George Zimmerman, who garnered national attention over the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, was able to dispatch stalking charges against him and have them taken off his permanent record without even showing up in court on Tuesday.
The man who was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin back in 2012 pled no contest to a stalking charge but adjudication in the case was withheld thanks to a deal with the State Attorney’s Office. The deal means the conviction will not be on Zimmerman’s permanent record.
Zimmerman was allowed to make the plea to the stalking charge in absentia, meaning he did not even have to appear in court. The stalking case against him came after he was contacted by documentary filmmaker Mark Warren who was trying to secure an interview with Zimmerman for a film.
In the aftermath of that contact, Zimmerman contacted Warren more than 150 times via phone calls and texts, some of which included threatening messages. One of those messages warned that Zimmerman knew what to do with people like Warren. The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office believed that these messages constituted a threat and arrested Zimmerman for stalking.
At Tuesday’s hastily called plea hearing, Warren gave the judge an impact statement, insisting that Zimmerman’s “propensity for violence still exists” and that he had to spend thousands of dollars in security upgrades to his home and property after the threats to protect himself.
In passing the sentence, Judge Mark Herr was sympathetic to the victim, telling Warren that he understood his pain but also had to stop him from saying things about Zimmerman’s lawyers during the victim impact statement. Herr was also quite critical of Zimmerman during the plea hearing.
The judge said when the plea was first announced that the court in Seminole “would not like to hear his name in Seminole for a while.” He also had a simple message for Zimmerman’s attorney to convey to his client: “words matter.”
Herr called the plea a “good compromise.” Under the terms of the agreement, Zimmerman will serve a year of probation without a chance to end that probation early. He does not have to report to a probation office each month though, having the option to appear either by telephone or through a written report. He’ll also have to pay $763 in fines, plus court and investigative costs, and will not be allowed to have contact with Warren or his wife for at least the next twenty years.
Herr said his goal was to “cure Mr. Zimmerman so this never happens again.” Because of the publicity involved in the case and the death threats Zimmerman has faced in the past, the judge is also allowing the probation office to keep his home address out of all public records.
Reach Mike Synan at Mike.Synan@floridadaily.com.