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 Freed From Jail for Second Time
07 July 12
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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