SANFORD, Fla. - George Zimmerman was released from the Seminole County Jail about 2:50 p.m. Friday after posting a $1 million bond.
Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester ruled Thursday that Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, could be released from jail. Lester said he set the bail amount significantly higher because Zimmerman may have been hiding money as part of a plot to flee the country.
Channel 9's Kathi Belich learned the defense is looking to fire back, discussing whether they’ll ask Lester to step down as judge.
“I don't know that we would jump to that conclusion, but it's something that, along with everything else, where we stand now, that we will consider when we have a more subtle time to do that,” said defense attorney Don West.
After Lester said there were indications Zimmerman was planning to take his money and flee, the defense denied the accusation.
“I don't think it mattered whether it was $1 million or $150,000, George Zimmerman will be in court when he's supposed to be there,” said West.
For now, Zimmerman will have to follow strict rules. He is to have no contact with Martin's family. No bank account., no passport and no alcohol. He'll have to stay in Seminole County, be monitored with a GPS bracelet and must check in every 48 hours.
The defense said Zimmerman's security team has found a safe house in Seminole County for him to live, but the threats against him continue.
Lester had revoked Zimmerman's $150,000 bond last month after prosecutors told the judge Zimmerman and his wife misled the court about how much money they had during an April bond hearing.
Under normal circumstances, a defendant would have to come up with the entire $1 million in collateral. However, it's possible Zimmerman's bondsman allowed the family to put up less than that in property. It’s up to the bondsman and the risk he's willing to take if Zimmerman were to skip out on the bond. If that were to happen, the bondsman would have to assume financial risk for the difference.
“George Zimmerman and his family do not have anywhere near $1 million for collateral so even if we pay the $100,000 fee, the bail bond company will have to agree to work with us on how the collateral would be posted,” his legal team posted on their website Thursday. “We are encouraged we can work this out. We paid $15,000 initially for the first bail fee so an additional fee of $85,000 would have to be paid to post this new bond assuming we can work out the collateral issue.”
Zimmerman’s legal defense fund has about $211,000, but with $40,000 in payables for defense expenses, not including attorney fees, paying the bond and other expenses would wipe out the existing balance, the website stated.
In the meantime, Martin's parents are reacting to the fact that their son's killer could soon be walking the streets.
“Just to know that the killer of my son may walk free sometime, one day, it just, it really hurts,” said Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton.
Martin’s family was in New Orleans on Friday, attending a music festival.
“It's difficult as we sit through these proceedings,” Fulton said. “You feel powerless when you hear things said about your child that you know is not true.”