Zimmerman Granted $1 Million Bond
This photo is of George Zimmerman, taken the night of the Trayvon Martin shooting. Source is the Sanford Police Department. (Photo credit: Sanford Police Dept.)
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) — The judge overseeing the Trayvon Martin case in Florida set bond for George Zimmerman at $1 million Thursday after hearing arguments last week that Zimmerman and his wife tried to conceal donations for his case.
It was unclear how quickly Zimmerman could post the bond and be released from jail.
Defense attorney Mark O’Mara argued that Zimmerman should not be jailed because the state’s case is weak and his claim of self-defense is strong. Zimmerman has said he shot Martin, who was unarmed, because the teen attacked him.
Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in Martin’s February 26 shooting death.
Zimmerman’s original bail of $150,000 was revoked last month after Judge Kenneth Lester learned Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, had failed to disclose more than $150,000 in donations from the public.
The judge’s order said that the new $1 million bond was not a punishment but an amount that assured the court that Zimmerman would not abscond. Zimmerman has the funds to pay for his release, the court said.
He would not have to post the full amount. Only a percentage is needed to make bail.
“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,” Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump said. “Furthermore, they understand that this is not a sprint to justice, but a long journey to justice that they must bear for their son Trayvon.”
Prosecutors had asked for bond to be denied, or else for it to be set at $1 million.
Lester found that Zimmerman had manipulated the system, but that it was not enough to hold him without bail.
“This court has, thus far, declined to exercise its contempt powers and the state failed to prove that the defendant be held without bond,” the order said.
The order said the evidence shows that Zimmerman and his wife acted together to conceal their cash holdings during the original bond hearing.
“Under any definition, the defendant has flaunted the system,” the order said. “The defendant has tried to manipulate the system when he has been presented the opportunity to do so.”
The order includes new restrictions on Zimmerman that he did not face when he was out on bond the first time.
Among the requirements, Zimmerman must report to officials every two days, cannot open or maintain a bank account and cannot be on the property of an airport.
He also cannot apply for or have a passport.
Zimmerman must abide by a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., and like before, will be monitored electronically.
Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda argued before the judge last week that Zimmerman should remain in jail without bail because he was complicit in lying to the court and can’t be trusted.
Forensic accountant Adam Magill testified that thousands of dollars in donated funds flowed into and out of Zimmerman’s bank account in the days before the first bail hearing.
Magill said it appeared Zimmerman and his wife were speaking in code during recorded jailhouse telephone conversations about the amount of money involved. He also said that transferring funds between accounts could have been done to make it appear that Zimmerman had less money available for bail than he did.
De la Rionda reiterated that prosecutors believe Martin, a 17-year-old African-American, was an innocent victim who was confronted by Zimmerman without provocation. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, acknowledged fatally shooting Martin in February after calling police to report a suspicious person. Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, said Martin attacked him.
– CNN’s John Couwels and Vivian Kuo contributed to this report.