Skip to main content

Donations pour in to Trayvon Martin's killer

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 8:19 PM EDT, Thu April 26, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Defense lawyer O'Mara says he learned about the money on Wednesday
  • The revelation came as the lawyer was shutting down Zimmerman's Internet presence
  • Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin

(CNN) -- The lawyer for the neighborhood watch leader who fatally shot unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, said Thursday that his client has received about $200,000 from supporters.

Orlando lawyer Mark O'Mara told CNN's "AC360" that George Zimmerman told him Wednesday of the donations as they were trying to shut down his Internet presence to avoid concerns about possible impersonators and problems with his Twitter and Facebook accounts.

"He asked me what to do with his PayPal accounts and I asked him what he was talking about," O'Mara told Anderson Cooper. "And he said those were the accounts that had the money from the website he had. And there was about 200, $204,000 that had come in to date."

O'Mara had said earlier this month that he believed Zimmerman had no money. "I think he's indigent for costs," he said, adding that Zimmerman's relatives had few assets.

Zimmerman, 28, was released Monday on $150,000 bail, 10% of which his family put up to secure his release. He is accused of second-degree murder in the February 26 death of Martin, who was African-American. Critics have accused him of racially profiling Martin and unjustly killing him. He has said he shot in self-defense.

Asked whether knowledge of the money might have made a difference to Judge Kenneth Lester Jr., who presided at Zimmerman's bond hearing, O'Mara said, "It might have."

O'Mara continued, "I'm certainly going to disclose it to the court tomorrow -- coincidentally, we have a hearing."

He said he was prepared to "deal with any fallout," but predicted Lester would not feel misled. "I told him what I knew at the time, which was exactly what I was aware of."

The money has been placed in a secure account since O'Mara learned about it, he said, adding, "Nobody's touching it until we figure out how to handle it."

But criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos said Lester might not react benignly. "I know a lot of judges who would remand the guy back into custody immediately," he said. "If you've got more money stashed in an account and you could just pay the bond and be gone, that gives a lot of judges concern."

Though the account has been closed, O'Mara said he intends to open a legal defense fund for Zimmerman. "I've had dozens, hundreds actually, of people wanting to donate," he said.

O'Mara, who said he charges $400 per hour for family law cases, estimated Zimmerman's defense costs could reach $1 million. "You can really go through a lot of money on a case like this, with the intensity of it," he said.

Although details of the shooting remain murky, it is known that Martin ventured out from the Sanford home of his father's fiancee and went to a nearby convenience store, where he bought a bag of candy and an iced tea.

On his way back, he had a confrontation with Zimmerman, who shot him.

Zimmerman had called 911 to complain about a suspicious person in the neighborhood, according to authorities.

In the call, Zimmerman said he was following Martin after the teen started to run, prompting the dispatcher to tell him, "We don't need you to do that." Zimmerman pursued Martin anyway but then said he lost sight of him.

According to an Orlando Sentinel story later confirmed by Sanford police, Zimmerman told authorities that after he briefly lost track of Martin, the teen approached him. After the two exchanged words, Zimmerman said, he reached for his cell phone, and then Martin punched him in the nose. Zimmerman said Martin pinned him to the ground and began slamming his head onto the sidewalk, leading to the shooting.

Police have said Zimmerman was not immediately charged because there was no evidence to disprove his account that he'd acted in self-defense. A police report indicated he was bleeding from the nose and the back of his head.

Watch Anderson Cooper 360° weeknights 8pm ET. For the latest from AC360° click here.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
George Zimmerman
updated 8:50 PM EST, Wed February 5, 2014
Let's get ready to ... mumble.
updated 8:35 PM EST, Fri January 24, 2014
George Zimmerman, who sold his first painting on eBay for a whopping $100,000, is at it again.
updated 2:41 PM EDT, Sun September 29, 2013
George Zimmerman's estranged wife said that while she respects the jury's not guilty verdict in his second-degree murder trial, she now has doubts about his innocence.
updated 1:11 PM EDT, Sun July 28, 2013
George Zimmerman's defense team says people should delve into the "substance" of other comments made by a juror who claimed the man who killed Trayvon Martin "got away with murder."
updated 1:12 PM EDT, Sun July 28, 2013
A juror in the George Zimmerman trial says she feels the man who killed Trayvon Martin "got away with murder."
updated 3:52 PM EDT, Wed July 24, 2013
Four days after he was acquitted of murder, George Zimmerman stepped out of seclusion to help a family.
updated 1:09 PM EDT, Sun July 28, 2013
Florida law kept George Zimmerman from being held accountable in last year's shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, the teen's mom said.
updated 10:10 PM EDT, Wed July 24, 2013
Vowing to keep fighting for his son Trayvon -- even after Zimmerman was acquitted of murder -- Tracy Martin said that his family wants to turn "negative energy" surrounding their plight "into a positive."
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Sat July 20, 2013
The nation has a long history of self-defense laws. Almost every state allows some version of the "castle" defense, as in "a man's home is his castle."
updated 12:43 AM EDT, Thu July 18, 2013
The woman known as Juror B37 in the George Zimmerman trial released a statement exclusively to CNN pushing for new laws.
updated 4:57 PM EDT, Tue July 16, 2013
One of the jurors who acquitted George Zimmerman said she had "no doubt" he feared for his life in the final moments of his struggle with Trayvon Martin.
updated 8:54 AM EDT, Wed July 17, 2013
George Zimmerman "didn't do anything unlawful" and was "justified" in shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, according to one of the jurors who acquitted Zimmerman.
updated 1:04 AM EDT, Wed July 17, 2013
The friend who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin when his fatal confrontation with Zimmerman said she is upset at his acquittal on murder charges.
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Tue July 16, 2013
His trial's over. And now it turns out that George Zimmerman might need the same thing millions of Americans are looking for: a job.
updated 10:16 AM EDT, Mon July 15, 2013
An employee of the Florida State Attorney's Office who testified that prosecutors withheld evidence from George Zimmerman's defense team has been fired.
updated 10:02 AM EDT, Mon July 15, 2013
This might sound like a legal conundrum.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Mon July 15, 2013
Suspected racism in the justice system, deep-seated, secretive and historic, was the crux of the case for millions, writes Tom Foreman.
updated 11:33 AM EDT, Fri March 30, 2012
Just like most any other teenager, Trayvon Martin enjoyed listening to music and going to the movies, friends and family said.
updated 3:38 PM EDT, Tue July 2, 2013
With a single phrase, Rachel Jeantel, that friend of Trayvon Martin's, may have lit a fuse in the trial of his accused killer.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT