Orlando resident George Zimmerman is in trouble once again – only months after being acquitted for the second degree murder of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager in a gated compound near Orlando. This time, Zimmerman is accused of aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief. The charge relates to an alleged attack against his girlfriend earlier this month. The aggravated assault charge is a third degree felony while the other charges are misdemeanors.
Zimmerman’s brushes with the law have been headline news most of the year, particularly the high profile trial of the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman insisted that he shot the teenager in self-defense. His acquittal in July this year was met with strong public criticism from many in the black community who felt that Zimmerman had profiled the teenager by race and that his acquittal was an attack against the black community in general.
Zimmerman’s problems did not stop with the decision in his favor. His wife, who had apparently been loyal to him throughout the lead up to the murder trial, filed for divorce and then accused her husband of punching her father on the nose, destroying her iPad with a knife and attempting to threaten her and her father with a weapon. She rang 911 after the incident, but has not pressed any charges against Zimmerman. The incident is still being investigated by police.
When interviewed by the NBC during a “Today” program, Shellie Zimmerman said that despite still believing George’s innocence in the killing of Martin, she was not as convinced as before and felt that the incident earlier this month was an eye opener.
The current allegations against Zimmerman have been made by his girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe. She has claimed that he locked her out of her own house after a fight. Scheibe rang 911 to say that Zimmerman had pulled a gun on her and smashed a coffee table before forcing her out of the house. Zimmerman was also reported to have rung 911 himself saying that his girlfriend was “acting crazy” and that he did not point a gun at her.
When police arrived on the scene, they were able to enter Scheibe’s rented house with a key which she provided and push past a series of blockades, after which they arrested Zimmerman who apparently did not resist.
The latest incident follows an alleged attempt to choke Samantha Scheibe by Zimmerman a week or so ago. The alleged choking was not reported to the police at the time, but was brought up by the prosecution in Zimmerman’s first court appearance this week.
Zimmerman was released on a $9,000 bail under the condition that he did not carry firearms, did not go anywhere near his girlfriend’s residence and wear a monitoring device. His next court appearance is in January next year.
The murder trial and current violence charges are not George Zimmerman’s only dealings with the law. He has apparently been in trouble in the past for a number of traffic offenses as well as having to take anger management classes after allegedly attacking an undercover police officer who was in the process of arresting his friend.
According to the judge who made the decision to release Zimmerman on bail this week, Judge Fred Schott, none of the other allegations or charges laid against him affected the decision.
Zimmerman’s defense attorneys believe that he will be acquitted of the current charges when the trial takes place next year.
One of the difficulties faced in defending George Zimmerman will be the fact that his previous trial was so controversial and his actions and personality were discussed in the media constantly in the months that led up to the trial. In Zimmerman’s favor will be the fact that domestic violence accusations like the current ones are particularly hard to prove. They often rely heavily on events that go on behind closed doors. Both the accusations by his ex wife and his girlfriend follow acrimonious arguments about separation and with emotions so highly charged it is difficult to separate fact from fiction.