The Lookout

Zimmerman bond set at $1 million; lawyers ask for more donations

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Zimmerman during a court hearing on April 12, 2012. (AP/Pool)

A judge in Florida set bond for George Zimmerman at $1 million on Thursday, and ordered the former neighborhood watchman released. It's unclear, however, when Zimmerman will post the bond.

It's the second time Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, has been granted bond. He was released after posting a $150,000 bond in April, but was sent back to jail after prosecutors said Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, misled the court about his finances at his initial bond hearing.

The couple did not disclose more than $130,000 in PayPal donations that were raised for Zimmerman's defense. Last month, Shellie Zimmerman was arrested and charged with perjury. She was released on $1,000 bond.

[Also read: Thursday's bond ruling]

Zimmerman pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder charge, claiming he shot the unarmed 17-year-old in self-defense and is innocent under the state's "stand your ground" law.

Last week, Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara argued his client should not be in jail. According to the Orlando Sentinel, O'Mara said that Zimmerman's legal defense fund has a balance of $211,000, which would meet the 10 percent minimum bond requirement.

Circuit Judge Kenneth R. Lester, Jr. said on Thursday that Zimmerman must remain in Seminole County upon release and is subject to electronic monitoring at his own expense.

"Notably, together with the passport, the money only had to be hidden for a short time for him to leave the country if the defendant made a quick decision to flee," Lester wrote in a nine-page order. "It is entirely reasonable for this court to find that, but for the requirement that he be placed on electronic monitoring, the defendant and his wife would have fled the United States with at least $130,000 of other people's money."

The judge also criticized Zimmerman for "manipulating the system for his own benefit."

"Under any definition, the defendant has flaunted the system," Lester wrote.

After the judge set the $1 million bond, Zimmerman's legal team released a statement seeking donations to support his defense.

"In order to get out of jail, Mr. Zimmerman will have to pay a bail bond company $100,000 (10% of the bond amount) and have collateral worth $1,000,000," the statement reads. "George Zimmerman and his family do not have anywhere near $1,000,000 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."

While Zimmerman's defense fund currently has a balance of $210,000, "this will be a very expensive case to defend and it is clear that the fight will be long and hard":

In the next hours and days the defense team will be working to get George released on bail and on effective strategies for moving forward. Much of our decision making will be based upon the funds available for mounting a defense. In the days surrounding Mr. Zimmerman's initial arrest, supporters surprised everyone with the strength of their donations.

For those who have given in the past, for those who have thought about giving, for those who feel Mr. Zimmerman was justified in his actions, for those who feel they would do the same if they were in Mr. Zimmerman's shoes, for those that think Mr. Zimmerman has been treated unfairly by the media, for those who feel Mr. Zimmerman has been falsely accused as a racist, for those who feel this case is an affront to their constitutional rights -- now is the time to show your support.

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