George Zimmerman will be allowed to post bond for a second time as he awaits trial on a second-degree murder charge in the shooting death of Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin, a judge ruled Thursday. In a written ruling, Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester set Zimmerman's bond at $1 million, saying he "has flaunted the system." Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda spoke about Zimmerman and his wife.
No Immediate Ruling at George Zimmerman Bond Hearing
George Zimmerman's second bond hearing on Friday was like a mini-trial, with his father, a probation officer, an EMT who treated him, and an accounting expert all testifying. Listen to some of the exchanges involving defense attorney Mark O'Mara and Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr., and forensic accountant Adam Magill and prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda.
Lester revoked Zimmerman's $150,000 bond last month after prosecutors said he and his wife misled them about his finances during an April bond hearing.
Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, had raised around $135,000 at the time of the April hearing, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said the couple talked in code while discussing the money in conversations recorded while Zimmerman was in jail.
"They used code, they used other words other than '9,000 dollars' to make sure that whoever was listening wasn't aware of what was going on," prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda said during a bond hearing last week. "Why was that done? It was done to hide the money, so that they could deceive the court, lie to the court."
Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, said there was no negative intent on the part of his client and argued for Zimmerman to be released on the previous $150,000 amount.
To get out of jail, Zimmerman will have to pay 10 percent of his bond amount, or $100,000, and have collateral worth $1 million, his legal team noted.
"George Zimmerman and his family do not have anywhere near $1,000,000 for collateral so even if we pay the $100,000 fee, the bail bond company will have to agree to work with us on how the collateral would be posted. We are encouraged we can work this out," the website posting said. "We paid $15,000 initially for the first bail fee so an additional fee of $85,000 would have to be paid to post this new bond assuming we can work out the collateral issue."
In his ruling, Lester said Zimmerman has "tried to manipulate the system when he has been presented the opportunity to do so."
"Contrary to the image presented by the Defendant not by evidence but only by argument of counsel, it appears to this Court that the Defendant is manipulating the system to his own benefit," Lester wrote. The evidence is clear that the Defendant and his wife acted in concert, but primarily at the Defendant's direction, to conceal their cash holdings."
Zimmerman, 28, was arrested and charged in April in the shooting of Martin, 17, on Feb. 26 in a gated community in Sanford. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty and claims the shooting was self-defense.
If Zimmerman posts bond, he'll once again be subject to electronic monitoring, will have to follow a curfew and not consume alcohol, will have to check in with authorities every 48 hours and will not be able to leave Seminole County without prior authorization from the court.
Zimmerman's legal defense fund has about $211,000, but paying bond, defense expenses so far and scheduled expenses would effectively wipe out the current balance of the fund, his legal team said.
"While it may seem that there is a lot of money in in the fund, this will be a very expensive case to defend and it is clear that the fight will be long and hard," the gzlegalcase.com posting said. It said that donations to Zimmerman's fund significantly decreased while he was in jail before his second bond hearing.
His team reiterated that Zimmerman is not a threat to his community, not a flight risk, and not guilty of second-degree murder, and implored supporters to make more donations.