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Quick change in the toilet, GPS trackers and body armour: The secret plan that let George Zimmerman vanish on first release revealed
The plan included swapping vehicles and clothes on the way to a hideoutZimmerman, 29, is on $1million bail whilst awaiting his murder trialHis former bodyguards have filed a suit claiming he owes them $27,000
12:29 GMT, 28 December 2012
George Zimmerman is facing trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin which has sparked outrage across America. He is currently in hiding
Former neighbourhood watch captain George Zimmerman plotted to escape unnoticed from prison in a rental vehicle whilst wearing concealed body armour.
Zimmerman, who is accused of the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, was to be picked up by an armed guard in a vehicle which had been scoured for secret GPS tracking devices.
He would then be whisked from the Seminole County Jail, in Florida, to a tourist resort where he would go into the disabled toilet and change into a new shirt, hat and glasses, according to a recently-released 'jail escort plan'.
Zimmerman, who is facing second-degree murder charges for the shooting, would then walk to a different vehicle and be driven to a safe house, according to the documents seen by the Orlando Sentinel.
While he was being driven to his hiding place his bodyguards would watch for paparazzi, 'aerial' and 'negative counter surveillance' and for anyone wanting to attack their client.
The plan was hatched by an Orlando private detective whose company, Associated Investigative Services Inc, last week filed a suit claiming they are owed $27,000 for security services.
The civil complaint, which is also against Zimmerman's wife Shellie and lawyer Mark O'Mara, claims Mr O'Mara hired the company in June to provide security for the family but the promised payments stopped after an independent trustee took over Zimmerman's defence fund.
The company's invoices, attached to the suit, show that it billed $66,000 for 21 days of protection – an average of more than $3,100 a day – even though Zimmerman was still in the Seminole County Jail during seven of those days, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
During one five-day period, they charged more than $5,100 a day, the invoices show.
Student Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot dead as he walked home from the shop. The killing has sparked rallies across America
Zimmerman's legal team claim he never signed a contract but lawyers for the security company say that they had an oral contract to carry out the difficult assignment of making a high-profile, widely-hated man invisible and safe.
He is awaiting trial on second-degree murder charges in the shooting of Mr Martin.
He says that the unarmed teenager attacked him whilst he was out on neighbourhood watch patrol and is claiming self-defense in the February killing – which ignited racial tensions and prompted rallies across America.
Zimmerman, whose parents and lawyer also received hate mail and death threats, is currently free on $1 million bail and in hiding with his wife and bodyguard. It is said he mostly stays indoors where he is isolated and gaining weight.
The couple are now paying $700 a week for protection, it is said.
The bodyguards' lawsuit, filed Friday in state circuit court in Orange County, shows the lengths to which Zimmerman has gone to stay out of sight.
On June 28, according to the suit, Mr O'Mara phoned Chris Rumbaugh, an Orlando private detective and former Orange County deputy, undercover drug agent and SWAT team member.
Zimmerman was about to be released and needed to disappear with around-the-clock protection.
Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, left, leaves the Seminole County Jail after posting bail in Sanford, Florida
Mr Rumbaugh's company put together the plan which saw the couple being protected by a team of seven guards, according to the court documents seen by the Orlando paper.
The guards would rotate in and out on either 8 or 12 hour shifts and live in a room next to the couple at a tourist hotel equipped with a kitchenette, the records show.
It is unclear if the plan went ahead, but the agency billed for around-the-clock protection from June 29 to July 18, the invoices show.