Suspended Broward County Florida Deputy Sheriff Brent Wooddell Awaiting Theft And Misconduct Trial Removed Court Ordered GPS Ankle Monitor And Went To Strip Club

June 6, 2012

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA – A suspended Broward Sheriff’s detective under house arrest while facing trial on grand theft, official misconduct and other charges took off his GPS monitor and visited a Pompano Beach strip club, where deputies arrested him Monday night.

Prosecutors had already argued twice to have Brent Wooddell’s $2,000 bond revoked, first after he allegedly sent an intimidating text message to a witness in his case, and again after he was accused of fleeing from the scene of an accident while on his way to a court hearing. Broward Circuit Judge Carlos Rebollo allowed Wooddell to stay out of jail both times.

According to an arrest warrant, Wooddell took off his ankle monitor on Sunday and was told by his pre-trial release officer to turn himself in Monday morning. When he didn’t show, officials demanded his arrest.

Deputies found him Tuesday at 9:20 p.m. at the Cheetah strip club in Pompano Beach. He was in custody at the Broward Main Jail as of Tuesday afternoon.

Wooddell was arrested in September 2011 after a sting operation allegedly caught him in the act of stealing $1,340 from an oxycodone dealer he had just arrested. The dealer was actually an undercover Miami-Dade police officer. According to the Sheriff’s Office, the phony suspect had pills and $7,340 in a blue bag when he was taken into custody, but Wooddell only turned in $6,000 when he got to the Deerfield Beach substation.

Officials said the undercover operation was captured on video and audio recordings.

Wooddell has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of his criminal case.

On his way to a formal arraignment in February, Wooddell’s car crashed into another vehicle on Florida’s Turnpike, according to court records. No one was injured in the crash, but Wooddell didn’t report it for fear of being late to his court date.

Prosecutors didn’t learn about that violation until May, at which point Assistant State Attorney Adriana Alcalde-Padron urged Rebollo to revoke Wooddell’s bond. But Rebollo kept Wooddell under house arrest, ordering the suspended detective to remain at home except when shopping or traveling to and from his job at a Hyundai dealership in Lake Park.

A month earlier, Alcalde-Padron accused Wooddell of sending text messages to a witness in the case. At that time, Rebollo reminded the defendant to avoid contact with witnesses as one of the conditions of his release.

“We have moved to revoke his bond twice,” Alcalde-Padron said Tuesday. “This is his third violation. Hopefully, he will now remain in custody at least until it’s time for his trial.”

In addition to the grand theft and official misconduct charges, Woddell is accused of tampering with evidence, falsifying records and delivery of steroids. If convicted of all charges, he faces more than 30 years in prison.

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Bessemer Alabama Postal Worker Derrick Harris Arrested On Drug And Animal Cruelty Charges

June 6, 2012

JEFFERSON COUNTY, ALABAMA – A Pleasant Grove man has been arrested on 19 charges of animal cruelty in relation to the seizure of 20 pit bull mixes from his home.

Derrick Harris, 37, was arrested by Pleasant Grove police at his place of employment, the Bessemer Post Office, Wednesday afternoon. Police say they arrested him at his workplace because he was not showing up at his home in Pleasant Grove.

Harris faces 19 misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty in addition to two felony charges for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

A total of 20 pit bull mixes were seized from Harris’ home on May 29 by the Birmingham Jefferson County Animal Control and Greater Birmingham Humane Society. The Pleasant Grove police chief said the dogs were in bad condition, chained up and many unable to reach their food and water. The dogs were taken into the BJC and GBHS for medical care.

Harris was booked into the Pleasant Grove Jail and is being transferred to the Jefferson County Jail. His total bond has not yet been set.

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Feds Raid Puerto Rico Airport – Target Drug Trafficking At Island’s Main Airport

June 6, 2012

PUERTO RICO – Hundreds of federal and state agents were conducting sweeps of Puerto Rico’s main airport Wednesday in an anti-drug trafficking operation, officials said.

In addition, there were raids in the commonwealth’s capital, San Juan, said Laila Rico, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno told CNN en Español that 42 arrest warrants have been issued, not all of them in Puerto Rico. He said some arrests would be made in the mainland United States.

The raid was taking place at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, just outside San Juan.

Related indictments, expected to be unsealed Wednesday, deal with the use of the main airport and other airports to traffic drugs, Fortuno said.

