George Zimmerman's attorney says that the neighborhood watch volunteer, charged with second-degree murder after he shot and killed teenager Trayvon Martin, has raised more $200,000 in donations on his website to pay for his legal defense.
Zimmerman's lawyer Mark O'Mara, speaking to CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 on Thursday night, said that his client gave him the information on Wednesday and that he will inform the judge at the hearing on Friday.
Digital Journal reports that Zimmerman was released from jail shortly after midnight on Sunday after he had paid 10 percent of the $150,000 bond. According to O'Mara, the bond would have been higher if the judge knew that Zimmerman had raised so much money.
Miami Herald reports O'Mara said: “Certainly, we’re going to deal with it in a more transparent way. Certainly we had acknowledged he did not have funds available to him and these were. I’m not certain he thought they were available to him, because even after bond was granted, it was the family trying to come up with enough money for the bond. If they thought they had full easy access to it, they simply could have used that."
Daily Mail reports that the website used to raise the money has been shut down.
According to Global Grind, Zimmerman shut down his website in compliance with bail guidelines that he should not engage in any social media activities. After Zimmerman set up the website, several imitation sites and Twitter accounts were set up. O'Mara said he is working to clear the Internet of the fake sites and set up a fund for his client's defense.
Digital Journal reports that Zimmerman's current whereabouts are unknown and are being kept secret for security reasons. It is believed that he went into hiding outside Florida.
He was released on bond after a two-hour hearing in which he apologized to Martin's parents for killing their son. He said: "I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am and I did not know if he was armed or not."
Reuters notes that Zimmerman has not pleaded guilty, but insists that he killed Martin in self defense.
The shooting of Trayvon Martin has sparked off civil protests with many alleging racial bias in police handling of the case. There have also been debates about U.S. gun laws, self-defense laws and race issues in the U.S.
Some analysts say that the fact that George Zimmerman's website — which Gawker.com describes as a crappy"" website "that looked like it was designed in the mid-'90s" — could raise $200,000 in such a short time is an indication of the strong divisive feelings that the case has generated.