george zimmerman

Photo: Courtesy of CNN

A Florida judge granted bail to George Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watchman who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, this morning during a dramatic hearing that offered clues about how the high-profile second-degree murder case will proceed. Judge Kenneth Lester set a bond for Zimmerman at $150,000, with GPS monitoring and a curfew, but said Zimmerman could not be released until his lawyers can work out details with the state and sheriff’s department, including whether or not the defendant can reside out of state. Zimmerman has also been ordered not to have any contact with the Martin family, and to stay away from firearms.

The decision capped off an unusually tense bond hearing, in which Zimmerman took the stand and addressed Trayvon Martin’s parents for the first time: 

“I want to say that I am sorry for the loss of your son, I did not know how old he was, I thought he was a little younger than me, and I did not know if he was armed or not.” 

Zimmerman reportedly requested a private meeting with Martin’s parents last night, via his attorney Mark O’Mara. The Martin family declined to meet, calling the eleventh-hour request “self-serving.” 

Zimmerman’s wife and parents testified via telephone during the hearing, and pledged to take responsibility for the 28-year-old if he is released on bail. The prosecution grilled all three defence witnesses about Zimmerman’s past legal troubles, including a domestic violence case and a police assault incident that were both dismissed. The line of questioning indicates that the state will try to cast the Martin shooting as part of a pattern of violent behaviour.

Lester also ruled this morning that the media has a right to get access to Zimmerman’s court file, although personal information about the witnesses will be redacted. O’Mara had requested that the file be sealed. 

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