By Roger McKinney
The Orlando Sentinel (MCT)
SANFORD, Fla. —
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 Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, a probable cause affidavit filed in the second-degree murder case failed to disclose much new evidence.
The four-page affidavit did, however, does offer a few new pieces of information. It says, that “Zimmerman confronted Martin,” an apparent contradiction of Zimmerman’s version of the events.
It also says Trayvon’s mother identified the screams for help heard in a 911 call as those of her son. It also reveals that investigators interviewed a “friend” of Trayvon’s who talked to him on the phone in the leadup to the shooting.
Based on the description, it appears the friend was 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 said. “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, the affidavit says, but was followed by Zimmerman. “Zimmerman got out of his vehicle and followed Martin.”
The affidavit goes on to say that “Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher” who told him to stop, and “continued to follow Martin who was trying to return to his home.”
Zimmerman, the affidavit says, “confronted Martin and a struggle ensued.”
According to the affidavit: “Trayvon Martin’s mother has reviewed the 911 calls and identified the voice crying for help as Trayvon Martin’s. Zimmerman shot Martin in the chest.”
Zimmerman’s first appearance began just after 1:30 p.m. He faces a second-degree murder charge in the Feb. 26 shooting, which sparked international outcry.
Zimmerman appeared in a jumpsuit and handcuffs. He was joined by his new attorney, Mark O’Mara. A first-appearance judge found probable cause for the murder charge.
The judge set Zimmerman’s next court date for May 29 at 1:30 p.m. Zimmerman spoke only once during the hearing, responding “yes sir” to a question.
No bond hearing was held. Zimmerman will remain in jail for the time being.
After Zimmerman exited, O’Mara asked the judge to seal documents in the court file containing other information — including witness statements and information.
“I am seeking on my client’s behalf ... that we do a complete sealing of that record,” O’Mara said, adding that the sealing would be temporary. The judge agreed.
After the hearing, prosecutor Bernie De La Rionda asked reporters gathered outside for patience.
“In the rule of law, we have jury trials for a purpose,” De La Rionda said. O’Mara echoed that sentiment.
“It really, truly, it works,” O’Mara said of the judicial system, telling reporters that in a case of this profile, if it doesn’t work, “you’ll tell us.”
O’Mara said it made more sense to forgo a bond hearing at this point, electing to give time to allow the fervor surrounding the case to die down. He said his client is in protective custody.
The case has been assigned to Circuit Court Judge Jessica Recksiedler.