SANFORD -- The judge in the George Zimmerman second-degree murder case has decided not to step aside.
Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. made the formal ruling Wednesday. It’s a defeat for Zimmerman, who three weeks ago filed paperwork asking the judge to recuse himself because he feared Lester would not treat him fairly.
In a bond order, Lester described Zimmerman as a manipulator who was gaming the criminal-justice system by hiding $130,000 and keeping a secret passport.
The judge wrote in that earlier order that if not for a satellite monitoring system keeping track of his whereabouts, Zimmerman might have fled.
In his ruling Wednesday, the judge made no comment about the allegations of unfairness.
He merely wrote that the motion was insufficient.
Defense attorney Mark O’Mara could appeal Lester’s decision not to step aside.
It was not immediately clear what he would do.
Shawn Vincent, who manages the George Zimmerman Legal Defense Fund website, said once O’Mara’s team has a “thoughtful response” they will post a statement online.
Zimmerman is now free on $1 million bail, awaiting trial in the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old whom he shot Feb. 26.
Zimmerman says he acted in self-defense, that Trayvon — who was visiting from Miami Gardens — attacked and overpowered him and was beating his head into a sidewalk.
Prosecutors say Zimmerman is guilty of profiling, that he spotted the teenager in his neighborhood, assumed he was about to commit a crime then chased him and murdered him.