judge on Friday revoked the bond of George Zimmerman, who has been charged with
second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, after state prosecutors
argued that Mr. Zimmerman, with the help of his wife, had misled the court about
During an afternoon hearing in Sanford, Fla., a Seminole County Circuit Court
judge, Kenneth R. Lester Jr., ordered Mr. Zimmerman, 28, a former neighborhood
watch volunteer who himself aspired to be a judge, to surrender to authorities
within 48 hours.
Judge Lester made his ruling shortly after an assistant state attorney, Bernardo
de la Rionda, asserted that Mr. Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, during a bail
hearing on April 20, had “lied” and “were very deceptive” about assets available
to them. That hearing cleared the way for Mr. Zimmerman’s release from jail on
$150,000 bond. He had to put up 10 percent, or $15,000, to make bail.
The judge determined that Mr. Zimmerman, who has been in hiding because of
concerns about his safety, had engaged in “material falsehoods.” At issue is the
roughly $200,000 Mr. Zimmerman raised through a legal defense Web site, money
that Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark M. O’Mara, said he learned of several days
after the bond hearing.
In an interview, Mr. O’Mara said: “Was it a misrepresentation? Possibly. It
looks like they should have told the judge about the money. But they did not
take the funds and run. They only used $5,000 towards the bond and, more
significantly, when I found out about the money and suggested that they turn it
over to me to put in trust, they did so immediately.”
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Martin family, said, “Judge Lester’s decision
is the most important ruling in this case so far because it focuses everyone’s
attention back on the credibility of George Zimmerman, which is the crux of the
matter in this case.” Mr. Martin, 17, who was unarmed, was killed on the night
of Feb. 26 after an encounter with Mr. Zimmerman that turned violent.
Mr. Martin had been walking through the gated community in Sanford, where he was
staying and where Mr. Zimmerman lived. The case created a national uproar after
Mr. Zimmerman was not initially arrested, raising questions about Florida’s
broad self-defense law and racial profiling.
On April 11, a special prosecutor, Angela B. Corey, charged Mr. Zimmerman with
second-degree murder. Mr. Zimmerman, who told the police he acted in
self-defense, has pleaded not guilty.
In a motion filed Friday, Mr. de la Rionda contended that recordings of phone
conversations Mr. Zimmerman and his wife had in the days before Mr. Zimmerman’s
bond hearing about how to pay his possible bond demonstrated that the couple had
misrepresented its financial circumstances to the court. At Mr. Zimmerman’s bond
hearing, Ms. Zimmerman testified that she was unaware of how much money his Web
site had collected.
“During the jail phone calls, both of them spoke in code to hide what they were
doing,” the motion said. According to the motion, credit union statements show
that on the day before the bond hearing, Mr. Zimmerman and his wife had access
to more than $135,000.
Mr. de la Rionda also said that Mr. Zimmerman had failed to hand over a second
passport, an issue played down by Judge Lester.
The New York Times
By MATT FLEGENHEIMER
Zimmerman was released on $150,000 bail from a county jail in Florida around
midnight Sunday as he awaits trial on charges of second-degree murder in the
fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.
As he left, Mr. Zimmerman was wearing a brown jacket and blue jeans and carrying
a paper bag. He followed a man, who was also carrying bags, into a white vehicle
and drove away, according to The Associated Press.
His destination was being kept secret for his protection and could be outside of
The release was a rare low-key moment in a case that has captured feverish
national interest in recent weeks. No questions were shouted at Mr. Zimmerman as
he left and he gave no statement, The A.P. said.
Last week, Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyer, Mark O’Mara, said his client would remain in
jail for several days until arrangements were made for financing his bond and
finding a secure location. Mr. Zimmerman has received death threats.
During a hearing last week, a Seminole County Circuit Court judge set the bail
and imposed a series of restrictions on Mr. Zimmerman’s release. He was not to
contact the Martin family or witnesses to the shooting. The judge, Kenneth R.
Lester Jr., also set a curfew requiring Mr. Zimmerman to remain at home from 7
p.m. to 6 a.m. and banned access to alcohol or firearms. The judge also
stipulated that Mr. Zimmerman’s movements be monitored with an electronic
The bail figure was considerably less severe than prosecutors’ request for no
bail or $1 million.
Mr. Martin, 17, was shot and killed on Feb. 26 while walking through the gated
community where he was staying and where Mr. Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch
volunteer. The case roused a national uproar, including many demonstrations
across the country, as weeks passed without Mr. Zimmerman’s arrest. He was taken
into custody earlier this month.
During the hearing, members of Mr. Zimmerman’s family, including his wife,
Shellie, testified by telephone out of concern for their safety. They told the
judge that they would monitor Mr. Zimmerman’s whereabouts and notify authorities
if they lost contact with him for any reason before his trial.
Taking the stand briefly at the bail hearing, Mr. Zimmerman apologized to the
Martin family. He wore a dark suit, with cuffs around his hands and shackles at
his feet and waist.
