Man who shot Florida teen met authorities in a parking lot, sheriff says
He'd been in a "secure, undisclosed location" amid "significant threats against his life"
A Florida judge set a Sunday afternoon deadline for George Zimmerman to surrender
The judge revoked bail after a ruling that Zimmerman misled the court
George Zimmerman was booked into jail Sunday after surrendering to authorities before an afternoon deadline, the Seminole County sheriff said.
Zimmerman met two members of the sheriff’s office in a business parking lot about 1:25 p.m. Sunday and was taken into custody, Sheriff Donald Eslinger told reporters.
Zimmerman was required to return to central Florida and turn himself in after a judge revoked his bail Friday, saying Zimmerman misled the court about his finances.
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, is accused of shooting unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in a gated community in Sanford in February. Zimmerman argues he acted in self-defense.
Eslinger said Zimmerman, who will be housed in administrative confinement at Seminole County’s John E. Polk Correctional Facility, was “quiet and cooperative.” He was being held on a no-bail status, the sheriff’s office said.
Video from the jail showed Zimmerman exiting a white minivan, wearing handcuffs, jeans and a long-sleeve shirt, escorted by authorities.
Zimmerman’s cell is designed to hold two inmates and is about 67 square feet, the sheriff’s office said. It is equipped with two beds and a toilet. Inmates are not provided access to televisions, authorities said. It was not clear from the sheriff’s office whether another inmate would be in the cell with Zimmerman.
After being booked, Zimmerman will be given an opportunity to purchase items at the commissary. His balance in the commissary account, posted on the sheriff’s web site, was $500.
“While out on bond, Mr. Zimmerman has been living in a secure, undisclosed location as there are significant threats against his life,” his attorneys said Sunday on the official website for his defense.
Asked how his client spent the weekend, attorney Mark O’Mara told reporters, “travel.”
He said Zimmerman was worried about coming out of hiding, “but I think he also realizes the judge’s concerns.”
O’Mara said he will be filing a motion Monday asking Seminole County Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. for a new bond hearing to revisit Zimmerman’s status and allow the defense to “explain why what happened seems to have happened.”
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the case that sparked anger across the country.
Martin’s family contends that Zimmerman racially profiled the 17-year-old who was walking home from a convenience store. Martin was black; Zimmerman his white Hispanic. His family has said Zimmerman did not act out of racial bias.
Lester ordered Zimmerman back to jail, saying the 28-year-old was not truthful about how much money he had access to when he was freed on bond in April.
Lester’s ruling on Friday followed allegations by prosecutors that Zimmerman had $135,000. At the time, his wife told the court under oath that the family was indigent.
Zimmerman’s attorneys said they will request a new bond hearing to address the issue. “The defense team hopes that Mr. Zimmerman’s voluntary surrender to Sanford police will help demonstrate to the court that he is not a flight risk. Furthermore, the vast majority of the funds in question are in an independently managed trust” which Zimmerman and his attorneys cannot access directly, the statement on his defense website said.
Asked about the possibility that Zimmerman’s wife could be charged with perjury, O’Mara said that statement was out of his control. He said his client is worried about himself, his wife and his family – everyone who had to go into hiding because of the “enormous anger and hatred” the case has generated.
Zimmerman’s trial is not “anticipated” to commence until some time in 2013, the defense statement said, and the next bond hearing will determine whether he waits “those many months in jail or not.”
Zimmerman was charged in April after the case was referred to a state attorney for a review.
The money in question appears to have been donated to Zimmerman through a website he set up to help with a legal defense fund.
Citing recorded jailhouse conversations between Zimmerman and his wife, prosecutors alleged the two spoke in code when discussing the money in a credit union account, according to a court documents filed Friday by State Attorney Angela B. Corey.
In light of that, Lester revoked Zimmerman’s bond and ordered he turn himself in no later than Sunday afternoon.
Zimmerman “fully controlled and participated in the transfer of money from the PayPal account to defendant and his wife’s credit union accounts,” Corey said in court records. “This occurred prior to the time defendant was arguing to the court that he was indigent and his wife had no money.”
O’Mara said in April that the money raised by the website was put into a trust account that the attorney controls.
But in court documents, Corey said the money still belongs to the defendant.
The judge “relied on false representations and statements” by Zimmerman and his wife when the court set his bond at $150,000, Corey said. Zimmerman was required to post only 10% of that amount.
Corey argued that the court should revoke the bond or increase it.
Lester appeared angry that the court had not been told about the money.
“Does your client get to sit there like a potted palm and let you lead me down the primrose path?” he asked Zimmerman’s lawyer. “That’s the issue.”
O’Mara said he had discussed the judge’s decision with Zimmerman, who was not in court.
“He’s frustrated because he now has to come out of hiding,” O’Mara said in an interview with CNN.
“You need to realize we’re still talking about a 28-year-old who’s being charged with a crime he does not believe he committed, and his whole life has been turned upside down, so I think that it all needs to be kept in context.”