George Zimmerman (l) communicates with his attorney at last week's bond hearing. (Photo : Reuters)
George Zimmerman will remain in jail awaiting his trial, unless he can up come up with $1 million dollars for bail. If he does manage to fork over the money, he will not be allowed to leave Seminole County, Florida or to maintain a bank account, and will have to obey a 6 PM curfew and resume wearing an electronic monitor.
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These are the terms set today by Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lester, who upped Zimmerman's bail because he said it appeared that the defendant in the Trayvon Martin shooting case represented a flight risk. He alleged that Zimmerman and his wife had taken steps to conceal cash holdings, and that Zimmerman had neglected to disclose that he kept a second passport in a safe deposit box.
Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder using a firearm, was initially released on a $150,000 bond on April 20. He was subject to electronic monitoring following his release.
The 17-year-old Martin was shot and killed by Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida on the night of February 26th, 2012. He was walking back to his father's house from a convenience store when he encountered Zimmerman, who was driving past and who was active in the neighborhood watch. Deciding that the teenager looked suspicious, Zimmerman called the police and ignored the operator's direction to avoid a confrontation. Zimmerman approached Martin armed with a handgun, and the resulting struggle resulted in the shooting.
Before his initial bond hearing, Zimmerman had set up a website to solicit funds from donors sympathetic to his claims of self-defense. Bail was revoked on June 1st, when it was found that Zimmerman had failed to inform the court of money raised by the site. Another bond hearing was held on June 29th.
In today's order setting bail, Judge Lester wrote, "It is entirely reasonable for this court to find that, but for the requirements 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."
The judge speculated that Zimmerman had been less than forthcoming about his finances with his own counsel - high-powered Florida attorney Mark O'Mara, who has taken Zimmerman's case gratis.
In his latest ruling, Lester stated that Zimmerman had "shown blatant disregard for the judicial system".
The document read in part, "Counsel has attempted to portray the Defendant as being a confused young man who was fearful and experienced a moment of weakness and who may also have acted out of a sense of 'betrayal' by the system."
The court found the opposite: "The Defendant has tried to manipulate the system when he has been presented the opportunity to do so. He is an adult by every legal definition; Trayvon Martin is the only male whose youth is relevant to this case."
Lester noted that Zimmerman had taken courses in criminal justice and been arrested before, and claimed that the defendant had "a very sophisticated knowledge of the criminal justice system over and above that of the average, law-abiding citizen."