A judge in Florida said on Friday that the neighborhood watchman who shot and killed an unarmed African-American teen was eligible to be released on bond after his parents and wife testified that prior arrests did not mean he had a history of violence.
“I am sorry for the loss of your son,” Zimmerman told the parents of Trayvon Martin upon taking the stand. “I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I was. And I did not know if he was armed or not.”
After Zimmerman’s wife of five years, Shellie Zimmerman, told the court that her husband was not a danger to the community, prosecutor Bernie De La Rionda pointed out that the defendant had been forced to take anger management classes because he was arrested for “battery of law enforcement officer.”
De La Rionda offered the following excerpt from the arrest warrant: “I identified myself as a state police officer and showed Zimmerman my badge and asked him to leave the area. He stated, ‘I don’t care who you are.’ I again asked Zimmerman to leave, he then stated the ‘f’ word and said ‘you,’ and at that time I attempted to escort Zimmerman away from the interview room and he struggled away from me and pushed my arms away with his hands. After a short struggle with Zimmerman, he was placed in handcuffs and detained.”
“Did he tell you it was just an misunderstanding or an accident?” the prosecutor asked Shellie Zimmerman.
“No, he didn’t say it was an accident,” Zimmerman’s wife replied.
“So, he admitted that he had struck a police officer when the police officer told him to abide by his commands?” De La Rionda pressed.
“The police officer did not identify himself,” Shellie Zimmerman insisted.
“You would agree that shows prior violence on the part of Mr. Zimmerman, your husband?” De La Rionda wondered.
“No, I don’t,” Shellie Zimmerman answered.
De La Rionda also pointed to a second incident where Zimmerman’s ex-fiance, Veronica Zuazo, alleged domestic violence and filed for a restraining order against him in 2005.
“It says in this affidavit that he, Mr. Zimmerman, pushed her and then he, with his open hand, slapped her in the mouth and asked her how it felt,” the prosecutor remarked.
“I’m aware that he had to protect himself from being attacked by her,” Shellie Zimmerman explained. “And that there was blood drawn on him from her. And he also filed an injunction against her.”
“He is not a violent person, nor a threat to the community,” she concluded.
The prosecution argued that bond should be set at $1 million but Judge Kenneth Lester agreed to allow Zimmerman to post a bond of $150,000. He is currently being held on charges of second degree murder, which could mean life in prison if convicted.
Watch this video from CNN, broadcast April 20, 2012.