ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - A Florida judge will decide this week whether to step down from the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer charged in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler disclosed last week that her husband’s law partner previously had been contacted by Zimmerman seeking representation. Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O‘Mara, on Monday filed a motion asking Recksiedler to recuse herself.
Recksiedler is on temporary assignment from the Florida Supreme Court, hearing oral arguments at the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach, Florida. She will issue a written order by Friday on the recusal motion, according to a court news release issued on Tuesday.
A bond hearing is set for Zimmerman on Friday. The court spokesman was unavailable to comment on Tuesday on whether that hearing would go forward as scheduled if another judge takes over the case.
In what the court spokesman previously acknowledged was an unusual decision, a different judge at Zimmerman’s first appearance on Thursday sealed all court records filed in the case after that date.
Martin was killed February 26 after he went to a convenience store to buy snacks before watching the NBA All-Star game on television.
As he walked through a gated residential community where he was staying with his father and father’s fiancee, Martin, a black teen, was spotted by Zimmerman, a white Hispanic. Prosecutors allege Zimmerman profiled Martin, disregarded police instructions, confronted and then killed Martin with a single gunshot to the chest.
Zimmerman has claimed self-defense in the shooting in the central Florida town of Sanford. Police initially failed to arrest him or charge him with any crime because Florida’s so-called “Stand Your Ground” law allows individuals who feel threatened in a public place to use lethal force in self-defense.
Editing By Tom Brown and Eric Walsh