Local news beats CNN in predicting this story: George Zimmerman got a new judge today after the sitting judge in his murder trial has recused herself over a conflict of interests. CNN had said she would decide whether or not to do so by Friday, but local newscasts said she'd probably be off the case by Wednesday, and she just stepped down.
The new judge is Ken Lester, a 15-year veteran of the bench, who came up in Seminole County's rotation system after a second candidate also had a conflict of interest. The Orlando Sentinel's Rene Stutzman explains: "All criminal cases in Seminole County are assigned by chance, based on a rotation system. Next up in that rotation was Circuit Judge John Galluzzo. He, though, could not accept the case because he formerly practiced law with Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara." Small world!
The first judge on the case, Jessica Recksiedler, is married to the law partner of CNN commentator Mark NeJame, who Zimmerman had consulted about his case, so Recksiedler said she'd recuse herself if either side asked, which O'Mara did. Now it's going to come down to Kenneth Lester, who the Sentinel described in an earlier report on Wednesday as "a 15-year veteran judge who gave Michael Reynolds two death penalties plus a life prison sentence for beating and stabbing a Geneva couple and their 11-year-old child to death in 1998." Zimmerman faces second-degree murder charge, though, so he doesn't risk the death penalty.