SANFORD, FLORIDA – A lawyer for a neighborhood watch volunteer charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager is requesting bond for his client in a Florida courtroom Friday morning.
George Zimmerman, 28, was charged on April 11 in the February death of Trayvon Martin, after the case sparked a heated, national debate over racial profiling and saw thousands of protesters demand Zimmerman’s arrest. Martin’s family contends Zimmerman racially profiled their son, who was walking back from a convenience store in Sanford, Florida.
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who is Hispanic, maintains he acted in self-defense. His family says he did not profile Martin.
At 9 a.m. ET, attorney Mark O’Mara began the process of filing a bond motion with the case’s judge, Kenneth Lester Jr., in a Sanford courtroom. Among other factors, Lester will examine the seriousness of the crime, Zimmerman’s ties to the community, his conduct and whether he poses a danger or flight risk. The defense is expected to argue Zimmerman is not a flight risk or danger to the community.
Special prosecutor Angela Corey has the burden of showing why bond should not be set or if it should be high.
Refresh this page for updates on the bond hearing:
[Updated at 11:10 a.m. ET] The judge has set a bond of $150,000, with conditions.
The conditions include:
– GPS monitoring
– No contact with the victim’s family
[Updated at 11:07 a.m. ET] The state’s attorney is now making a case against leniency when it comes to the bond decision, and has asked for no bond, or a bond of $1 million.
The state’s attorney argued that Zimmerman is a danger to the public, citing not only the second-degree murder charge, but a previous charge of battery against a law enforcement officer, which was discussed at length earlier in the hearing.
[Updated at 11:02 a.m. ET] The hearing is now turning back to the issue of bond. O’Mara is asking the judge for:
– $15,000 bond.
– The ability of Zimmerman to leave the state
– Secrecy over Zimmerman’s whereabouts
O’Mara, speaking to Zimmerman’s ability to pay bond, noted that Zimmerman cannot work in public because of the case’s publicity, and that his wife is not working because she is in school.
[Updated at 10:58 a.m. ET] The prosecuting attorney is now questioning Zimmerman. He asked whether Zimmerman had ever said he was sorry when he spoke to police. Zimmerman responded that he had told one of the investigators that “I felt sorry for the family.”
The prosecutor told Zimmerman that if that’s true, it must have been recorded. He asked Zimmerman if he was sure, and Zimmerman said he was “fairly certain.”
[Updated at 10:55 a.m. ET] “I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son,” Zimmerman said on the stand, apparently addressing Martin’s parents, who are in the room.
Zimmerman also said he thought Martin was older than he was, and that he “didn’t know if (Martin) was armed or not.”
[Updated at 10:54 a.m. ET] Zimmerman is about the address the court. His attorney has called him to the stand.
[Updated at 10:53 a.m. ET] The prosecuting attorney, after saying “I didn’t know we were going to be trying the case today,” is back to ask questions of state attorney’s investigator Dale Gilbreath, after O’Mara asked questions challenging the state’s assertions.
The prosecutor asked Gilbreath whether there was any evidence indicating that Zimmerman’s account that Martin bashed his head against a sidewalk wasn’t true. Gilbreath said yes.
[Updated at 10:47 a.m. ET] O’Mara is back to questioning state attorney’s investigator Dale Gilbreath, one of the investigators in the case.
O’Mara asked whether Gilbreath knows who started the fight between Zimmerman and Martin, or had any evidence as to who started the fight. Gilbreath said no.
O’Mara asked whether Gilbreath had any evidence contradicting Zimmerman’s statement to Sanford police on the night of the incident that Zimmerman 1) turned toward his car after losing sight of Martin; and 2) that Martin started the fight that led to the shooting. Gilbreath said no.
[Updated at 10:36 a.m. ET] A prosecuting attorney is now questioning state attorney’s investigator Dale Gilbreath, after Zimmerman’s attorney took issue with wording in a probable cause affidavit that Gilbreath had signed. Gilbreath is one of the investigators in the Martin shooting case.
Like O’Mara, the prosecuting attorney is asking Gilbreath about the affidavit, and about evidence that Gilbreath collected. The general thrust of the questioning is designed to bolster the affidavit’s credibility, after O’Mara questioned word choices in the affidavit.
Gilbreath testified he has reviewed other evidence documents other than what has been discussed in the hearing. The prosecutor asked Gilbreath whether Martin had a right to be in the neighborhood – Gilbreath said yes. Gilbreath also was asked if there was no evidence that Martin was committing any crime, and again Gilbreath said yes.
