SANFORD, Fla. — George Zimmerman’s girlfriend said he tried to choke her about a week ago during an altercation that wasn’t initially reported to police, a prosecutor told a judge Tuesday during his first court appearance on domestic violence-related charges.
The prosecutor said Zimmerman’s girlfriend, Samantha 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.
Judge Frederic Schott set Zimmerman’s bond at $9,000 and ordered that Zimmerman stay away from Scheibe’s house, wear a monitoring device and refrain from contact with her. The judge says he can’t possess guns or ammunition or travel outside of Florida.
Zimmerman has been charged with aggravated assault, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison if convicted. He also has been charged with battery and criminal mischief, both misdemeanors.
Schott said that Zimmerman’s previous brushes with the law weren’t a factor in the conditions he was imposing. Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges earlier this year in the fatal shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin in a case that drew worldwide attention.
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.
In this latest scuffle on Monday, both Zimmerman and the woman he was arguing with called 911 and provided dueling descriptions to police dispatchers about the argument.
Scheibe accused him in the emergency 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.
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. He also said Zimmerman was compliant and unarmed when deputies came to the house.