Zimmerman attorney acknowledges couple used ‘code’ to hide PayPal haul
The attorney for George Zimmerman, the neighbborhood watch volunteer charged with killing Trayvon Martin in February, concedes that Zimmerman’s wife knew how much money had been raised through a website Zimmerman created to support himself while in hiding, and that during jailhouse conversations, the couple were talking in a “simplistic code” to conceal the amount of money they had. But Mark O’Mara insists the two were trying to hide the amount of money from the people around them, not the judge who decided George Zimmerman’s bond in his second degree murder case.
There is “no question — they did not tell the whole truth to the judge, which damages their credibility,” O’Mara said. “They dealt a great blow by not trusting the judge and the system.”
O’Mara made the acknowledgements during an interview Monday with CNN’s Piers Morgan, in response to prosecutors’ release of audiotapes and transcripts of six phone calls between George and Shellie Zimmerman from April 15-18, while George was in jail awaiting a bond hearing.
Prosecutors allege that during the calls, Shellie Zimmerman used code to tell her husband how much money has been raised through a PayPal account linked to George Zimmerman’s website, and that the two hid from the judge that Shellie Zimmerman had transferred some $135,000 to her checking account as of the day before Zimmerman was granted $150,000 bond.
In the interview, O’Mara called the question of what Shellie Zimmerman knew about her and her husband’s true financial situation “a significant issue.” He said she did know more than she told the judge, and added, “we acknowledged that four days after the bond hearing.”
And he added, “there is no question they were talking in a simplistic code about thousands of dollars” when Shellie Zimmerman told her husband they had $150 or other small sums in her account.
Asked by Morgan whether the couple were “deliberately trying to hide the truth” about their finances, O’Mara asked, “from who? From the jailers or other people in the cell [with Zimmerman]? There is not one phone call that evidences their intent to deceive the judge.”
O’Mara didn’t specify who Shellie Zimmerman might have been attempting to obscure the truth about the PayPal account from, but he hinted that further evidence may prove that his client, George Zimmerman, had no intention of deceiving the court. “There is one tape that George says [to Shellie Zimmermn,] before you testify, pay first and tell the truth.” Prosecutors introduced transcripts of the jailhouse conversations between the Zimmermans, including one in which George Zimmerman says “hell no” to Shellie Zimmerman’s suggestion that she use $100,000 to pay for his bond, should the judge grant it.
And O’Mara added that the money issue “has so little to do with what counts in this case, which is what happened when Trayvon Martin passed away.”
George Zimmerman is charged with second degree murder in Martin’s death, and Shellie Zimmerman is charged with one count of perjury for allegedly misleading the court during the April 20 bond hearing. Zimmerman’s bond was revoked earlier this month.
O’Mara expressed the hope that people would look past the couple’s alleged prevarication on the money issue.