MIAMI - George Zimmerman went through almost $36,000 of contributions in 18 days spent mostly in jail, spending a bulk of his newfound cash on telecommunications, newly filed court records show.
Using funds donated from the public on his short-lived website, Zimmerman and his wife spent $6,500 on Internet and phone bills, said a document his defense attorney filed with the judge. He and his wife bought new cell phones for $300 each and paid a year-long Verizon contract in full. They installed a telephone landline for $2,500 and spent $1,300 on a two-year AT&T wi-fi contract.
They paid off at least $7,000 in credit card bills. They used $4,378 on car expenses, making payments on two car loans while renting another for more than $1,500. Gas: $800.
In a May letter to Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester, defense attorney Mark O'Mara called the spending "judicious."
The money was donated to Zimmerman after the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin. As marches around the country demanding Zimmerman's arrest grew, Zimmerman turned to the Internet for donations.
Many people were sympathetic to his cause. Zimmerman says the teen attacked him and he was forced to shoot in self defense. Donations spiked when Zimmerman was arrested, and swelled again this month, when the judge raised his bond to $1 million. Over the next three days, O'Mara said, the fund grew by $36,000.
In April, O'Mara said Zimmerman was destitute. The defense attorney said he found out a few days later that Zimmerman was sitting on nearly $200,000 so he immediately reported that to the court. The defense lawyer argued that the oversight was not a serious error, and that the Zimmermans apparently thought the use of the money was restricted to living and legal expenses, but not "for whatever other purpose they want."