George Zimmerman has been freed from jail and is at a secret location preparing for the trial that will decide whether he is guilty of murdering the unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin.
As the case continues to polarise America, the former neighbourhood watch volunteer walked out of the Seminole County Jail in central Sanford, Florida, at about midnight on Sunday.
Dressed in jeans and a brown jacket, and carrying his possessions in brown paper bags, Mr Zimmerman did not speak to the six photographers who remained at the venue, and was swiftly whisked away in a white BMW.
Under conditions of his $150,000 (£93,000) bail, Mr Zimmerman is now living under a night-time curfew and must report his location to police every three days. He is banned from consuming alcohol or drugs, and is not allowed to possess a firearm.
Photographs of him leaving custody suggest he was wearing a bullet-proof vest under his clothing in an apparent effort to protect himself from revenge attacks. He is believed to have also been wearing protective clothing when he appeared in court on Thursday.
The precautions highlight the level of nationwide anger the case has caused. In recent weeks, Mr Zimmerman and his family say they have been subjected to multiple death threats. To that end, he is believed to have been granted special permission to live outside Florida in the months before his trial.
Mr Zimmerman, 28, shot and killed Trayvon Martin following an altercation inside the gated community where they were both living, at about 7.15pm on 26 February. He had earlier called police, claiming the young man was "acting suspicious".
When Sanford police officers arrived, he claimed to have pulled the trigger in self-defence, after being subjected to an unprovoked attack by the 17-year-old. Trayvon, who had no criminal record, was carrying a drink and a snack bought from a nearby convenience store.
The case sparked national outrage after it emerged that police – who wrongly believed that Mr Zimmerman, who is of Hispanic descent, was white – had failed to even arrest him, apparently believing that his actions were justified by a controversial "Stand Your Ground" law introduced in Florida at the behest of the gun lobby.
Detectives did not test him for drugs or alcohol. However they carried out such tests on Trayvon's body. They also failed to interview several key witnesses until weeks after the incident, when anger over the killing had assumed international significance.
This month, Angela Corey, a special prosecutor appointed to review the case, announced that Zimmerman would be charged with second degree murder, a crime that, if found guilty, could see him spend the rest of his life behind bars. He was arrested and spent a total of 11 nights in jail.
News of Mr Zimmerman's release on bail, before his trial later this year, met with anger from Trayvon's family. Daryl Parks, a lawyer representing his parents, told CNN they were: "devastated by him being able to walk the streets."Reuse content