You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

Zimmerman’s bail set at $1M in Martin case

- Associated Press - Thursday, July 5, 2012

ORLANDO, Fla. — A Florida judge ruled Thursday that George Zimmerman can be released from jail a second time on $1 million bond, saying he set the bail amount significantly higher because Mr. Zimmerman may have been hiding money as part of a plot to flee the country.

Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester had revoked Mr. Zimmerman's $150,000 bond last month after prosecutors told the judge Mr. Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, misled the court about how much money they had during an April bond hearing. Mr. Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

"It is entirely reasonable for this court to find that, but for the requirement that he be placed on electronic monitoring, the defendant and his wife would have fled the United States with at least $130,000 of other people's money," Judge Lester wrote.

Prosecutors said a website Mr. Zimmerman created for his legal defense had raised $135,000 at the time of his first bond hearing. The Zimmermans did not mention the money then, and Mrs. Zimmerman even said the couple had limited resources because she was a student and he wasn't working.

The judge made his decision after listening last week to Mr. Zimmerman's attorney and a forensic financial analyst explain why he wasn't more forthcoming.

The judge expressed his unhappiness with Mr. Zimmerman and said that his actions suggest a possibility that he was preparing to flee to avoid prosecution.

"Under any definition the defendant has tried to manipulate the system when he has been presented the opportunity to do so," Judge Lester wrote in the order.

Judge Lester said he was granting bond because Mr. Zimmerman posed no threat to the community, and Florida law requires that most defendants receive bond if they pose no threat and can assure their presence for trial.

The judge's order requires Mr. Zimmerman to be electronically monitored and residing in Seminole County, prohibits him from opening a bank account or obtaining a passport and implements a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. Mr. Zimmerman had been allowed to leave Florida under the conditions of his first bond release.

Prosecutors previously argued Mr. Zimmerman and his wife talked in code during recorded jailhouse conversations about how to transfer the donations to different bank accounts. For example, Mr. Zimmerman at one point asked how much money they had. She replied "$155," which prosecutors say was code for $155,000. Their reference to "Peter Pan" was code for the PayPal system through which the donations were made, prosecutors said.

Mr. Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, sparred with prosecutors over those finances last week and questioned why his client is in jail at all, arguing that Martin's actions led to his death. Mr. O'Mara did not immediately return a phone message Thursday.

Mrs. Zimmerman has been charged with perjury. She is out of jail on $1,000 bond, and her arraignment is set for July 31.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.