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Zimmerman's wife charged: What does it mean for his defense?

George Zimmerman's wife was charged with perjury Tuesday for lying to a judge. Now Zimmerman's defense team in the Trayvon Martin murder case will have to put her arrest into perspective.

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After the hearing, Ms. Zimmerman used a series of smaller transactions to move another $85,500 from the account, which had been filled through PayPal donations from supporters going to “The Real George Zimmerman” website. Mr. O’Mara has since closed that site and replaced it with an independently managed website.

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On Wednesday, O’Mara made his first public statement after Ms. Zimmerman’s arrest, saying he and Mr. Zimmerman are worried about her safety after she left the Seminole County jail. O’Mara has earlier said that the couple was “confused” and “fearful” as Florida prosecutors reversed a local decision to let Mr. Zimmerman go and instead decided to charge him with second-degree murder, a crime for which, if convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

O’Mara’s challenge will be to explain to future jurors the couple’s state of mind, while steering the case back toward the facts at hand, says Mr. Greenfield.

“One of the hardest things is to understand what goes through the mind of a defendant in a high-profile case,” he says. “He probably didn’t have a firm grip on who to trust or what to trust, whether the system itself was trustworthy. There’s a lot of paranoia that tends to permeate attitudes toward the criminal justice system that can cause people to make some poor choices. Once they feel more comfortable with either the system or their lawyer, they come to realize that these choices were pretty boneheaded.”

O’Mara and Mr. Zimmerman return to face Judge Lester on June 29, when the court will review the bond revocation. O'Mara will likely take that opportunity to try to undo some of the damage to Mr. Zimmerman’s credibility and to try to steer the judge – and the American public – back to the facts of the case.

In front of a nation that watched as “Justice for Trayvon” became a rallying cry for thousands of protesters across the country, O'Mara will have a difficult task to rebuild the Zimmermans’ credibility, legal analysts say.

Indeed, the couple's problems may multiply if authorities find that Ms. Zimmerman willfully structured the cash transfers to avoid alerting the IRS, Jeffrey Neiman, a former federal prosecutor, told the Associated Press. Such diversions, he says, could lead to “serious federal criminal charges.”

“You can’t perpetrate this kind of fraud on the court and expect there’s not going to be consequences,” Florida legal analyst Bill Sheaffer told WFTV, a news station in Orlando.


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