Saturday, July 28, 2012

Wife of Trayvon Martin's killer pleads not guilty to perjury

MIAMI (Reuters) - The wife of George Zimmerman pleaded not guilty on Friday to a perjury charge after Florida prosecutors alleged she lied about their family's finances during a bond hearing in the case of her husband's shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin.

A lawyer for Shellie Zimmerman filed the written plea and waved her right to appear in court at an arraignment hearing scheduled for Tuesday, said Michelle Kennedy, a court spokeswoman.

Shellie Zimmerman was arrested on June 12 and released the same day on $1,000 bond.

George Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watchman, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in Martin's shooting.

A judge revoked his $150,000 bond last month and ordered him to return to jail after prosecutors said the Zimmermans misled the court about their financial status.

The judge ruled at the time the Zimmermans failed to disclose more than $135,000 that donors had contributed to a website set up to help pay for George Zimmerman's legal defense.

George Zimmerman has since been released on a new $1 million bond.

During an April bond hearing, Shellie Zimmerman testified the Zimmermans had no money and that she did not know much had been raised through the website.

But several phone calls recorded while George Zimmerman was in jail showed them using coded language to discuss the money and discussing plans to move it to an account belonging to his sister.

His lawyers have acknowledged that Zimmerman hurt his credibility by claiming not to have any money and misleading the court.

On Friday, Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, confirmed his parents have launched a new fundraising website at to help with their living expenses.


With an American flag as a backdrop, the website says its purpose is to give the public an honest description of Zimmerman, explain what the family's life has been like since the February 26 shooting and to ask for donations.

In the site's first lengthy post, Robert Zimmerman said his son has been "savagely portrayed in the media."

The family has been forced to move several times to escape constant media calls and visits and because they have received numerous death threats, he said.

One note left on the front door of their central Florida home threatened "to kill anyone with George's DNA," he added.

Robert Zimmerman said he, his wife and mother-in-law had previously refused to accept donations but that now, "we fully realize that the peaceful, secure life we once knew is now just a memory," adding that the family needed help to cover "greatly increased living expenses."

He described his son as a good neighbor and good citizen who donated blood, mentored two African-American children and worked in a men's homeless shelter.

"George has always been, and continues to be, a truly caring, loving and selfless individual," he said.

Zimmerman, 28, shot and killed Martin, 17, during a fight in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, where Martin was visiting his father.

Martin was unarmed and walking back from a store when Zimmerman called a 911 dispatcher and said the teen looked suspicious.

Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self defense after Martin attacked him and repeatedly slammed his head to the ground.

(Reporting by Kevin Gray and Jane Sutton; Editing by Philip Barbara)


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