Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, filed a motion to disqualify Judge Lester, alleging that Lester had made disparaging and gratuitous remarks about his client in the July 2012 bond order.
O'Mara said the judge's statement that he believed Zimmerman had misled the court at his first hearing was an indication of bias against Zimmerman and would impact Zimmerman's ability to get a fair trial.
On May 31, 2012, Orlando attorney Don West left his job as a federal public defender to join the defense team led by O'Mara. Nelson of the 18th Circuit Court of Florida was the fourth judge to preside over the case.
West specialized in murder cases and had been a board certified criminal trial specialist for 25 years. Nelson had been a judge for thirteen years, much of it handling criminal matters.
Before becoming a judge she had worked in civil litigation.
On April 11, 2012, George Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
In support of the charges, the State filed an affidavit of probable cause, stating that Zimmerman profiled and confronted Martin and shot him to death while Martin was committing no crimes.
Prosecutors John Guy and Richard Mantei assisted, with Guy making the opening statement.The prosecutor initially responsible for the case was Norm Wolfinger, a State Attorney whose jurisdiction included Seminole County where the shooting occurred on February 26, 2012. O'Mara announced that he was the attorney representing Zimmerman.Nelson succeeded Judge Kenneth Lester on August 30, 2012, after a Florida appeals court ruled that remarks he made about Zimmerman could make a reasonable person believe Lester was biased against Zimmerman.At a pretrial hearing on April 12, Judge Mark Herr ruled that the affidavit was legally sufficient to establish probable cause.Court documents, including witness statements and other information, were sealed at the request of the defense team, In June 2012, Judge Lester revoked Zimmerman's bond and sent him back to jail after the prosecution alleged that Zimmerman and his wife had misled the court about their finances at an earlier bond hearing.The prosecution alleged that recordings of telephone conversations Zimmerman had had with his wife from jail showed that they had been speaking using a code about their finances, with repeated mentions of "Peter Pan" in apparent reference to a Pay Pal account.