[Updated at 10:28 a.m. ET] O’Mara still is questioning state attorney’s investigator Dale Gilbreath about the way that the probable cause affidavit – which supported the second-degree murder charge – was written.
O’Mara is now taking issue with a line that says Zimmerman “disregarded” a police dispatcher. On the tape that has been released to the public, Zimmerman indicated that he was following Martin, and the dispatcher said that authorities didn’t need Zimmerman to do that.
O’Mara, through his questioning of Gilbreath, is basically suggesting that “disregarded” was the wrong word, because Zimmerman did not hang up with the dispatcher, and therefore did not disregard him.
O’Mara also is taking issue with the affidavit saying that Zimmerman “confronted” Martin. O’Mara is contending that Gilbreath has offered no evidence that Zimmerman confronted Martin, and that other, less antagonistic words, should have been used since Gilbreath had no evidence that Zimmerman confronted him. Such words, O’Mara said, would be “came up to,” or “spoke with.”
[Updated at 10:19 a.m. ET] O’Mara, while questioning state attorney’s investigator Dale Gilbreath, is now taking issue with other language choices in the probable cause affidavit.
O’Mara has noted that the only two quotes in the affidavit from Zimmerman – taken from a police call that Zimmerman made to notify police that he had seen a suspicious person – are of Zimmerman using expletives. O’Mara asked why – out of everything Zimmerman said – only those two quotes were included in the affidavit.
Gilbreath responded that he didn’t type the affidavit. O’Mara pointed out that Gilbreath swore to it, and Gilbreath agreed that he had.
[Updated at 10:14 a.m. ET] O’Mara, while questioning state attorney’s investigator Dale Gilbreath, has taken issue with the word “profiled” in the probable cause affidavit supporting the second-degree murder charge.
The affidavit, which Gilbreath had signed, says that Zimmerman profiled Martin. O’Mara asked why the affidavit says profiled, rather than “noticed” or “saw.” Gilbreath said he couldn’t remember who wrote the word, saying it was a collaborative document.
[Updated at 10:09 a.m. ET] O’Mara has called Dale Gilbreath, an investigator with the state attorney’s office, to the stand. Gilbreath is one of the investigators in the Martin shooting case.
Gilbreath has indicated that he didn’t expect to testify today.
[Updated at 10:05 a.m. ET] O’Mara asked Zimmerman’s mother whether she has come to know her son as someone who comes to the defense of people. She said yes.
She said he has stood up for children and homeless people in and around his community. She also testified that he had been a mentor for two African American children.
[Updated at 10:04 a.m. ET] O’Mara asked Zimmerman’s mother about Zimmerman’s previous charge of battery against a law enforcement officer. She said that Zimmerman was involved in an altercation with a plainclothes ATF agent because he was coming to the defense of a friend, who was being roughed up. The officer didn’t identify himself as a law enforcement officer, she said.
[Updated at 10:02 a.m. ET] Zimmerman’s mother, life his father and wife earlier this morning, said that should Zimmerman be released on bond, his location and the places where he would be allowed to go should be kept secret, because he and the family have received threats.
[Updated at 9:53 a.m. ET] O’Mara has now called Zimmerman’s mother to the phone.
[Updated at 9:51 a.m. ET] Now being questioned by O’Mara, Zimmerman’s father testified about Zimmerman’s appearance after the February 26 shooting. The father said Zimmerman’s face was swollen “quite a bit,” had a protective cover over his nose, and had two vertical gashes on the back of his head.
According to an Orlando Sentinel story later confirmed by Sanford police, Zimmerman told authorities that after he called 911 about a suspicious person (later identified as Martin), and after he briefly lost track of Martin, the teen approached him. After the two exchange words, Zimmerman said, he reached for his cell phone, and then Martin punched him in the nose. Zimmerman said Martin pinned him to the ground and began slamming his head into the sidewalk.
[Updated at 9:47 a.m. ET] The prosecution is asking Zimmerman’s father about Zimmerman’s previous charge of battery against a law enforcement officer, basically having the father acknowledge that he knows Zimmerman faced that charge. Like the exchange that the prosecution had with Zimmerman’s wife a few minutes ago, they went over the fact that Zimmerman took anger management classes as a result of that charge, which was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.
[Updated at 9:41 a.m. ET] O’Mara is asking Zimmerman’s father about his financial ability to help post bond. The father, who said he was retired, said he and his wife have some savings, but very little. He said he had a mortgaged home, and that he was willing to secure the home as part of a bond arrangement.
[Updated at 9:39 a.m. ET] O’Mara is now questioning Zimmerman’s father, Robert Zimmerman Sr., who, like Zimmerman’s wife, is testifying by phone. A notary public has sworn Robert Zimmerman in.
[Updated at 9:36 a.m. ET] O’Mara questioned Zimmerman’s wife about the previous allegations against Zimmerman – including a charge of battery on a law enforcement officer and an altercation with a woman – that the prosecuting attorney brought up. Through questioning, Zimmerman’s wife testified that the battery charge was reduced to a misdemeanor through a pretrial diversion program in which he took anger management classes, and that she believes he completed those classes. She also testified that in the altercation with the woman, Zimmerman was not arrested, and that the woman attacked Zimmerman and drew blood, and that as a result, Zimmerman got an injunction against that woman.
[Updated at 9:30 a.m. ET] The prosecuting attorney summed up the previous allegations – including the charge of battery on a law enforcement officer – and then asked Zimmerman’s wife whether she still believes Zimmerman isn’t a danger to the community. “Absolutely he is not a violent person,” nor is he a threat to the community, she responded.
[Updated at 9:24 a.m. ET] The prosecution is now questioning Zimmerman’s wife about her assertion that Zimmerman poses no danger to the community. The prosecuting attorney is pointing out that Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder, and that Zimmerman is accused of a violent act.
The prosecuting attorney also is asking Zimmerman’s wife about his previous brushes with the law, including a charge of battery of a law enforcement officer. He also brought up a woman’s previous allegations that the woman and Zimmerman were in an altercation – Zimmerman’s wife answered that she is aware that Zimmerman needed to defend himself from an attack by the woman, that the woman drew blood, and that Zimmerman filed for a protective order because of the incident. The prosecutor is asking her whether she is aware of those charges and allegations in the past, and she said she is.
[Updated at 9:20 a.m. ET] Zimmerman’s wife said she fears for Zimmeran’s safety and the safety of their family, and that is part of the reason why she is testifying by phone.
Asked if she believes Zimmerman is a danger to society, she said no. She said she has “no concerns whatsoever” about him.
[Updated at 9:18 a.m. ET] O’Mara is asking Zimmerman’s wife about the family’s financial ability to post bond. O’Mara is saying that Zimmerman is indigent; Zimmerman’s wife said that she has talked to other family members about scraping up everything they could in anticipation of posting bond.
[Updated at 9:15 a.m. ET] With Zimmerman’s wife on speakerphone, O’Mara has begun asking her questions. Asked if she would do everything in her power to ensure that Zimmerman – should he be granted bail – return to court when he is required to do so, she said yes. And she said she would contact the court if she lost contact with him.
[Updated at 9:11 a.m. ET] The court has called Zimmerman’s wife on the phone. A notary public is with Mrs. Zimmerman and is swearing her in.
[Updated at 9:08 a.m. ET] Lester has begun the proceeding. After the attorneys identified themselves to the judge, O’Mara kicked off the bond request and told the judge that witnesses are available by phone. The court is calling those witnesses now. As we noted earlier, Zimmerman’s family has offered to give testimony by phone.
[Updated at 9:04 a.m. ET] Zimmerman, wearing a dark gray suit, white shirt and light gray tie, has entered the courtroom and has seated himself next to O’Mara.
[Updated at 9:00 a.m. ET] Martin’s parents are, indeed, in the courtroom, and they’ve taken their seats. O’Mara, Zimmerman’s attorney, also is standing the courtroom, waiting for the proceeding to begin.
[Updated at 8:59 a.m. ET] Check out this piece on why evidence in the case may come up in the bond hearing. The prosecutor, Corey, has the burden of showing why bond should not be set or that it should be high. The burden is referred to as “proof of guilt is evident or presumption of guilt is great.” Corey would have to convince Lester that a jury would convict Zimmerman.
[Updated at 8:55 a.m. ET] The bond hearing is expected to begin in minutes. Martin’s parents are expected to be at the hearing, and this would be the first time that they and Zimmerman are in the same room, CNN’s Martin Savidge tells us from the site.
O’Mara filed a motion that asks the court to allow Zimmerman’s family members to provide testimony at the bond hearing by telephone. The state attorney’s office did not object.