Judge Sets George Zimmerman's Bond at $1 Million

Lawyer for the shooter of Trayvon Martin had sought bail of $150,000.

Posted: 07/05/2012 11:35 AM EDT
George zimmerman

A Florida judge has granted bond for a second time to George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, setting the bail at $1 million.

Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lester ruled that Zimmerman can be released again on bail. The shooter of the unarmed teenager was released on $150,000 bail in April.

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

 

However, Zimmerman was ordered back to jail when prosecutors discovered that he misled the court about a sum of more than $135,000 he received in donations. Despite Zimmerman and his wife Shellie’s testimonies that the couple were nearly destitute, the money was, in fact, in an account controlled by Zimmerman and his wife.

The judge’s decision came nearly a week after a three-hour bond hearing with heated exchanges between lawyers.

In strong language, Judge Lester made clear his displeasure with Zimmerman, saying that the shooters  actions suggest a possibility that he was preparing to flee to avoid prosecution.

 

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

 

Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The shooter pleaded not guilty, saying he had shot the teenager in self-defense. He invoked Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows people to use deadly force if they feel they are in imminent danger.

Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O'Mara, had asked for a $150,000 bond for his client. The prosecution had requested that the court to keep Zimmernan behind bars without bond.

In papers filed in court last week, O'Mara argued that Zimmerman presented no threat to the public and proved he wasn't a flight risk by returning to jail when his bond was revoked. O'Mara said that although Zimmerman should have admitted that his wife was being deceptive when she testified that the couple had no assets, it doesn't make Zimmerman a threat to society.


Bernie de la Rionda, the prosecutor in the case, took a different view, arguing that Zimmerman's wife lied to the court and the defendant just sat there and let it happen. He pointed out that on the day of Zimmerman's first bond hearing in April, there was more than $100,000 in the Zimmermans' account, when his wife contended the couple was nearly destitute

In an interview with BET.com, Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for the parents of Trayvon Martin, said: "Travyon’s parents would rather the killer of their unarmed child remained in jail until the trial."  

 

He added, "However, they respect the ruling of the court and the strong message that the judge sent, that deference to judicial integrity is paramount in all court proceedings. Furthermore, they understand that this is not a spring to justice, but a long journey to justice that they must bear for their son, Trayvon."

 

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