This headline will certainly get a person’s attention, but it is not what you think. The George Zimmerman trial for the death of Trayvon Martin is over, but the case lives on. Zimmerman’s criminal trial was based on Florida self defense laws. It captured the attention of people across the country due to racial tensions. It was particularly intriguing for Duval County lawyers, because the Office of the State Attorney in Jacksonville FL was appointed to prosecute the case. As we all know, George Zimmerman was acquitted of the charges. His wife, Shellie Zimmerman, was not as fortunate. She was charged with perjury and pleaded guilty to the charge. She was not sentenced to serve any jail time, but she was sentenced to 12 months probation. As part of her Florida probation sentence, she must complete 100 hours of community service. Circuit Judge Marlene Alva denied Shellie Zimmerman’s request to complete her community service hours at her church. She is required to complete community service at a location authorized by the Florida Department of Corrections.
The Orlando Sentinel reported the story stating:
“Shellie Zimmerman, the wife of acquitted murder suspect George Zimmerman, today pleaded guilty to a less serious form of perjury in a plea deal that requires her to serve one year of probation. It was a negotiated deal, designed to avoid a felony conviction and to allow her to move on with her life. The 26-year-old was a nursing student nearly done with her schooling at the time of her arrest. Had she been found guilty of a felony — the perjury charge she was facing — she would have been banned from applying to become a state-certified nurse for three years…. The official charge filed against her is perjury during an official proceeding – of lying during one of her husband’s bond hearings last year. That’s a third-degree felony, which carries a possible five-year prison term and $5,000 fine. She pleaded guilty to perjury but not at an official proceeding, a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.”
The perjury charges were based on the following:
“While under oath, she told Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. on April 20, 2012, that she and her husband were broke when, in fact, they had taken in more than $130,000 in donations in just over two weeks from Internet donors wanting to help Zimmerman defend himself against the murder charge. Sims said today that she had been told that that money belonged to her husband’s defense fund, although the couple was spending some of it on living expenses.”
The State of Florida’s evidence consisted of “recorded phone calls made by George Zimmerman from the Seminole County Jail.” These telephone calls “show that in the days just before the bond hearing, he and his wife talked about those defense fund donations, and he directed her to move money between various credit union accounts and to put some in a safety-deposit box.” As a Jacksonville criminal attorney and based on what I have read, there seems to be evidence of guilt, because the George and Shellie Zimmerman would refer to $10 and $10,000. When you are speaking on the telephones at the jail, you are warned that the calls are being recorded. It seems like they spoke in the code to hide the dollar amounts, but they would still be able to discuss their finances. Her defense appears to be that she did not understand the defense fund was considered Zimmerman’s money. While speaking in code does not alleviate her defense, it does hurt it.