SANFORD (CBSMiami) — George Zimmerman made his first appearance in a Seminole County court Thursday afternoon, less than 24 hours after he was first arrested on second-degree murder for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman walked into the courtroom in a gray jumpsuit with his hands cuffed in front of him. Zimmerman appeared noticeably slimmer than he has in previous pictures. His hair was shaved and he had a thin goatee, which matched up with his booking photo from Wednesday night.
Zimmerman was asked if he understood the charge against him and the rights he has and he answered Judge Mark E. Herr, “Yes sir.” It was the only thing Zimmerman has said publicly since the shooting.
Probable cause was established after a two-page affidavit signed by investigators was presented to the court.
The affidavit said Zimmerman confronted Martin, which contradicts what Zimmerman told police the night of the shooting.
It also points out that Martin was on the phone when the shooting went down.
“During this time, Martin was on the phone with a friend and described to her what was happening,” the affidavit said. “The witness advised that Martin was scared because he was being followed through the complex by an unknown male and didn’t know why.”
“During the recorded call [Zimmerman made to 911] Zimmerman made reference to people he felt had committed and gotten away with break-ins in his neighborhood. Later while talking about Martin, Zimmerman stated ‘these *expletive*, they always get away’ and also said “these *expletive* punks,” the affidavit said.
Zimmerman Murder Case Documents
- Zimmerman Arrest Warrant – Page 1, Page 2
- Zimmerman Booking Information – Page 1, Page 2
- Zimmerman Affidavit – Page 1, Page 2
- Zimmerman Jail Commissary Purchases – Page 1
The affidavit also said Zimmerman disregarded a police dispatcher telling him to stop and continued following Martin.
“Martin attempted to run home but was followed by Zimmerman who didn’t want the person he falsely assumed was going to commit a crime to get away before the police arrived,” the affidavit said. “Zimmerman got out of his vehicle and followed Martin. When the police dispatcher realized Zimmerman was pursuing Martin, he instructed Zimmerman not to do that and that the responding officer would meet him. Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher and continued to follow Martin who was trying to return home.”
Zimmerman’s case was put into circuit court and he was set for arraignment on May 29 at 1:30 p.m. and he was placed into protective custody.
Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s lawyer, spoke to the reporters after the hearing and said he was very concerned with the release of piecemeal information that’s been given to the public.
“It’s really supposed to happen in the courtroom,” O’Mara said.
O’Mara told CBS This Morning that he will seek bond for Zimmerman because he posed no flight risk.
“We just need to sort of take it one day at a time,” O’Mara told CBS.
Zimmerman said he shot the unarmed 17-year-old in self defense.
His lawyer said part of their strategy will be to argue Zimmerman acted under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law which allows for deadly force to protect yourself.
The confrontation took place in a gated community where Martin was staying with his father and his father’s fiancée. Martin was walking back in the rain from a convenience store when Zimmerman spotted him and called 911. He followed the teenager despite being told not to by a police dispatcher and the two got into a struggle.
Zimmerman told police Martin punched him in the nose, knocking him down, and then began banging the volunteer’s head on the sidewalk. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in fear for his life.
Wednesday, Special Prosecutor Angela Corey made the announcement six weeks after the Miami teen was killed.
“We have filed an information charging George Zimmerman with murder in the second degree,” announced Corey.
Trayvon Martin’s parents said Thursday on CBS This Morning that they were “at ease,” “excited,” and “overwhelmed” by the gunman’s arrest on a murder charge.
Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin spoke about how they felt knowing that George Zimmerman spent the night in Florida jail after the special prosecutor charged him with second-degree murder in their son’s death.
“I felt a little bit at ease knowing that he had been apprehended, that he had turned himself in,” said Tracy Martin, “and knowing that he wouldn’t be able to possess a firearm after being arrested any more, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to take another 17-year-old’s life.”
“We are overwhelmed that he was arrested because this is what we’ve been fighting for, for 44 days and we were just excited to hear that he was arrested,” said Fulton.
But the prosecutors case may have been undercut a bit because Fulton would later say in another interview that she thinks the shooting was accidental.
She later retracted the statement on Twitter.
“When I referenced the word ‘accident’ today with regard to Trayvon’s death, in NO way did I mean the shooting was an accident,” Fulton said via the family lawyer’s account.
O’Mara said he’s worried it’ll be tough for his client to get a fair trial.
“I ask you not to prejudge George Zimmerman or the justice system,” said O’Mara. “It’s going to work. We just need to let it work.”
Sanford police took Zimmerman into custody the night of the shooting but released him without charging him. That decision sparked protests and calls for justice from around the country.
Angela Corey said none of that influenced her decision.
“We do not prosecute by public pressure or petition. We prosecute based on facts and the laws of Florida,” said Corey.
George Zimmerman faces life in prison if he’s convicted.
The U.S. Justice Department is also investigating Trayvon Martin’s death. He could face hate crime charges if investigators determine race played a role in the shooting.
WEB VIDEO EXTRAS:
- WEB EXTRA: Seminole County Sheriff Holds New Conference After Zimmerman Booking
- WEB EXTRA: George Zimmerman’s Attorney Speaks To Media After Charges Announced
- WEB EXTRA: Sanford Officials React To Zimmerman Charges
- WEB EXTRA: Trayvon Martin’s Family Reacts To Zimmerman Charges
- WEB EXTRA: Special Prosecutor Announces Zimmerman Charges Pt. 1
- WEB EXTRA: Special Prosecutor Announces Zimmerman Charges Pt. 2