It was a rough day for George Zimmerman: His wife served him with divorce papers in jail, he was accused in court of choking his girlfriend and threatening suicide, and his lawyer revealed he’s $2.5 million in debt.
Tuesday’s developments came hours before Zimmerman — who was arrested a day earlier on a felony assault charge for allegedly threatening his girlfriend with a gun — was released on $9,000 bond with an order to stay away from the woman and firearms.
The former neighborhood watch volunteer — who’s had a series of legal encounters since being acquitted in the shooting of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin — was released Tuesday after posting bail.
But being locked up for two days meant his estranged wife Shellie Zimmerman, who had her own domestic dispute with him in September, was able to have him served with a divorce petition, his lawyers confirmed.
Shellie Zimmerman, through her attorney, released a statement saying she was "saddened" to hear of the latest news regarding her husband, "but unfortunately not surprised."
His lawyers said that while George Zimmerman was stressed, he did not appear suicidal.
“I don’t think he’s going to hurt himself or anyone else,” said Daniel Megaro, one of two public defenders appointed by the court to represent him after he declared he is indigent with massive debts.
Questions about Zimmerman’s state of mind arose during his initial court appearance on the charges stemming from Monday’s dustup with girlfriend Samantha Scheibe at her home in Apopka, Fla.
In requesting $50,000 bond, the prosecutor said Scheibe had told authorities about an incident a week and a half earlier -- “a choking that she did not report to the police.”
Scheibe also claimed that Zimmerman had “mentioned suicide in the recent past” during a breakup talk, telling her that he had “nothing to lose,” the prosecutor said.
“She is in fear for her safety,” the prosecutor said as Zimmerman, wearing a jail jumpsuit and handcuffs, listened quietly.
Zimmerman is not facing any criminal charges from the alleged choking incident. Outside court, Megaro and the other defense lawyer, Jeff Dowdy, said they only learned of the choking allegation in court and had not spoken to their client about it.
They predicted that Zimmerman would be cleared of wrongdoing in Monday’s clash. The judge found probable cause for his arrest on charges of felony aggravated assault, misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor criminal mischief.
He was barred him from having weapons, and his lawyers said his guns had been confiscated by the sheriff's department after Monday's confrontation.
Police have released audio of calls that Scheibe and Zimmerman separately made during the argument.
In her call, she can be heard shouting at Zimmerman: “You just broke my glass table, you just broke my sunglasses, and you put your gun in my f------’ face, and told me to get the f--- out!”
She can then be heard pleading with Zimmerman to leave her house, before telling a dispatcher: “He just pushed me out of my house and locked me out!”
When asked what kind of weapon her boyfriend displayed, Scheibe said it was a “shotgun,” adding that “he has all of his guns inside, both the shotgun and his AR” as well as “two handguns.”
Looking to clarify, the 911 operator asks Scheibe if Zimmerman has an “AR-15 ” — an assault rifle — and she replies, “yeah.”
In the other audio recording, Zimmerman tells a dispatcher: “My girlfriend has, for lack of a better word, gone crazy on me.”
When asked why he’s calling, Zimmerman replies: “I just want everyone to know the truth.”
Zimmerman also denies brandishing any weapon at his girlfriend.
“She's got a 9 millimeter. I have my firearms. She was throwing my stuff out. And in one of the bags was one of my firearms. I never pulled a firearm. I never displayed it. When I was packing it, I'm sure she saw it. I mean, we keep it next to the bed.”
Later in the call, Zimmerman can be heard saying: “I just wanted to leave.”
He adds: “She’s pregnant with our child and she told me it was better if we co-parented and she raised the child on her own. That’s fine. I said, ‘Are you sure this is what you want to do?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ As soon as I started to pack up my stuff and leave, she just completely changed…”
The dispatcher asks: “When you said she changed, what did she do?”
Zimmerman replies: “At first she was letting me pack my stuff so that I could go — we could go our own ways amicably. When she changed, she just started smashing stuff, taking stuff that belonged to me, throwing it outside, throwing it out of her room, throwing it all over the house.”
He also disputed the allegation that he broke the table: “She broke a glass table because she threw something on it — I don’t even know if it was mine or hers, whatever it was,” Zimmerman told the 911 dispatcher.
Police said later said Scheibe said she is not pregnant. No one was hurt during the incident, police said.
The arrest is the latest headache for Zimmerman since a jury found him not guilty of second-degree murder for shooting Martin, 17, on Feb. 26, 2012 – a verdict that sparked protests and renewed national debate about race, guns and self-defense.
Zimmerman and his estranged wife were involved in a domestic dispute in September that attracted police. Police said no charges were filed against either of them because of a lack of evidence.
He was pulled over for speeding near Dallas in July and again in September in Lake Mary, Fla. He was given a warning on the first incident and issued a $256 ticket for going 60 mph in a 45-mph zone in the latter.
NBC News' Tom Winter and Daniel Arkin contributed to this report.
First published November 19 2013, 5:09 PM