ORLANDO, Florida (AP) — The neighborhood watch volunteer who killed an unarmed black teenager has posted bail and has gone into hiding, although law enforcement officials can track him at all times.
The case has drawn wide attention across the U.S. because of the delay between the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the charging of the volunteer, George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman, who left jail on $150,000 bail in the early morning darkness on Monday, immediately went into hiding and likely fled to another state to avoid threats as he awaits his second-degree murder trial for the killing of Martin.
Even though authorities can pinpoint his location with a GPS ankle bracelet Zimmerman must wear at all times, the public may not see him again for some time. Zimmerman has waived his appearance at his upcoming arraignment next month, so he can stay underground if he wants.
WATCH ‘TODAY SHOW’ COVERAGE OF ZIMMERMAN’S RELEASE:
His release from jail came less than a day before the Sanford City Commission rejected by a 3-2 vote Monday afternoon the permanent resignation of Police Chief Bill Lee, who was roundly criticized — and the subject of demonstrations — for not initially charging Zimmerman in the case. The majority blamed most of the unrest on outside groups.
Zimmerman already has experience laying low: For more than a month before his arrest, he eluded the media and his whereabouts were not known.
His attorney has suggested he had several options for where Zimmerman can stay this time, and a judge indicated he was willing to let Zimmerman leave the state.
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, went into hiding after her release from jail.
“He may be free, but he’s not free,” Baez said.
Early indications are that will be tough for Zimmerman to resist using the internet. After a judge agreed to release him on bond, a statement placed on his website said, “GZ hopes to be able to update the site in the next day or two, God willing. He sends his thanks for your thoughts and support.”
Whatever means Zimmerman uses to hide, it could get expensive.
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.
His attorney, Mark O’Mara, did not return phone calls Monday but has ruled out Zimmerman getting a job while he is out on bail. And O’Mara wrote in court papers that Zimmerman “has no significant financial assets or savings.”
Zimmerman at least has some experience hiding. He went underground after the Feb. 26 confrontation with Martin at the Sanford, Florida, gated community of townhomes where Zimmerman lived.
Martin was unarmed and was walking back to the home of his father’s fiancee when the neighborhood watch volunteer saw him, called police and began following him. A fight broke out — investigators say it is unknown who started it.
Zimmerman says Martin, who was visiting from Miami, attacked him. Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense, citing Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which gives broad legal protection to anyone who says they used deadly force because they feared death or great bodily harm.
Zimmerman was not charged for more than six weeks, sparking nationwide protests. Martin was black; Zimmerman’s father is white and his mother is from Peru. A special prosecutor appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to investigate filed a second-degree murder charge earlier this month.
Associated Press writer Kyle Hightower contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.