ORLANDO — George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch volunteer charged with killing unarmed Miami Gardens teenager Trayvon Martin, asked for a new judge Friday, saying the current one is biased because he said Zimmerman had “flaunted the system,” the Associated Press reported.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon, a case that raised questions about race and self-defense laws. He has pleaded not guilty and is out on bail.
Zimmerman said in a motion he feared he would be unable to get a fair trial with Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester. Lester was appointed in April after Zimmerman claimed a potential conflict of interest with the original judge.
Earlier this month, Lester said in an order granting Zimmerman bond that Zimmerman had “flaunted the system” by failing to disclose at an April bond hearing that he had raised $135,000 from donations for his legal defense.
Lester previously had allowed Zimmerman to be released on a $150,000 bond which he revoked after prosecutors presented jailhouse recordings of Zimmerman instructing his wife on how to transfer funds raised from a website to different bank accounts.
Zimmerman returned to jail in June but left after Lester granted him a $1 million bond, saying state law compelled him to grant bail.
The AP also reported from West Palm Beach that a woman has accused Zimmerman of being a racist. Trayvon’s parents believe the teen was racially profiled. Zimmerman’s father is white and his mother is Peruvian.
“I was afraid that he may have done something because the kid was black, because growing up they always made — him and his family have always made —statements that they don’t like black people if they don’t act like white people,” the woman said.
Under questioning, she said she couldn’t recall any specific comments Zimmerman made.
In a separate interview, the woman accused Zimmerman of molesting her as a child.
In an interview with police released Monday under a judge’s order, the woman said she was fondled, groped and kissed by Zimmerman beginning when she was 6 and he was about 8. She said it continued until she was about 16.
The woman, identified as witness No. 9, said they would see each other at family gatherings, but their relationship was removed from the audio recording.
Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, had fought the release, calling it an “uncorroborated, irrelevant statement” in court documents. He did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.
Police in Sanford said prosecutors had not alerted them to the alleged assault, but it is not clear where it may have occurred.
Prosecutors did not return a call seeking comment or say whether they planned to pursue additional charges.
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Trayvon’s family, said the interview could be used at trial to show Zimmerman “has a history of violence and manipulation.” But prosecutors and the defense attorney questioned in court documents whether it would be allowed.
Meanwhile, news reports said a controversy has developed over a memorial for Trayvon in Sanford.
City officials took down a makeshift memorial to the teenager and calls for a permanent marker of the incident are being met with resistance from a community group.
The memorial went up at Retreat at Twin Lakes, where Trayvon was visiting his father when Zimmerman shot and killed him, claiming self-defense, on Feb. 26.
Some neighbors complained it had become an eyesore.
Trayvon’s family and the group Concerned Citizens of Sanford protested the dismantling of the memorial, saying they had not been informed.
Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte explained items from the memorial were moved to the Sanford Museum to “protect and preserve” them while the city considered erecting a permanent memorial — something opposed by another group, United Sanford Alliance.
Photo: Trayvon Martin