Judge Sets George Zimmerman's Bail At $150,000

Zimmerman apologizes to Martin's parents at bond hearing

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Zimmerman family speaks in during their son's bond court hearing. George Zimmerman's wife Shellie, his mother Gladys and his father Robert all testified via phone.

    George Zimmerman apologized to the parents of Trayvon Martin and was granted a $150,000 bail by a judge at a Friday morning hearing in a Seminole County courtroom.

    Zimmerman won't be released Friday and will have to wear a GPS monitor if he makes bail. He's not allowed to contact Martin's family, won't be able to possess firearms or drink alcohol, and will be under a curfew, Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said.

    His release date will be determined at a later time, Lester said.

    George Zimmerman Makes Statement In Court

    [MI] George Zimmerman Makes Statement In Court
    George Zimmerman apologizes to the family of Trayvon Martin at an appearance in Seminole County court.

    The hearing lasted over two hours, with testimony from Zimmerman's wife and parents on his behalf.

    Zimmerman, who was wearing a suit, tie and shackles, also took the stand to apologize to Martin's parents.

    Zimmerman Arraignment Set For May 29

    [MI] Zimmerman Arraignment Set For May 29
    George Zimmerman, who faces a second-degree murder charge in the fatal shooting of Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin, appeared in court on Thursday and had his formal arraignment set for May 29. Wearing handcuffs and a dark grey jumpsuit, Zimmerman appeared in a Seminole County courtroom for the brief hearing before Judge Mark E. Herr, who was not in the courtroom but spoke through a closed-circuit TV connection. Herr said he found probable cause to proceed with the case against Zimmerman and set the date for arraignment for May 29 at 1:30 p.m. before another judge. Throughout the four-minute hearing, Zimmerman stood up, looked straight ahead and said only "Yes, sir," twice when asked questions about the charge against him and about his attorney Mark O'Mara. Zimmerman has told police that he shot Martin, 17, of Miami Gardens in self-defense. O'Mara said, while speaking to media after the proceeding, that a not guilty plea was entered.

    "I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am and I did not know if he was armed or not," Zimmerman said.

    Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, sat in the audience for the hearing.

    Outside court, Benjamin Crump, the Martin family's attorney, said Martin's parents were devastated by the decision to grant bail.

    "They don't agree with the court's decision today," Crump said. "They are devastated, they are completely devastated."

    Crump called Zimmerman's apology "self-serving" and said Tracy Martin was in tears throughout the hearing.

    "It was very painful watching him weep," Crump said.

    The first witness called to testify for Zimmerman was his wife, Shellie Nicole Zimmerman, who testified over the phone.

    Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, said witnesses would be testifying by phone due to "concerns over safety."

    Shellie Zimmerman said the two had been married almost five years, and testified that he was not a danger to the community. She said she had received hate mail, but hadn't reported it to authorities.

    "Anything that happens to my husband is a personal threat to me," she said.

    After Zimmerman's wife, his father, Robert Zimmerman Sr., testified on his behalf.  Zimmerman Sr. said he's maintained close contact with his son and said he's not a violent person.

    "I've never known him to be violent at all unless he was provoked and then he would turn the other cheek," Zimmerman Sr. said.

    Zimmerman Sr. also talked about the injuries he says his son sustained in the encounter with Martin.

    "His face was swollen quite a bit, he had a protective cover over his nose and two vertical gashes over the back of his head," Zimmerman Sr. said.

    Zimmerman's mother, Gladys Zimmerman, also testified, saying she was concerned for her safety as well as her son's.

    "We have received a lot of threats," Gladys Zimmerman said. She also testified that her son had served as a mentor for two children who are African-American.

    "He is very protective of people, very protective of homeless people, and very protective of children," she said.

    She said he used to visit the children every two weeks, but that she advised him not to go because it was a dangerous area.

    "He said 'Mom, if I don't go, they have nobody,'" she said.

    Prosecutor Bernardo de la Rionda asked Zimmerman family members about two incidents in which Zimmerman was involved with police, including a 2005 incident in which he was accused of battery on a law enforcement officer.

    Zimmerman had to take anger management classes following the incident, which he completed, O'Mara said. Family members claimed Zimmerman said the officer was in plain clothes and had shoved his friend against a wall, and that the officer didn't identify himself as a cop.

    In the second incident, Zimmerman had been accused of hitting a woman, though no charges were filed.

    Also called to speak was State Attorney's Office investigator Dale Gilbreath, who testified regarding the Zimmerman probable cause affidavit.

    O'Mara grilled Gilbreath over several aspects of the affidavit, including the use of the words "profiling" and "confronted."

    Gilbreath said he doesn't know who threw the first punch in the confrontation.

    Zimmerman then addressed the Martin family from the witness box, and was questioned afterward by de la Rionda.

    The prosecutor asked Zimmerman why he waited so long to apologize to the family, and Zimmerman replied "I was told not to communicate with them."

    Thursday night, George Zimmerman reached out to Martin's parents to ask to speak to them, but they rejected the request, Crump said.

    Crump said the family didn't want to talk with Zimmerman, saying they felt that he had never publicly apologized for what happened to their son, and adding that they thought it was inappropriate to do so at the eleventh hour before his bond hearing.

    O'Mara said it was risky to have Zimmerman speak but that he had wanted to after Fulton had asked for an apology in an interview.

    "He wanted to say it. I think it should have happened in a private setting, we tried and that wasn't afforded to us," O'Mara said after the hearing. "It could have really caused some problems."

    O'Mara asked for $15,000 bond for Zimmerman, and asked that his location be confidential if he's released.

    De la Rionda said Zimmerman's arrest showed a "lack of adhering to authority" and request he be held without bond, or that if it was granted that it be set at $1 million.

    Lester called the arrest a "run-of-the-mill-type run-in with the law," and granted the bail.

    Zimmerman was arrested and charged April 11 in the shooting of the Miami Gardens teen in a gated community in Sanford on Feb. 26. Zimmerman has said he shot Martin, 17, in self-defense.

    The 28-year-old has been behind bars since his arrest, but O'Mara, has said he needs Zimmerman out on bond so he can help build his defense case.

    The lack of an arrest in the case for 44 days led to protests in Sanford, South Florida and across the country. Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee Jr. temporarily stepped down in the wake of the shooting, and Gov. Rick Scott appointed State Attorney Angela Corey as special prosecutor in the case after State Attorney Norm Wolfinger, whose district covers Sanford, recused himself.

    Lester took over the case earlier this week after Seminole County Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler recused herself after a possible conflict of interest issue was raised.