George Zimmerman has spoken out in public for the first time since he shot and killed Trayvon Martin in an altercation in Sanford, Fla., 46 days ago. On a website that went live over the weekend, therealgeorgezimmerman.com, Mr. Zimmerman says that on Feb. 26 he “was involved in a life altering event” that has made him the center of intense news coverage and forced him to “leave my home, my school, my employer, my family, and ultimately, my entire life.”
Zimmerman’s attorneys have confirmed the authenticity of the site. Although it contains links to several pages, labeled “The Facts,” “My Race,” and so on, these contain little but quotes from famous authors, pasted on a background of an American flag. One page, “Album,” contains several images of pro-Zimmerman graffiti. According to the liberal Think Progress political blog, one image is of a vandalized black cultural center at Ohio State University, while another is from a rally held by Terry Jones, the controversial Florida pastor who has burned Qurans in anti-Muslim protests.
The site offers no further details of Zimmerman’s side of the story in the Trayvon Martin case. In the past, his attorneys have said the neighborhood watch captain used his weapon because Trayvon attacked him and he feared for his life. The website does contain a PayPal link for supporters to donate to Zimmerman’s legal defense and living expenses.
Will the site help Zimmerman, or hurt him?
On the plus side, from Zimmerman’s point of view, it could be a tool to help him raise the substantial amounts of cash he may need for his legal defense. It is possible he will soon face criminal charges – special prosecutor Angela Corey has decided not to seek a grand jury review of the Martin case, which some legal experts said indicates Zimmerman’s arrest could be imminent. And as “Good Morning America” legal analyst Dan Abrams said Tuesday, even if Zimmerman is not charged in a criminal case, he will almost certainly face a civil case filed by Trayvon’s family.
“I don’t have a lot of problem with him raising money for a legal defense,” said Mr. Abrams. “Everyone is entitled to a legal defense.”
On the negative side, Zimmerman’s words can and likely will be used against him in the court of public opinion. An attorney for the Martin family has already blasted Zimmerman’s use of the phrase “life altering event.”
“You know he says that he experienced a life-altering event. Well, Trayvon Martin experienced a life-ending event,” said Martin family lawyer Benjamin Crump during a “Good Morning America” segment.
The apparent use of photos with controversial sources – which were still on the site as of midday Tuesday – won’t help Zimmerman, either. His attorneys noted that the site is a “personal” effort, and its design somewhat amateurish, meaning that perhaps Zimmerman himself or a friend had set it up without legal or public relations review.