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Luscombe reports: 'George Zimmerman, killer of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, was freed from jail on Friday as his lawyer asked his supporters to help fund his client's $1m bail."

George Zimmerman was released on a one million dollar bond. (photo: Gary W. Green/EPA)
George Zimmerman was released on a one million dollar bond. (photo: Gary W. Green/EPA)



George Zimmerman Freed From Jail for Second Time

By Richard Luscombe, Guardian UK

07 July 12

 

eorge Zimmerman, killer of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, was freed from jail on Friday as his lawyer asked his supporters to help fund his client's $1m bail.

The neighbourhood watch leader, who shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old during a confrontation in February, left the John E Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford at 2.49pm in the company of two unidentified men, apparently a bail bondsman and a bodyguard.

Wearing a grey jacket and trousers and a white shirt with no tie, Zimmerman, 28, made no comment to watching journalists as he got into the back seat of a silver Chevrolet SUV and was driven off to a "safe house" somewhere in Seminole County. He appeared to also be wearing a bulletproof jacket.

"He's very happy to be out. It's been a sobering experience being in that kind of environment," said Don West, one of his lawyers.

It was the second time Zimmerman had been released on bail following his arrest in April on a charge of second-degree murder. Circuit court judge Kenneth Lester originally freed him on a $150,000 bond but ordered him back to jail on 1 June after discovering the defendant lied about his personal finances.

Lester set strict bail conditions in his latest ruling on Thursday, including wearing an electronic tracking device, observing a 6pm-6am curfew, drinking no alcohol and keeping away from the Orlando international airport. The judge said he considered that Zimmerman might flee if he reinstated the lower bail amount.

But Zimmerman's principal lawyer, Mark O'Mara, who pleaded for his client's freedom in a fiery bail hearing seven days ago, said he was "not a threat to his community or a flight risk".

He said that although the balance of Zimmerman's legal defence fund currently stood at $211,000, and that $20,000 had been raised in the 24 hours since Lester's ruling, it would soon be depleted by expenses for witnesses, bodyguards and short-term living costs, plus the bond amount.

Zimmerman was required to pay an additional $85,000 on top of the $15,000 he already paid to a bondsman to reach the $100,000 – 10% of the bail amount – required to secure his freedom, but needed help coming up with the collateral for the rest of the amount.

"George Zimmerman and his family do not have anywhere near $1m collateral," he said.

"For those who have given in the past, for those who have thought about giving, for those who feel Mr Zimmerman was justified in his actions, for those who feel they would do the same if they were in Mr Zimmerman's shoes, for those who feel Mr Zimmerman has been falsely accused as a racist, for those who feel this case is an affront to their constitutional rights, now is the time to show your support."

O'Mara also revealed that Zimmerman would be staying locally. "As the terms of Mr Zimmerman's bond state that he must remain within Seminole County, [his] security team has established a safe house where he can stay until a more permanent secure location can be established."

Zimmerman will be reunited with his wife Shellie Zimmerman, 25, who was charged with perjury last month for telling the court the couple was virtually penniless when, prosecutors allege, she was fully aware of at least $135,000 that her husband had already raised in public donations.

Meanwhile, the parents of Martin, a black 17-year-old who was walking through Sanford's Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community on 26 February when he became involved in the fatal altercation with Zimmerman, said they accepted the decision to release him to await trial.

"You want the killer of your unarmed child to stay in jail but you respect that decision," said Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin.

"But I'm a little outraged at what the attorney for Zimmerman put on his website, that if you feel you would have done the same thing then this is the time to step up your support. It follows the whole line of what he said in the courtroom, that Trayvon Martin brought this on himself. That's disturbing stuff for anybody but especially a parent."

Zimmerman denies second-degree murder and claims he acted in self-defence because he said the teenager was attacking him. O'Mara is expected to file a motion to have the case dismissed under Florida's stand-your-ground law, which permits deadly force in life-threatening situations. Any trial is unlikely to take place until at least the middle of next year.

 

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+13 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-07 09:31
In the mean time, Bradley Manning....
 
