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Zimmerman faces domestic violence-related charges

Girlfriend says he tried to choke her

SANFORD, Fla. — George Zimmerman’s girlfriend said he tried to choke her about a week ago during an altercation that was not initially reported to police, a prosecutor told a judge Tuesday during Zimmerman’s first court appearance on domestic violence-related charges.

Samantha Scheibe feared for her life because Zimmerman mentioned suicide and said he ‘‘had nothing to lose,’’ according to Assistant State Attorney Lymary Munoz.

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After the hearing, Zimmerman’s public defenders said he did not appear to be suicidal and expressed confidence he would be acquitted of any wrongdoing.

Hours later, Zimmerman was released from jail after posting $9,000 bond. He was seen walking out of the jail smiling and getting into a car.

Judge Frederic Schott ordered him to stay away from Scheibe’s house, wear a monitoring device, and refrain from contact with her. He was forbidden from possessing guns or ammunition or traveling outside Florida.

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Zimmerman has been charged with aggravated assault, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. He also has been charged with battery and criminal mischief, both misdemeanors. An arraignment was set for Jan. 7.

Schott said Zimmerman’s previous brushes with the law were not a factor in the conditions he imposed, but he did cite the new allegation of choking as a reason for the bond amount.

Earlier this year, Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the fatal shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin in a case that drew worldwide attention.

Zimmerman, 30, wore gray jail garments and was handcuffed during the hearing. He spoke only when answering yes or no to the judge.

Public defender Jeff Dowdy and another public defender, Daniel Megaro, said Zimmerman was not suicidal despite what the prosecutor said.

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