ORLANDO, Fla. (CBSDC/AP) — An attorney for George Zimmerman on Tuesday confirmed the authenticity of a new website that allows supporters to donate money for the neighborhood watch volunteer who has admitted to fatally shooting an unarmed black teen in Florida.
All the money raised from the site, therealgeorgezimmerman.com, will go to Zimmerman, said attorney Craig Sonner.
Zimmerman, who graduated from Osbourn High School in Manassas, is at the center of an investigation over the shooting of Trayvon Martin, 17. Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense after following him in a gated community in Sanford on Feb. 26.
Martin, who was unarmed, was black. Zimmerman’s father is white and his mother is Hispanic. The lack of an arrest has inspired nationwide protests and some claims of racial profiling, which Zimmerman’s supporters deny.
“I am the real George Zimmerman,” the website said. “As a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family and ultimately, my entire life. This website’s sole purpose is to ensure my supporters they are receiving my full attention without any intermediaries.”
The website described the shooting as “a life altering event” and said that any money raised will be used to pay for Zimmerman’s living expenses and lawyers. A page on the site allows visitors to leave comments and make donations through Paypal or major credit cards.
A spokesman for Martin’s parents said he considered it troubling that Zimmerman referred to the shooting as “a life altering event.”
“For Trayvon Martin and his family, this was a ‘life-ending event’ that wiped out a bright future and a world of opportunity,” said spokesman Ryan Julison.
The site adds that Zimmerman is unable to talk about the case in detail for now so that the investigation can move forward “unhindered.”
Special prosecutor Angela Corey is investigating the fatal shooting. The Jacksonville prosecutor announced Monday that she wouldn’t present the case to a grand jury, leaving any decision about whether Zimmerman will be charged solely up to her. That decision also eliminated the possibility that Zimmerman could be charged with first-degree murder since Florida law requires all first-degree murder cases to go before a grand jury.
Corey was appointed to investigate the case by Gov. Rick Scott after the prosecutor who normally handles cases out of Sanford recused himself.
“I am grateful to my friends that have come to my aid, whether publicly or personally, never questioning my integrity or actions,” Zimmerman said on the site. “Once again, I thank you for your patience and I assure you, the facts will come to light.”
A registry shows that the website was created last weekend.
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