George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer accused of wrongly killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, will not immediately have to turn over the more than $200,000 he collected from donations to his website, a Florida judge said Friday.
Zimmerman collected about $204,000 in donations through his website, therealgeorgezimmerman.com, which was soliciting funds for his legal defense. However, the defendant did not disclose the contributions during a bond hearing last week, when his family testified it did not have the resources necessary to meet the prosecution's suggested $1 million bond.
Zimmerman, who is facing second-degree murder charges in the shooting death of the unarmed teen, was released Monday on $150,000 bail. His family put up 10 percent of the sum to secure his release.
Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda asked Judge Kenneth Lester on Friday to increase Zimmerman's $150,000 bond in light of the undisclosed contributions. Lester reportedly said he would delay ruling on the request, saying that he was unsure if he even had the authority to do so, according to multiple repoarts.
Lester also said he was concerned about revealing the names of the donors to the website. The website has since been shut down, although Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, said he'll likely start a new defense fund.
O'Mara told the judge that Zimmerman's family had not told him about the money before his client was released on bail.
The lawyer for Martin's parents, Benjamin Crump, said Friday he has asked the prosecutor to request that the judge revoke Zimmerman's bail for not disclosing the funds at his original hearing.
This is a bombshell that was dropped, Crump told The Associated Press. Crump also said the victim's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, were offended that Zimmerman failed to inform the court of the money.
Friday's hearing was originally scheduled to sort out requests by multiple media organization's to unseal documents from Zimmerman's court file. While the prosecution had asked for a gag order on those involved in the trial, Lester reportedly said he would not stop Zimmerman's attorneys from speaking with the media.
Ashley covers U.S. politics for the International Business Times, with a focus on civil liberties, women's issues and campaign finance. Her work has also appeared in The...