Wearing black prison garb and with his hands cuffed in front of him, the 30-year-old killer—who had hoped to fade quietly back into society following his acquittal for the murder of Trayvon Martin in July—cut a lonely figure as he appeared before Seminole County Judge Fred Schott via video link from jail.
In a 12-minute hearing attended only by lawyers, court staff, and a former neighbor, Zimmerman, who was arrested for allegedly threatening his girlfriend with a shotgun at her home on Monday, blinked hard and listened intently as a prosecutor described him as a potential threat to public safety.
Samantha Scheibe, 27, with whom Zimmerman had lived since August until their fiery break-up Monday, has told police “that there was a prior domestic violence incident that occurred approximately a week and a half ago that involved a choking,” assistant state attorney Lymary Munoz told Judge Schott.
Scheibe did not report the alleged choking to police, said the prosecutor, adding, however: “She did fear for her safety on the day of this incident. She indicated that they had been discussing breaking up. He also has mentioned suicide in the recent past. Due to those factors and the defendant indicating at the time he was going to commit suicide, that he had nothing to lose, we feel that the victim’s safety and the community’s safety is our paramount concern.”
Zimmerman is charged with felony aggravated assault, plus one count of misdemeanor battery—for allegedly pushing Scheibe out of her own front door during their row and barricading himself inside—and another of criminal mischief, for allegedly smashing some of her possessions including a glass table.
“This is a volatile situation potentially,” said Judge Schott as he thrashed over the question of whether Zimmerman should be permitted to return to the property to retrieve his belongings accompanied by law enforcement officers, or barred altogether. He decided on the latter and set bond for $9,000—considerably less than the $50,000 the prosecution had requested—and ordered that Zimmerman to wear an electronic monitoring cuff, plus additional conditions.
Zimmerman may not travel outside Florida nor have contact with weapons, ammunition, or Scheibe: “not in person, not by phone, fax, mail, tweet, Facebook—no contact at all,” the judge emphasized. The no-weapons rule, the judge added, is “in part for her safety and in part for your own safety” and is based on the “previous, unreported claim of battery by strangulation.”
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