George Zimmerman, the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who killed Trayvon Martin, plans to ask the state of Florida to cover $200,000 to $300,000 of his legal expenses, his attorney told the Orlando Sentinel Monday evening.
Because Zimmerman was acquitted, state law requires Florida to pay all his legal costs, minus the biggest one: the fee that goes to his lawyers.
That includes the cost of expert witnesses, travel, depositions, photocopies, even that animated 3-D video that defense attorneys showed jurors during closing argument that depicts Trayvon punching Zimmerman.
Defense attorney Mark O’Mara said Monday that he would soon prepare a motion, asking Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson to authorize the payments.
That motion, he said, “is in the works.”
His office is still collecting numbers, he said, but he estimated the request would total $200,000 to $300,000.
That would be on top of the estimated $902,000 that public agencies already have spent on Zimmerman’s five-week second-degree murder trial that ended July 13.
For months leading up to the trial, Zimmerman lived in hiding, had no job and lived off donations to his legal defense fund. At one point, he tried to solicit donations by promising each donor a handwritten, signed thank-you note.
Several times in the months leading up to the trial, O’Mara said that defense funds were so low he might be forced to ask the judge to declare Zimmerman indigent, and thus, require the state to pay his legal bills. But that never happened.
This upcoming motion, however, would have the same effect.
It would be based on Florida Statute 939.06, which states that a defendant who has been acquitted is not liable for any costs associated with his case and, if he or she paid anything, they would be due a refund, if approved by a judge or clerk.
The money would come from the Judicial Administrative Commission, the state agency that pays the non-lawyer legal expenses of indigent defendants.
I hope the state of Florida has to pony up every single penny Mr. Zimmerman – via his attorneys – requests. And then some.
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