George Zimmerman has a new defense – online.
His legal team acknowledges it is an unusual move, but says “this is a very unusual case.”
"First, we contend that social media in this day and age cannot be ignored. It is now a critical part of presidential politics, it has been part of revolutions in the Middle East, and it is going to be an unavoidable part of high-profile legal cases, just as traditional media has been and continues to be,” the website says.
“We feel it would be irresponsible to ignore the robust online conversation, and we feel equally as strong about establishing a professional, responsible, and ethical approach to new media,” the O’Mara Law Group said in a statement on www.gzlegalcase.com Saturday.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting of Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin in Sanford, saying that he acted in self-defense. He is represented by Orlando attorney Mark O’Mara.
The O’Mara Law Group confirmed that gzlegalcase.com and its associated Twitter and Facebook accounts are legitimate.
Nearly 1,100 people had “liked” the Facebook page by Monday afternoon, and 785 were following the @GzlegalCase Twitter feed.
In its website statement, the O’Mara Law Group said its goals for Zimmerman’s social media presence are to discredit and eliminate fraudulent sites and social profiles, dispute misinformation, discourage speculation, acknowledge the case's significance, provide a forum for communication with the firm, speak on Zimmerman's behalf and raise money for his defense.
His team says it has “worked to shut down all of Mr. Zimmerman’s websites and social profiles.”
“It is not in Mr. Zimmerman’s best interests to speak publicly about this case, and as he has hired us to represent him, we feel part of our responsibility to our client is to provide a voice for Mr. Zimmerman, but only when it is appropriate to do so. Please understand that, with pending criminal charges, he cannot speak freely concerning these issues,” the statement said.
Zimmerman previously set up another site, www.therealgeorgezimmerman.com, in the days before his April 11 arrest. On it, Zimmerman said he could not discuss the details of the shooting, but promised “the facts will come to light."
Therealgeorgezimmerman.com was disabled early last week.
His new site says it will not comment on the facts of the case and says that is the purpose of the courts.
O’Mara didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.
However, O’Mara said in court Friday that therealgeorgezimmerman.com had raised about $204,000 for Zimmerman’s legal defense, that Zimmerman had used some money for living expenses, and that the money was put into a trust account under O’Mara’s control.
Another donation page will be posted soon, gzlegalcase.com says, with updates about it to come on Facebook and Twitter.
O’Mara said on the website that “the large amount of money that has been raised to date for George’s defense, I believe, is a testament to the support for George as he goes through this most difficult time.”