The arrests are part of an investigation of two separate cases, the DEA said.

Fortuno said that 200 police and federal agents were participating in the operation.

The governor told WAPA Radio that because of new controls at the island’s ports of entry, it is easier to detect drug trafficking.

Two years ago, authorities arrested three former employees of a private baggage handling company who had worked at an airport in Puerto Rico. Those arrests targeted a drug trafficking ring that used major airlines to smuggle cocaine and heroin to the United States.

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Florida’s “Stand Your Ground Law” Lets Drug Dealers Avoid Murder Charges And Gang Members Walk Free – But Somehow Doesn’t Apply To Zimmerman After Shooting And Killing Worthless Druggie In Self Defense

June 3, 2012

FLORIDA – Florida’s “stand your ground” law has allowed drug dealers to avoid murder charges and gang members to walk free. It has stymied prosecutors and confused judges. • It has also served its intended purpose, exonerating dozens of people who were deemed to be legitimately acting in self-defense. Among them: a woman who was choked and beaten by an irate tenant and a man who was threatened in his driveway by a felon.

Seven years since it was passed, Florida’s “stand your ground” law is being invoked with unexpected frequency, in ways no one imagined, to free killers and violent attackers whose self-defense claims seem questionable at best.

Cases with similar facts show surprising — sometimes shocking — differences in outcomes. If you claim “stand your ground” as the reason you shot someone, what happens to you can depend less on the merits of the case than on who you are, whom you kill and where your case is decided.

Today, the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen, by a Hispanic neighborhood watch captain has prompted a renewed look at Florida’s controversial law.

In the most comprehensive effort of its kind, the Tampa Bay Times has identified nearly 200 “stand your ground” cases and their outcomes. The Times identified cases through media reports, court records and dozens of interviews with prosecutors and defense attorneys across the state.

Among the findings:

• Those who invoke “stand your ground” to avoid prosecution have been extremely successful. Nearly 70 percent have gone free.

• Defendants claiming “stand your ground” are more likely to prevail if the victim is black. Seventy-three percent of those who killed a black person faced no penalty compared to 59 percent of those who killed a white.

• The number of cases is increasing, largely because defense attorneys are using “stand your ground” in ways state legislators never envisioned. The defense has been invoked in dozens of cases with minor or no injuries. It has also been used by a self-described “vampire” in Pinellas County, a Miami man arrested with a single marijuana cigarette, a Fort Myers homeowner who shot a bear and a West Palm Beach jogger who beat a Jack Russell terrier.

• People often go free under “stand your ground” in cases that seem to make a mockery of what lawmakers intended. One man killed two unarmed people and walked out of jail. Another shot a man as he lay on the ground. Others went free after shooting their victims in the back. In nearly a third of the cases the Times analyzed, defendants initiated the fight, shot an unarmed person or pursued their victim — and still went free.

• Similar cases can have opposite outcomes. Depending on who decided their cases, some drug dealers claiming self-defense have gone to prison while others have been set free. The same holds true for killers who left a fight, only to arm themselves and return. Shoot someone from your doorway? Fire on a fleeing burglar? Your case can swing on different interpretations of the law by prosecutors, judge or jury.

• A comprehensive analysis of “stand your ground” decisions is all but impossible. When police and prosecutors decide not to press charges, they don’t always keep records showing how they reached their decisions. And no one keeps track of how many “stand your ground” motions have been filed or their outcomes.

Claiming “stand your ground,” people have used force to meet force outside an ice cream parlor, on a racquetball court and at a school bus stop. Two-thirds of the defendants used guns, though weapons have included an ice pick, shovel and chair leg.

The oldest defendant was an 81-year-old man; the youngest, a 14-year-old Miami youth who shot someone trying to steal his Jet Ski.

Ed Griffith, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, describes “stand your ground” as a “malleable” law being stretched to new limits daily.

“It’s arising now in the oddest of places,” he said.

That’s unlikely to change any time soon, according to prosecutors and defense attorneys, who say the number and types of cases are sure to rise.

“If you’re a defense counsel, you’d be crazy not to use it in any case where it could apply,” said Zachary Weaver, a West Palm Beach lawyer. “With the more publicity the law gets, the more individuals will get off.”

Expanding self-defense

People have had the right to defend themselves from a threat as far back as English common law. The key in Florida and many other states was that they could not use deadly force if it was reasonably possible to retreat.

