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George Zimmerman granted bail in latest gun arrest

George Zimmerman granted bail in latest gun arrest

ARRESTED AGAIN: George Zimmerman leaves the courtroom a free man after being found not guilty in the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin at the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center in Sanford, Florida, July 13. Photo: Reuters

By Barbara Liston

SANFORD, Florida (Reuters) – George Zimmerman, who was acquitted last summer in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, was granted bail on Tuesday after his arrest on assault charges for an incident in which he is alleged to have pulled a shotgun on his girlfriend.

Zimmerman’s bail was put at $9,000 by a Seminole County judge who set January 7 as the date for his next appearance in court on charges stemming from a domestic dispute on Monday, when he allegedly pointed the shotgun at his girlfriend in her own central Florida home.

Zimmerman, 30, appeared in court after spending the night in a Sanford, Florida, jail. He faces charges including aggravated assault with a firearm, a felony, and two misdemeanors – domestic violence and criminal mischief.

If found guilty, he could face from three to 15 years in jail, according to David Weinstein, a Miami attorney and former state prosecutor.

It was not immediately clear if Zimmerman would spend a second night in jail on Tuesday or if his court-appointed attorney would post the bond on his behalf.

The judge who presided over Zimmerman’s bond hearing barred him from all contact with his girlfriend and from possessing weapons or ammunition, pending his return to court in January.

The girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, 27, told police that at one point during their verbal altercation he grabbed a shotgun and pointed it at her, broke a glass table and locked her out of the house.

Zimmerman then barricaded the door with furniture, police said.

Scheibe, who was not injured in the incident, told a police dispatcher that Zimmerman was in the house with four weapons – a Kel-Tec shotgun, an AR-15-style assault rifle and two handguns.

Zimmerman also called 911, telling the operator his girlfriend “has gone crazy on me” and was outside. When asked why he was calling 911, he replied: “I just want everyone to know the truth.” He said he did not use a firearm.

Zimmerman offered no resistance when police entered the house and was not armed.

Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch captain, was acquitted on July 13 of killing Martin after a struggle as the 17-year-old walked back to the townhouse where he was staying after buying snacks at a nearby convenience store.

Zimmerman said he shot Martin in February 2012 in self defense.

The shooting and trial polarized the U.S. public on issues of race, guns and self-defense laws.

Since his acquittal, Zimmerman has had several brushes with law enforcement officials. He has twice been stopped for speeding, once in Texas and also in Florida.

In September, Zimmerman was questioned by police after his estranged wife called 911, saying he had threatened her with a gun. He was not charged in that incident, which occurred a week after she filed for divorce.

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