George Zimmerman, the man in the centre of the February shooting of Trayvon Martin, is back in police custody. Florida authorities confirmed his surrender yesterday, Sunday, ahead of the deadline given to him by the court that revoked his bond on June 1.
Zimmerman, 28, is facing second degree murder charges for the killing of 17-year-old teenager Trayvon Martin, who was shot by Zimmerman while walking to his father’s house in the gated community where Zimmerman was acting as a volunteer neighbourhood watch. Zimmerman claimed that he killed the teen in self-defence because Trayvon was beating him up. Trayvon was unarmed, holding only a bag of skittles and a bottle of ice tea.
The killing of the teenager sparked a wave of racially charged protests across America, because the police in Sanford, Florida, had not charged Zimmerman for the shooting, satisfied with his explanation of self-defence. Trayon Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, were joined by civil rights leaders like Rev. Al Sharpton in leading the nationwide campaign for Zimmerman to be arrested and charged for the killing of their son. At a point, President Obama and the UN weighed into the case with Obama saying, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”
Zimmerman was eventually arrested and charged by the Florida’s district attorney in April for second degree murder and was later released on bail on a $150,000 bond. Last week, Florida state prosecutors requested that his bond be revoked and Zimmerman asked to return to jail for misleading the court on his bail application about his true financial circumstances and not disclosing one of his travel passports. The Zimmerman’s had claimed in their bail application that he was unemployed and his wife was a student and the only means of their assessing their mail money was to take a second mortgage on his parent’s and grandmother’s homes.
It turns out that Zimmerman and his wife Shellie, had access to $135,000, which they failed to inform the court about. This money was in their PayPal account which they used to receive donations to support their defence in the trial and the Zimmerman’s used coded terms to discuss the money when he was in jail.
The Zimmerman’s jailhouse conversation transcript read:
George Zimmerman: You’re going to take out $10 and keep with you in cash, less than 10
Shellie Zimmerman: Like $9
George Zimmerman: Say about 10 I’m wondering you have more than $10 right?
“They were using code, instead of saying 10,000 or 9,000,” the prosecutor said, “thinking that the police is going to be real stupid, when they are listening to these calls, and they aren’t going to figure out what’s going on.”
This latest incident, legal analysts believe will hurt Zimmerman’s defence as it speaks directly to his credibility. At the hearing where his bond was revoked, the presiding judge, Kenneth Lester asked his lawyer, “Does your client get to sit there like a potted plant and lead the court down the primrose path? That’s the issue. He can’t sit back and obtain the benefit of a lower bond based upon those material falsehoods.”
After his release from jail six weeks ago, Zimmerman went into hiding to avoid the media and prepare for his trial, according to his lawyer. He is currently being held at a Seminole Country jail.