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Zimmerman’s Attorneys Turn To Social Media To Defend Client

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George Zimmerman sits with his attorney Mark O'Mara during his bond hearing in Sanford, Fla., on April 20, 2012. (credit: Gary W. Green/AFP/Getty Images)

George Zimmerman sits with his attorney Mark O’Mara during his bond hearing in Sanford, Fla., on April 20, 2012. (credit: Gary W. Green/AFP/Getty Images)

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SANFORD, Fla. (CBS Tampa/AP) — Attorneys for George Zimmerman are putting on a full-court press in social media.

After previously deleting George Zimmerman’s fundraising website where $200,000 was raised for his legal costs, the Mark O’Mara Law Group created a Facebook page, Twitter handle and a blog in an effort to describe how they will be helping their client going forward.

The legal team even announced on its Facebook page that it is an “unusual” move to take their defense to the social media realm.

“It is unusual to to have a page on Facebook like this for a legal defense, but there is such strong public interest about the case, we felt it was appropriate to open a forum for conversation and to provide a proper means for you to address the law firm,” the group said on Facebook.

On its blog post at gzlegalcase.com, the group lists why it is going the social media route.

“We feel it would be irresponsible to ignore the robust online conversation, and we feel equally as strong about establishing a professional, responsible, and ethical approach to new media.”

The defense team is hoping to discredit and eliminate fraudulent websites and social profiles, dispute information, discourage speculation, acknowledge the larger significance of the case, provide a forum of communication with the large firm, provide a voice for Zimmerman, and help raise funds for him.

“I don’t want my client to have any Internet presence unless it is through my office,” O’Mara said. “What I’m trying to do is limit the enormity of danger that comes into this case in places like Twitter and false Facebook accounts.”

Zimmerman’s lawyer said most donors had contributed in the range of several hundred dollars. He said he didn’t want their names publicized.

“My fear is they will be targeted for reprisals, animosities,” O’Mara said.

Zimmerman was released from jail last week, and has gone into hiding ever since over concerns about his safety. He is accused of second-degree murder for the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager. Zimmerman wasn’t charged for more than six weeks, setting off nationwide protests. He claims self-defense.

Zimmerman’s father is white and his mother is from Peru.

An attorney for Martin’s family said the teenager’s parents were “offended” Zimmerman did not tell the judge about the money that was previously raised from the website he set up.

“This is a bombshell that was dropped,” Benjamin Crump said.

O’Mara said he learned about the money this week, after Zimmerman’s release. The family used $5,000 from the website as well as a second mortgage on their home to bail out Zimmerman, O’Mara said. Zimmerman has also used some of the money for living expenses.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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