George Zimmerman makes brief court appearance, says nothing

4:14 PM, Apr 12, 2012   |    comments
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By Douglas Stanglin, USA TODAY

Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, looking calm and wearing a gray jail jumpsuit, made his first court appearance today since he was arrested on a second-degree murder charge in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman, 28, sported closely cropped hair, beard and moustache, and looked directly at the judge during the brief hearing, but said nothing.

During the proceedings, it was agreed between the defense and prosecution that records in the case would be sealed.

A formal arraignment was set for May 29.

Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, spoke to reporters afterward and described his client as "tired" and "frightened," but relieved that the judicial process was underway.

O'Mara also said he hoped that Zimmerman would be freed on bail within the next couple of weeks. He said that by that time he hopes "to have a place for him to be safe."

The judge, however, has given no indication that he would free Zimmerman on bond.

Update at 2:02 p.m. ET: "It is possible that he will get bond based on what the judge decides," O'Mara says.

Update at 2 p.m. ET: O'Mara says he expects there to be a bond hearing in the next couple of weeks. "I hope to have him released on bond, and by that time, hope to have a place for him to be safe," O'Mara says.

Update at 1:56 p.m. ET: Zimmerman's lawyer, speaking to reporters after he hearing, describes his client as "tired" and "frightened."

"It has been a very long period of time for him," O'Mara says."He has gone through some tribulation of his own, being the focus of this intense event."

"He is frightened and (facing murder charges) would frighten any one of us, on the other hand, I am not concerned of his focus. He is glad the process is in place."

Update at 1:44 p.m. ET: Zimmerman, sporting closely cropped hair, beard and moustache, looked directly at the judge during the hearing but said nothing.

Update at 1:43 p.m. ET: The formal arraignment is set for May 29 at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Update at 1:42 p.m. ET: The prosecutor also asked that that the information be sealed. The judge affirmed that request.

Update at 1:40 p.m. ET: Zimmerman is taking out of the court room. O'Mara asks that records already gathered in the case be sealed.

Update at 1:38 p.m. ET: He is joined by his lawyer Mark O'Mara. The judge says the next court hearing will be May 29. Zimmerman said nothing during the brief hearing.

Update at 1:36 p.m. ET: The hearing has opened, with Zimmerman arriving wearing a gray jumpsuit.

Original report: Zimmerman, who shot Trayvon on Feb. 26 in Florida, was arrested on Wednesday and taken to a county jail in Sanford.

"He is concerned about getting a fair trial and a fair presentation," his attorney, Mark O'Mara, said on NBC's Today show. "He is a client who has a lot of hatred focused on him. I'm hoping the hatred settles down. ... He has the right to his own safety and the case being tried before a judge and jury."

O'Mara says Zimmerman is stressed and very tired and hoping to get bail.

"He wants to be out (of jail) to be able to help with his defense, but overall he is doing ok," O'Mara tells NBC.



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