SANFORD, Fla. – George Zimmerman will serve 12 months of probation after pleading no contest in a misdemeanor stalking case stemming from threatening messages he was accused of sending to a private investigator involved in a documentary about Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman was not present for the hearing at the Seminole County Courthouse on Tuesday. As part of the plea deal, he will need to check in monthly with a probation officer via phone or email, he cannot possess any weapons and he must pay $763 to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office for investigative costs as well as court costs and prosecution fees. He also has been ordered to have no contact with the victim, Dennis Warren, or his wife for 10 years.
Zimmerman will be permitted to travel freely between Seminole, Orange, Polk and Brevard counties.
Judge Mark Herr said he hopes the sentence sends a clear message to Zimmerman.
"I'm just hoping and praying that Mr. Zimmerman got the message that words do matter and it will stop and he will stay out of the limelight and do whatever he wants to do in life and leave people alone," Herr said.
Warren provided a victim’s statement to the court, saying that Zimmerman’s threats caused him to fear for the safety of himself and his family.
WATCH LIVE: George Zimmerman expected to enter no contest plea in stalking case
WATCH LIVE: George Zimmerman expected to enter no contest plea in stalking case. https://bit.ly/2z7wHUsPosted by News 6 WKMG / ClickOrlando on Tuesday, November 13, 2018
According to documents provided by the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, Zimmerman phoned Warren 55 times, left 36 voicemails, texted 67 times and sent 27 emails in a nine-day span. During that time frame, Warren had just finished doing work for a documentary about Martin, the unarmed teenager Zimmerman fatally shot in 2012.
Warren said that while he appreciates the work of law enforcement and the court, he believes that Zimmerman is unlikely to change his ways.
"My concern about Mr. Zimmerman and his propensity to violence is just as strong today as it was when he first began making his threats to me. His threats did not come with any expiration dates,” Warren said. “In his open statements to national media that he learned to deal with people like me back in February 2012 reinforces the fact that his propensity for violence still exists...”
Herr said he hopes that’s not the case.
"If we never hear the name George Zimmerman in Seminole County, well that’d be fine,” Herr said.
Assistant State Attorney Dave Whatley agreed.
“The actions of the defendant in this case are troubling. It’s important Mr. Zimmerman know this can’t happen again. I expect him (Zimmerman) to comply with the imposed sanctions,” Whatley said in a written statement.
Zimmerman's attorney Zahra Umansky said her client doesn't plan to get into any more legal trouble.
"He has no intention of contacting Mr. Warren, he has no reason to contact him and he wants to move on and live his life," Umansky said.