Trayvon Martin's killer, George Zimmerman, won't likely find a safe job, his lawyer says
Zimmerman has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars
Zimmerman's wife faces a perjury charge for allegedly lying about their financial situation
Zimmerman has sued NBC Universal, but hasn't specified a dollar figure
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.
As Zimmerman and his legal team mounted their defense, they convinced people across the country to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to help him.
Living expenses, bodyguards and expert witnesses were costly, they argued on websites set up to raise money in the case.
So what’s next, now that a jury has acquitted him?
For the 29-year-old Florida man, the financial picture is cloudy. Critics have already accused Zimmerman of profiting from the case. Will the donations keep pouring in? Will he win a monetary reward in his defamation lawsuit against NBC? Could he cash in on his personal story with a book or movie deal?
Beyond the legal costs, Zimmerman’s attorney says the case has come at a high price. Fear for his safety has made him live off the grid for months.
“I don’t know how he gets a job where he is out in public,” Zimmerman’s lawyer Mark O’Mara said, “without having the fear of somebody finding out where he works.”
Expert to Zimmerman: Pick a new career path
Before he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012, Zimmerman had studied criminal justice. He applied to become a police officer in Virginia in 2009, but was rejected due to bad credit, according to testimony in his trial.
Even with more money in his bank account, that career path shouldn’t be on the table anymore, an expert told CNN.
“That is the absolute worst thing you can do,” said reputation management counselor Mike Paul. “It might be your old passion; you need to find a new passion. And it needs to be helping people in a very different way – a way that is much more compassionate, not just involving law enforcement.”
So far, Zimmerman’s lawyers and family have been tight-lipped about his next steps. O’Mara describes his client as a marked man, arguing that his options are limited due to death threats he faces.
“The first time that he got out of jail, he slept a lot. I think he is going to have to take a lot of time to relax, to center himself, to get used to his new reality, which is a free man, exonerated,” brother Robert Zimmerman Jr. told CNN en Español on Sunday. “And he is going to have to take his own steps as he sees fit, whatever brings him the best result.”
Whatever he does, his brother said, it will have to be under the radar.
“As he engages the world, as anyone in his situation would, without restrictions,” Robert Zimmerman said, “he’s going to have to learn to move about in a very low-profile way and keep to himself.”
Donations fueled defense, led to wife’s arrest
But online, at least, being low-profile hasn’t exactly been Zimmerman’s style.
Through websites set up for his defense, he raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars.
One site, gzdefensefund.com, raised more than $330,000 in just over a year, according to a spokesman for Zimmerman’s lawyer. That’s in addition to about $200,000 Zimmerman raised on his own through a PayPal account before O’Mara took the case.
Where did that money go?