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George Zimmerman released on bail in Trayvon Martin shooting case

Although Chief Bill Lee offered to leave his post, a majority of Sanford's city commissioners rejected his resignation. NBC's Kerry Sanders reports.

Updated at 4:54 a.m. ET: SANFORD, Fla. -- George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watch volunteer charged with second-degree murder in the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, was released early on Monday from a Florida county jail on $150,000 bail. 

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Wearing a brown jacket, jeans and carrying a brown paper bag, Zimmerman walked out of the John E. Polk Correctional Facility in Seminole County moments after midnight after posting bail and meeting other conditions set for his release at a pretrial detention hearing on Friday. His ultimate destination is being kept secret for his safety and it could be outside Florida.



Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said at the hearing Friday that Zimmerman cannot have any guns and must observe a 7 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew. Zimmerman also surrendered his passport.

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Zimmerman had to put up 10 percent, or $15,000, to make bail. His father had indicated he might take out a second mortgage.

Zimmerman worked at a mortgage risk-management company at the time of the shooting and his wife is in nursing school. A website was set up to collect donations for Zimmerman's defense fund. It is unclear how much has been raised.

Bail is not unheard of in second-degree murder cases, and legal experts had predicted it would be granted for Zimmerman because of his ties to the community, because he turned himself in after he was charged last week, and because he has never been convicted of a serious crime.

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Prosecutors had asked for $1 million bail, citing two previous scrapes Zimmerman had with the law, neither of which resulted in charges. In 2005, he had to take anger management courses after he was accused of attacking an undercover officer who was trying to arrest Zimmerman's friend. In another incident, a girlfriend accused him of attacking her.

Zimmerman, 28, fatally shot Martin, 17, on Feb. 26 inside the gated community where Zimmerman lived during an altercation. Martin, who was visiting from Miami, was unarmed and was walking back to the home of his father's fiancée when Zimmerman saw him, called 911 and began following him. A fight broke out -- investigators say it is unknown who started it.

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Zimmerman says Martin attacked him and he shot in self-defense, citing Florida's "stand your ground" law, which gives broad legal protection to anyone who says they used deadly force because they feared death or great bodily harm.

Zimmerman was not charged for over six weeks, sparking national protests. Martin was black; Zimmerman's father is white and his mother is from Peru.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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