 
+1 # squinty 2012-07-08 04:02
Manning shouldn't be charged with a crime at all. He's a hero as far as I'm concerned.
 
 
+19 # Gringaryan 2012-07-07 09:48
I find it annoying that he keeps being called a "Neighborhood Watch" leader (or anything.. he was a self appointed neighborhood vigilante.. not anything official.
 
 
-2 # squinty 2012-07-08 04:01
Quoting Gringaryan:
I find it annoying that he keeps being called a "Neighborhood Watch" leader (or anything.. he was a self appointed neighborhood vigilante.. not anything official.
"
He was, actually, a neighborhood watch captain in his neighborhood. Doesn't make him innocent, and he wasn't on neighborhood watch business at the time the shooting occurred, but he was involved in neighborhood watch.
"In September, a group of neighbors including Zimmerman approached the homeowners association with their concerns, she said. Zimmerman was asked to head up a new neighborhood watch. He agreed." http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/25/us-usa-florida-shooting-zimmerman-idUSBRE83O18H20120425

"Zimmerman was key in starting the neighborhood watch program, which was set up with help from the Sanford Police Department and not affiliated with the national Neighborhood Watch organization." http://theweek.com/article/index/226131/george-zimmerman-what-we-know-about-trayvon-martins-killer

It's possible to be guilty of racial profiling and/or murder, of course, and still be a neighborhood watch volunteer.
 
 
+1 # JJS 2012-07-08 06:44
Exactly and when Mr. Martin stood HIS ground to fend off the armed stalker Mr. Zimmerman squealed like a cowardly pig and shot Trayvon in cold blood!
 
 
-1 # squinty 2012-07-08 18:03
Quoting JJS:
Exactly and when Mr. Martin stood HIS ground to fend off the armed stalker Mr. Zimmerman squealed like a cowardly pig and shot Trayvon in cold blood!

Trayvon was, according to eyewitness accounts, sitting astride Zimmermnan's chest and punching him. Zimmerman claims Martin was slamming his head repeatedly into the ground. I'm sure Zimmerman DID squeal - he called for help - before shooting Martin.
That may not have been a legit self defense shooting, but it was not Murder One either - it was certainly not in "cold blood."
 
 
-1 # JJS 2012-07-14 07:23
And what would you have done if you were being stalked while you were walking in your own parents neighborhood by some guy who confronted you in an agressive manner the way Z confronted T?

Your "eyewitness accounts" are only hearsay. I can imagine that Z had his hand in his pocket and on his gun when he confronted T. T knew "what time it was" and began to stand his ground with the only weapon available to him, his fists.

Z sought out the situation, with fore thought and malice, to get this kid. Z did not want to let this one "get away" as so many other of his targets had in the past. Premeditation is murder in the first degree.
 
 
-1 # squinty 2012-07-15 08:41
Did Zimmerman aggressively confront Martin, or just follow him a short distance? Who saw the confrontation?
To continue battering a prostrate man is not self defense.
Eyewitness accounts are by definition not hearsay.
Who gives a damn what you or I can imagine? I can "imagine" all sorts of things as well, and some of those imaginings - such as Zimmerman brandishing his gun - may sound plausible. Your imaginings, and mine, are completely irrelevant to the case, and to any argument about it.
Zimmerman was in the habit of calling police on young black males, after a series of break-ins and home invasions in his neighborhood committed by...young black males. That makes him guilty of profiling, I agree. He was a neighborhood watch volunteer - it was his job to be the eyes and ears - to be a witness - for police in the area. He wanted the police to speak to an individual he thought was acting suspiciously, and those were his intentions following Martin. Sure, he was negligent in creating and entering into a volatile situation instead of merely observing. That's criminal, but it isn't premeditated murder. Nor is shooting someone in the midst of a violent confrontation the same as shooting in "cold blood."
 
 
0 # JJS 2012-07-31 19:09
Eyewitness accounts are not hearsay only if they are under oath! Anybody sign an affidavit, yet?
I "imagine" you are pretending to know more that you can prove. At least I admit I am imagining.
 
