By Scott Hiaasen, McClatchy Newspapers –
Defense lawyers for George Zimmerman admitted Monday that their client made a “mistake” in not mentioning about $135,000 he raised through a website before his April bond hearing, but the lawyers say that should not prevent him from being released again on bail.
Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., returned to jail Sunday after a judge revoked his $150,000 bond.
Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said Zimmerman sat silently “like a potted plant” while his attorney argued in April that he didn’t have the money for higher bail.
In fact, Zimmerman and his wife controlled at the time at least $135,000 in donations Zimmerman solicited over a website in the days before his arrest, prosecutors said.
Zimmerman first mentioned the money to his attorney five days after the bail hearing.
Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood-watch volunteer, encountered Martin on
Feb. 26 behind rows of townhouses in a Sanford gates community and shot him after a scuffle. Prosecutors say Zimmerman tracked down Martin — whose father was staying in the neighborhood — because he suspected the teenage was a burglar; Zimmerman, however, told police that Martin attacked him first and he shot Martin in self-defense.
In a statement on their blog Monday, defense attorneys Mark O’Mara and Donald West said Zimmerman’s failure to disclose the money to the judge was a mistake “caused by fear, mistrust and confusion.”
Zimmerman raised a total of $204,000 through his website before most of the money was transferred to a legal defense fund out of his control, the lawyers said. About $30,000 of that was spent on expenses to move Zimmerman from Sanford to an undisclosed location outside Florida for his safety, the attorneys said.
The lawyers maintained that Zimmerman should still be allowed bail, because he is neither a danger to the community nor a flight risk.
The lawyers noted that Zimmerman has frequently cooperated with authorities investigating the shooting. Zimmerman gave voluntary statements to police, re-enacted the shooting for investigators, and gave voice exemplars so police could compare his voice to the screams for help heard on 911 calls at the time of the shooting.