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Florida judge recuses herself in Trayvon Martin case; next judge also recuses self

April 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler disqualified herself from the Trayvon Martin shooting case in Florida due to a potential conflict of interest, she announced Wednesday.

George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, is accused of fatally shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman called police to report a suspicious person in the gated community where he lives; despite the dispatcher warning him not to, Zimmerman followed Martin. Zimmerman was armed.

Zimmerman and Martin got into a confrontation and Zimmerman fatally shot Martin, citing self-defense. Florida's "stand your ground" law allows for lethal self-defense when in fear for one's life. Zimmerman claims Martin attacked him. Martin was staying with his father in the gated community. He was unarmed.

Zimmerman surrendered to police and was arrested and charged with 2nd-degree murder on April 11, more than six weeks after the incident.

Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, requested that Recksiedler recuse herself from the case because of her husband. Her husband works with an attorney that Zimmerman first approached to represent him. That attorney, Mark NeJame, is now a CNN analyst in the case. NeJame had declined the case and referred the Zimmerman family to O'Mara.

In a statement, Recksiedler said each item was legally insufficient to recuse herself, but "[e]ven though this Court finds that neither of these, standing alone, is legally sufficient for disqualification, 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."

However, the next judge in the rotation, John Galluzzo, notified the court that he too has a conflict of interest in presiding over the case, because he has a prior business and personal relationship with O'Mara.

Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. will now preside over the case.

A bail hearing is scheduled for Zimmerman on Friday, April 20.

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