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George Zimmerman posts $9,000 bail in domestic violence case

CNN News Wire | 11/19/2013, 5:54 p.m.
George Zimmerman is arraigned on assault, domestic battery, and mischief charges on Tuesday, November 19, 2013. The charges are in regards to a domestic dispute with his girlfriend.

APOPKA, Fla. — A Florida judge on Tuesday set bail for George Zimmerman at $9,000 and ordered a number of conditions for his freedom — including that he not possess weapons — while he awaits trial on charges he pointed a shotgun at his girlfriend.

He was released from the John E. Polk Correctional Facility on Tuesday afternoon. He didn’t speak with the media. It was unclear where he was headed.

Zimmerman was arrested Monday at his girlfriend’s Apopka home, four months after he was acquitted of murdering teenager Trayvon Martin.

Earlier, Zimmerman said little as a judge, during Zimmerman’s first appearance Tuesday afternoon in Seminole County court, said he found probable cause for Zimmerman’s arrest on a felony charge of aggravated assault and misdemeanor counts of domestic violence battery and criminal mischief. Zimmerman’s arraignment has been scheduled for January 7.

A prosecutor revealed a new allegation against Zimmerman while trying to argue for a higher bail — that Zimmerman tried to choke his girlfriend a week and a half before Monday’s alleged shotgun incident, and that Zimmerman had talked about suicide.

Assistant State Attorney Lymary Munoz argued for $50,000 bail, saying that new information should heighten concern for the accuser’s safety, though the alleged incident hadn’t been reported to police.

The new allegation is not reflected in the preliminary charges. But Judge Fred Schott cited the choking accusation when he put the bail at $9,000, saying it prompted him to set it higher than the $4,900 requested by the defense.

Jeff Dowdy and Daniel Megaro, the public defenders representing Zimmerman, told reporters afterward that they hadn’t known of the choking allegation previously.

“That was news to us,” Dowdy said. “... That was not contained in the arrest report, and that’s the first we’ve heard about it.”

Schott put conditions on Zimmerman’s bail: That he cannot go to two Florida addresses; he cannot have contact with the accuser, Samantha Scheibe; he cannot possess weapons; he must wear a monitoring device; and he cannot travel outside Florida.

The judge initially said Zimmerman could return to one of the banned addresses with law enforcement to retrieve his belongings, but later — at Munoz’s urging — revsersed that allowance, saying a third party could get the belongings instead.

Megaro told reporters he was confident Zimmerman would be acquitted. Dowdy said Zimmerman would post bail perhaps by Wednesday, “regroup and try to address the charges.”

“He’s maintained his innocence, I’ll tell you that,” Dowdy said.

Megaro was asked about Scheibe’s alleged claims that Zimmerman talked about suicide.

“He’s back in jail. Obviously that causes a certain amount of anxiety and stress on somebody. I would not characterize him as what the state attorney has said, meaning he’s suicidal and volatile. We did not get that impression from him,” Megaro said.

Zimmerman’s public defenders said Tuesday they were appointed to the case because Zimmerman said he couldn’t afford an attorney.

He is unemployed, according to a police report, and has about $150 to his name with debts of $2.5 million, according to his request for a public defender.