By Ashley Lopez
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
In less than two weeks, George Zimmerman will begin his trial for shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., more than a year ago. This week, Zimmerman’s lawyers announced they were about out of cash. Since the announcement, however, they’ve raised another $12,000 in a single day for Zimmerman’s defense.
Of course, this money is on top of the more than $300,000 Zimmerman’s attorneys already raised in a Kickstarter campaign.
… They’ve somehow burned through almost all of the more than $300,000 in online donations the public somehow gave to an alleged murderer. “We’ve calculated that we need another $120,000 to give George the defense he deserves. At the barest minimum, we need $75,000 to give George a fighting chance,” reads the message on Zimmerman’s defense fund website, which also notes that there “is less than $5,000 in the trust account.” Judging from the twisted history of Zimmerman supporters — and based on the curious history of defense funds, even in the pre-Kickstarter era — that kind of request actually isn’t all that out of touch with reality. Don’t be surprised if one of the most hated men in Florida gets his non-Kickstarter Kickstarter coffers filled right up in time to pay his lawyers by jury selection.
The message appears to be from Zimmerman’s legal team, which promises that lead attorney Mark O’Mara and his team “have not been paid a cent for their services,” even though the note does add that “some staffers work for far less than they deserve.” Still, this would mean that since January 2, Zimmerman has spent a lot on a defense that has done little more legal good than court prep work and the mounting of a public smear campaign that’s not even admissible in court: According to the GZ Defense Fund site, donations totaled $314,099.07 as of January 2; according to The Orlando Sentinel, Zimmerman’s backers raised another $54,000 between January 2 and March 7, after putting out a call for more money on January 30. The donations, as the website stated in a January update, went toward expenses like Zimmerman’s bail bond ($95,000), living expenses ($61,747.54), and security ($56,100.00). As for his legal team, the site states that $40,647.64 went to “law firm support and infrastructure” and $35,588.07 went to “case-related expenses.” Yes, George Zimmerman’s case is expensive, and his supporters have footed the pricey bill.
And the money is already flowing in.
Attorneys for the man charged in the shooting of Trayvon Martin say his defense fund has raised $12,000 in one day.
George Zimmerman’s defense team posted the figure on their website on Thursday, just a day after announcing the fund had less than $5,000 remaining.
…O’Mara started the website to help raise funds when he took over the case last year.
This week, a judge made a slew of rulings that barred Zimmerman’s attorneys from mentioning during opening statement Martin’s suspension from school, marijuana use, text messages and past fighting.
The judge said she would accept evidence on a case-by-case basis, without jurors present.
Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Martin.