George Zimmerman, accused of second-degree murder in the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin, was released from a Seminole County, Fla. jail the day after a judge set his bail at $1 million at a second bond hearing.
On Thursday, Florida Circuit judge Kenneth Lester, citing dishonesty toward the court on the part of Zimmerman and his wife Shellie in regard to their finances at an April bond hearing, ordered that in addition to posting a much higher bond, Zimmerman would be required to obey a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and wear a GPS monitoring device.
On June 1, Lester revoked Zimmerman’s bond after revelations that despite their statements to the contrary, the Zimmermans had received sizable donations – more than $200,000 – for their legal defense fund. Shellie Zimmerman was later charged with perjury.
At the second bond hearing Thursday, the defense argued that Zimmerman should be released because of the strength of his self-defense claim. Prosecutors said because he and his wife were dishonest with the court, and could be a flight risk, he should remain in jail until his trial. But Lester could not find reason enough to keep him locked up based on those criteria.
Zimmerman’s original bail was set for $150,000, and he was freed after paying $15,000. The new, higher bail meant that Zimmerman’s legal team would need to raise an additional $85,000 to get him out of prison. Earlier, the defense noted on its website gzlegalcase.com that Zimmerman did not have the collateral for such an amount. But since Thursday’s bond hearing, Zimmerman’s legal defense raised $20,000, in addition to the $55,000 the fund has raised in the past two months and the $200,000 it originally held — more than enough to secure the 10% required by most bond companies.
“He’s very happy to be out,” Zimmerman attorney Don West said to reporters. “Certainly it’s been a sobering experience being in that kind of environment.” At a news conference in New Orleans, Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton expressed her dismay at Lester’s ruling. She said knowing that Zimmerman “may walk free sometime, one day, it really hurts.”
But being out on bail doesn’t mean he’s free. Zimmerman, 28, is facing second-degree murder charges for the Feb. 26 shooting and killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Miami high school student who was visiting with his father in Sanford, Fla. Both special prosecutor Angela Corey and defense attorney Mark O’Mara must prepare for a lengthy, high-profile trial in a case that has attracted international attention and shone a spotlight on Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law, on which Zimmerman appears to be building his defense.
No trial date has been set yet, but Zimmerman’s legal defense website says his lawyers are anticipating it. “Once Mr. Zimmerman’s release has been secured we will change our focus from securing bond to the defense of the charges against him,” it says.