Less than two weeks before the trial of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin is set to begin, his defense team has announced that it is almost out of money.
On Wednesday, Zimmerman’s attorneys posted on their website that the defense fund now contains less than $5,000. In early January, the George Zimmerman Defense Fund had raised over $314,000 through an appeal on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in 17-year-old Martin’s February 2012 shooting. Zimmerman was the neighborhood watch coordinator for a Sanford, Florida gated community where Martin was temporarily staying. Zimmerman denies murder, claiming that Martin punched him repeatedly before he fatally shot him.
“Everyone on the defense team has made sacrifices in our fight to prove George’s innocence,” reads the message on the defense fund site, claiming that Zimmerman’s lawyers, Mark O’Mara and Don West, “have not been paid a cent” for their work and that a number of interns have been working on the case with no pay. “Meanwhile, the State of Florida has spared no expense in its prosecution of George Zimmerman,” adds the message.
Now, the attorneys say they need another $120,000 to give Zimmerman a good defense, or a minimum of $75,000 to give him a “fighting chance.” As for where the money went, the defense’s website stated in an update posted in January that the donations were used to pay Zimmerman’s bail bond of $95,000, living expenses of $61,747.54 and security costs of $56,100. The site states that $40,647.64 went to “law firm support and infrastructure” and $35,588.07 went to “case-related expenses.”
The message says that in the last two months the defense team has received a little over $26,000 in donations – “a sizable sum, but less than half of what we needed.”
The funding problem represents the latest blow in what has been a bad week for Zimmerman’s defense team: on Tuesday, a judge ruled that they won’t be allowed to mention newly-surfaced information, obtained from Martin’s cellphone, about his alleged drug use and fighting—information that the defense team consider crucial to Zimmerman’s defense—during opening statements in the trial, notes the Associated Press.