George Zimmerman was released from a Florida jail Friday afternoon after posting a $100,000 bond.
The release comes one day after Judge Kenneth Lester increased Zimmerman’s bail to $1 million dollars, 10 percent of which was required as bond for his release.
Zimmerman’s initial bond was revoked June 1 after Lester learned that Zimmerman and his wife had deceived the court about their financial status during an April bond hearing. It was discovered that the Zimmermans had failed to disclose more than $150,000 in donations collected online, and that Zimmerman’s wife Shellie had perjured herself. She was arrested June 12 and immediately posted a $1,000 bond.
While the deceit was a serious offense, Lester found Thursday that it did not warrant holding Zimmerman without bail.
Lester said the new $1 million bail order was not a punishment but an amount that assured the court Zimmerman would not attempt to flee, according to CNN. Lester believed that Zimmerman was a flight risk and may have been planning to leave the country in attempts to avoid prosecution for the February shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The increased bond “thwarted” this possibility, according to the judge’s ruling.
“Notably, together with the passport, the money only had to be hidden for a short time for him to leave the country if the defendant made a quick decision to flee,” the judge wrote, referring to the undisclosed second passport that also contributed to the June bond revocation. “It is entirely reasonable for this court to find that, but for the requirement that he be placed on electronic monitoring, the defendant and his wife would have fled the United States with at least $130,000 of other people’s money.”
“We were hoping the bail would be considerably less than what it was. And we will take the judge’s comments to heart, but we don’t necessarily agree with them and we will decide what is next,” said Zimmerman attorney Don West.
Defense attorney Mark O’Mara posted a message on the GZLegalCase.com website Thursday claiming that the increased bond “would effectively wipe out the existing balance” of Zimmerman’s defense fund and urging supporters that “now is the time to show your support.” His request was apparently taken to heart, as the Miami Herald reports that news of Zimmerman’s increased bond created a “bonanza” of new contributions to the fund, with donation totals increasing 20-fold in just 24 hours.
“Since the $1 million bond was made public on July 5, supporters have donated approximately $20,000,” said defense attorney Mark O’Mara. “In the two months prior to the court’s order setting bail, the George Zimmerman Defense Fund had received approximately $55,000.”
According to his bond order, Zimmerman is forbidden from leaving Seminole County without prior authorization, has to check in with authorities every 48 hours and cannot enter the Orlando-Sanford International Airport property. He is also forbidden from opening a bank account, must adhere to a daily curfew, cannot apply for a passport or drink alcohol and must wear an electronic monitoring device that he must pay for himself.
Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump issued a statement in response to Zimmerman’s bond being set:
“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.”
Speaking to reporters in New Orleans, Martin’s parents say they have faith that all will work out.
“As we said from the beginning, we have strong faith in God,” Trayvon’s father Tracy Martin said. “And we’ll continue to lean on God and ask Him to give us the strength and continue to give us the faith in the justice system, and justice will prevail.”
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in Trayvon Martin’s February shooting death. While Zimmerman acknowledges that he killed the teen, he stands firmly by his claims that he felt his life was in danger after being attacked by Martin and shot him in self-defense.
Friday’s release is Zimmerman’s second, the first coming on April 23 after he posted bond on his $150,000 bail.