(WASHINGTON) — The Florida judge tapped to preside over George Zimmerman’s trial for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin was disqualified Wednesday and replaced by Judge Kenneth Lester Jr.
The judge who was originally assigned the case was Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler, one of four possible judges to oversee what Zimmerman’s attorneys and the state expect to be a trial process that could last well into 2013.
Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, asked that Recksiedler step aside because she is married to an attorney who works in the same law firm as Mark NeJame, a legal analyst for CNN, who has been outspoken about the case.
The second judge picked to preside over the controversial case also stepped aside because of a conflict of interest, sources told ABC News.
The court then named Judge Lester to handle the case.
It’s the latest in a series of twists in the case which began with the original prosecutor, Norman Wolfinger, recusing himself.
Zimmerman, who is now represented by Mark O’Mara, is facing second-degree murder charges, which could carry a life sentence for the 28-year-old. O’Mara filed a motion on Monday for Judge Recksiedler’s removal.
A bond hearing is scheduled on Friday for Zimmerman in Sanford. But legal analysts tell ABC News bail is seldom, if ever, granted in second-degree murder cases.
Called an Arthur Case in Florida, the prosecution will have to demonstrate that to some degree the defendant committed a crime and that the presumption of guilt is great. Many such hearings unfold as mini-trials in which witnesses are heard. Ultimately the judge makes a decision on whether the defendant should be released pending trial.
Zimmerman claims he shot Martin, 17, in self-defense. The death of the unarmed black teen has become an emotional and controversial case in Florida as well as the rest of the country.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
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