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Mari Fagel Headshot

George Zimmerman's Second Bond Hearing a.k.a. the 'Mini Trial'

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On Friday, George Zimmerman's defense attorney Mark O' Mara brought in Sanford EMT Kevin O'Rourke to testify about the injuries his client sustained the night of the shooting, including lacerations to the head and face. He brought in Zimmerman's father, Robert, to testify he's "absolutely sure" it's his son screaming for help on those 911 tapes. He played a video of George Zimmerman reenacting the altercation for police shortly after the shooting. He entered in a lie detector test as evidence, in which his client is asked questions about the night of the shooting, and according to the test operator, passed the test. He argued to the judge that second degree murder was an "improper charge" and that there is a strong argument for "self defense" and no evidence of racial profiling. Mark O'Mara put on a very strong case, for a murder trial that is.

The purpose of a typical bond hearing is solely for a judge to secure a criminal defendant's presence at future court proceedings, judging factors like whether he is a flight risk or has an amount of money that would enable him to flee. The basis for this bond hearing was to determine whether George Zimmerman should receive a higher bond or a revoked bond given the state's argument he intended to deceive the court about his financial circumstances at the original April hearing.

As to that question, Mark O'Mara put up a financial expert to testify about the money trail, making the case that Zimmerman made so many transfers because he was following the rules of PayPal that no more than $10,000 can be transferred at one time, not to try to hide his money. "Hiding is done by cash," said expert Adam Magill. "You don't hide money by transferring to banking." Yet, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda did an excellent job on cross-examination, pointing out inaccuracies in Magill's testimony and the fact that Magill wasn't even aware that Zimmerman had transferred some money into a safety deposit box.

O'Mara also put Zimmerman's probation officer on the stand to testify that the defendant has always followed instructions and has been polite, to support the idea that Zimmerman is not a flight risk and never had any problems with the GPS monitoring program he was placed under following the first bond hearing.

O'Mara even spoke to the judge on behalf of his client, saying that George Zimmerman lied out of fear, he was scared, he had been kicked out of his home, his school, his job and he distrusted law enforcement. O'Mara said his client should've spoken up when he knew his wife lied under oath, but that "I don't know what goes on in the mind of a 28-year-old." He made the case that George Zimmerman never intended to deceive the court. That statement, paired with the testimonies of the financial expert and the probation officer, would have been enough for O'Mara to try to make his case that George Zimmerman deserves to remain out on bond.

So why did he give the judge eight to 10 hours of evidence to consider? Why did he essentially play all his cards in round two of what's going to be a long battle? Just like at the first bond hearing, O'Mara was looking way beyond the courtroom, knowing the cameras were broadcasting every moment live, and thinking this was his shot to play out the case for the press, for the public, for potential jurors.

If prosecutors have taken opportunities to throw George Zimmerman under the bus in the press, releasing jailhouse calls, charging his wife with perjury, then why can't he do the same? Due to the mounting evidence released by the state showing Zimmerman talking in code and transferring funds, in the minds of potential jurors, he has a serious credibility issue. Some may think, if he lied about this, is he lying about what happened the night he shot Trayvon Martin?

Yet, O'Mara wasn't about to accept defeat so quickly or so easily, so he took the opportunity to use Friday's bond hearing to try to sway public opinion of his client. He knows the news outlets are covering his every word, so why not build his case that George Zimmerman did not initiate the altercation, that he was fighting for his life, that he shot Trayvon Martin out of self-defense. All of this has little to do with the issue of whether his bond should be revoked, but everything to do with what potential jurors think of his client. This hearing wasn't about the fact that his client may have lied to Judge Kenneth Lester, it was a second chance at having the stage as the cameras roll and the viewing public watches.

Will Judge Lester revoke George Zimmerman's bond? I don't think so. I think he'll raise it substantially to reflect Zimmerman's true financial circumstances, and make it difficult for Zimmerman to secure the funds necessary to keep him out on bond. Yet, that's beside the point, because Mark O'Mara has shifted the focus of Friday's hearing from the fact that Zimmerman deceived the court to the entire nature of the crime itself. So, once again, we saw a sneak peak of what the upcoming trial could be like with Mark O'Mara showing prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda exactly what he's made of.