Huffpost Black Voices

Judge In Trayvon Martin Case Recuses Herself Due To Conflict Of Interest

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MARTIN JUDGE
Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler holds a status hearing Friday, April 13, 2012, in Sanford, Fla., in the second-degree murder case against neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. \Attorneys asked the judge to remove herself from the case because her husband is a member of a law firm whose founder is a legal analyst on television. Zimmerman has been charged in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, in Sanford. (AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Tom Benitez, Pool) | AP

The judge who was set to preside over the trial of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin has stepped aside.

Jessica Reckseidler's recusal from the trial comes after Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's attorney, suggested that her husband's job as a partner to Mark NeJame, a CNN legal analyst covering the trial, represented a conflict of interest.

NeJame was initially contacted by Zimmerman's family to represent him, but NeJame suggested O'Mara.

The new judge in the case will be Kenneth R. Lester, Jr., who has presided over several much-covered cases, including ordering the release of a schizophrenic woman from a state mental hospital after she was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting deaths of her parents and sentencing an ax murderer to death after he killed a 71-year-old man. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Lester is popular among attorneys and is known for acting quickly.

The judge who would have been next in line to handle the Zimmerman case after Jessica Reckseidler could not take on the case because he had previously worked with O'Mara, Zimmerman's attorney.

Zimmerman is facing second-degree murder charges in the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old whom he shot on February 26 in Sanford, Fla. after an altercation. Zimmerman was not initially arrested or charged in the shooting. After weeks of public outcry calling for a reinvestigation of the case, Zimmerman was arrested and charged on April 11.

The case has become a flashpoint in the national conversations around gun laws and racial profiling.

Zimmerman is set to appear at a hearing this week to request to be released on bail. Last week, O'Mara asked for the records in the case to be sealed, and several news organizations have sued for the release of records in the case.