Out of jail, Zimmerman fades from sight

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by Kyle Hightower

SANFORD, Fla. (AP)— George Zimmerman, who slipped out of jail on $150,000 bail in the early morning darkness, went back into hiding Monday and likely fled to another state to avoid threats as he awaits his second-degree murder trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Free
RELEASED—George Zimmerman, left, walks out of the intake building at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility with a bondsman, April 22 in Sanford, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

Later Monday, the Sanford City Commission rejected by a 3-2 vote the resignation of Police Chief Bill Lee, who was roundly criticized for not initially charging Zimmerman and had stepped down temporarily in March he said to let emotions cool.

Even though authorities can pinpoint Zimmerman’s location with a GPS ankle bracelet, that he must wear round the clock, the public may not see him again for some time. Zimmerman has waived his appearance at his upcoming arraignment next month.

“He’s doing well, he’s very glad to be out, trying to get settled in, still worried about his safety, but, you know, talking to his family and feeling much better than being in” jail, Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, said Monday night on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.

Until the next time he must come before a judge, Zimmerman will have to skip such routine pleasures as eating in a restaurant or taking a long stroll outside, said Jose Baez, a former attorney for Casey Anthony. Anthony, acquitted last summer of killing her 2-year-old daughter and who went into hiding after her release from jail.

“He may be free, but he’s not free,” Baez said.

First, Zimmerman must limit who knows his whereabouts to avoid the risk someone will give the secret away, Baez said.

“Unfortunately, the people you think you trust, sometimes you find you just really can’t,” Baez said.

The police chief is on paid leave. Not too long ago, the commissioners gave him a “no confidence vote” that city Manager Norton Bonaparte said still stands.

The majority of commissioners on Monday blamed the polarization over the Martin case and its handling by the police department on outside groups. Lee had supporters at the meeting who wore, “Bring Back Billy” T-shirts, though there were detractors as well.

“I’m disappointed, but not surprised,” said Velma Williams, the lone Black representative on the commission who voted to accept the resignation.

The majority of commissioners said they wanted to wait for an outside investigation to conclude into the handling of the case by police before accepting the resignation agreement drawn up by the city manager and Lee.

Zimmerman has limited resources. He was working at a mortgage risk management firm but stopped working there after the confrontation with Martin because of the public attention. His wife, Shellie, is in nursing school and doesn’t work.

O’Mara said on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 that his client is not under police protection and that his family is paying for the security measures.

“He’s sort of on his own with his own protection at this point,” O’Mara said.

Martin’s parents have a “heavy heart” now that Zimmerman has been released from jail, said Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the 17-year-old’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton.

“They hope his freedom is temporary because the pain he has caused this family is permanent,” Crump said Monday.

Martin’s parents published a “Card of Thanks” in The Miami Herald obituary page Sunday. The note says Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin express their appreciation for all the public’s support since their son’s death. The notice includes a photograph of Trayvon Martin dressed in a hooded sweatshirt, similar to one he was wearing the evening he was killed.

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