That changed in 2005 when Gov. Jeb Bush signed into law Florida Statute 776.013. It says a person “has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground” if he or she thinks deadly force is necessary to prevent death, great bodily harm or commission of a forcible felony like robbery.

“Now it’s lawful to stand there like Matt Dillon at high noon, pull the gun and shoot back,” said Bob Dekle, a University of Florida law professor and former prosecutor in North Florida.

Durell Peaden, the former Republican senator from Crestview who sponsored the bill, said the law was never intended for people who put themselves in harm’s way before they started firing. But the criminal justice system has been blind to that intent.

The new law only requires law enforcement and the justice system to ask three questions in self-defense cases: Did the defendant have the right to be there? Was he engaged in a lawful activity? Could he reasonably have been in fear of death or great bodily harm?

Without convincing evidence to the contrary, “stand your ground” protection prevails.

If prosecutors press charges, any defendant claiming self-defense is now entitled to a hearing before a judge. At the immunity hearing, a judge must decide based on the “preponderance of the evidence” whether to grant immunity. That’s a far lower burden than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the threshold prosecutors must meet at trial.

“It’s a very low standard to prove preponderance,” said Weaver, the West Palm Beach lawyer. “If 51 percent of the evidence supports your claim, you get off.”

Unequal treatment

The outcome of a ” stand your ground” case can turn on many factors: the location of blood spatters, the credibility of witnesses, the relative size and age of the parties involved. But the Times found similar incidents handled in dramatically different ways.

Derrick Hansberry thought John Webster was having an affair with his estranged wife, so he confronted Webster on a basketball court in Dade City in 2005. A fight broke out and Hansberry shot his unarmed rival at least five times, putting him in the hospital for three weeks.

Ultimately, a jury acquitted Hansberry, but not before police and prosecutors weighed in. Neither thought Hansberry could reasonably argue self-defense because he took the gun with him and initiated the confrontation.

A judge agreed, denying him immunity at a hearing.

Compare that case to Deounce Harden’s. In 2006, he showed up at Steven Deon Mitchell’s Jacksonville carwash business and started arguing over a woman. When the fight escalated, Harden shot and killed Mitchell, who was unarmed.

Prosecutors filed no charges.

Similar inconsistencies can be found across the state:

• During an argument at a 2009 party in Fort Myers, Omar Bonilla fired his gun into the ground and beat Demarro Battle, then went inside and gave the gun to a friend. If Battle feared for his life, he had time to flee. Instead, he got a gun from his car and returned to shoot Bonilla three times, including once in the back. Battle was not charged in the slaying.

At another party in the same town five months later, Reginald Etienne and Joshua Sands were arguing. Etienne left the party and returned with a knife. During a fistfight between the two men, Etienne fatally stabbed Sands. He was sent to prison for life.

• In Winter Springs, Owen Eugene Whitlock came home on Christmas Eve 2009 to find his daughter’s boyfriend, Jose Ramirez, angrily stalking up his driveway, flexing his muscles and swinging his fists. Whitlock stood his ground and fired a fatal shot. He was not charged.

In Clearwater, Terry Tyrone Davis shot and killed his cousin as he stalked up the walkway of Davis’ home in 2010 with a group of friends. “There’s no doubt he was going over there to kick his a–,” Circuit Judge Philip J. Federico said, “but that does not allow you to kill a guy.” Davis is now serving 25 years in prison.

• In West Palm Beach, Christopher Cote started pounding on the door of neighbor Jose Tapanes at 4 a.m. after an argument over Cote’s dog. Tapanes stepped outside and fired his shotgun twice, killing Cote. A jury acquitted him, but prosecutors and a judge had discounted Tapanes’ self-defense claim, saying if he was truly afraid for his life, he should not have stepped outside.

Yet Rhonda Eubanks was not arrested or charged when she opened her front door one evening in 2006 and fatally shot a man who had been causing a ruckus in her Escambia County neighborhood. He had tried to get into her house, then left and tried to take her neighbors’ cars. When he returned, Eubanks stood near her doorway and fired as he approached.

Discrepancies among cases cannot all be explained by small differences in the circumstances. Some are clearly caused by different interpretations of the law.

When Gerald Terrell Jones shot his marijuana dealer in the face in Brandon this year, he was charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault. A jury later acquitted him. But a judge had rejected Jones’ “stand your ground” motion, in part, because he was committing a crime at the time.

