Judge rules Trayvon Martin shooter can travel to meet lawyer

ORLANDO, Florida Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:21pm EDT

Undated handout photo shows George Zimmerman shortly after he killed Trayvon Martin, in Sanford, Florida. REUTERS/George Zimmerman Legal Case/Handout

Undated handout photo shows George Zimmerman shortly after he killed Trayvon Martin, in Sanford, Florida.

Credit: Reuters/George Zimmerman Legal Case/Handout

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ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - The former neighborhood watch volunteer charged in the shooting of unarmed, black teenager Trayvon Martin can travel outside the Florida county where he lives, but only to visit his lawyer's office, a judge ruled on Friday.

George Zimmerman has been restricted to Seminole County in central Florida under the terms of his $1 million bond. He is charged with second-degree murder in the February 26 shooting death of Martin.

The judge's ruling was in response to a motion filed by Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, asking that he be allowed to move outside the county.

"I'm not granting carte blanche," Judge Kenneth Lester said.

Zimmerman, a 28-year-old who is white and Hispanic, shot and killed Martin, 17, in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, where Martin was visiting his father.

Martin was walking back from a store when Zimmerman called a 911 dispatcher and said the teenager looked suspicious. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self defense after Martin attacked him.

Martin's killing drew national attention after police initially declined to arrest Zimmerman, citing Florida's "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law and his assertion that he used deadly force because he feared his life was in danger.

Prosecutors claim Zimmerman profiled, pursued and killed Martin.

In a bond hearing last month, Lester restricted Zimmerman's movements and ordered him to stay away from the Orlando-Sanford International Airport after determining Zimmerman lied to the court about his finances.

O'Mara claimed the tough language of Lester's bond order indicated bias in the case and has sought to have him removed, but Lester has refused. The issue is on appeal.

O'Mara, whose office is located in Orlando, in Orange County, told reporters he will ask Lester to reconsider allowing Zimmerman to move outside of Seminole County after the judge said he might grant a motion if presented with a satisfactory reason and plan for the move.

"I don't think he needs to be limited to Central Florida or Florida because of some of the threats (against Zimmerman) out there," said O'Mara, who previously cited rumors of an alleged $5,000 bounty offered to anyone who could find Zimmerman's undisclosed location.

Lester also agreed to review in private Zimmerman's medical records sought by prosecutors who are trying to reconcile Zimmerman's injuries with his account of his encounter with Martin. O'Mara said he wants to preserve Zimmerman's privacy and prevent the release of irrelevant medical records.

(Editing by Kevin Gray and Vicki Allen)

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