George Zimmerman Fears for Wife's Safety After Mug Shot Publicized

Legal analyst says wife's arrest could be leverage for Zimmerman plea deal.

June 13, 2012, 9:54 AM

MIAMI June 13, 2012— -- George Zimmerman is worried about his wife's safety now that she has been arrested and her mug shot publicized, his lawyer told ABC News.

Zimmerman and his wife have both been in hiding since the neighborhood watch captain shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla.

Shellie Zimmerman, 25, was arrested this week on perjury charges for allegedly lying to the judge at an April 20 bond hearing about being destitute while her husband's online defense fund had $135,000 in it.

After her arrest, police released her mug shot, marking the first anyone has seen Mrs. Zimmerman who has been in hiding because of death threats against her and her family. Even when she testified at the bond hearing it was done by speaker phone because she wanted to protect her identity.

"Certainly now that she's been charged with a crime he's worried about her, and also worried now that she's out in the public eye," Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara told ABC News after visiting his client in jail late Tuesday night. The lawyer said there are "legitimate safety concerns."

If convicted of the charge, Mrs. Zimmerman could be sentenced to five years in prison.

The move by prosecutors upset O'Mara because he says he was not given the professional courtesy of a warning beforehand.

Legal analysts speculate that Mrs. Zimmerman's arrest could be used as a tactic by the prosecutors to pressure her husband.

"They can always say, look, we won't prosecute your wife if you decide to plea to some sort of charge," legal analyst Mark Lippman told "Good Morning America" today. He added, "It seems pretty clear to me that this is not something they would do in a normal case."

Seminole County sheriffs picked up Mrs. Zimmerman at the home where she was in hiding on Monday, the latest fallout from a series of taped conversations that landed her husband back behind bars a week and a half ago.

On April 9, George Zimmerman had launched the website and within weeks received more than $200,000 in donations to help with his legal expenses. But during the April 20 bond hearing, Zimmerman's wife testified that the couple was financially indigent.

During cross examination, Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda asked her, "In terms of the ability of your husband to make a bond amount, you all had no money, is that correct?" Shellie Zimmerman responded yes.

At a June 1 hearing that was called to discuss what evidence in the case against her husband should be made public, prosecutors presented evidence that included at least four jailhouse phone conversations in which George and Shellie Zimmerman were apparently discussing tiny amounts of money, but were allegedly referring to some of the $200,000 supporters had poured into his PayPal account.

At the time of the recordings, Zimmerman had just been recently arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the death of Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old.

During one call on April 16, Zimmerman and his wife were taped discussing their bank accounts.

George Zimmerman: "In my account do I have at least $100?"

Shellie Zimmerman: "No."

George Zimmerman: "How close am I?"

Shellie Zimmerman: "$8. $8.60."

George Zimmerman: "Really? So total everything how much are we looking at?"

Shellie Zimmerman: "Like $155"

The prosecutor noted that Shellie Zimmerman actually meant $155,000.

He said the couple knew that their conversation was being recorded but that they were speaking in code and knowingly withheld from the court the amount of money brought in from, a now defunct website.

Information provided by Zimmerman's attorney a week after he was released on bail showed that the couple had $135,000 in their bank account a day before the April 20 hearing.

The conversations landed her husband back in jail. He faces a second bond hearing on June 29 where his release is very much in doubt.

Also on Tuesday the family of Trayvon Martin appeared before a special task force appointed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to review the controversial "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law that George Zimmerman is expected to invoke as his defense. The parents asked the state to create a "Trayvon Martin Amendment."

The family asked the 19-member panel made up of prosecutors, lawmakers, and law enforcement officials to add a provision making it harder for someone who starts a fight to end it with deadly force.

"You cannot initiate a confrontation and then turn around and say you are standing your ground," said Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump.

George Zimmerman contends that he shot and killed Trayvon Martin after the teen attacked him. It's unclear who initiated the confrontation between the two that night.

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