George Zimmerman released from Seminole County jail
Updated On: Mar 18 2013 02:47:41 PM EDT
George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman charged with the death of Trayvon Martin, has posted $1 million bond and been released from the Seminole County jail on Friday afternoon.
Zimmerman was required to post 10 percent of the $1 million -- or $100,000 -- to meet the requirement for bail. He left the John E. Polk Correctional Facility in a light-colored Chevrolet Suburban dressed in a suit coat, white buttoned-down coat and dress slacks at 2:49 p.m. Friday.
"He's very happy to be out," Zimmerman attorney Don West told Local 6. West said it's likely the defense will ask Judge Kenneth Lester to extend the boundaries of where he can be.
"He's been in jail for more than a month in a very small cell, 23 hours a day with very limited contact with the outside. So he wants to be home with his wife," West said.
It's not known where Zimmerman is going, but his attorney, Mark O'Mara, said in a statement on Friday they have arranged a safe house for Zimmerman to stay at.
"Mr. Zimmerman’s security team has established a safe house where he can stay until a more permanent secure location can be established," O'Mara wrote.
"He's going to a location we're confident is safe. At the same time, there continues to be threats," West said.
According to his bond order, Zimmerman isn't allowed to leave Seminole County without prior authorization from the court, he has to check in with authorities every 48 hours and he can't enter the Orlando-Sanford International Airport property.
He also can't open a bank account, and he has a daily curfew from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. Zimmerman can't apply for a passport, drink any alcohol and must pay for his own electric monitoring device which costs $9.50 per day, according to the order. His GPS device will be monitored by the SCSO and Seminole County Probation, according to authorities.
Part of Zimmerman's collateral to post bond was Gladys and Robert Zimmerman's house, according to the bond posting. Magic Bail Bonds of Sanford posted Zimmerman's bond.
"Since the $1,000,000 bond was made public on July 5, supporters have donated approximately $20,000," O'Mara wrote. "In the two months prior to the Court’s Order Setting Bail, the George Zimmerman Defense Fund had received approximately $55,000."
O'Mara's statement Thursday said the financial strain the bond had on his client and their family. O'Mara said the donations to the George Zimmerman legal fund have decreased while Zimmerman has been in jail awaiting his bond hearing. According to O'Mara, the Legal Defense Fund has approximately $211,000 currently and about $40,000 in payables for defense expenses so far, not including attorney fees.
"Paying bond and scheduled expenses would effectively wipe out the existing balance," O'Mara wrote. "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 that think Mr. Zimmerman has been treated unfairly by the media, 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."
Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump has released a statement in response to Zimmerman's bond being set, saying "Trayvon’s parents would rather that the killer of their unarmed child remain in jail until the trial, however they respect the ruling of the court and the strong message that the judge sent that deference to judicial integrity is paramount to all court proceedings."
Although Judge Kenneth Lester granted Zimmerman bond, he wrote in his order that Zimmerman, "has tried to manipulate the system when he has been presented the opportunity to do so." Lester continues, "Under any definition, the defendant has flaunted the system."
Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, has said Zimmerman misled the court unintentionally because he was confused and afraid. But Lester writes in his order that Zimmerman is not a "confused young man," or fearing "betrayal" by the system, saying that claim was "unreasonable."Lester said Zimmerman had studied criminal justice and knew the legal system, writing that Zimmerman had "sophisticated knowledge" above the average citizen.
Lester also writes that with Zimmerman's secret second passport, he could have, "fled the US with at least $130,000 of other people's money." Lester said it appears that Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, were trying to leave the area."Circumstances indicate that the defendant was preparing to flee to avoid prosecution, but such plans were thwarted," he wrote.
Zimmerman faced Lester on Friday to ask for his release on bond for a second time.
Lester had previously questioned Zimmerman's respect for the law when he revoked his bond, saying his wife misled the court during his April 20 bond hearing, when the Zimmermans claimed they were broke. In fact, they had more than $200,000 from donations.
Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, was arrested on perjury charges after she told the court she and her husband didn't have much money, resulting in Lester allowing George Zimmerman to bond out of jail for $150,000. Zimmerman has not been charged with additional perjury charges. If the state decides to press more charges on Zimmerman, Lester could revoke Zimmerman's bond entirely.
Prosecutors later discovered Zimmerman's financial situation. The state obtained bank records showing Shellie Zimmerman transferred $121,000 among credit union accounts belonging to her, George Zimmerman and her husband's sister in the days before the April 20 bond hearing.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense.
"We steadfastly maintain that George Zimmerman acted in self-defense and that he is not guilty of second degree murder," O'Mara said.
Watch Local 6 for more on this story.
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