Zimmerman released on bail in US

Mon, Apr 23, 2012, 01:00

George Zimmerman, the man charged with second-degree murder in the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, left a Florida jail early today, after a judge set bail at $150,000 in the racially charged case.

Wearing a brown Pittsburgh Steelers jacket, jeans and carrying a brown paper bag, Mr Zimmerman walked out of the John E Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford, Florida, moments after midnight after posting bail and meeting other conditions set for his release at a hearing on Friday.

Mr Zimmerman was met by another man and quickly climbed into a white BMW that drove off. He made no comments to a handful of reporters gathered outside the jail.

Under the conditions set by Judge Kenneth Lester Jr, Mr Zimmerman must wear an electronic monitoring device and he may be allowed to leave the state. He also must observe a dusk-to-dawn curfew and is prohibited from consuming illegal drugs or alcohol or possessing a firearm.

Attorney Daryl Parks, who represents Mr Martin's parents, said the family respected the judicial process that allowed Mr Zimmerman to be released from jail but was "devastated by him 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 said on CNN.

Mr Zimmerman attorney Mark O'Mara, appearing in on CBS's "This Morning" program, said there had been no recent threats against his client but his whereabouts still are expected to remain secret until his next appearance in court.

Mr Zimmerman shot and killed Mr Martin in a gated community in Sanford in central Florida on February 26th in an incident that prompted civil rights protests and a national debate over guns, self-defense laws and race in America.

No date has been set for Zimmerman's trial. Mr Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, has said he shot the 17-year-old Martin in self-defense in a confrontation that occurred as Mr Martin was returning to his father's house in the community after buying candy from a convenience store.

Police initially declined to arrest Mr Zimmerman, citing Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows people to use deadly force when they believe they are in danger of being killed or suffering great bodily harm.

The lack of an arrest led thousands to march in protest rallies in Sanford and across the country. The public outrage forced the Sanford police chief and regularly assigned prosecutor to step aside.

At the Friday hearing, Mr Zimmerman apologised to Mr Martin's family, stunning a rapt courtroom after he appeared in a suit and tie and with shackles around his waist and wrists.

Mr Zimmerman's lawyer had requested bail of no more than $15,000. Prosecutors opposed his release and sought bail of $1 million. Governor Rick Scott appointed Angela Corey as special prosecutor. She charged Mr Zimmerman on April 11th.