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Zimmerman in Hiding, Sanford Rejects Chief's Resignation

6:05 AM, Apr 24, 2012   |    comments
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By Marisol Bello, USA TODAY

SANFORD, Fla. -- George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot teen Trayvon Martin, has gone back into hiding. Monday was his first day free on bail since his arrest April 11.

He probably won't be seen in public until he testifies at his trial next year, his lawyer, Mark O'Mara, told ABC News.

O'Mara said he would waive Zimmerman's right to appear at his arraignment May 8 out of concern for his safety. "We have had serious threats that law enforcement is looking into, where they've threatened his life," he said.

On Monday, the Sanford, Fla., city commission refused to accept the resignation of Police Chief Bill Lee, who stepped down temporarily in March after an initial decision by prosecutors not to file charges led to nationwide protests. Commissioners said they would not bow to outside pressure.

Commissioners want to wait for the results of a federal investigation to decide if they will accept the resignation of Lee, who remains on paid leave. The Justice Department is making an analysis of how the police department handled the investigation.

Zimmerman, 28, was released at midnight Sunday from Seminole County jail after posting 10% of his $150,000 bail. He is charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting. He has a 7 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew and must wear an electronic ankle bracelet that monitors his whereabouts. Zimmerman says he shot Trayvon, 17, in self-defense.

Trayvon's family says Zimmerman targeted him because he was black. Zimmerman's father is white; his mother is Hispanic. Court documents released Monday, after requests by news media, show O'Mara asked that Zimmerman be allowed to leave central Florida.

In a motion filed April 16, O'Mara requested that his client's whereabouts be kept secret by the court, state attorney's office and police. He said in the court papers that Zimmerman is unemployed because of the public attention and threats he and his family have received, and that it was unlikely he would look for work when released.

Zimmerman has no financial assets or savings, he said. The papers said his bond would be paid by his family. Daniel Lurvey, a defense attorney, said the smartest thing Zimmerman can do is remain in hiding.

"If I were his attorney," he said, "I would make every effort to get him out of central Florida because of the attention the case has drawn."

 It is unclear what kind of security Zimmerman may have. Lurvey said he sometimes puts clients in touch with a private investigator who can provide security. "But that requires resources," he said, "and I'm not sure he has those kinds of resources." Contributing: The Associated Press


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