Martin family shows restraint during Zimmerman bail hearing

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©2012, Media Pool / Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel

Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, parents of Trayvon Martin, sit in Judge Kenneth Lester's courtroom during George Zimmerman's bond hearing for the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.

Cool heads prevailed at today’s Arthur Hearing for George Zimmerman to determine if he would be granted bond. Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder, which, in Florida, is normally not a bondable charge.

In attendance today were various members of Trayvon Martin’s family, all seated in a section reserved specifically for them. Also in attendance was Frank Taaffe, Zimmerman’s controversial and outspoken neighbor and friend.

To many people’s surprise, Zimmerman himself also entered the courtroom, wearing a suit and tie, but wearing wrist shackles as well. In bond hearings it’s common for the defendant to be represented in absentia by their attorney.

Zimmerman’s wife Shellie, and his parents, Gladys and Robert, testified via speakerphone. They are currently avoiding the public for safety reasons. They all provided testimony to the effect that Zimmerman was neither violent nor a threat to the public.

The prosecutor, Bernie De La Rionda, countered this claim each time, citing Zimmerman’s arrests for violence several years prior. Zimmerman’s family members sounded mildly annoyed at this line of questioning, but remained focused.

Zimmerman was eventually allowed to take the stand, and after stating his name immediately said that he was sorry for Trayvon Martin’s death. Although appearing sincere, Zimmerman has developed a reputation for changing his story many times, leading some to believe he is merely a good actor.

Zimmerman claimed he thought Martin was close to his own age of 28, but it has been revealed that on one of his calls to police on the night of Martin’s death, Zimmerman described Martin as “in his late teens.”

The decision to grant bond for Zimmerman was quite expected by spectators and professionals alike. Even the amount of $150,000 wasn’t considered absurd, even though Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, cited indigency for Zimmerman, and requested a mere $15,000 bond.

Judge Kenneth Lester sat rather dispassionately throughout the proceedings, but responded authoritatively and evenly during objections and upon giving his decision.

The Martin family did not react to the decision to grant bond to Zimerman either visibly or audibly in the courtroom, but rather received the decision with stoicism. Later, outside the courthouse, the family’s attorneys did reveal dissatisfaction with the decision.

De La Rionda also spoke briefly about the results of the hearing, admitting that they weren’t using today’s hearing to begin the actual prosecution, and that while Zimmerman’s bonding wasn’t their preferred outcome, the state is waiting until the actual trial to pull out the big guns.