A Florida judge ruled on Friday that George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman charged in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, could be freed on $150,000 bond until his trial for second-degree murder. The judge also ruled that Zimmerman would be required to wear an electronic tracking device.
However, while U.S. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said he would grant the motion to release Zimmerman, the defendant would not be released immediately due to the need for further discussion about the terms, including whether or not he should be allowed to travel out of state.
He also said that Zimmerman, 28, would not be able to have any contact with Martin's family, could not possess firearms and could not consume alcohol or other controlled substances.
Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, had initially asked for a $15,000 bond, citing his client's modest financial holdings. The prosecution said the defendant should not be granted bond, but if he were, that it should be set at $1 million.
The judge's ruling came after Zimmerman took the stand during a hearing at the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center -- where Zimmerman appeared wearing a suit, although he was shackled -- and addressed the victim's parents.
I wanted to say that I am sorry for the loss of your son, Zimmerman said. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. And I did not know whether he was armed or not.
Zimmerman has been incarcerated in a Sanford, Fla., jail since he was charged last week with second-degree murder in the death of the unarmed teenager. His attorney asked the judge to release Zimmerman while he awaits trial. He also asked the judge to allow Zimmerman to leave the state -- while wearing a tracking device -- and to keep his location confidential in order to ensure his safety.
Zimmerman insists he shot Martin in self-defense during the Feb. 26 encounter. Zimmerman's parents and wife testified by phone in Friday's hearing, saying he is not a flight risk or a threat to the community and should therefore be released on bail.
Zimmerman's family reportedly testified by phone because they said they have been threatened, the Associated Press reports.
He is absolutely not a violent person, his wife, Shellie Zimmerman, testified, adding that she is worried about his safety.
Shellie Zimmerman said she has not seen her husband since the day of Martin's death because he was in hiding, although they reportedly speak on the phone daily.
The defendant's father, Robert Zimmerman, denied that his son is a violent person, answering absolutely not when the question was posed to him by the prosecution. In fact, he said his son would be more likely to turn the other cheek if facing a potentially violent situation.
Zimmerman's father also described his son's injuries as he saw them on Feb. 27, the day after Martin was shot and killed.
His face was swollen quite a bit. He had a protective cover over his nose. His lip was swollen and cut. And there were two vertical gashes on the back of his head, the elder Zimmerman testified.
This week, a new photo obtained by ABC News confirms that Zimmerman was injured during his encounter with Martin. The photo, which was allegedly taken three minutes after Martin was shot, shows blood trickling down the back of Zimmerman's head from two long cuts.
Zimmerman told police he shot and killed the teenager in self-defense after Martin punched him and then bashed his head against the sidewalk. Some critics argue that racial profiling played a significant role in the events leading to Martin's death. Civil rights organizations have suggested that Zimmerman, the son of a white father and an Hispanic mother, specifically targeted the African-American Martin as he walked through Sanford, a gated community, because of his race.
Martin's patents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, believe their son was murdered in cold blood.
Ashley covers U.S. politics for the International Business Times, with a focus on civil liberties, women's issues and campaign finance. Her work has also appeared in The...