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Wednesday, 20 November 2013 04:22

George Zimmerman released from jail

   SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman is once again a free man after an arrest on criminal charges — but his freedom carries conditions.

   The former neighborhood watch volunteer who was acquitted in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin earlier this year was released from jail Tuesday pending arraignment on the latest charges against him: aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief.

   Zimmerman was released on the condition that he wear an electronic monitor, keep his distance from guns, and stay away from the girlfriend who accused him of trying to choke her and then a week later pointing a shotgun at her. His bond was set at $9,000.

   Zimmerman's arrest is the latest of several brushes he has had with the law following his acquittal in Martin's death, a case that drew worldwide attention as it sparked nationwide debates about race and self-defense laws.

   The choking accusation was disclosed for the first time by a prosecutor at Zimmerman's first appearance Tuesday before a judge. Zimmerman's girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, feared for her life because Zimmerman mentioned suicide and said he "had nothing to lose," according to Assistant State Attorney Lymary Munoz.

   After the hearing, Zimmerman's public defenders said he did not appear to be suicidal and expressed confidence he would be acquitted of any wrongdoing.

   "He doesn't appear to be a danger to himself or a danger to anybody else," said public defender Daniel Megaro.

   Zimmerman, 30, wore gray jail garments and handcuffs during the hearing and spoke only when answering yes or no to the judge.

   Judge Frederic Schott ordered him to stay away from Scheibe's house, wear a monitoring device and refrain from contact with her. He was forbidden from possessing guns or ammunition or traveling outside Florida.

   Zimmerman has been charged with aggravated assault, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. He also has been charged with battery and criminal mischief, both misdemeanors. An arraignment was set for Jan. 7.

   Judge Schott said Zimmerman's previous brushes with the law were not a factor in the conditions he imposed, but he did cite the new allegation of choking as a reason for the bond amount.

   Earlier this year, Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the February 2012 fatal shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin. The Justice Department has been investigating whether to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman related to that case. A department spokesman said Tuesday that it would announce its decision soon.

   Zimmerman revealed in an affidavit for hiring public defenders that he has at least $2 million in debts and no income. He said he had less than $150 in cash on hand.

   Public defender Jeff Dowdy said Zimmerman's family has been supporting him financially.

   "I would think it would be difficult for George Zimmerman to get a job in central Florida," he said.

   Zimmerman has previously used a website to raise money for his legal and living expenses, including $95,000 spent on bail in the Trayvon Martin case. The site also says tens of thousands of dollars were spent on living expenses and security.

   In this latest scuffle, both Zimmerman and his girlfriend called 911 Monday and provided dueling descriptions to dispatchers about the argument at the home she rented where Zimmerman was also staying.

   Scheibe accused him in the emergency call of pointing a gun at her, smashing a coffee table and then pushing her outside. Zimmerman also called dispatchers, denied pointing a gun at her and blamed her for the broken table.

   The girlfriend told deputies the ordeal started with a verbal argument and that she asked Zimmerman to leave the house. Her account in the arrest report says he began packing his belongings, including a shotgun and an assault rifle. She says she began putting his things in the living room and outside the house, and he became upset.

   At that point, the report said, he took the shotgun out of its case.

   Zimmerman told his girlfriend to leave and smashed a pair of her sunglasses as she walked toward the front door, the report said. Scheibe told deputies he pushed her out of the house when she got close to the door.

   In his call to 911, Zimmerman said he never pulled a gun on his girlfriend and that it was she who smashed a table. He also told the dispatcher that Scheibe was pregnant with their child and that she had decided she would raise the child on her own. When Zimmerman started to leave, "she got mad," he said.

   Seminole County Chief Deputy Dennis Lemma said at a news conference that Scheibe was not pregnant. He also said Zimmerman was compliant and unarmed when deputies came to the house.

   On Tuesday, Dowdy said he could not confirm whether the girlfriend was pregnant.

   The arrest Monday was the latest legal problem for Zimmerman since he was acquitted last summer of criminal charges in the fatal shooting of Martin. Zimmerman has said he shot the 17-year-old to defend himself during a fight in February 2012 inside a gated community in Sanford, just outside Orlando.

   Relatives of Martin accused Zimmerman of racially profiling the teen and instigating a fight. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.

