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Why did a Florida judge set Zimmerman's bond at $1 million? (+video)

The judge in the case involving the shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, set bail for the shooter, George Zimmerman, at $1 million. The judge said that dollar amount was warranted because of Zimmerman's past actions.

By Barbara ListonReuters / July 5, 2012

George Zimmerman (l.) and attorney Don West appear before Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. during a bond hearing at the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center in Sanford, Fla., last month.

Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/AP



A Florida judge said George Zimmerman was a flight risk and set bond at $1 million on Thursday for the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

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The neighborhood watch volunteer who killed Trayvon Martin can be released from jail on $1 million bond while he awaits trial on a second-degree murder charge, a judge ruled Thursday.

Zimmerman had been released on $150,000 bond but was sent back to jail in June after prosecutors alleged he misled the court about his finances and failed to surrender a valid passport.

"This court finds that circumstances indicate that the defendant was preparing to flee to avoid prosecution, but such plans were thwarted," said Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester, who credited an electronic ankle bracelet with blocking Zimmerman's plans.

The judge said the higher bond was necessary to ensure Zimmerman would show up for trial on second-degree murder charges.

"The increased bail is not a punishment; It is meant to allay this court's concern that the defendant intended to flee the jurisdiction and a lesser amount would not ensure his presence in court," Lester wrote in his eight-page order.

The judge imposed numerous restrictions. He said that if released from jail again, Zimmerman must submit to electronic monitoring, remain in Seminole County, stay away from the Orlando-Sanford International Airport, refrain from applying for a passport or opening or maintaining a bank account, avoid alcohol and obey a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara told Reuters that Zimmerman does not have the cash or collateral to post the new bond.

"We have to do some very intentional fundraising to help the defense fund and to help George because he's not getting out without a lot more fundraising," O'Mara said.

He called the judge's order "very pointed," and said, "The judge obviously is very upset with George, believing that this thing was orchestrated. I disagree with that."

Ben Crump, the lawyer for Martin's family, said the judge sent a strong message."Just because you claim to be scared and confused, you can't lie and manipulate and mastermind this scheme," Crump said. "Money and a passport are the essential elements to flee. The judge saw this like everybody else in America saw it."

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