Elsewhere in the state, drug dealers have successfully invoked “stand your ground” even though they were in the middle of a deal when the shooting started.

In Daytona Beach, for example, police Chief Mike Chitwood used the “stand your ground” law as the rationale for not filing charges in two drug deals that ended in deaths. He said he was prevented from going forward because the accused shooters had permits to carry concealed weapons and they claimed they were defending themselves at the time.

“We’re seeing a good law that’s being abused,” Chitwood told a local paper.

Various interpretations

Disparities have been driven in part by vague wording in the 2005 law that has left police, prosecutors and judges struggling to interpret it.

It took five years for the Florida Supreme Court to decide that judges should base immunity decisions on the preponderance of evidence.

Still unresolved is whether a defendant can get immunity if he illegally has a gun. And courts are divided on what the law is when a victim is retreating.

David Heckman of Tampa lost his bid for “stand your ground” protection because his victim was walking away when Heckman shot him.

“We conclude that immunity does not apply because the victim was retreating,” the court said.

But Jimmy Hair, who was sitting in a car when he was attacked in Tallahassee, was treated differently. He shot his victim as the man was being pulled from the vehicle. An appeals court gave immunity to Hair, saying: “The statute makes no exception from immunity when the victim is in retreat at the time the defensive force is employed.”

While many have argued the law does not allow someone to pick a fight and claim immunity, it has been used to do just that. It is broad enough that one judge complained that in a Wild West-type shootout, where everybody is armed, everyone might go free.

“Each individual on each side of the exchange of gunfire can claim self-defense,” Leon County Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis wrote in 2010, saying it “could conceivably result in all persons who exchanged gunfire on a public street being immune from prosecution.”

Lewis was considering immunity motions stemming from a Tallahassee gang shooting that resulted in the death of one of the participants, a 15-year-old boy.

The judge said he had no choice but to grant immunity to two men who fired the AK-47 responsible for the death even though they fired 25 to 30 times outside an apartment complex. The reason: It could not be proved they fired first.

Questionable cases

Whatever lawmakers’ expectations, “stand your ground” arguments have resulted in freedom or reduced sentences for some unlikely defendants.

• An 18-year-old felon, convicted of cocaine and weapons charges, shot and wounded a neighbor in the stomach, then fled the scene and was involved in another nonfatal shootout two days later, according to police. He was granted immunity in the first shooting.

• Two men fell into the water while fighting on a dock. When one started climbing out of the water, the other shot him in the back of the head, killing him. He was acquitted after arguing “stand your ground.”

• A Seventh-day Adventist was acting erratically, doing cartwheels through an apartment complex parking lot, pounding on cars and apartment windows and setting off alarms. A tenant who felt threatened by the man’s behavior shot and killed him. He was not charged.

• A Citrus County man in a longstanding dispute with a neighbor shot and killed the man one night in 2009. He was not charged even though a witness and the location of two bullet wounds showed the victim was turning to leave when he was shot.

Even chasing and killing someone over a drug buy can be considered standing your ground.

Anthony Gonzalez Jr. was part of a 2010 drug deal that went sour when someone threatened Gonzalez with a gun. Gonzalez chased the man down and killed him during a high-speed gunbattle through Miami streets.

Before the “stand your ground” law, Miami-Dade prosecutors would have had a strong murder case because Gonzalez could have retreated instead of chasing the other vehicle. But Gonzalez’s lawyer argued he had a right to be in his car, was licensed to carry a gun and thought his life was in danger.

Soon after the filing of a “stand your ground” motion, prosecutors agreed to a deal in which Gonzalez pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter and got three years in prison.

“The limitations imposed on us by the ‘stand your ground’ laws made it impossible for any prosecutor to pursue murder charges,” Griffith of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office said at the time. “This is certainly a very difficult thing to tell a grieving family member.”

Increase in cases

If there’s one thing on which critics and supporters agree, it is that the “stand your ground” law is being applied in a growing number of cases, including misdemeanors. That trend is reflected in the Times’ database, with a five-fold increase in nonfatal cases from 2008 to 2011.

Meanwhile, the number of fatalities in which “stand your ground” played a role dropped from a peak of 24 cases in 2009 to half that number in 2011.

The nearly 200 cases found by the Times include most of the high-profile homicides in which the law is invoked.

