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Question of the Day
SANFORD, Fla. | George Zimmerman, who slipped out of jail on $150,000 bail in the early morning darkness, went back into hiding Monday and likely fled to another state to avoid threats as he awaits his second-degree murder trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin.
His release from jail came less than a day before the Sanford City Commission rejected by a 3-2 vote the resignation of Police Chief Bill Lee, who was roundly criticized for not initially charging Mr. Zimmerman.
Chief Lee, who is on paid leave, had stepped aside temporarily in March to let emotions cool. Not too long ago, the commissioners gave him a “no confidence vote” that city Manager Norton Bonaparte said still stands.
The shooting also led to the local prosecutor recusing himself from the case, and the governor appointing Angela Corey, who eventually charged Mr. Zimmerman.
The majority of commissioners Monday blamed the polarization over the Martin case and its handling by the police department on outside groups. They said they wanted to wait for an outside investigation to conclude into the police department’s handling of the case before accepting the resignation agreement drawn up by the city manager and Chief Lee.
Even though authorities can pinpoint Mr. Zimmerman’s location with a GPS ankle bracelet, that he must wear round the clock, the public may not see him again for some time. Mr. Zimmerman has waived his appearance at his upcoming arraignment next month, so he can stay underground if he wants.
Mr. Zimmerman has experience laying low: For more than a month before his arrest, he eluded the media and his whereabouts were unknown. His attorney has suggested he had several options for where his client can stay this time, and a judge indicated he was willing to let Mr. Zimmerman leave the state.
Until the next time he must come before a judge, Mr. Zimmerman will have to skip such routine pleasures as eating in a restaurant or taking a long stroll outside, said Jose Baez, a former attorney for Casey Anthony, who went into hiding last summer after being acquitted last summer of killing her toddler.
“He may be free, but he’s not free,” Mr. Baez said.
Mr. Zimmerman has limited resources. He was working at a mortgage risk management firm but stopped working there after the confrontation with Martin because of the public attention. His wife, Shellie, is in nursing school and doesn’t work.
His attorney, Mark O’Mara, did not return phone calls Monday but has ruled out Mr. Zimmerman getting a job while he is out on bail. And Mr. O’Mara wrote in court papers that Zimmerman “has no significant financial assets or savings.”
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By Michael P. Orsi
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