Zimmerman back in jail, 2 days after bond revoked
MIAMI (AP) — George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch volunteer charged with murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin, surrendered to police Sunday and was booked into a central Florida jail two days after his bond was revoked.
Zimmerman's legal team said in a tweet Sunday afternoon that he was in police custody. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester revoked Zimmerman's bond on Friday, saying the defendant and his wife had lied to the court in April about their finances so he could obtain a lower bond.
About 40 minutes before the 2:30 p.m. Sunday deadline to surrender, the Seminole County jail website listed Zimmerman as an inmate. He was being held without bail and had $500 in his jail account, the website showed.
Seminole County Sheriff Donald Eslinger said Zimmerman turned himself in to two sheriff's office employees around 1:25 p.m. near the jail, and was then driven there. Zimmerman arrived in a white minivan and did not respond to questions from reporters as he walked inside, handcuffed and wearing blue jeans, sneakers and a button-down shirt.
"He is quiet and cooperative," Eslinger said at a news conference after Zimmerman's surrender.
The sheriff's office said the 28-year-old Zimmerman would be in a cell by himself, separated from the general population, because the case is so high-profile. The 67-square-foot cell is equipped with a toilet, two beds, a mattress, a pillow, a blanket and bed sheets. Zimmerman will not have access to a TV.
Prosecutors said last week that Zimmerman and his wife told the judge at a bond hearing in April that they had limited money, even though he had raised about $135,000 through a website set up for his legal defense. They suggested more has been collected since and deposited in a bank account. Defense attorneys say the matter is a misunderstanding.
The judge said Friday he would schedule a hearing after Zimmerman was back in custody so he could explain himself.
Defense attorney Mark O'Mara announced earlier Sunday on his website that Zimmerman had arrived in Florida late Saturday evening ahead of his surrender.
Zimmerman, who was charged in April with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of the 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, was ordered by a judge Friday to return to jail. After his release, Zimmerman stayed at an undisclosed location for his safety.
Zimmerman's legal team said Sunday that they will ask for a new bond hearing to address the judge's concerns, and that they hope Zimmerman's voluntary surrender will show he is not a flight risk.
The money that Zimmerman has raised is in an independent trust and cannot be directly accessed by Zimmerman or his attorneys, according to the press release.
He has pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder charge. He maintains that he shot Martin in self-defense under Florida's so-called "stand your ground" law because the teen, who was unarmed, was beating him up. Zimmerman claims the teenager had confronted the then-neighborhood watch volunteer about following Martin in a gated community in Sanford, about 25 miles northwest of Orlando.
Zimmerman had called 911 to complain about suspicious activity. Martin was walking from a convenience store to the home of his father's fiancée in the same gated community where Zimmerman lived.
Legal experts say Zimmerman's credibility could become an issue at trial, noting that the case hinges on jurors believing Zimmerman's account of what happened the night in February when Martin was killed.
Police in Sanford did not immediately arrest Zimmerman, citing the Florida stand-your-ground law that gives wide latitude to the use of deadly force in an altercation if someone believes he or she is in danger of being killed or seriously injured.
Protests were held across the nation, and the case spurred an emotional debate about whether race was a factor in Zimmerman's actions and in the initial police handling of the case. Martin was black; Zimmerman's father is white and his mother is from Peru.
A special prosecutor eventually brought charges against Zimmerman, and he was arrested 44 days after the killing.
Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, was asked about the website at the bond hearing, but she said she didn't know how much money had been raised. The judge set bail at $150,000. George Zimmerman was freed a few days later after posting $15,000 in cash — which is typical.
Prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda complained Friday, "This court was led to believe they didn't have a single penny. It was misleading and I don't know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie." The judge agreed and ordered Zimmerman returned to jail by Sunday afternoon.
The defense countered that Zimmerman and his wife never used the money for anything, which indicated "there was no deceit."
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Trayvon Martin's parents — Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton — said his clients have always said Zimmerman should remain in jail until trial.