George Zimmerman returns to police custody in Florida

George Zimmerman is escorted from a van to the Seminole County Jail after his surrender to authorities Sunday. ROBERTO GONZALEZ / Getty Images
George Zimmerman is escorted from a van to the Seminole County Jail after his surrender to authorities Sunday. ROBERTO GONZALEZ / Getty Images

Bail was revoked after a judge said the man charged in Trayvon Martin's killing had lied about his finances.

Posted: June 04, 2012

MIAMI - George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer charged with murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin, surrendered to police Sunday and was booked into jail two days after his bail had been revoked.

Zimmerman's legal team wrote in a tweet that he was in police custody. Zimmerman's bail was revoked because a judge said he and his wife lied to the court about their finances so he could obtain a lower bond.

On Sunday afternoon, about 40 minutes before the 2:30 p.m. deadline to surrender, Zimmerman was listed as an inmate on a jail website. He was listed as held without bail and having $500 in his jail account.

Seminole County Sheriff Donald Eslinger said Zimmerman turned himself in to two sheriff's office employees around 1:25 p.m. near the jail and was then driven to the jail. Zimmerman arrived in a white minivan and did not respond to questions from reporters as he walked inside, handcuffed and wearing blue jeans, sneakers, and a button-down shirt.

"He is quiet and cooperative," Eslinger said at a news conference after Zimmerman's surrender.

The sheriff's office said Zimmerman would be in a cell by himself, separated from the general population, because the case has such a high profile. The 67-square-foot cell is equipped with a toilet, two beds, a mattress, a pillow, a blanket, and bed sheets. Zimmerman will not have access to a TV.

Prosecutors had said Zimmerman and his wife told the judge at a bond hearing in April that they had limited money, even though he had raised about $135,000 through a website. Defense attorneys said the matter was a misunderstanding.

Attorney Mark O'Mara announced earlier Sunday on his website that Zimmerman had arrived in Florida late Saturday evening ahead of his surrender. Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of the 17-year-old Martin, was ordered by a judge Friday to return to jail.

During a bond hearing in April, the couple said they had limited funds. But prosecutors say Zimmerman had raised thousands through a website he had set up for his legal defense.

Zimmerman's legal team said Sunday that it would ask for a new bond hearing to address those concerns and that it hoped Zimmerman's voluntary surrender would show he was not a flight risk. Furthermore, the money Zimmerman has raised is in an independent trust and cannot be directly accessed by Zimmerman or his attorneys, according to the news release.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder charge. He maintains he shot Martin in self-defense under Florida's "stand your ground" law because the teenager, who was unarmed, was beating him up after confronting Zimmerman about following him in a gated community outside Orlando.

Zimmerman's credibility could become an issue at trial, legal experts said, saying the case hinges on jurors believing Zimmerman's account of what happened the night in February that Martin was killed.

Zimmerman was not charged until more than a month after the shooting. Protests were held across the nation, and the case spurred debate about whether race was a factor in Zimmerman's actions and in the initial police handling of the case. Martin was black; Zimmerman's father is white, and his mother is from Peru.

Police in Sanford did not immediately arrest Zimmerman, citing the Florida law that gives wide latitude to use deadly force rather than retreat in a fight if people believe they are in danger of being killed or seriously injured.

Zimmerman was arrested 44 days after the killing.

Prosecutors pointed out in their motion that Zimmerman had $135,000 available when the bond hearing was held in April. It had been raised from donations through a website he had set up. They suggested more has been collected since and deposited in a bank account.

Shellie Zimmerman was asked about the website at the hearing, but she said she did not know how much money had been raised. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester set bail at $150,000. The 28-year-old was freed a few days later after posting $15,000 in cash, which is typical.

Prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda complained Friday that "this court was led to believe they didn't have a single penny. It was misleading, and I don't know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie." Lester agreed and ordered Zimmerman returned to jail by Sunday afternoon.

The defense countered that Zimmerman and his wife never used the money, which indicated "there was no deceit."

Lester said he would schedule a hearing after Zimmerman was back in custody so he could explain himself.

Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Trayvon Martin's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, said his clients had always said Zimmerman should remain in jail until trial.

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