George Zimmerman, the man who shot dead Trayvon Martin, 'pointed gun at his girlfriend'

30-year-old faces at least three years in jail if convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon

George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot dead unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin sparking a nationwide debate in the US about race and self-defence, allegedly tried to choke his girlfriend and threatened to kill himself 10 days before his arrest on Monday, a Florida court has heard.

The new allegations came during Zimmerman’s appearance in Sanford before county judge Fred Schott. Mr Schott ruled that Zimmerman should return to court in January to answer a charge that he pointed a shotgun at his girlfriend Samantha Scheibe during an argument.

Zimmerman, 30, who was acquitted in July of the 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin, was freed on $9,000 bond on the condition he has no contact with Ms Scheibe, or with any weapons or ammunition. He faces at least three years in jail if he is convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The prosecutor said Ms Scheibe feared for her life because Zimmerman mentioned suicide and said he “had nothing to lose”. Zimmerman's defenders said after the hearing that he did not appear to be suicidal. “He doesn't appear to be a danger to himself or a danger to anybody else,” Daniel Megaro said.

Zimmerman's defenders said they are confident he will be acquitted.

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