- (Photo: Reuters)
George Zimmerman, who has pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder of Sanford, Florida teen Trayvon Martin, is running out of money to pay for his trial, and is asking for more donations from the public.
"The State has virtually unlimited resources to prosecute George," a website set-up to solicit donations for his case reads. "To finance his defense, however, George relies on the generosity of individuals who believe he is innocent."
Zimmerman, 28, admitted to shooting and killing 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, Fla. on Feb. 26, 2012, and if convicted of murder faces life in prison. The former neighborhood watchman has tried to prove, however, that he only acted out of self-defense and that he was first beaten and bloodied by Martin before he used his firearm. A number of photos from the night of the shooting have surfaced showing a bruised and bloodied Zimmerman.
"As we prepare for an (sic) Self-Defense Immunity Hearing or a trial, the cold fact is that we must raise more money," the website in his name reads. "Our goal is to raise $30,000 per month. This represents the minimum we calculate we need to conduct the defense George deserves, and this figure does not include any attorney's fees."
The lawyers have said that the trial could cost Zimmerman over $1 million, which does not include attorney fees. Exactly $314,099.07 has so far been raised in his defense, the website notes, and offers a breakdown into the different areas in which the money has been used – the biggest expense was Zimmerman's bail bond earlier in 2012, which cost $95,000.
"It's not unusual in high-profile cases for there to be a defense fund," Derek Byrd, President of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers shared with NBC News. "In the the old days people would go knocking on neighbors' doors or ask friends. Today, with social media – Twitter, Facebook, websites – you can see where people would use them to reach a bigger audience."
Most recently, Zimmerman filed a lawsuit against NBC Universal for doctoring 911 calls from the night of the attack to allegedly make him sound like he was "a racist and predatory villain." The lawsuit claims that the network attempted to use the incident to boost its ratings.
"NBC saw the death of Trayvon Martin not as a tragedy but as an opportunity to increase ratings, and so set about to create the myth that George Zimmerman was a racist and predatory villain," the lawsuit argued.