With 12 days remaining until George Zimmerman goes on trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman's lawyers are pleading for more money, insisting that they've somehow burned through almost all of the more than $300,000 in online donations the public somehow gave to an alleged murderer. "We've calculated that we need another $120,000 to give George the defense he deserves. At the barest minimum, we need $75,000 to give George a fighting chance," reads the message on Zimmerman's defense fund website, which also notes that there "is less than $5,000 in the trust account." Judging from the twisted history of Zimmerman supporters — and based on the curious history of defense funds, even in the pre-Kickstarter era — that kind of request actually isn't all that out of touch with reality. Don't be surprised if one of the most hated men in Florida gets his non-Kickstarter Kickstarter coffers filled right up in time to pay his lawyers by jury selection.
The message appears to be from Zimmerman's legal team, which promises that lead attorney Mark O'Mara and his team "have not been paid a cent for their services," even though the note does add that "some staffers work for far less than they deserve." Still, this would mean that since January 2, Zimmerman has spent a lot on a defense that has done little more legal good than court prep work and the mounting of a public smear campaign that's not even admissible in court: According to the GZ Defense Fund site, donations totaled $314,099.07 as of January 2; according to The Orlando Sentinel, Zimmerman's backers raised another $54,000 between January 2 and March 7, after putting out a call for more money on January 30. The donations, as the website stated in a January update, went toward expenses like Zimmerman's bail bond ($95,000), living expenses ($61,747.54), and security ($56,100.00). As for his legal team, the site states that $40,647.64 went to "law firm support and infrastructure" and $35,588.07 went to "case-related expenses." Yes, George Zimmerman's case is expensive, and his supporters have footed the pricey bill.
Will another $45,000 really be the difference in trial? His legal team promises the next round of funding would be spent on the lodging of experts. "In the days ahead, we need to spend thousands of dollars on transcripts of crucial depositions. We need to pay experts and provide them accommodations during the time they may be needed at trial," the site states. Zimmerman was found to have misrepresented his financial assets in court back in June, but transcripts of depositions can be costly, and we imagine Florida hotel rooms can be, too.
But still, spending money at a trial is different than spending money on say, a car or a house. It's hard to quantify exactly how much better Zimmerman would do with $120,000 in his pocket as opposed to, say, $75,000 more. And you have to take into account that the people writing this, also have an incentive: they're the lawyers who say they haven't received a cent.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.