 
0 # JJS 2012-07-31 19:24
What about continuing to batter a prostrate man with a gun? Does that change the equation?
And how the heck do you know Z's "intentions" for following M? Anyway, M had no obligation to wait for cops to come question him to see what he was up to.

According to the Orlando Sentinal:
"Chris Tutko, director of Neighborhood Watch for the National Sheriffs' Association, said Zimmerman broke some cardinal rules.

First, he approached a stranger he suspected of wrongdoing.

"If you see something suspicious, you report it, you step aside and you let law enforcement do their job," Tutko said. "This guy went way beyond the call of duty. At the least, he's overzealous."

Second, Zimmerman carried a handgun. Police departments and sheriff's offices that train volunteers advise them never to carry weapons — though Zimmerman broke no laws by doing so because he has a concealed-weapo ns permit.

"There's no reason to carry a gun," Tutko said.

Police said Zimmerman was running an errand in his SUV — with his gun — when he first spotted Trayvon walking back from 7-Eleven about 7:15 p.m. Zimmerman called police to report Trayvon as suspicious, and although a dispatcher said he didn't need to follow the teen, the two got into a scuffle."

If Z had been such an experienced watchman shouldn't he have known the rules?
 
 
0 # JJS 2012-07-31 19:26
Quoting squinty:
..."I can get away with murder if I just goad this guy into hitting me."


That's my opinion of Z's state of mind and I'm sticking to it!
 
 
-1 # squinty 2012-07-15 09:01
If it can be proven that Zimmerman deliberately provoked the confrontation as a deliberate, premeditated ploy to commit murder, that would be murder one, but I don't think the evidence supports it. His actions were a negligent fuck up, not a well considered murder scheme.

Nor is stand your ground a defense if Z is proven to have initiated or deliberately provoked the fight. I think manslaughter would have been a more appropriate charge than murder two. It can be pretty easily argued that his actions were provocative and he should have known they would lead to violence. Less demonstrable that he thought "I can get away with murder if I just goad this guy into hitting me."
 
 
+11 # kelly 2012-07-07 10:04
On the night that this occurred I was talking to a friend and I said you wait, this guy may look poor but just give him 24 hours and he'll have a million dollars. And he said why? I said the coffers will be filled by NRA and white supremecist supporters. All he could do was look at me. He never thought about it. A few days later CNN came out with a story about a website. I said why didn't they check immediately, it was obvious? Didn't we all know, really? And why is his wife not in jail for contempt, that's my question? She showed clear contempt of court by her actions...at least she should be separated from her husband, I never heard of a bail that allowed one to hob-nob with a person who is facing criminal charges like I believe his wife is.
 
 
0 # rcossebo 2012-07-08 08:16
Frightening to see there are people who'd fork over ONE MILLION DOLLARS to cover his bail! Glad they have the green to throw away on a suspicious individual. So THIS is the society we live in huh?
 
 
+1 # JSRaleigh 2012-07-08 13:04
Quoting rcossebo:
Frightening to see there are people who'd fork over ONE MILLION DOLLARS to cover his bail! Glad they have the green to throw away on a suspicious individual. So THIS is the society we live in huh?


That's what bail bondsmen do. For a fee.

Once Zimmerman's trial is over, the bondsman gets his million dollars back and keeps the hundred thousand dollar fee. In actual fact, the bondsman gives the court a promissory note for $1,000,000 and only has to pay if Zimmerman doesn't appear for his trial.

The judge's bond order is interesting reading. He rather clearly did not want to let Zimmerman out on bail, but decided that although Zimmerman's prior deceit indicated an intention to skip out on the charges, Zimmerman had carefully skirted the issue just enough that the law would not allow the judge to completly deny bail.

The judge clearly states that he considers Zimmerman a flight risk and set the bail at $1,000,000 to ensure he wouldn't have the financial wherewithal to skip town.

The other restrictions are there to ensure he doesn't skip anyway.
 

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