ORLANDO, Florida (AP) — Prosecutors are considering whether to move forward with domestic violence charges against the former neighborhood watchman involved in a high-profile murder trial that stirred racial tensions across the United States. His girlfriend now says she doesn't want him charged.
Without a witness willing to testify, prosecutors can still use law enforcement reports, emergency calls and other witnesses to build a case against George Zimmerman. But such cases are more difficult to prove, State Attorney's Office spokeswoman Lynne Bumpus Hooper said.
Zimmerman was acquitted of any crime this past summer in the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a case that sparked a nationwide debate about race and self-defense laws. Zimmerman, who identifies himself as Hispanic, was accused of racially profiling the unarmed black teen, but said he shot Martin to protect himself.
Zimmerman filed an affidavit from his girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe, saying she doesn't want him charged with aggravated assault, battery and criminal mischief. The affidavit was filed with a motion Monday asking a judge to change the terms of his bond so he can have contact with Scheibe.
Zimmerman was arrested last month after Scheibe accused him in a police call of pointing a gun at her, smashing a coffee table and pushing her outside. Zimmerman also called dispatchers, denied pointing a gun at her and blamed her for the broken table.
In the signed affidavit, Scheibe — referring to Zimmerman as "my boyfriend" — said detectives misinterpreted what she said and that she hadn't been coerced into signing the document.
It's not uncommon in domestic violence cases for the alleged victims to change their minds about pursuing charges, said Blaine McChesney, a former prosecutor in Orlando who now is a defense attorney.
Although prosecutors can move ahead without the cooperation of the victim, it makes it difficult to convict if there is no physical evidence of injuries, he said.
However, in Zimmerman's case, Scheibe provided a real-time account of what was happening on a call to police.
"You point your gun at my fricking face," Samantha Scheibe is heard telling Zimmerman on the call. "Get out of my house. Do not push me out of my house. Please get out of my house."
Anderson reported from Miami.