Trayvon Lawyers Accused of 'Profiteering'

ABC News
Trayvon Lawyers Accused of 'Profiteering'
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Trayvon Lawyers Accused of 'Profiteering' (ABC News)

George Zimmerman's legal team today defended his new promise to send autographed thank you cards to donors in an effort to bolster his dwindling legal defense fund.

The statement also said that if anyone is "profiteering" from the case it is the lawyers for the family of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager Zimmerman is accused of killing.

Zimmerman, 29, is charged with second-degree murder for the Feb. 26 shooting of Martin in Sanford, Fla.

In an effort to bolster his dwindling legal defense fund, Zimmerman will begin sending donors personally signed thank you cards. "Thank you for your support," the card reads, and is signed, "your friend, George Zimmerman."

In a statement on his website this afternoon, Zimmerman's team said he is using the cards to thank those who supported him, not just financially but with "kind words and prayers."

"George Zimmerman is innocent and should never have been charged, and there is nothing inappropriate about raising money to fund the defense of an innocent man," the statement said.

It concluded with a blast at the lawyers for Martin's family.

"If profiteering is a concern, that analysis should begin with those who crafted the misinformation blitz and racially charged rhetoric, shouted with reckless disregard for the truth, the result of which has been significant financial gain, not ruin. We speak not of the Martin family, who have suffered the tragedy of losing a son; we speak of the family's handlers and attorneys," it said.

A spokesman for the family's lawyers could not be immediately reached for comment.

A large market exists for the signatures of people involved in a high profile trials. The signatures of notorious criminals like Charles Manson and John Wayne Gacy can be valuable, Greg Albach of SignHereAutographs told ABC News.

The signed thank you notes from Zimmerman, who has not been convicted of any crime and insists he is innocent, won't rise to that level, he said.

"It's pretty tacky," said Albach. "You could probably get maybe 10 to 25 bucks for it."

Zimmerman has raised more than $200,000 from those who believe he was justified in shooting the teenager during what Zimmerman claims was a struggle for his gun, with $140,000 of that transferred to the independently-managed George Zimmerman Defense Fund.

Records revealed that Zimmerman burned through nearly $36,000 of the initial donations in 18 days on personal credit cards and telecommunications contracts.

Zimmerman previously had his bond revoked and was ordered back to jail for 30 days after misleading authorities about the amount of money he had raised.

According to GZDefenseFund.com, the current balance has slipped below $15,000 and additional donations are being solicited.

Any funds raised will be used to "support George's living expenses and legal costs" and will be overseen by a manager of Zimmerman's choosing, his website states.

Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to the murder charges, arguing he shot Martin in self defense and that his actions were justified under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. He is currently living in hiding with his wife Shellie, 25, in Seminole County. A trial is set for June 10.

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