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George Zimmerman released on bond in Trayvon Martin killing

April 22, 2012|By Richard Fausset
  • George Zimmerman enters court Friday for a hearing in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
George Zimmerman enters court Friday for a hearing in the shooting death… (Gary W. Green / Orlando Sentinel )

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot an unarmed teenager, was released from jail about midnight Sunday, two days after a Florida judge set his bond at $150,000.

Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, said in court Friday that Zimmerman would probably continue to live in hiding while he awaited his trial date, as he had done for weeks leading up to his April 11 arrest on second-degree murder charges in the slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

An initial decision by police and prosecutors in Sanford, Fla., to decline to arrest Zimmerman after his fatal Feb. 26 encounter with Martin, an African American, set off protests and debate nationwide over perceived racial disparities in the justice system. Zimmerman's father is white and his mother is a Latina from Peru.

Zimmerman and his family say they have been the subject of violent threats.

Attorneys for the state of Florida, arguing that Zimmerman, 28, was a flight risk with a violent past, asked the judge to either deny Zimmerman bond or set it at $1 million.

Zimmerman's attorney and family members, who were called as witnesses in Friday's court proceeding, vouched for his character and argued that the court record of his past transgressions — including a scuffle with an old girlfriend and a charge of assaulting an undercover law enforcement officer — were minor.

The judge agreed with the family but set a number of conditions for Zimmerman's freedom, including a curfew and a mandate that he wear an electronic monitoring device. Zimmerman also surrendered his passport to the court.

Zimmerman called police before the shooting to report Martin as a suspicious character in the neighborhood, although state investigators say that Martin was not committing a crime.

Prosecutors said Zimmerman followed Martin even after a police dispatcher told him not to do so, and shot Martin in the chest after a struggle.

Zimmerman said he was acting in self-defense. He apologized to Martin's family in court Friday.

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