Trayvon Martin: George Zimmerman released on bail

George Zimmerman leaves Seminole County jail, bound for a secret location

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George Zimmerman has been released from prison on bail as he awaits trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin.

The neighbourhood watch volunteer left the Seminole County jail late Sunday night on a $150,000 (£93,000) bond.

Zimmerman, 28, is set to go on trial on second-degree murder charges for the fatal shooting of the unarmed black 17-year-old on 26 February.

His ultimate destination, which could be outside Florida, is being kept secret for his safety.

Mr Zimmerman, who says he shot the teenager in self-defence, made no comment to journalists as he left the prison.

Wearing a brown jacket, jeans and carrying a paper bag, he was met by another man and got into a white BMW that drove away.

Meanwhile, Sanford police chief Bill Lee announced his intention to resign. He stepped down on a temporary basis in March over criticism of his department's handling of the case.

Sanford city council must approve Mr Lee's resignation and was set to vote on the issue on Monday. The board previously gave Mr Lee a vote of "no confidence".

'Devastated'

At Mr Zimmerman's bail hearing last week, the judge said he must inform police of his location every three days and stick to a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

Key dates in Trayvon Martin case

  • 26 February: George Zimmerman fatally shoots Trayvon Martin. Police do not arrest him.
  • 16 March: Recordings of 911 calls made before the shooting are released to Martin's parents. They demand Mr Zimmerman's arrest
  • 22 March: Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee "temporarily" steps down and Seminole County State Attorney Norman Wolfinger stands aside from the investigation amid mounting calls for the prosecution of Mr Zimmerman
  • 23 March: US President Barack Obama says if he had a son he would have looked like Trayvon Martin
  • 10 April: Mr Zimmerman's lawyers withdraw as his counsel and say they lost contact with him two days earlier
  • 11 April: George Zimmerman taken into custody and charged with second-degree murder
  • 23 April: George Zimmerman released on $150,000 bail

He will also be tracked electronically and is forbidden from carrying firearms, drinking alcohol, or contacting the victim's family personally or through an intermediary.

In court on Friday, Mr Zimmerman apologised to Trayvon's parents, saying he did not realise the schoolboy's age, or that he was unarmed. However, a lawyer for the family rejected the apology.

The accused's attorney, Mark O'Mara, told CBS's This Morning programme on Monday that his client would not have apologised during Friday's hearing if he had known the family felt it was the wrong time.

A lawyer representing the dead teenager's parents, Daryl Parks, said on Monday that the family was "devastated by him [Mr Zimmerman] being able to walk the streets".

"It's with a very, very heavy heart that they've seen him walk freely late last night back into the public," Mr Parks told CNN.

Mr Zimmerman's father indicated he might take out a second mortgage to make the bail payment. The accused worked at a mortgage risk-management company at the time of the shooting, and his wife is in nursing school.

It is not unusual for defendants to make bail in second-degree murder cases, and Mr Zimmerman has never before been accused of a serious crime.

However, prosecutors had sought a $1m bond, citing two previous scrapes Mr Zimmerman had with the law.

In 2005, he had to take anger management courses after he was accused of attacking an undercover officer who was trying to arrest Mr Zimmerman's friend. In another incident, a girlfriend accused him of attacking her.

The death of Trayvon Martin has divided the US, and sparked nationwide protests calling for Mr Zimmerman's arrest.

Florida police did not arrest Mr Zimmerman for six weeks after the shooting because under the state's controversial "stand your ground" law the use of lethal force is allowed if a person feels seriously under threat.

According to an affidavit of probable cause released by the prosecutor's office when charges were brought, Trayvon Martin was walking home from a local shop carrying a bag of sweets and a can of iced tea when he was "profiled" by Mr Zimmerman.

The document notes that Martin, who was visiting his father's fiancee's home, was unarmed but Mr Zimmerman assumed he was a criminal.

The neighbourhood watch volunteer had told a police dispatcher he thought Martin, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, looked suspicious.

Mr Zimmerman was advised by the police dispatcher not to go after the young man. But minutes later a confrontation ensued in the gated community, leading to the fatal shooting.

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