Uncovering minor cases in which defendants argue “stand your ground” is more difficult. When asked by the Times, public defenders in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties came up with a total of 60 “stand your ground” motions filed by their offices in recent years.

In Miami-Dade County, officials tried to count all the “stand your ground” motions filed in the past year. Their best estimate: 50.

If those counties are any indication, several hundred defendants are now invoking the law annually.

Its expanded use comes at a cost to the court system.

In April, a hearing on whether William Siskos should get immunity for killing his girlfriend’s husband included the all-day use of a Brooksville courtroom, a judge, a public defender, two prosecutors, clerks and bailiffs and an expert witness who was paid $750 an hour.

The judge denied the motion and the case is pending.

“The court system is overburdened enough without having a bunch of expensive, unnecessary, time-consuming hearings on stand your ground,” said Dekle, the University of Florida professor.

Argument for success

Donald Day is a Naples defense lawyer who has handled three “stand your ground” cases and believes the law is working “remarkably well.”

Day said the immunity hearings are a critical backstop in self-defense cases that should never go to a jury. Of the cases in the Times’ database that have been resolved, 23 percent were dismissed by a judge after an immunity hearing. That means 38 defendants facing the prospect of a jury trial were set free by a judge who ruled the evidence leaned in their favor.

“Where the defendant is clearly in the right and gets arrested, should you have to take your chance with what six people believe or don’t believe?” Day said. “Judges are denying these motions where they should be denied and granting them in the limited number of cases statewide where they should be granted.”

A prime example, he said, is the case of his client, Jorge Saavedra, a 14-year-old charged with aggravated manslaughter last year in the death of Dylan Nuno.

Saavedra was in special education classes at Palmetto Ridge High School in Collier County and was often the target of taunts. Nuno, 16, went to the same school.

On Jan. 24, 2011, the two boys were riding the bus home. Saavedra was warned repeatedly that Nuno intended to fight with him when he got off at his regular stop. Saavedra replied each time that he did not want to fight, but he also pulled out a pocketknife to show friends.

Saavedra got off the bus early with a friend to try to avoid a confrontation. But Nuno and his friends followed, and Nuno punched the younger boy in the back of the head.

For a while, Saavedra kept walking as he was being punched. Then he turned, reached in his pocket for the knife and stabbed Nuno 12 times.

Prosecutors pursued charges despite evidence that Saavedra tried to get away and felt cornered by an older boy and a crowd of teens shouting for a fight. They argued that because he brought a knife to a fistfight, he should be tried for murder.

Without “stand your ground,” Saavedra would likely have gone to trial. But the law required a hearing before a judge and that judge granted him immunity.

Nuno’s mother, Kim Maxwell, said her son made a bad decision to throw the first punch, but she’s incredulous that it led to his death and even more stunned that his killer went free.

Said Day: “You don’t have to wait until you’re dead before you use deadly force.”

‘Emboldening’

As “stand your ground” claims have increased, so too has the number of Floridians with guns. Concealed weapons permits now stand at 1.1 million, three times as many as in 2005 when the law was passed.

“I think the (stand your ground) law has an emboldening effect. All of a sudden, you’re a tough guy and can be aggressive,” said George Kirkham, a professor emeritus at Florida State University who has worked as a police officer.

Criminologists say that when people with guns get the message they have a right to stand and fight, rather than retreat, the threshold for using that gun goes down. All too often, Bruce Bartlett, chief assistant state attorney for Pinellas-Pasco counties, sees the result.

“I see cases where I’ll think, ‘This person didn’t really need to kill that person but the law, as it is written, justifies their action,’ ” Bartlett said about incidents that his office decides not to prosecute due to “stand your ground.” “It may be legally within the boundaries. But at the end of the day, was it really necessary?”

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Veteran Los Angeles County California Deputy Sheriff Rafael Zelaya Arrated Arrested After 4 Month Investigation – Faces Charges For Drugs, Reciving Stolen Property, And False Police Reports

June 3, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – A deputy in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of drug possession and other crimes, a sheriff’s official confirmed Saturday.

Rafael Zelaya, 35, was relieved of duty after his arrest Thursday. Along with the drug possession allegation, he is accused of receiving stolen property and filing false police reports. Zelaya, who has been on the force for six years, had been under investigation by the sheriff’s internal affairs unit for four months leading up to his arrest.

