(SANFORD, Fla.) — The wife of George Zimmerman, the Florida man acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin, pleaded guilty Wednesday to perjury charges.
The plea deal allows Shellie Zimmerman to avoid a felony charge.
Under the negotiated deal, she can continue pursuing her nursing aspirations because she will not be a convicted felon. She was given 100 hours of community service, one year probation and will have to present an apology letter to the judge she lied to.
Shellie faced perjury charges after she was accused of lying about her and George Zimmerman’s finances during his April 2012 bond hearing.
When asked by prosecutors and Zimmerman’s attorneys about their finances, she said they were virtually indigent. However, Zimmerman had raised nearly $200,000 in funds through an online defense fund. Taped jail house recordings later surfaced showing Shellie and George speaking in code about their finances. Those conversations led to Zimmerman’s bail being revoked and then bail raised to a $1 million bond.
On April 9, 2012, George Zimmerman launched the website therealgeorgezimmerman.com and within weeks received more than $200,000 in donations to help pay for his mounting legal fees. But during his bond hearing Zimmerman’s wife testified that the couple was nearly broke.
Appearing via telephone due to fear for her life, she was asked by her husband’s lawyer Mark O’Mara if they add any major financial assets and she said no. She repeated that claim under cross examination.
In a later hearing, prosecutors presented surprise evidence that included at least four jailhouse phone conversations in which George and Shellie Zimmerman were apparently discussing tiny amounts of money, but were allegedly referring to some of the $200,000 into their PayPal account.
At the time of the recordings, Zimmerman had just been recently arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the death of Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old.
The guilty plea came a day after George Zimmerman’s attorneys revealed that they want the state of Florida to reimburse up to $300,000 in legal costs for their successful defense in the murder trial.
Zimmerman was acquitted in July of second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting of Martin. Zimmerman claimed he shot Martin in self-defense.
The not guilty verdict triggered protests around the country.
Zimmerman had employed a 10-person legal team, which conducted dozens of depositions, flew in experts, and even ordered up a 3-D animation to be aired toward the end of the trial.
State law requires the reimbursement of all but the most expensive item, which are lawyer’s fees, estimated at well over $1 million. The state of Florida reported the trial cost it more than $900,000, much of it for security.
O’Mara said it could take four to six weeks before Zimmerman’s team can negotiate the reimbursement with the state.
Zimmerman had largely been living off of donations solicited on his website before and during the trial that he said have dried up.
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