UPDATE at 11:10 a.m. EST:
Judge Kenneth Lester says George Zimmerman can go free as he awaits trial if he posts a $150,000 bail.
Lester said as a condition of his release, Zimmerman would be electronically monitored, could have no contact with Trayvon Martin’s family and would be prohibited from possessing firearms or using alcohol. He will also be on a curfew and have to check in every three days.
The judge said once he is assured that security measures have been met, Zimmerman will be freed.
The prosecution had asked for a bail of $1 million.
UPDATE at 11 a.m. EST:
George Zimmerman took the stand and has offered an apology to Trayvon Martin’s parents, who are present at the hearing.
“I am so sorry for the loss of your son,” Zimmerman said in court.
Zimmerman said that during the scuffle with Martin that led to the shooting, he didn’t know that Martin was only 17 and unarmed.
UPDATE at 9:50 a.m. EST:
George Zimmerman, dressed in a dark suit and grey tie, has sat impassively through the proceedings so far this morning, as his wife and father have given testimony by telephone.
Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie, and his father, Robert, have both testified that he is not a danger to the community and therefore should be released on bail by the court in Sanford, Fla.
After the prosecution detailed previous incidents of violence, including resisting arrest, Mrs. Zimmerman insisted that her husband was not a danger.
“He is absolutely not a violent person or a threat to the community,” she said.
Here is our earlier post:
A Florida judge is set to decide whether to release George Zimmerman on bail as he awaits trial for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who reportedly scuffled with the black teen on Feb. 26 before shooting him, is charged with second-degree murder. His lawyers have said his actions amounted to self-defense.
At this morning’s hearing at the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center, defense attorney Mark O’Mara is expected to ask for bail and for Zimmerman to be allowed to move out of the area, according to The Associated Press:
“Legal experts say factors in Zimmerman’s favor include that he has ties to the local community and that he doesn’t appear to be a flight risk since he turned in voluntarily after second-degree murder charges were filed against him last week. He also has never been convicted of a crime, which would indicate he doesn’t pose a threat to society.”
NPR’s Greg Allen reports that a new judge, Kenneth Lester, will hear the case after the first judge appointed, Jessica Recksiedler, recused herself because of a possible conflict of interest.
Allen says the defense received court permission to allow some of Zimmerman’s family members to testify on his behalf by phone.
A spokeswoman for special prosecutor Angela Corey’s office had no comment Thursday on whether Corey would object to Zimmerman being released on bond, the AP said.
If bail is granted, O’Mara is expected to make an unusual request of the judge, asking that Zimmerman be allowed to leave the area to ensure his safety.
“Normally, the conditions are that you stay local. I think that is going to be difficult,” O’Mara said in an interview with the AP. “I think nobody would deny the fact that if George Zimmerman were walking down the street today, he would be at risk. That is a reality.”
NPR’s Allen also reports that Florida Gov. Rick Scott has announced the 17 members of a new task force that will examine the state’s controversial “stand your ground” law. Zimmerman’s lawyers are likely to use the law, which gives individuals wide latitude to use deadly force, as part of their defense. The first hearing of the group is scheduled for May 1.