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George Zimmerman released from jail after posting $9,000 bond

 

A smiling George Zimmerman was released from jail on Tuesday, hours after his first court appearance on domestic violence-related charges.

Zimmerman, who allegedly pointed a shotgun at his girlfriend's face Monday, was charged with aggravated assault, a third-degree felony, as well as battery and criminal mischief, both misdemeanors. He was released after posting $9,000 bond.

Judge Fred Schott ordered Zimmerman to stay away from his girlfriend's house and wear a monitoring device.

Earlier in the day, Zimmerman, 30, was served with divorce papers from his estranged wife, Shellie Zimmerman, amid fresh claims from a prosecutor that he choked his girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, in an unreported incident.

In this latest scuffle, both Zimmerman -- acquitted earlier this year of criminal charges in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin -- and Scheibe each called 911 and provided dueling descriptions to police dispatchers about the argument.

Scheibe, 27, accused him in a 911 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.

A prosecutor said Tuesday that Scheibe revealed that she was choked by Zimmerman a week and a half ago, but the incident was not reported to police. 

The prosecutor said Scheibe was in fear 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.

Schott also ordered that Zimmerman must stay away from Scheibe's home and cannot possess guns or ammunition.

Schott said that Zimmerman's previous brushes with the law weren't a factor in the conditions he was imposing. Zimmerman will appear in court again on Jan. 7, 2014.

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.

Police responded to a disturbance call at Scheibe's house in Apopka, Fla., about 15 miles northwest of Orlando, shortly before 1 p.m. Monday after she called 911, Seminole County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Dennis Lemma said at an afternoon news conference.

After fleeing the house, Scheibe gave police a key to the front door, which she said Zimmerman had barricaded with furniture.

Scheibe claimed Zimmerman had smashed a glass table, threatened her with a shotgun and ultimately pushed her out of the house she rented.

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.

Zimmerman told his girlfriend to leave and smashed a pair of her sunglasses as she walked toward the front door, the report says. Scheibe told deputies he pushed her out of the house when she got close to the door.

"You point your gun at my fricking face," Scheibe is heard telling Zimmerman on a 911 call. "Get out of my house. Do not push me out of my house. Please get out of my house."

Seconds later, she told the dispatcher, "You kidding me? He pushed me out of my house and locked me out. ... He knows how to do this. He knows how to play this game."

Moments later, Zimmerman called 911 from inside the barricaded house to tell his side of the story.

"I have a girlfriend, who for lack of a better word, has gone crazy on me," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman then said he never pulled a gun on his girlfriend and that it was she who smashed a table at the home they shared. He also told the dispatcher that Scheibe was pregnant with their child and that she had decided she would raise the child on her own. When Zimmerman started to leave, "she got mad," he said.

Seminole County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Dennis Lemma said at a news conference that Scheibe wasn't pregnant.

Deputies used the key provided by Scheibe to unlock the door and they were able to push through the barricade of items, Lemma said.

"She was very concerned for her own safety, especially having the weapon pointed at her and then being pushed out," he said.

Once inside, police found an unarmed Zimmerman, who did not resist arrest, Lemma said.

"The easiest way to describe it is rather passive," Lemma said. "He's had the opportunity to encounter this before."

Police were not sure what the argument was over, though Zemma said authorities believe it involved "some type of separation in the relationship."

Police were searching for at least two weapons in the house, Lemma added.

Zimmerman was charged with aggravated assault with a weapon, battery and criminal mischief, Lemma said.

"Just when you thought you heard the last of George Zimmerman," said neighbor Catherine Cantrell. She said she had twice seen a man who looked like Zimmerman get out of a truck that's been in the driveway for nearly a month. The truck parked there Monday appeared to be the same one that reporters have seen Zimmerman drive previously.

"I'm in absolute shock. He was never outside. It's not like he was out flaunting around," she said.

Zimmerman was acquitted in July of all charges in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. The death of the black teenager, who was unarmed, touched off a nationwide debate about race and self-defense. Zimmerman, who identifies himself as Hispanic, has said he shot the 17-year-old to defend himself during a fight in February 2012 inside a gated community in Sanford, just outside Orlando.

He wasn't charged until 44 days after the shooting, leading to protests nationwide from people who believed he should have been immediately arrested. The case sparked accusations that Zimmerman had racially profiled Martin, and demonstrations broke out again after his acquittal. Federal authorities are now reviewing the case the see if Martin's civil rights were violated.

Zimmerman has had other brushes with the law since his acquittal.

Zimmerman and his estranged wife were involved in a domestic dispute in September just days after Shellie Zimmerman filed divorce papers, but police later said no charges were filed against either of them because of a lack of evidence.

Zimmerman has also been pulled over three times for traffic stops since his acquittal. He was ticketed for doing 60 mph in a 45 mph zone in Lake Mary in September and was given a warning by a state trooper along Interstate 95 for having a tag cover and windows that were too darkly tinted. He was also stopped near Dallas in July and was given a warning for speeding.

In 2005, Zimmerman had to take anger management courses after he was accused of attacking an undercover officer who was trying to arrest Zimmerman's friend.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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