The parents of admitted Trayvon Martin slayer George Zimmerman are themselves coming under intense criticism after word leaked they have established an online fund designed to raise money they contend will aid in defraying growing living expenses.
Mere days after George Zimmerman himself took to the Fox News airwaves to pronounce he somehow felt it was “God’s plan” and that he held no regrets in the fatal shooting of unsuspecting Florida teen back in late February, Robert and Gladys Zimmerman began soliciting funds and supporters at their www.therobertandgladys.com website for what they decry as their newfound and unwarranted predicament.
George Zimmerman himself launched the Therealgeorgezimmerman.com site as far back as early April to raise funds in connection with the shooting and to date has collected upwards of $250,000, including the $100,000 cash bond he was ultimately required to surrender as collateral following his arrest on second-degree murder charges.
Trayvon Martin was shot and killed mere steps from the sanctuary of his father’s home on the night of Feb. 26, after walking to a nearby convenience store to buy candy and soda. Self-appointed neighborhood volunteer watchmen Zimmerman has since admitted to police he thought the teen suspicious because he was walking in the gated community wearing a hoodie and chose to follow and eventually confront him, all the while maintaining that he only fired his weapon in self-defense and after the unarmed Martin inexplicably attacked him.
Beyond mere financial resources, Robert Zimmerman, a former federal court magistrate who personally updates the site himself, has also used the platform as an avenue to attempt to vindicate his son.
“The word hate was never used in our family’s home,” he writes, as well as adding his son, despite his apparently volatile nature, once served as a mentor to African-American kids and as a volunteer at a homeless shelter donating blood.
The elder Zimmerman goes on to expound about his rising health care bills and how he and his wife now painfully reflect upon how the once “peaceful, secure life we once knew is now just a memory… nothing can ever return us to the family we were just a few months ago.”
George Zimmerman’s initial bond was ultimately revoked in early June after prosecutors revealed to a circuit court judge Zimmerman had conspired with his wife to lie about and seek to conceal all the monies he had raised, resulting in his rearrest and incarceration and a new bond being suit at $1 million. Shellie Zimmerman, his wife, was also ultimately charged and arrested on perjury charges, to which she has pleaded not guilty.
"This court was led to believe they didn't have a single penny," Prosecutor Bernie De la Rionda told Judge Kenneth Lester Jr, who apparently agreed. "It was misleading, and I don't know what words to use other than it was a blatant lie."
It hasn’t helped Zimmerman’s image that soon after his Fox News interview blared a similar sit down with ABC News and Barbara Walters fizzled after word leaked he again was seeking to cash in, this time to the tune of requesting a month-long stay at a five-star Florida hotel for he and his wife. “I won’t get into it,” Walters said in the aftermath. “But he is desperate for money.”
Meanwhile, the parents of the 17-year-old Martin openly wonder how anyone could or should seek to so profit from such senseless tragedy.
“We must worship a different God, because there is no way my God would have wanted George Zimmerman to kill my teenage son,” said Tracy Martin. “George Zimmerman said that he does not regret anything he did that night… he wouldn’t do anything different and he concludes that was God’s plan?”
And yet, Robert Zimmerman continues to throw himself on the mercy of the court of public opinion, pleading with anyone who will listen and sympathize of how his life has been irrevocably changed and altered based on none of own doing.
But do not the same considerations ring true for Tracy Martin and Sabrina Fulton, the grief-stricken parents of Trayvon Martin? Given the unimaginably brutal, tragically unforeseen death of their only son, how changed must their worlds now stand?
Entwining and inflaming matters all the more, over the last few days lawyers from the Zimmerman defense team have requested a hearing under the state’s controversial “stand your ground laws,” which could result in the complete dismissal of all charges.
Based on the state-oriented law’s bylines, individuals are allowed to use deadly force whenever one might fear severe injury or death at the hands of another. In a criminal trial, prosecutors are required to prove a crime beyond reasonable doubt, yet in stand your ground proceedings defense lawyers need merely reach “a preponderance of the evidence” threshold.
A recent Tampa Times investigation found that since the law passed in 2005 nearly 70 percent of all defendants using the defense have one free and that figure rises to 73 percent when the victim involved happens to be black.
“A grown man cannot profile and pursue an unarmed child, shoot him in the heart, and then claim stand your ground,” Martin lead family attorney Benjamin Crump said in a statement. “We believe that the killer’s motion will be denied during the Stand Your Ground Hearing, and as justice requires a jury will ultimately decide the fate of a man that killed an innocent child.
“There is only one version of this story that represents that Zimmerman was attacked by Trayvon Martin, and that’s Zimmerman’s self-serving version,” he added. “Everyone will agree that the killer’s credibility is clearly questionable.”
The hearing is expected to take place over the next few months, all the while with Zimmerman remaining free on bail.
Glenn Minnis is a NYC-based sports and culture writer. Follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.