NEW: Meeting aimed at community healing held in Sanford
Martin family declines to meet with George Zimmerman
Bond hearing for Zimmerman is set for Friday in central Florida
Judge will consider several factors, including flight risk, danger to community
George Zimmerman went into hiding amid a national uproar over the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. That seclusion ended last week when the Sanford, Florida, neighborhood watch volunteer turned himself in after being charged with second-degree murder.
On Friday morning, Zimmerman will seek bond – and freedom – despite ongoing concerns about his safety.
“There have been a lot of emotions that have come forward in this case, and some of those emotions have shown themselves in bad ways,” defense lawyer Mark O’Mara said this week about his client’s well-being.
The bond request will be heard by the case’s new judge, Kenneth Lester Jr.
Special prosecutor Angela Corey has the burden of showing why bond should not be set or that it should be high. The burden is referred to as “proof of guilt is evident or presumption of guilt is great.” Corey would have to convince Lester that a jury would convict Zimmerman.
The parties could agree to a bond that must be approved by the judge. If that does not occur, Lester would conduct a hearing Friday morning, and evidence, including sealed information the public has not heard before, might be produced.
In that scenario, Corey could call witnesses and submit paperwork, such as affidavits and police reports.
Among other factors, Lester will examine the seriousness of the crime, Zimmerman’s ties to the community, his conduct and whether he poses a danger or flight risk. Zimmerman claims he is indigent.
The defense is expected to argue Zimmerman is not a flight risk or danger to the community.
In 2005, Zimmerman was arrested in an assault on an officer and resisting arrest after an incident in a local bar. Zimmerman explained that the case was born out of mistaken identity. He entered a six-month, pretrial diversion program as part of a plea deal, court documents show.
Although his previous legal counsel indicated Zimmerman fled Florida because of security concerns, the defendant remained in touch with authorities when they needed to reach him, according to Sanford police.
Zimmerman surrendered April 11 to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
O’Mara on Thursday brought clothing to Seminole County’s John E. Polk Correctional Facility for his client to wear Friday.
“He’s very worried about the whole process, but I think we have built up a trust relationship, which is great,” O’Mara told CNN Orlando affiliate WESH. “I think he is hopeful he will be out on bond tomorrow. He certainly wants to be back with his family.”
The attorney previously told reporters he has taken no fees from Zimmerman, saying his client is not in a family of means. “I think he’s indigent for costs. He doesn’t have any money.”
O’Mara filed a motion that asks the court to allow Zimmerman’s family members to provide testimony at the bond hearing by telephone. The state attorney’s office did not object.
Natalie Jackson, an attorney for Martin’s family, on Thursday told CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin that O’Mara called to set up a private meeting between Zimmerman and the Martin family. The family declined, Jackson said, indicating they want Zimmerman, instead, to give a deposition on what happened the evening of February 26.
Martin’s family believes Zimmerman, 28, racially profiled their 17-year-old son, who was walking back from a convenience store, and unjustly killed him after disregarding a police dispatcher’s request not to follow the unarmed teen.
Zimmerman contends he acted in self-defense. His family says he did not profile Martin.
According to an Orlando Sentinel story later confirmed by Sanford police, Zimmerman told authorities that after he briefly lost track of Martin, the teen approached him. After the two exchange words, Zimmerman said, he reached for his cell phone, and then Martin punched him in the nose. Zimmerman said Martin pinned him to the ground and began slamming his head into the sidewalk.
Sanford, the city where the shooting took place, held a community healing meeting Thursday evening.
The city offered a nine-point working plan to improve strained relations between the city, police and the black community.
The proposal includes a community relations commission, a blue-ribbon panel to represent community concerns, a diverse interfaith alliance and an anti-violence campaign.
Vanessa Baden of the student group Dream Defenders said the city has ignored the black community’s complaints about the Sanford Police Department for years.
“What does the city plan to do with Chief (Bill) Lee?” asked Baden. Lee temporarily stepped down following anger over the department’s decision not to charge Zimmerman. The case against Zimmerman was brought by Corey.
For some Sanford residents, the Martin case has become a rallying cry, a chance to air what they believe are years of grievances and cases of injustice between the police, the courts and the black community. For others, it has forced them to defend their town as a place that is not inherently racist, a place where a young black man cannot be killed without consequence.
Florida authorities, meanwhile, have picked 17 people to tackle a heated question brought on by the killing of Martin: whether the state’s “stand your ground law” should be changed.
The task force, whose membership was announced Thursday, will hear impassioned arguments and testimony from residents at public meetings across the state.
“We’re not walking into this with any preconceived notions,” Republican Gov. Rick Scott said at a news conference. If there are “logical changes to be made,” he said, the task force “will provide those.”
It will pass along recommendations to the governor and the legislature.
The group will review Florida Statute Chapter 776, which deals with justifiable use of force, including the “stand your ground” provision.
The law allows people to use deadly force when they feel a reasonable threat of death or serious injury. Critics and defenders of the law have argued over just what it allows, when it applies, and whether it achieves its intended effect.
CNN’s John Couwels contributed to this report.