Trayvon Martin

Zimmerman keen to go to law school to help those wrongly accused

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 July, 2013, 2:02am

After his acquittal on murder charges, George Zimmerman may go to law school so he can help people wrongly accused of crimes like himself, friends said.

After he was found not guilty of murdering black teenager Trayvon Martin, one of the first calls Zimmerman, 29, made was to defence witness John Donnelly and his wife Leanne Benjamin.

They got to know Zimmerman in 2004 when he and a black friend opened an insurance office in a Florida building where Benjamin worked. They grew close and the couple spent time with him during the trial.

Over dinner with Zimmerman recently, Benjamin said he told them he would like to go to law school. "I'd like to help other people like me," he had said.

Zimmerman, an insurance investigator, attended community college and was one credit short of an associate degree in criminal justice, but was kicked out of school because he posed a danger to the campus, according to family sources.

"Everybody said he was a cop wannabe but he's interested in law," Benjamin said. "He sees it as a potential path forward to help other people like himself."

Zimmerman's defence lawyer Mark O'Mara confirmed Zimmerman's ambitions. "He wanted to be a cop for a while, but he's talked more recently about going to law school," O'Mara said.

"He has a real interest in the law and … prosecuting appropriately - not like what he got - is something he's very interested in. I will not be surprised if he ends up in criminal law. His dad was a judge, and he wants to be a prosecutor or a lawyer."

But even O'Mara and Zimmerman's brother, Robert, admitted his life would never be the same after the trial, which has forced him to go out in disguise and wear bulletproof vests because of threats to his life.

Donnelly said Zimmerman was hurt very deeply by prosecutors' portrayals of him as a racist vigilante who targeted and pursued Martin simply because he was black.

"The person they are talking about is somebody completely different," Donnelly quoted Zimmerman as telling him recently.