Florida teen's shooter freed from jail

07-06-2012, 19h17
MIAMI (AFP)

A Florida neighborhood watch volunteer facing a murder charge over the shooting of an unarmed black teen was released from jail Friday on $1 million bond, prison authorities said.

George Zimmerman, accused of second degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February, was "released this afternoon" after posting 10 percent -- or $100,000 -- of the bail amount, the Seminole County jail said.

His previous bail, of $150,000, was revoked last month after he and his wife Shellie were accused of lying about funds they had raised through a website.

Zimmerman's lawyer Mark O'Mara said supporters had donated about $20,000 since Thursday, after Judge Kenneth Lester ordered the new bond.

Another $55,000 was donated to the fund in the two months prior to the court setting bail.

The racially-charged case -- the victim was black, the shooter half-white, half-Hispanic -- set off a wave of protests across the country before police arrested Zimmerman on April 11 and charged him with second-degree murder.

He was released shortly afterwards on the first bond.

"Mr Zimmerman's security team has established a safe house where he can stay until a more permanent secure location can be established," O'Mara said on a website set up for his client's defense, noting that the bond terms require Zimmerman to remain in Seminole County.

Zimmerman must also wear an electronic tracking device, cannot open or maintain a bank account and cannot take a passport or enter Orlando International Airport.

The 28-year-old has pleaded not guilty, claiming that he acted in self-defense when he shot dead Martin during a confrontation in the Florida town of Sanford.

The watchman told police he had been tracking Martin, whom he had viewed as suspicious, and shot and killed the teenager after being assaulted by him.

Witnesses reported seeing a scuffle but it is not clear who threw the first punch or what ensued.

The case caused consternation, mainly over authorities' initial reluctance to press charges against Zimmerman, who insists that he acted within his rights in self-defense under Florida's controversial stand-your-ground law.

Sanford police chief Bill Lee was fired last month over the response to the incident.

O'Mara said the legal team would shift its focus to mounting Zimmerman's defense once his client was released.

The defense attorney stressed that "while it may seem that there is a lot of money in the fund, this will be a very expensive case to defend and it is clear that the fight will be long and hard."


AFP