George Zimmerman returns to jail in Trayvon Martin shooting case
George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch volunteer charged in the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, returned to jail Sunday two days after a judge revoked his bail over questions about his finances.
Zimmerman wore a plaid shirt, jeans, tennis shoes and longer hair than in his internationally known mug shots.
He arrived at the Seminole County Jail in Sanford, Fla., accompanied by law enforcement officers and with his hands cuffed behind his back. He did not respond to reporters’ questions, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger described him as “quiet and cooperative,” the Sentinel said. Zimmerman will be fingerprinted again and will get another mug shot, Eslinger said.
He had been in hiding since his release on a $150,000 bond in April. His attorney,Mark O’Mara, expects that another bond hearing will determine whether his client stays in custody until his expected trial in 2013. O’Mara told the media that he expected to submit a motion Monday for another hearing.
Zimmerman remains worried about his safety and that of his family, the Sentinel quoted O’Mara as saying.
Zimmerman, 28, is to be segregated from the jail’s general population because of the high-profile nature of the case, officials said. His cell is 67 square feet, with two beds and a toilet, and he will get three hours of recreation time a week.
He is charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting of Martin, 17, who was unarmed. Zimmerman has admitted shooting the youth during a confrontation in a gated community in Sanford, but he insists it was self-defense. Florida has a “stand your ground” law that allows someone to respond with force without retreating if attacked.
Martin had been staying with his father’s fiance, who lives in the gated community. He’d gone for a walk on a rainy night, wearing a hoodie, to buy Skittles and an iced tea.
Zimmerman saw him and called police about a suspicious person. He got out of his vehicle and followed Martin, who reportedly told his girlfriend by cellphone that someone was following him. A confrontation ensued but the details are unclear.
Sanford authorities initially decided not to charge Zimmerman, which led to more than six weeks of racially charged protests. Martin was black; Zimmerman is white and Latino.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott eventually appointed a special prosecutor, who filed the second-degree murder charge. Zimmerman, who was arrested 44 days after Martin’s death, has pleaded not guilty.
Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said at a hearing Friday that Zimmerman had falsely represented his financial state when the $150,000 bond amount was granted. Zimmerman’s wife had testified in April that the couple had limited funds, but it was later revealed that the defendant had raised more than $200,000 from a website the family set up to solicit contributions.
“This court was led to believe they didn’t have a single penny,” prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda said Friday. “It was misleading, and I don’t know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie.”
Lester sided with prosecutors, saying Zimmerman “can’t sit back and obtain the benefit of a lower bond based upon those material falsehoods.”
He gave Zimmerman 48 hours to turn himself in, with a deadline of 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Zimmerman arrived about an hour early.
O’Mara called the failure to disclose the additional funds a misunderstanding.
“The vast majority of the funds in question are in an independently managed trust, and neither Mr. Zimmerman or his attorneys have direct access to the money,” Zimmerman’s defense said in a statement on its website.
The defense expressed hope that Zimmerman’s “voluntary surrender to Sanford police will help demonstrate to the court that he is not a flight risk.”
Prosecutors also accused Zimmerman on Friday of owning two passports and failing to surrender the second one. Zimmerman had reported in 2004 that the one he surrendered in April had been lost or stolen. In its motion, the prosecution quoted jailhouse calls between Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, talking about the second passport.
“I have one for you in a safety deposit box,” she said, according to prosecutors, to which Zimmerman replied, “OK, you hold on to that.”
The judge dismissed the passport issue, the Associated Press reported, as the equivalent of someone who has lost a driver’s license, applies for a new one and then finds the old one.