Sanford, Florida -- A judge says he needs to know more about mystery money just revealed in the case against George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin's accused killer.
At a bond hearing last week, Zimmerman didn't tell a judge about a huge amount of money he had raised through online donations.
Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, said his client just revealed to him the existence of a stockpile that once hit $200,000.
The issue took over the spotlight at a hearing Friday morning that had been set up to handle other, unrelated issues in the case. Zimmerman is accused of second degree murder in the shooting of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin.
The Money Surprise
O'Mara, Zimmerman's lawyer, told the judge that back on Wednesday, he went to shut down all of Zimmerman's websites and social media accounts.
At that point, Zimmerman asked O'Mara something like "What about my PayPal account?" O'Mara said that was the first time he learned Zimmerman was sitting on a financial account.
It had raised around $200,000 from online donations, O'Mara told the judge. The lawyer said ethically, he had to tell the judge about this discovery.
Raising the Bond?
At his bond hearing last week, Zimmerman's defense team and family basically said he was broke. With that in mind, the judge set his bond at $150,000. Zimmerman's family came up with the required ten percent of that amount and bailed him out.
Now, knowing that this account exists with a bunch of money, state prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda asked the judge to consider jacking up that bond to a higher level.
Money on Lockdown
Zimmerman's attorney says there's been some cash spent from the account, but there's about $150,000 left. The lawyer has taken all of that and put it in a trust account that only the lawyer himself can access.
The judge said before he fiddles with the bond, he needs to know more about that PayPal money. Where did it come from? Does he even have jurisdiction to touch it?
The defense lawyer said when he researches the money's origins and gives the list of donors to the prosecution, it becomes a public record.
He's worried the people who gave their money to pay for George Zimmerman's defense could suffer anything from embarrassment to real threats from angry people. O'Mara suggested the judge and both sides meet behind closed doors to go over the list in private.
"It is going to be transparent. But it is going to be done in a way that protects those individuals who have found it in their hearts to assist Mr. Zimmerman in this time of need," O'Mara said.
Dodging the Rules?
At this point, the judge did not approve a private meeting.
Instead, he appeared to suggest a way for the two sides to avoid Florida's public records laws. He seemed to recommend the lawyers call each other on the phone to talk over the list. That would keep it out of the public record.
"Well, you can call the state up and talk to them," Judge Kenneth Lester, Jr. said.
"Okay," O'Mara said, as the attorneys from the two sides smirked at each other. One of the lawyers chuckled.
"That's one way," the judge continued. "Yes, sir," O'Mara replied.
In the end, Judge Lester said once he knows more about the money, he'll decide what to do next. For now, Zimmerman remains out of jail after making bail Sunday on his original bond amount of $150,000.
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Grayson Kamm, 10 News