George Zimmerman, accused of pointing gun at girlfriend, granted bail in domestic violence case

George Zimmerman listens to the judge during his first-appearance hearing in Sanford, Fla., on Nov. 19, 2013. A central Florida judge freed Zimmerman on $9,000 bond on Tuesday and forbade him from possessing weapons or ammunition on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and domestic violence during a dispute with his girlfriend.
POOL | REUTERS
George Zimmerman listens to the judge during his first-appearance hearing in Sanford, Fla., on Nov. 19, 2013. A central Florida judge freed Zimmerman on $9,000 bond on Tuesday and forbade him from possessing weapons or ammunition on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and domestic violence during a dispute with his girlfriend.
Posted Nov. 19, 2013, at 4:45 p.m.

ORLANDO, Fla. — George Zimmerman was granted bail during a hearing before a judge Tuesday afternoon, the day after he was accused of pointing a gun at his girlfriend and arrested on domestic violence charges.

Zimmerman was calm and said little during Tuesday’s court appearance.

Seminole County Judge Fred Schott said he found probable cause for Monday’s arrest on charges of aggravated assault, domestic violence battery and criminal mischief and granted Zimmerman $9,000 bail.

Assistant State Attorney Lymary Munoz had asked that it be $50,000. Assistant Public Defender Daniel Megaro asked that it be $4,900.

Munoz said the victim is afraid of Zimmerman, that a week and a half ago he tried to choke her but that she did not report that. Munoz also said the victim told her that Zimmerman had talked about suicide.

The judge said he was setting the bond higher than normal because of the reported strangulation attempt.

He also ordered Zimmerman to wear a satellite monitor, to give up and stay away from guns and ammunition and to stay away from his girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe.

She was not at the hearing. Neither were members of Zimmerman’s family.

The judge also ordered Zimmerman not to leave the state. He is to appear for arraignment Jan. 7 before Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler.

Zimmerman was represented by Jeff Dowdy, the chief of the public defender’s office in Sanford, and Megaro.

After the hearing, Dowdy predicted Zimmerman would be released from jail Wednesday. He and Megaro described Zimmerman as indigent, but wouldn’t say how deeply he is in debt nor how he would find enough money to post bond.

Megaro pointed out he likely only needs $900 to satisfy a bondsman.

“Of course he’s sorry about what happened,” Dowdy said, but added that Zimmerman is “maintaining his innocence.” He described Zimmerman as not “suicidal” or “volatile.”

“Is this a stressful event for him? Probably. … He’s very clear. He’s very coherent. He understands what’s going on,” Dowdy said.

Said Megaro: “We’re confident he’ll be acquitted of these charges.”

Dowdy said deputies have seized all of Zimmerman’s guns. It’s not clear how many he possessed. His girlfriend told a dispatcher as events were unfolding Monday that he had four: a shotgun, rifle and two others.

Earlier Tuesday at the jail, Shellie Zimmerman, Zimmerman’s estranged wife, had divorce papers served on him.

Zimmerman was arrested Monday, accused of pointing a shotgun at his live-in girlfriend, shoving her out the door and locking it after breaking a glass table.

It’s not clear where Zimmerman will live when he’s released. He moved out of the home his in-laws leased to him after he and his wife separated in August.

He also won’t be going back to the home he shared with his live-in girlfriend on Topfield Court near Apopka, where Monday’s dispute took place.

Dowdy told the Orlando Sentinel there are two homes in Central Florida where he could live. He did not specify where they were and said he would disclose that information under seal to authorities to protect Zimmerman’s whereabouts.

The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and court system have kept secret Zimmerman’s home address since he killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, a shooting that set off civil rights marches when it happened and again in July, when a Seminole County jury acquitted him of murder.

Dowdy said he talked to Zimmerman for about 45 minutes Tuesday morning.

“He’s doing fine, as well as can be expected,” Dowdy said.

In the murder case, Zimmerman was represented by $400-an-hour attorney Mark O’Mara and $350-an-hour attorney Don West.

Both put out statements Monday, saying they would not represent Zimmerman in the new domestic violence case.

Scheibe told Seminole County deputies that she had ordered Zimmerman to move out and he had begun to pack Monday when he got a shotgun, cocked it, pointed it at her and broke a glass-topped table, according to his arrest report.

He then shoved her outside and locked and barricaded the door, according to Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Dennis Lemma.

While deputies were outside, banging on the door, trying to get him to come out, Zimmerman called 911 and blamed the dispute on his girlfriend, whom he said had “gone crazy on me.”

The couple had been living together in the home she rented since August, Lemma said.

Scheibe was pregnant, Zimmerman told the dispatcher, and had decided to raise the child on her own. He agreed to leave and wanted the parting to be peaceful, he said.

“She just started smashing stuff, taking stuff that belonged to me,” he said.

Lemma said despite what Zimmerman told the dispatcher, Scheibe told deputies she was not pregnant.

Monday’s arrest was the third known domestic violence incident involving Zimmerman.

In 2005, Zimmerman and his live-in girlfriend got domestic violence injunctions against each other. In an interview with FBI agents last year as part of the Martin murder investigation, that woman described Zimmerman as “protective and territorial” and “having a bad temper.”

On Sept. 9, he was handcuffed by Lake Mary police but released after his estranged wife, Shellie, and her father accused him of threatening them with a gun while they were moving her belongings out of a house the couple had shared.

Zimmerman had arrived at that scene with Scheibe. Last week, Lake Mary police officially closed that case, saying they had no solid evidence that Zimmerman had broken the law.

Shellie Zimmerman filed for divorce in August.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

 

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