A Florida judge has granted a bond of $150,000 to George Zimmerman, who was charged with second degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. In what became an unexpected preview of the high-profile trial, Zimmerman, wearing a gray suit and handcuffs, made a brief statement in court — a statement directed not at the court but to Trayvon Martin’s parents.
“I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son,” Zimmerman said softly. “I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a bit younger than I am, and I did not know if he was armed or not.”
Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Mara was able to get his client a bail deal based on Judge Ken Lester’s determination that his prior record of violent confrontation was not enough to affect the current circumstances. Lester also ordered that Zimmerman be fitted with a GPS device, remain under electronic monitoring, that he avoid drug and alcohol use and that he be subject to a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. O’Mara asked that Zimmerman be allowed to leave the state, but Lester said that had to be determined once he confers with court officials on guarantees of secrecy about his location.
Zimmerman’s family, testifying via phone because of concerns for their safety said that they did not have the means available to pay a hefty bond if one were set by the judge. “I’m a disabled veteran and don’t have a great deal of income,” said his father, Robert, a former Virginia magistrate. “My wife is retired, we have some savings, but very little.”
He pledged, however, that he would take out a second mortgage on his home if necessary to free his son. Zimmerman’s wife Shellie testified that neither she or her husband have jobs and have no means of support.
“This is a family of very short means,” O’Mara told Judge Lester. “He will not be able to work so he cannot support himself”
In other testimony, Investigator Dale Gilbreath underwent examination by both attorneys on the evidence in the case, which seemed at times to resemble what the actual jury trial might be like. He agreed with O’Mara that Zimmerman’s injuries were consistent with trauma to the back of his head. But the claims that Trayvon attacked him, and provoked a self-defensive response, do not fall in line with prosecutors’ findings.
“He said his head was bashed and he managed to scoot away… and that’s when the shooting subsequently started,” Gilbreath said. “That is not consistent with the evidence we found.”
Assistant special prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda argued for a bond of as much as $1 million because of Zimmerman’s prior criminal arrests for assaulting a police officer and a violent confrontation with a former girlfriend.
“Our position is that you have a person who in the past has committed violent crimes,” he said, arguing that Zimmerman, if freed, would constitute a danger to society. “It’s not somebody who hasn’t been in trouble with the law before.”
Meanwhile, ABC News released a photo on Friday apparently taken three minutes after Zimmerman shot Martin that could support his claim that the teen attacked him. The graphic photo shows the back of his head scarred and bloodied. A police report said that Zimmerman was bleeding from the head and nose, and included Zimmerman’s statement that the teenager had punched him, broken his nose and pounded his head against the sidewalk.
The person who provided the photo to ABC News was not identified by the news organization; he or she claims to have not seen the fight between Trayvon and Zimmerman, only heard it. After the shooting, Zimmerman asked the person to call his wife. When asked what to tell her, he said: “Man, tell her I just shot someone.”
Zimmerman was treated at the scene, but was not taken to a hospital. A police surveillance video released earlier by ABC showed him being taken into a police station, but his injuries were not apparent.
At the bond hearing, the defendant’s father Robert Zimmerman testified that the morning after the shooting that he saw scars on the back of his son’s head and that his face was swollen. He did not take any pictures of the injuries.
Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump told ABC news that he was skeptical about the injuries, despite the photograph.
“How bad could it have been if they didn’t take him to the hospital [and] didn’t stitch him up?” he asked. “The special prosecutor has seen all the evidence and still believes George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin.”