SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — George Zimmerman‘s girlfriend said he tried to choke her about a week ago during an altercation that wasn’t initially reported to police, a prosecutor told a judge Tuesday during his first court appearance on domestic violence-related charges.
Assistant State Attorney Lymary Munoz said Zimmerman’s girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, feared for her life because Zimmerman mentioned suicide and said he “had nothing to lose.” Zimmerman’s public defenders said after the hearing that he didn’t appear to be suicidal.
Judge Frederic Schott set Zimmerman’s bond at $9,000 and ordered that Zimmerman stay away from Scheibe’s house, wear a monitoring device and refrain from contact with her. The judge says he can’t possess guns or ammunition or travel outside of Florida.
Zimmerman has been charged with aggravated assault, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison if convicted. He also has been charged with battery and criminal mischief, both misdemeanors. An arraignment was scheduled for Jan. 7.
Schott said that Zimmerman’s previous brushes with the law weren’t a factor in the conditions he was imposing, but he did cite the new allegation of choking as a reason for the bond amount. Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges earlier this year in the fatal shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin in a case that drew worldwide attention.
Zimmerman wore gray jail garments and handcuffs during the hearing and spoke only when answering yes or no to the judge.
Defense attorneys said after the hearing that they expect him to be out of jail on Wednesday, and they’re confident he’ll eventually be acquitted.
Public defender Jeff Dowdy said Zimmerman’s family has been supporting him.
“I would think it would be difficult for George Zimmerman to get a job in central Florida,” Dowdy said.
Dowdy and another public defender, Daniel Megaro, said Zimmerman wasn’t suicidal despite what the prosecutor said.
“He doesn’t appear to be a danger to himself or a danger to anybody else,” Megaro said.
Zimmerman has previously used a website to raise money for his legal and living expenses, including $95,000 spent on bail in the Trayvon Martin case. The site also says tens of thousands of dollars were spent on living expenses and security.
The most recent posting on the fund’s website, weeks before Zimmerman’s acquittal, said that the fund ran out of money in late May but raised tens of thousands more after public requests for help.
A link to donate via PayPal didn’t appear to be working on Tuesday.
In this latest scuffle, both Zimmerman and Scheibe called 911 and provided dueling descriptions to police dispatchers about the argument.
Scheibe accused him in the emergency call of pointing a gun at her, smashing a coffee table and then pushing her outside. Zimmerman also called dispatchers, flatly denying pointing a gun at her and blaming her for the broken table.
Scheibe told deputies the ordeal started with a verbal argument and that she asked Zimmerman to leave the house. Her account in the arrest report says he began packing his belongings, including a shotgun and an assault rifle. She says she began putting his things in the living room and outside the house, and he became upset. At that point, the report says, he took the shotgun out of its case.