AFRICANGLOBE – Prosecutors in Florida have dropped domestic violence charges against George Zimmerman after his girlfriend announced she would not co-operate with the investigation or testify against him.
Zimmerman, the former neighbourhood watch vigilante acquitted this summer of murdering an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin, in 2012, had been accused of aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief after a fight with Samantha Scheibe, 27, at their rented home in Apopka last month.
Earlier last week Zimmerman, 30, filed court documents seeking a relaxation of his bail conditions, including a statement from Scheibe that police had “misinterpreted” a 911 call in which she claimed her boyfriend was destroying her property and threatening her with a gun.
“Upon reviewing the recent affidavit of Scheibe and taking into account the conflicting statements about what occurred, the failure to co-operate with the ongoing investigation and a lack of any other corroborating evidence or witnesses, there is no reasonable likelihood of successful prosecution,” the Seminole county state attorney Phil Archer said in a written statement on Wednesday.
The decision almost certainlys mean Zimmerman will be given back weapons including a shotgun and assault rifle confiscated by police after his arrest on 18 November.
In July a jury in Sanford acquitted Zimmerman of the second-degree murder of Trayvon Martin, 16, during a confrontation at a housing estate in the town in February 2012. His lawyers argued he had been acting in self-defence when he killed the black youth with a single shot to the chest.
In his statement on Wednesday Archer praised the Seminole county sheriff’s office for “a thorough and highly professional job of investigating this case”.
Heather Smith, a spokeswoman for sheriff Donald Eslinger, issued a statement denying Scheibe’s earlier allegation that she was “intimidated” by detectives and denied access to an attorney. “As you know we provided media with the 911 call from Ms. Scheibe, which occurred prior to deputies responding,” it said.
“Apparently Ms. Scheibe may have misspoken about the facts of her interview as she had access to her phone and was provided with food.”
Dennis Lemma, the department’s chief deputy, told reporters in a briefing after Zimmerman’s arrest that the couple, who had lived together since August, “had a verbal altercation that resulted in him breaking a glass table in the living room, retrieving a shotgun and pointing it at her”.
In the court filing last week, in which Zimmerman sought to have an electronic monitoring tag removed and to be allowed to visit the couple’s house, Scheibe said claims she made about Zimmerman’s behaviour were not entirely truthful. She had told detectives he had pointed a weapon at her and smashed a glass-topped table with the butt of a shotgun.
“I believe that the police misinterpreted me and that I may have misspoken about certain facts in my statement to the police,” she said in the signed affidavit. “I do not feel that the arrest report accurately recounts what happened.”
Zimmerman, who was served with divorce papers by his wife Shellie during his 24 hours in custody last month, is heavily in debt as a result of his trial. He was “sorry about what happened” with Scheibe, said his public defender, Jeff Dowdy, after a bail hearing on 19 November.
At that hearing county judge Fred Schott ordered Zimmerman released on $9,000 bail with an order to return to court to answer the domestic violence charge on 7 January.
After the decision was announced, George Zimmerman’s brother and family spokesman Robert posted a jubilant tweet. “Media got it wrong again: instead of looking into credibility/motives of person making ‘gun’ claims they kept GZ cast as the ‘monster’.”
By: Richard Luscombe