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Calls: Zimmerman Told Wife to Buy Bulletproof Vest

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Mug shot of George Zimmerman. (credit: Seminole County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images)

Mug shot of George Zimmerman. (credit: Seminole County Sheriff’s Office via Getty Images)

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The former neighborhood watch volunteer who killed Trayvon Martin told his wife to buy bulletproof vests for them and for his attorney, according to jailhouse calls released Monday.

“As uncomfortable as it is, I want you wearing one,” George Zimmerman told his wife. Zimmerman was wearing a bulletproof vest when he left jail after posting bond. His attorney, Mark O’Mara, has reported receiving threats.

The calls, released by prosecutors, also detail how Zimmerman instructed his wife to transfer money from bank accounts and could play a crucial role in his second bond hearing next week.

Zimmerman was released on $150,000 bond in April, several days after the calls took place. At his bond hearing, his wife, Shellie, testified that she didn’t know how much money had been raised from a website created for his legal defense. She also testified that they had limited funds because she was in nursing school full time and Zimmerman wasn’t working.

Prosecutors say the calls show George and Shellie Zimmerman knew that roughly $135,000 had been raised by the site. The judge in the case revoked George Zimmerman’s bond and ruled the couple had deceived the court. Zimmerman has been back in jail for almost a month.

Shellie Zimmerman was arrested last week on a perjury charge and released from jail after posting bond. The third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Her 28-year-old husband is charged with second-degree murder and has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense during the confrontation with the 17-year-old Martin in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. The case sparked protests across the country when Zimmerman wasn’t arrested at first and led to nationwide debate over race and self-defense laws.

In one recorded call, Zimmerman tells his wife and sister how to change a computer password at a credit union so they can move funds around.

In another, Shellie Zimmerman said that money raised from the website was also being used to pay off bills. The couple also talked about how they would whisk Zimmerman away from the Seminole County Jail once he was released in April, and discussed using a rental car to drive to a hotel parking garage. There, they would change into another rental car to throw off anybody who tried to follow him.

Shellie Zimmerman told her husband that the website had crashed because of supporters leaving words of encouragement, as well as donations.

“Wow, that is awesome,” Zimmerman said. “Those people need to start vocalizing themselves.”

Prosecutors originally had planned to release 151 of Zimmerman’s jailhouse calls, but O’Mara objected. A hearing over their release is set at the same time as Zimmerman’s bond hearing next week.

“It is our contention that the calls are not only irrelevant to the charges against Mr. Zimmerman, but they could jeopardize friends and family of Mr. Zimmerman who are unrelated to the case,” O’Mara said on a website for the legal defense.

O’Mara also is objecting to the release of statements made by a witness only identified as “Witness (hash)9.”

“It is highly likely that the uncorroborated issues constituting the substance of Witness (hash)9’s statement will serve to reignite and potentially enhance the widespread public hostility toward Mr. Zimmerman,” O’Mara said in a filing released Monday.

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Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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