Federal Judge Excuses Self From Trayvon Martin Killer's Case
The Florida federal judge who'd been set to preside over George Zimmerman's second degree murder trial has accepted a defense motion and excused herself from the proceedings, CNN has reported.
Seminole Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler acknowledged Wednesday that her husband works with current CNN legal analyst Mark NeJame following a motion by Zimmerman defense attorney Mark O'Mara suggesting that her involvement compromises the proceedings.
Zimmerman had originally approached NeJame to represent him. NeJame confirmed the March 13 request from Zimmerman, but explained that he declined knowing the time that a case drawing national attention would take from spending time with his family.
"The cumulative effect of the events and the totality of the circumstances provides a legally sufficient basis for this court to grant the motion to disqualify," a released court statement said, though Recksiedler herself said the individual findings were "legally insufficient" to merit her disqualification. Recksiedler this week has been attending to a temporary Florida Supreme Court assignment hearing Fifth District Court of Appeal oral arguments in Daytona Beach, according to court spokeswoman Michelle Kennedy.
Zimmerman faces a single second degree murder charge in the Feb. 26 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The neighborhood watch volunteer has admitted that he shot and killed Martin during a confrontation while Zimmerman patrolled his Sanford, Fla. neighborhood as Martin was returning from a nearby 7-11. Zimmerman has maintained that Martin attacked him first as he followed and monitored the teen, and that he only opened fire in self-defense.
Prior to special prosecutor Angela Corey filing charges last week, Zimmerman had maintained his actions were protected from prosecution under Florida's Stand Your Ground law. The stipulation protects from prosecutions individuals who open fire when doing so defending themselves, loved ones or property.
NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams