SANFORD, FLORIDA – George Zimmerman was released from jail on Friday, one day after a Florida judge set bail at $1 million.
Judge Kenneth R. Lester Jr. found that Zimmerman’s deceit over cash holdings at his first bond hearing in April was not enough to hold him without bail. However, he also said he believed the suspect may have been planning to flee the country to avoid prosecution in the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman had to post 10% of the $1 million — or $100,000 — to meet the requirement for release.
He wore a white dress shirt under a gray suit as he walked out of jail and into a waiting SUV.
“We are confident and comfortable that George will be safe,” Zimmerman’s attorney, Don West, told CNN outside the jail following his client’s release.
Zimmerman out on bond
“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,” he said.
An initial bond of $150,000 was revoked last month after Lester learned that Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, had failed to disclose more than $150,000 in donations from the public.
The judge’s order Thursday said that the new $1 million bail order was not a punishment but an amount that assured the court that Zimmerman would not abscond.
In his ruling, Lester wrote about the first bond hearing and noted an undisclosed second passport kept in Zimmerman’s safe deposit box.
“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 said. “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.”
Lester wrote the defendant’s plans to flee were “thwarted.”
Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in Martin’s February 26 shooting death. Under Florida law, second-degree murder is a bondable offense.
Speaking to reporters in New Orleans before Zimmerman left jail, Martin’s parents said they are struggling, but have faith all will end well.
“As we said from the beginning, we have strong faith in God,” said Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father. “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.”
Judge Lester imposed new restrictions on Zimmerman that he did not face when he was out on bond the first time.
Zimmerman must report to officials every two days, cannot open or maintain a bank account and cannot be on the property of an airport. He also cannot apply for or obtain a passport.
He must abide by a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., and like before, will be monitored electronically.
Zimmerman, a Sanford neighborhood watch volunteer, acknowledged fatally shooting the unarmed Martin after calling police to report a suspicious person. Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, said Martin attacked him.