“I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son,” he said in a soft voice.
“I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am.
And I did not know if he was armed or not.”
A lawyer for the Martin family, Benjamin Crump, called the apology
“self-serving” and said he considered it a ploy designed to curry favor with the
court and the public and to help secure a release from jail.
The New York Times
By SERGE F. KOVALESKI
and JENNIFER PRESTON
Fla. — Speaking publicly about the case for the first time, George Zimmerman,
the man accused of second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an
unarmed 17-year-old, briefly took the witness stand at his bail hearing on
Friday and apologized to the teenager’s parents.
“I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son,” Mr. Zimmerman, 28, said
in a soft voice from the stand, dressed in a dark suit, with his hands locked in
cuffs, and shackles at his feet and waist. “I did not know how old he was. I
thought he was a little bit younger than I am. And I did not know if he was
armed or not.”
Mr. Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, sitting in the second row
of the courtroom here, showed little emotion during Mr. Zimmerman’s remarks.
They did not comment after the hearing ended, hurrying to a waiting car.
One of their lawyers, Benjamin Crump, said later that Mr. Martin’s family was
“completely devastated” by the Seminole County Circuit Court judge’s decision to
allow Mr. Zimmerman to be released from jail on $150,000 bail, which was
considerably less severe than the prosecutors’ request for no bail or $1
Describing Mr. Zimmerman’s apology from the stand as “self-serving,” Mr. Crump
said he considered it a ploy to help win his release from jail and curry favor
with the court and the public through the news media.
“They have to accept the court’s decision,” he said about Mr. Martin’s parents.
“But they are praying that his freedom is only temporary because the pain
Zimmerman caused them is going to last forever. They are never getting Trayvon
Mr. Martin, a high school student, was shot and killed on Feb. 26 while walking
through the gated community where he was staying and where Mr. Zimmerman was a
neighborhood watch volunteer. The case incited a national uproar, including
protests across the country, after the police did not arrest Mr. Zimmerman,
raising questions about Florida’s expansive self-defense law and racial
A special prosecutor, Angela B. Corey, was assigned to the case by Gov. Rick
Scott amid criticism of the way it was being handled by local authorities, and
she brought second-degree murder charges against Mr. Zimmerman last week.
Mark M. O’Mara, Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyer, said he had asked that Mr. Zimmerman be
allowed to apologize privately to the parents, but the request was rebuffed. He
said Mr. Zimmerman wanted to answer the three questions that he had heard Mr.
Martin’s mother raise during a television interview.
“He answered very specifically the three questions posed by the mother: Why
haven’t you apologized? Did you know he was a teenager? And did you know he was
unarmed?” Mr. O’Mara said.
At the end of the hearing, which ran more than two hours, the judge, Kenneth R.
Lester Jr., set bail and imposed multiple restrictions on Mr. Zimmerman’s
release, including no contact with Mr. Martin’s family or with witnesses to the
shooting. Judge Lester also banned access to alcohol or firearms, and ordered
that his movements be monitored by an electronic bracelet. He set a curfew that
would require Mr. Zimmerman to remain at home from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. and
ordered him to check in with the authorities every three days.
Mr. Zimmerman will not be released from jail for several days, Mr. O’Mara said,
because it will take time to arrange financing for the bond and find a secure
location for Mr. Zimmerman, who has received death threats.
Testifying by telephone during the proceeding because of concern for their
safety, Mr. Zimmerman’s family members, including his wife, Shellie Zimmerman,
assured the judge that they would closely monitor his whereabouts and notify the
authorities if they lost contact with him for any reason before his pending
As part of his effort to win Mr. Zimmerman’s release on bond, Mr. O’Mara
challenged the prosecution’s case, going through the state’s probable cause
affidavit line by line, turning the bail hearing into what appeared to be a
foretaste of the trial.
He aggressively questioned a state investigator, Dale Gilbreath, about the
accusation that Mr. Zimmerman had racially profiled Mr. Martin, and he demanded
to know what evidence the state had for the statement that “Zimmerman confronted
Martin and a struggle ensued.”
“Do you know who started the fight?” Mr. O’Mara asked Mr. Gilbreath.
“Do I know?” Mr. Gilbreath said. “No.”
Mr. O’Mara then asked Mr. Gilbreath if the state had any evidence to contradict
Mr. Zimmerman’s statement to the police that he had been making his way back to
his car when he was punched by Mr. Martin. Mr. Zimmerman told investigators he
shot Mr. Martin in self-defense after Mr. Martin banged his head on concrete,
covered his nose and mouth and reached for his gun.
Mr. Gilbreath responded, “No.”
While on the stand, Mr. Zimmerman was sharply questioned by Bernardo de la
Rionda, an assistant state attorney.
“Do you agree that you changed your story?” Mr. de la Rionda asked, referring to
the five separate statements that Mr. Zimmerman gave the police about the
“Absolutely not, “ Mr. Zimmerman replied in a firm voice.