Further details of the allegations against Zelaya were not known. Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore confirmed the arrest but refused to elaborate on what the deputy is alleged to have done.

Zelaya was taken into custody at the department’s East Los Angeles station without incident while he was off-duty. He is being held at Men’s Central Jail in downtown L.A. in lieu of $500,000 bail while awaiting his arraignment, Whitmore said.

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Buffalo New York Police Officer Jorge Melendez Arrested, Fired, And Charged In Large Marijuana Grow Operation

June 3, 2012

BUFFALO, NEW YORK – Another Law Enforcement Officer is on the wrong side of the law.

Buffalo Police Officer Jorge Melendez of the D District is accused of running and maintaining a marijuana growing operation just blocks from the A District police station. He’s charged with conspiracy to manufacture more than 100 marijuana plants, maintaining a premises for manufacturing marijuana and manufacturing more than 100 marijuana plants.

Jason Elardo faces the same charges.

Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda says Melendez has been fired from the police department. He and Elardo are both in federal detention. Derenda says no other police officers were involved but there could further arrests of other individuals.

The federal charges carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years, a fine of $4,000,000 or both.

Federal DEA agents say Melendez owns a warehouse on 2157 South Park Avenue in Buffalo where undercover surveillance cameras were installed as part of the investigation. The complant says Melendez and Elardo were seen tending to the marijuana plants. Agents describe the marijuana growing operation as a sophisticated hydroponic system with PVC piping, irrigation, humidifiers, and high intensity lights, and growth inducing chemicals and fertilizers.

Agents say Melendez was actually seen driving his marked Buffalo police car to the South Park location in March to briefly check the location.

Agents say another growing operation was located in a warehouse at 1372 Clinton Street. They say their investigation also turned up cutting, harvesting, and packaging equipment for sales of pot at a home at 76 West Woodside Avenue. There were raids at all three sites Thursday morning. Equipment, cash, vehicles, boats and motorcycles were seized. Agents say various weapons were also found at the homes of Melendez and Elardo. They also seized up to 1,000 marijuana plants from the three locations.

U.S. Attorney William Hochul says, “This operation was literally hiding in plain sight.” He went on to say, “Police officers are sworn to protect the public and uphold the law. It is particulary disturbing when an officer breaks the law he was sworn to uphold.”

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Seminole County Florida Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. Revokes Zimmerman’s Bond Because His Wife Lied About Finances – Charged After Killing Druggie In Self Defense

June 1, 2012

SANFORD, FLORIDA – A Florida judge revoked bond Friday for George Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin.

Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. ordered Zimmerman to surrender to the county sheriff no later than Sunday afternoon.

Lester accused Zimmerman of having misrepresented how much money he had when his bond was originally set in April. Prosecutors say he had $135,000 at the time Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie, told the court, under oath, that they were indigent.

The prosecution cited as evidence recorded telephone conversations that Zimmerman had with his wife prior to the hearing. The conversations were recorded while Zimmerman was being held in the Seminole County Jail after being charged with second-degree murder on April 11.

He has pleaded not guilty and has been free on bail.

Martin, 17, was fatally shot February 26 while walking in a Sanford, Florida, neighborhood where he was staying during a visit with his father. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, told police he shot the teenager in self-defense.

“The defense, through Mrs. Zimmerman, lied to this court about the amount of money that they had,” said trial prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda. “I don’t know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie.”

Outside the courthouse, a lawyer for the family of Martin said Friday’s decision is significant. “Judge Lester’s finding that George Zimmerman was dishonest is very important because his credibility is the most important thing in this entire case,” Benjamin Crump told reporters.

The killing spurred protests among people who criticized police handling of the investigation and said Martin, who was unarmed and carrying a bag of Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea at the time he was killed, was racially profiled. The teen was African-American; Zimmerman is Hispanic.

In court documents, State Attorney Angela B. Corey also said that Zimmerman had two passports, and the passport that he surrendered to the court at the April hearing was one that Zimmerman had reported stolen on March 8, 2004. That passport was valid until May 2012, Corey said.

Zimmerman was issued a second passport on March 26, 2004, and that one is valid until 2014, she said.

The prosecutor asked the court that Zimmerman be ordered to surrender the second passport to authorities.

But Lester appeared to accept the explanation from Zimmerman’s lawyer that his client had given him the second passport, and the lawyer simply forgot to hand it over to authorities until Friday.

