|Page (1) of 1 - 04/19/12||email article||print page|
Judge quits Trayvon Martin case, cites conflict; new judge to preside over bail hearing
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) ' The Florida judge presiding over the Trayvon Martin shooting case removed herself Wednesday after the attorney for defendant George Zimmerman argued she had a possible conflict of interest relating to her husband.
Judge Kenneth M. Lester Jr. will preside over the case, including the Friday bail hearing for the neighborhood watch volunteer, according to a news release from the court.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for the Feb. 26 shooting of the unarmed Martin, 17. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense after the teen attacked him. Martin's family and supporters claim Zimmerman was the aggressor, targeting Martin for suspicion mainly because he was black. Zimmerman's father is white and his mother Hispanic.
Florida Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler had said she would make a decision by Friday, when the hearing had been set. Her husband works with Orlando attorney Mark NeJame, who was first approached by Zimmerman's family to represent the neighborhood watch volunteer.
But NeJame declined and referred them to Mark O'Mara, who is now representing Zimmerman. NeJame has since been hired by CNN to comment on the case.
Galluzzo said he had a conflict because of his personal and business relationship with O'Mara.
O'Mara said he requested that Recksiedler step down now because the case is just beginning and he wanted any possible conflict to be addressed right away rather than in the middle of the case. Recksiedler was assigned the case after Zimmerman's arrest last week.
Lester, 58, was first elected to the bench in 1996. The Chicago native grew up in central Florida and graduated from the University of Florida College of Law in 1980, a year behind the special prosecutor in the case, Angela Corey.
He is a Vietnam combat veteran and is married to longtime Orlando prosecutor Dorothy Sedgwick, who works in a neighboring jurisdiction.
A spokeswoman for Corey didn't immediately return an email and phone call asking if they knew each other.