Prior choking incident alleged at Zimmerman hearing

A Florida judge ordered George Zimmerman freed on bail Tuesday in connection with a domestic dispute involving his girlfriend, but increased the bond because of new claims by the alleged victim that he had recently tried to choke her.

Zimmerman, who was acquitted in July in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, was arrested Monday by Seminole County Sheriff's deputies at the home of Samantha Scheibe.

He is charged with domestic violence related to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a felony, and misdemeanor battery as well as criminal mischief.

Zimmerman, 30, was ordered to have no contact with Scheibe, 27, and to wear an electronic device to ensure that he would not approach 1,500-foot "exclusionary zones" around two addresses in the area.

The judge, citing potential "volatile situations," ruled that only a third party could go back to the Scheibe house to pick up Zimmerman's remaining possessions. He also told Zimmerman that he could could not possess any guns or ammunition and had to remain in the state of Florida.

Scheibe had called deputies to her house Monday afternoon after Zimmerman allegedly pointed a shotgun at her and pushed her out of her rented house as he packed to move out, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office said.

Zimmerman then barricaded himself inside until deputies entered the house, which he had shared with Scheibe since August, according to Chief Deputy Dennis Lemma.

Zimmerman was unarmed and offered no resistance. Lemma said investigators believe two weapons are in the home — a shotgun and an assault rifle — and are seeking a search warrant. The arrest report said Zimmerman had apparently locked up the shotgun before deputies arrived.

The argument between Zimmerman and Scheibe involved "some kind of separation in their relationship," Lemma said.

Bail would normally be around $5,000 on the charges against Zimmerman, but the judge said he was increasing it to $9,000 after the state's attorney informed the court that Scheibe had disclosed an alleged incident a week and a half ago in which Zimmerman purportedly tried to choke her. The girlfriend decided not to report it to police, the state's attorney said.

Scheibe also claimed that the defendant had allegedly threatened suicide, claiming he had nothing to lose.

The attorney had sought a $15,000 bond, saying Scheibe's "safety is of paramount concern."

According to the arrest report, after Scheibe told Zimmerman to pack his things, he "cocked the shotgun" before putting the two guns in one case. She told deputies he then became upset as she carried his belongings out and he took out the shotgun. Scheibe said she was going to call police, and Zimmerman pointed the weapon at her for a minute and "asked her if she really wanted to do that."

Zimmerman then smashed a glass-top coffee table with the gun butt and ordered Sheibe out, she told deputies. He pushed her out and locked the door.

Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch volunteer in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., when he shot Trayvon on Feb. 26, 2012. Trayvon was black, Zimmerman is Latino. The shooting of the unarmed teenager sparked nationwide protests.

Some targeted Florida's "stand your ground" statute, although Zimmerman's lawyers opted to rely on a more standard self-defense argument at trial.

Zimmerman has had several incidents involving authorities since his acquittal.

His wife, Shellie, moved out of their house and filed for divorce in September. She and her father accused him of threatening them with a gun as they moved her belongings out of their Lake Mary home. Police handcuffed Zimmerman but later let him go after she retracted her claims.

Lake Mary police closed the case last week, saying that his wife declined to press charges and that there was no firm evidence Zimmerman had broken any laws.

He also has been pulled over three times for minor traffic incidents, twice receiving warnings and once issued a speeding ticket.


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