Source: USA TODAY
George Zimmerman was freed on bail Tuesday in connection with a domestic dispute involving his girlfriend, but a judge barred him from having guns or leaving the state.
Seminole County Judge Fred Schott raised the standard $5,000 bail for the charges to $9,000 because of a new claim Zimmerman had recently tried to choke girlfriend Samantha Scheibe. The state’s attorney had requested $50,000.
Zimmerman, who was acquitted in July in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, posted bond and left the jail about 4:30 p.m. He is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 7 on domestic-violence charges involving aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a felony, and misdemeanor battery and criminal mischief.
Zimmerman, 30, was ordered to have no contact with Scheibe, 27, and to wear an electronic monitoring device to ensure that he would not approach 1,500-foot “exclusionary zones” around two addresses in the area.
He was arrested Monday at the Apopka home of Scheibe, who told sheriff’s deputies he had pointed a shotgun at her after she told him to move out.
The judge, citing potential “volatile situations,” ruled that only a third party could go back to the Scheibe house to pick up Zimmerman’s remaining possessions.
Scheibe had called deputies to her house Monday afternoon after Zimmerman allegedly pointed a shotgun at her and locked her out of her rented house as he packed to move out, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said.
Zimmerman then barricaded himself inside until deputies entered the house, which he had shared with Scheibe since August, according to Chief Deputy Dennis Lemma.
Zimmerman was unarmed and offered no resistance. Lemma said investigators believe two weapons are in the home — a shotgun and an assault rifle — and are seeking a search warrant. The arrest report said Zimmerman had apparently locked up the shotgun before deputies arrived.
The argument between Zimmerman and Scheibe involved “some kind of separation in their relationship,” Lemma said.
In seeking $50,000 bail, Assistant State Attorney Lymary Munoz said Scheibe’s safety was “of paramount concern.” The judge raised the bail after Munoz told the court Scheibe had said Zimmerman tried to choke her a week and a half ago. She did not call police then, Munoz said.
Scheibe also claimed that Zimmerman had threatened suicide, saying he had nothing to lose.
According to the arrest report, after Scheibe told Zimmerman to pack his things, he “cocked the shotgun” before putting the two guns in one case. She told deputies he then became upset as she carried his belongings out and he took out the shotgun. Scheibe told him she was going to call police, and Zimmerman pointed the weapon at her for a minute and “asked her if she really wanted to do that,” she said.
Zimmerman then smashed a glass-top coffee table with the gun butt and ordered Scheibe out, she told deputies. He pushed her out and locked the door.
Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., when he shot Trayvon on Feb. 26, 2012. Trayvon was black, Zimmerman is Latino. The shooting of the unarmed teenager sparked nationwide protests.
Some targeted Florida’s “stand your ground” statute, although Zimmerman’s lawyers opted to rely on a more standard self-defense argument at trial.
Zimmerman has had several incidents involving police since his acquittal.
His wife, Shellie, moved out of their house and filed for divorce in September. She and her father accused him of threatening them with a gun as they moved her belongings out of their Lake Mary home. Police handcuffed Zimmerman but later let him go after she retracted her claims.
Lake Mary police closed the case last week, saying that she declined to press charges and there was no firm evidence Zimmerman had broken any laws.
He also has been pulled over three times for minor traffic incidents, twice receiving warnings and once getting a speeding ticket.
Zimmerman’s lawyers also revealed Tuesday that his estranged wife had served divorce papers while he was in jail and that he is $2.5 million in debt, mostly to the attorneys who defended him in the Trayvon Martin case. Zimmerman says he has only $144 to his name.