Florida neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who has been charged with murder in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in February, was released on early Monday morning after posting a $150,000 bond.
Zimmerman, 28, wore a brown jacket, jeans and was carrying a brown paper bag when he walked out of the John E. Polk Correctional Facility (JEPCF) at the Seminole County Sheriff's Office just after midnight local time. "Zimmerman posted bond and was fitted with an electronic monitoring device prior to release," said sheriff's office spokeswoman Heather Smith.
Zimmerman's GPS device will be monitored by the Seminole County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) and Seminole County Probation, costing Zimmerman an $8 monitoring fee per day. "Monitoring is 'real-time' and enables immediate identification of an offender's whereabouts at any given time anywhere in the U.S.," Smith said. "The SCSO will not be releasing specifics about Zimmerman's monitoring device or monitoring conditions."
The neighbourhood watch volunteer was arrested and charged with second-degree murder on April 11, almost two months after Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon in Sanford. Zimmerman had told a 911 operator that Trayvon was acting suspiciously and, despite being told to stay in his vehicle, got out of his SUV after which a confrontation ensued. Zimmerman claims he was being attacked by Trayvon when he fired the shot.
The shooting prompted allegations that Zimmerman, who is half Hispanic, was motivated by racism, a claim which has been denied by Zimmerman's relatives, friends and supporters who say he has been unfairly vilified by the media. The investigation has also been complicated by Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows people to use deadly force when they believe they are in danger of being killed or suffering serious injuries.
During a bail hearing on Friday, Zimmerman apologised to Trayvon's family. "I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was, I thought he was a little bit younger than I am and I did not know if he was armed or not," he said. Trayvon's family rejected the apology, questioning his timing and motivation.
If convicted of second degree murder, a murder that is not premeditated or planned in advance, Zimmerman could face a prison sentence of up to 25 years to life.