The nation heard from Shellie Zimmerman, the wife of the neighborhood watchman charged in the death of an unarmed teenager, for the first time Friday in a televised bond hearing.
But in what was surely one of the biggest moments of George Zimmerman's life, Shellie Zimmerman, his wife of five years, was not present in the courtroom.
Why? George Zimmerman’s family, including his wife and father, testified via phone due to a request filed by Zimmerman in which he asked to have witnesses answer questions remotely rather than in the court.
Perhaps not wanting his wife's appearance to expose her to public scrutiny in the case, Zimmerman filed a request for his family's privacy. The judge granted that request as well as one asking that Zimmerman be allowed to dress in civilian clothes for the hearing. Zimmerman was dressed in a dark suit, looked alert during the nearly two-hour hearing, and even took the stand.
Mini-trial of the century?
The hearing had the feel of a mini-trial but even if the case goes that far it won't necessarily be a trial of the century-type case, Robert Thompson, founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, told HLN Friday.
“If this goes to trial then my guess is yes, it’s going to be but bear in mind that we get one about every six years,” he said, referring to the Casey Anthony case. “The Zimmerman case has the potential of being of the same order and social magnitude of the Rodney King case and O.J. Simpson case -- in the King case you’re talking about a case where police attacked him and the O.J. case was about the murder of two people -- but in both those cases it was about so much more,” he said.
“And this potentially has the same social magnetism. The Casey Anthony case at its core was a horrible domestic melodrama, but this Zimmerman case has even bigger issues of race, justice and the like,” said Thompson, who is also a trustee professor of television and popular culture at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Besides Zimmerman's brother and father, who have done interviews with major TV networks, amazingly little is known about the only immediate family member of the neighborhood watchman at the center of a shooting that has riveted the nation.
Read more: Zimmerman sits quietly through hearing
On Friday, Shellie Zimmerman, in her first public comments since the February 26 shooting in Sanford, Florida, told the court that she is a nursing student four weeks from graduation. She testified that she had no income and was not of the financial means to provide bond in the case.
When asked if she had talked about securing money for Zimmerman's bond she said: "We have discussed that, trying to pull together members of the family to try to scrape up anything that we can."
When asked if she thought he was a danger to the community, Shellie Zimmerman said: "No, I do not," she said. "There's no concern whatsoever."
But state prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda brought up two altercations in George Zimmerman’s past, including one arrest. "Yes, he has informed me of those charges," Shellie Zimmerman said. Later, she added, "He's not a violent person, nor is he a threat to the community."
She answered in the affirmative when asked if she would do anything in her power to make sure Zimmerman reported to court if he were bonded out of jail.
George Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Martin, 17, during an altercation in a gated community.
Judge Kenneth Lester set Zimmerman's bond at $150,000.