SANFORD, Fla. — George Zimmerman, who slipped out of jail on $150,000 bail in the early morning darkness, went back into hiding Monday and likely fled to another state to avoid threats as he awaits his second-degree murder trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Later Monday, the Sanford City Commission rejected by a 3-2 vote the resignation of Police Chief Bill Lee, who was roundly criticized for not initially charging Zimmerman and had stepped down temporarily in March he said to let emotions cool.
Even though authorities can pinpoint Zimmerman's location with a GPS ankle bracelet, that he must wear round the clock, the public may not see him again for some time. Zimmerman has waived his appearance at his upcoming arraignment next month, so he can stay underground if he wants.
"He's doing well, he's very glad to be out, trying to get settled in, still worried about his safety, but, you know, talking to his family and feeling much better than being in" jail, Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, said Monday night on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."
O'Mara declined to say if Zimmerman was in Florida, only saying his client will travel to several locations for his safety. O'Mara did not immediately return phone calls Monday.
Zimmerman already has experience laying low: For more than a month before his arrest, he eluded the media and his whereabouts were not known. His attorney has suggested he had several options for where Zimmerman can stay this time, and a judge indicated he was willing to let Zimmerman leave the state.
Until the next time he must come before a judge, Zimmerman will have to skip such routine pleasures as eating in a restaurant or taking a long stroll outside, said Jose Baez, a former attorney for Casey Anthony. Anthony, acquitted last summer of killing her 2-year-old daughter, went into hiding after her release from jail.
"He may be free, but he's not free," Baez said.
First, Zimmerman must limit who knows his whereabouts to avoid the risk someone will give the secret away, Baez said.
"Unfortunately, the people you think you trust, sometimes you find you just really can't," Baez said.
The police chief is on paid leave. Not too long ago, the commissioners gave him a "no confidence vote" that city Manager Norton Bonaparte said still stands. The shooting also led to the local prosecutor recusing himself from the case, and the governor appointing Angela Corey, who eventually charged Zimmerman.
The majority of commissioners on Monday blamed the polarization over the Martin case and its handling by the police department on outside groups. Lee had supporters at the meeting who wore, "Bring Back Billy" T-shirts, though there were detractors as well.
"I'm disappointed but not surprised," said Velma Williams, the lone black representative on the commission who voted to accept the resignation.
The majority of commissioners said they wanted to wait for an outside investigation to conclude into the handling of the case by police before accepting the resignation agreement drawn up by the city manager and Lee. Commissioners in reading from the agreement said Lee didn't want to step down, but thought it was for the best.