   In September, just two months after his acquittal, Zimmerman was accused by his estranged wife of smashing an iPad during an argument at the home they had shared. Shellie Zimmerman initially told a dispatcher her husband had a gun, though she later said he was not armed.

   No charges were ever filed because of a lack of evidence. The dispute occurred days after Shellie Zimmerman filed divorce papers. George Zimmerman was served the papers while in custody on the latest charges, said Shellie Zimmerman's lawyer, Kelly Sims.

   In 2005, he had to take anger-management courses after he was accused of attacking an undercover officer who was trying to arrest Zimmerman's friend.

   Later that year, Zimmerman's former fiancee filed for a restraining order against him, alleging domestic violence. Zimmerman responded by requesting a restraining order against her. Both requests were granted, and no criminal charges were filed.

   Since his acquittal, Zimmerman has also been pulled over three times for traffic stops.

Published in National News

   The father of Florida teen Trayvon Martin is hoping his son's death can become a message of peace.  '

   Tracy Martin spoke to several hundred people who gathered at Forest Park Sunday night for PeaceFest 2013.  The annual event focuses on ending violence on St. Louis streets.  

   Martin told festival-goers men have key role to play in bringing peace to a community.  "We as men, we need to go back into the communities and start mentoring the kids," Martin said.  "And just show them that they are loved and that their lives do matter."

   Yesterday's festivities were sponsored by A Better Family Life, a local organization that focuses on bring about positive change for families and neighborhoods. 

 

Published in Local News

   WASHINGTON (AP) - The father of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin will be on Capitol Hill for a hearing addressing the challenges faced by African-American boys and men.

   Tracy Martin will give opening remarks Wednesday at the inaugural hearing of the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Illinois Congressman Danny Davis are the co-chairs of the newly formed caucus. Both are Democrats.

   The hearing will also feature remarks by David Johns, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans; Georgetown University sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson; and Kweisi Mfume, a former congressman and NAACP president.

   Earlier this month, neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was acquitted of second degree murder in the slaying of the 17 year old Martin, who was unarmed.

   

 
Published in National News

People affiliated with a number of social justice groups held a rally in response to George Zimmerman's acquittal.

Zaki Baruti with the Universal African Peoples Organization believes the Zimmerman verdict says something about the US. "America is not qhat it says it is, it is full of hypocrisy. It is not freedom and justice and equality here in this country." says Baruti.

Protesters gathered outside of the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis. Organizers say this is just the first activity planned to draw attention to was they say are injustices.

City Police were aware of the event and were happy to announce that there were no arrests made. 

Published in Local News

   WASHINGTON (AP) - More than a decade ago, then-state Sen. Barack Obama helped pass a racial profiling bill in Illinois. Now that effort is offering clues about how America's first black president feels about an issue still polarizing the U.S. months after Trayvon Martin's death.

   Obama has said little about the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who was charged with killing the black teenager in Florida. Obama says the jury has spoken, but wants the nation to seek ways to prevent future tragedies.

   In 2003, Obama passed a bill requiring police to keep track of the race, age and gender of drivers they pulled over. The records could then be analyzed for bias.

   Obama has written about his own experiences with profiling, including being pulled over, in his words, "for no apparent reason."

 
Published in National News

   Many in St. Louis are upset over the George Zimmerman verdict.  About 500 people marched in downtown St. Louis Sunday evening.  

   Many demonstrators said they were marching to show support for Trayvon Martin's family.  Most say they're calling for federal charges or a civil suit against Zimmerman who was acquitted in a criminal trial Saturday.  

   The St. Louis march was mostly peaceful, with a small splinter group getting police attention after overturning a dumpster.  Four were arrested.  

   Organizers say another march is planned for Thursday.

Published in Local News

   SANFORD, Fla. (AP) - The lead police detective who investigated Trayvon Martin's fatal shooting last year is returning to the witness stand.

   Sanford Police detective Chris Serino testifies for a second day Tuesday about his investigation into the fatal shooting of the Miami teenager by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer.

   The 29 year old Zimmerman is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder. He claims he acted in self-defense.

   Jurors on Monday heard a series of recorded police interviews of detectives questioning Zimmerman about his confrontation with Martin in a gated community in central Florida.

 
Published in National News

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