$1m bail for Trayvon Martin case accused
THE American man accused of shooting an unarmed black teenager in a Florida street while on “neighbourhood watch” patrol has been again released, this time on $1 million (£645,000) bail.
George Zimmerman has been charged with the second-degree killing of Trayvon Martin, 17, whom he encountered and fought with while patrolling his gated community of Sanford in February.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty and claims the shooting was self-defence, under Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law, which permits use of force in the execution of public duties.
Martin’s parents and supporters claim that the unarmed teenager was targeted because he was black and that Zimmerman started the confrontation that led to the shooting. Zimmerman’s father is white and his mother is of Spanish origin.
When he was freed in April, Zimmerman was allowed to leave Florida – his ultimate destination kept secret by his defence team for his own safety. He had a 7pm-6am curfew imposed and was forbidden to have guns.
Now a judge, who believes Zimmerman misled the court about his finances, has ordered him to stay in Seminole County. He must be electronically monitored, cannot open a bank account, obtain a passport or set foot on the grounds of the local airport. He must also observe a 6pm to 6am curfew.
One of Zimmerman’s lawyers said his client was “very happy to be out.”
“Certainly it’s been a sobering experience spending the last month in jail in that kind of environment,” attorney Don West said.
Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester set Zimmerman’s bail at $1m. The same judge had previously ordered his release on a $150,000 bond in April, but he revoked it last month after prosecutors presented evidence that Zimmerman and his wife had misled the court about how much money they had available.
They failed to tell the court that donations from a website for Zimmerman’s legal defence had raised around $135,000 at the time of his first bond hearing. Prosecutors argued that Zimmerman and his wife had talked in code during recorded jailhouse conversations about how to transfer the donations to different bank accounts. For example, Zimmerman asked how much money they had. His wife replied: “$155.”
Prosecutors allege that was code for $155,000. A reference to “Peter Pan” was said to be code for the PayPal system through which the donations were made, prosecutors said. Shellie Zimmerman faces court at the end of July on a perjury charge.
Civil rights activist, the Rev Al Sharpton, has criticised the raising of money for Zimmerman’s defence via online donations, saying it suggested “no remorse over the loss of a human life”.
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