the shooting.

It seems to be the girl described by Martin family attorneys as his girlfriend.

“During this time, Martin was on the phone with a friend and described to her what was happening,” the affidavit says. “The witness advised that Martin was scared because he was being followed through the complex by an unknown male and didn’t know why.”

Martin tried to run home, according to the affidavit, but was followed by Zimmerman. “Zimmerman got out of his vehicle and followed Martin.”

The confrontation took place on Feb. 26 in a gated community where Martin was staying with his father and his father’s fiancée. Martin was walking back home from a convenience store when Zimmerman spotted him and called 911.

He followed Martin despite being told to stop by a police dispatcher and the two got into a struggle. Zimmerman told police that Trayvon punched him in the nose, knocked him down, and began banging the volunteer’s head on the sidewalk.

Zimmerman said he shot Martin in fear for his life. Sanford police took Zimmerman, whose father is white and whose mother is Hispanic, into custody the night of the shooting but released him without charging him.

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.

No bond hearing was held. Zimmerman will remain in jail.

The special prosecutor in the case, Angela Corey, has refused to explain exactly how she arrived at the charge.

“We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition. We prosecute based on the facts on any given case as well as the laws of the state of Florida,” Corey said Wednesday. She was also present at the hearing.

According to legal experts, Corey chose a tough route with the murder charge, which could send Zimmerman to prison for life if he’s convicted, over manslaughter, which usually carries 15-year prison terms and covers reckless or negligent killings.

Speaking to reporters, Zimmerman’s 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.

Zimmerman’s lawyer is expected to ask the judge for a hearing on “stand your ground.”

“It is going to be a facet of this defense, I’m sure,” O’Mara said in an interview. “That statute has some troublesome portions to it, and we’re now going to have some conversations and discussions about it as a state. But right now it is the law of Florida and it is the law that is going to have an impact on this case.”

Martin’s parents expressed relief and acknowledged the arrest is just a first step.

“I think that it will start the process that we are pushing for. But we can’t just stop because we have an arrest. We got to keep pushing to get a conviction, and after a conviction we have to certainly continue to push to get a stiff sentence,” said Martin’s father, Tracy Martin.

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