The Florida judge overseeing the controversial case of George Zimmerman, accused of second-degree murder in the February shooting death of Trayvon Martin, reluctantly ruled that the defendant could be released on a $1 million bond while awaiting trial — albeit with an array of new restrictions. As soon as the news broke Thursday, with Zimmerman still in jail trying to raise bail money, death threats against him resumed.
Zimmerman’s previous bond, set at $150,000, was revoked last month after Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester agreed with prosecutors that the defendant and his wife Shellie had misled the court about their financial situation. According to the prosecution, the Zimmermans had raised well over $100,000 from online donations, but failed to disclose that when questioned by the court at the previous bond hearing. They also allegedly spoke about the funds in “code.”
Mrs. Zimmerman was arrested in June and charged with perjury — telling a deliberate lie while under oath. She was released on bail soon afterwards. Her husband, meanwhile, was ordered to surrender to authorities within 48 hours and has been in jail since then. But on July 5, the judge set his new bond at a significantly higher amount, noting that he was concerned Zimmerman may try to flee prosecution, but that not enough evidence had been presented to deny bail outright.
"Under any definition, the defendant has flaunted the system," judge Lester said, accusing Zimmerman of attempting to “manipulate” the system whenever he had an opportunity to do so. "Although there is no record of flight to avoid prosecution, this court finds that circumstances indicate that the defendant was preparing to flee to avoid prosecution but such plans were thwarted."
Click here to read the entire article.
Photo: In this June 29, 2012 file photo, George Zimmerman, left, and attorney Don West appear before Circuit Judge Kenneth R. Lester, Jr. during a bond hearing at the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center in Sanford, Fla.: AP Images