By Rene Stutzman, Orlando Sentinel
SANFORD, Fla. – Former Neighborhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman says he’s done fighting in court with Special Prosecutor Angela Corey.
In paperwork filed at the Seminole County criminal courthouse, Zimmerman says he is giving up his promised fight to make the state pay his legal bills.
He also wants to put an end to his lawyers’ fight with prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda, whom they had asked a judge to punish, alleging unethical behavior, including hiding evidence.
If Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson agrees, that would clear the way for Zimmerman to move forward with his defamation suit against NBCUniversal. A hearing in that case is scheduled Friday.
Zimmerman alleges that NBC falsely portrayed him as a racist.
The suit was filed a year ago but was placed on hold until his criminal case was concluded.
A Seminole County, Fla., jury acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder in July, but the case has remained open because of the sanctions issue.
Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, February 26, 2012, in Sanford.
In May, in the leadup to Zimmerman’s criminal trial, the judge spent several hours listening to argument and evidence that de la Rionda had hidden from defense attorneys photos and text messages stored on Trayvon’s cell phone that suggested the Miami Gardens teenager was a fighter and used marijuana.
Defense attorneys Mark O’Mara and Don West also alleged that de la Rionda hid for months information that the state’s key witness, a teenage girl who was on the phone with Trayvon just before he was shot, had lied under oath.
The judge postponed the continuation of that hearing until after the trial, and it has never resumed.
In an odd move, Corey’s office doesn’t want the judge to grant Zimmerman’s new request — that she forget about the sanctions. It wants to keep fighting and be declared the winner. A few days after Zimmerman filed his request, Assistant State Attorney Rich Mantei filed paperwork, asking the judge to rule in Corey’s favor.
He even offered to resume the hearing “to make a complete record and establish the state committed no discovery violations …”
In another legal development involving Zimmerman, a judge has set aside a default entered in favor of his wife, Shellie, in their ongoing divorce.
That means the two sides are back to equal footing as they fight to divide up property but mostly the overwhelming debt they face because of George Zimmerman’s legal bills.