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Accused Florida Gunman Appears in Court for Bail Hearing


Attorney Mark O'Mara (L) looks on George Zimmerman (R) makes his first appearance on second degree murder charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in courtroom J2 at the Seminole County Correctional Facility in Sanford, April 12, 2012.

Attorney Mark O'Mara (L) looks on George Zimmerman (R) makes his first appearance on second degree murder charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in courtroom J2 at the Seminole County Correctional Facility in Sanford, April 12, 2012.

A bail hearing has begun for the Florida man charged in the shooting death of a 17-year-old African American.

Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman is appearing before a judge Friday to seek his release on bail while he awaits trial.

The judge will determine whether Zimmerman, 28, could potentially flee the state if he is released, if he poses a threat to the community and whether he can afford to post bail. Zimmerman's wife testified by phone during Friday's hearing, saying she has "no concern whatsoever" that he is a danger to the community.

Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in the February 26 fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. Prosecutors say Zimmerman racially profiled the teen as a potential criminal and confronted him. Trayvon was unarmed and walking back home from a convenience store.

Zimmerman, a white Hispanic man, has admitted to killing Trayvon, but says he acted in self-defense when the teen attacked him.

The case sparked nationwide protests over racial profiling and Florida's so-called "Stand Your Ground" law that allows people to use deadly force if they feel their life is in danger, or they are at risk of serious injury. Police did not initially arrest Zimmerman after the shooting because of his claims of self-defense.

Florida Governor Rick Scott Thursday introduced a 17-member commission to examine the controversial law. The panel, led by Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, will conduct a series of public hearings across the state, and pass along its recommendations to Scott and the Florida legislature.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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