George Zimmernman will be eligible for release from jail on $150,000 bail and a host of conditions including electronic monitoring, Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester announced Friday.
It was unclear when Zimmerman, the volunteer watch captain accused of second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, would actually be released, assuming he can meet the conditions. State prosecutors had asked for bail to be set at $1 million.
Zimmerman also unexpectedly took the stand in court Friday during his bond hearing, causing gasps in the courtroom, and told Trayvon's parents he is sorry for their loss. He spoke, almost two hours into the hearing in Sanford, telling the court that his statement was for "the mother and the father."
"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."
Trayvon's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, were in court today. Zimmerman's family members, including his father, mother and wife testified by phone, apparently fearful for their safety.
His attorney, Mark O'Mara, successfully argued for bond for Zimmerman, who has spent the past nine days as an inmate in Seminole County's John E. Polk Correctional Facility. O'Mara emphasized that Zimmerman has ties to the area.
He faces a possible life sentence. Assistant State Attorney Bernardo de la Rionda, who handled the hearing for Special Prosecutor Angela Corey, contended in court that Trayvon had been minding his own business and was not commiting a crime.
In a television interview Thursday, O'Mara said several safe locations have been secured for Zimmerman if he is released.
On Friday, ABC News also published what it said was an exclusive photo taken three minutes after Zimmerman shot Trayvon, showing the back of Zimmerman's head with blood trickling down. Zimmerman has claimed self-defense in the case.
Sanford, which for weeks has worked to keep calm in a racially volatile case, is prepared for Zimmerman's potential release, according to City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr., though he declined to offer any details. He said the city is equally prepared for the wave of media and others expected to be in Sanford for the bond hearing along with a Saturday rally in support of Zimmerman led by controversial Pastor Terry Jones. The church leader made headlines when he threatened to, and later burned a Quran.
Zimmerman, 28, fatally shot the Miami Gardens teenager in a gated townhouse community on Feb. 26. Trayvon, who was on a 10-day suspension from his Miami-Dade high school, was spending time with his father and the father's girlfriend at her home at the time of the shooting.
As Trayvon walked back to the home from a convenience store, Zimmerman spotted him. He told police the teen look suspicious and followed him. Minutes later, they had a physical altercation and Zimmerman shot Trayvon. Zimmerman was not initially charged by Sanford police, who cited the state's Stand Your Ground law.
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