Zimmerman, Martin's parents to face off in court

(CBS News) SANFORD, Fla. - George Zimmerman is set to come face to face with the parents of Trayvon Martin for the first time Friday at a court hearing that could result in his release on bond.

Zimmerman has been behind bars since his arrest nine days ago, charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of the unarmed 17-year-old. He has claimed self-defense in the deadly Feb. 26 encounter. Martin's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, believe their son was murdered in cold blood.

On Friday, Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's attorney, will ask a Florida judge to free his client on bond pending the trial, though he has expressed concerns about Zimmerman's safety.

"I don't think he needs to or should stay in jail while this case is pending. I want him out and safe, and I'm not sure where safe is going to be yet."

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Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, asked for a private meeting with Martin's parents. He has never communicated with them before.

And Benjamin Crump, their lawyer, said Thursday that it won't happen now and maybe never.

"We believe Zimmerman's request at this time is very self-serving, some 50 days later, the day before the bond hearing," Crump said.

Under Florida law, Zimmerman is ineligible for bond. But this hearing will allow O'Mara to test the state's case. And special prosecutor Angela Corey must show proof that Zimmerman's guilt is evident and his presumed guilt is great -- a very high standard -- or circuit Judge Kenneth Lester can grant bond.

When asked to make the case for bond, O'Mara said his client presents no flight risk.

"Bond is there to make sure the person comes back for trial. Bond is not there for pre-trial punishment. So he should be out on bond. He's going to come back. Quite honestly, if George Zimmerman was going to run, it would have happened in the last few weeks."

O'Mara will also point out Zimmerman has ties to the local community; in fact, his parents will phone in on his behalf. He also has never been convicted of a crime and has been cooperative with police, staying in daily contact before his arrest and turning himself in after murder charges were filed last week.

Corey could decide not to challenge the bond request, rather than lay out her case.

And Zimmerman, facing a possible life sentence, could walk free as soon as later Friday. If freed, he could be restricted to his local community and may have to wear a GPS ankle monitor.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.

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