Regarding Zimmerman’s finances, Corey alleged that in the recorded phone calls in April the couple “spoke in code to hide what they were doing” regarding the money in a credit union account belonging to the couple.

The money was apparently donated by members of the public to Zimmerman’s website.

Zimmerman “fully controlled and participated in the transfer of money from the PayPal account to defendant and his wife’s credit union accounts,” Corey said in court records. “This occurred prior to the time defendant was arguing to the court that he was indigent and his wife had no money.”

In late April, Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, said that the money raised by the website was put into a trust account that the attorney controls.

But Corey stated Friday in the court documents: “The money still belongs to defendant and he can demand it at any time.”

Court papers provided a partial transcript of a phone call allegedly showing the code used by Zimmerman and his wife on April 16:

Zimmerman: “In my account do I have at least $100?”

His wife: “No.”

Zimmerman: “How close am I?”

His wife: “$8. $8.60.”

Zimmerman: “Really. So total everything how much are we looking at?”

His wife: “Like $155.”

The prosecutor said the judge “relied on false representations and statements” by Zimmerman and his wife when the court set his bond at $150,000. He was required to post only 10% of that.

Corey argued that the court should revoke the bond or increase it “substantially.”

Lester appeared angry that the court had not been told about the money. “Does your client get to sit there like a potted palm and let you lead me down the primrose path?” he asked Zimmerman’s lawyer. “That’s the issue.”

O’Mara told CNN on Friday night that he had discussed the judge’s decision with Zimmerman, who was not in court on Friday. “He’s frustrated because he now has to come out of hiding,” O’Mara told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

“You need to realize we’re still talking about a 28-year-old who’s being charged with a crime he does not believe he committed, and his whole life has been turned upside down, so I think that it all needs to be kept in context.”

O’Mara added that he hoped the judge’s revocation of bond would be temporary. “We’re going to have a conversation with the judge to try to explain it away. Hopefully, that will be worthwhile and we’re going to get back out on bond.”

Meanwhile, Zimmerman’s defense team and prosecutors were both on the same side in court Friday afternoon fighting media companies’ request to release more information in the case.

Prosecution and defense lawyers argued that a host of material should remain sealed.

The intense public attention on the case is a chief reason certain information should remain out of the public eye, de la Rionda said in a motion filed earlier this month.

He argued that releasing too much “will result in this matter being tried in the press rather than in court, and an inability to seat a fair and impartial jury in Seminole County.” De la Rionda also voiced worries about witnesses being “reluctant to testify” for fear that their privacy would be violated and other witnesses being “harassed by media representatives.”

Specifically, the state wants the names and addresses of witnesses kept out of the public record. It asks for the same for crime scene and autopsy photos, a 911 recording of the incident, and cell phone records of Martin, Zimmerman and one witness.

De la Rionda is also requesting a judge seal statements Zimmerman made to law enforcement officers, some of which may be used against him at trial because they were “inconsistent with the physical evidence and statements of witnesses.”

O’Mara filed his own motion agreeing with the prosecution’s desire not to release material. He said the defense wants 1,000 e-mails received by Sanford police to be sealed, plus statements by Zimmerman. He asked that text messages, e-mail messages or journals made by the defendant be kept private, at least until they can be reviewed.

Scott Ponce of the Miami-based law firm Holland & Knight argued for more disclosure on behalf of various newspapers, TV stations and their parent companies.

The opposing arguments were laid out in motions filed in advance of Friday’s hearing.

This week, Ponce filed responses to the prosecution and defense positions, addressing them point by point.

“The broad secrecy the state seeks … is not supported by statute, constitution or case law, and it certainly cannot be justified in this prosecution,” he said.

Ponce argued that civilian witnesses’ names and addresses cannot be sealed under Florida’s public records law, because they would not be “defamatory” or “jeopardize the safety” of a witness. He said the state hasn’t proven anyone is in jeopardy. The contested cell phone records may be reviewed and, if need be, have parts redacted, but they shouldn’t be withheld entirely, he said.

Ponce said Zimmerman’s statements to police should not be treated as “confessions,” which would not be made public before trial.

The judge expressed sympathy for the prosecution and defense attorneys but said, “The law is against us.” He noted that the law in Florida “favors full, complete, open disclosure.”

Lester said he would review the discovery request and release material “in a redacted fashion.”

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