Updated at 8:02 p.m. ET: George Zimmerman, the Florida man who claims he shot and killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense, has set up a personal website to collect money for his legal expenses, his attorneys told NBC News on Monday.
Several sites purporting to raise money for Zimmerman, 28, have popped up since he shot Martin, 17, on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., but "I cannot attest to the validity of these other websites," Zimmerman writes on therealgeorgezimmerman.com.
Attorneys confirmed to NBC News that the site, which domain records show was created Sunday, is real and is operated by Zimmerman himself. It solicits donations through PayPal with a promise that "any funds provided are used only for living expenses and legal defense, in lieu of my forced inability to maintain employment."
Access to the site was hit or miss as it appeared to be having trouble handling a heavy stream of visitors after msnbc.com's initial report Monday afternoon; it was back up Monday evening with the visitor counter reset. It wasn't known whether any of those visitors had used the provided link to make a donation.
As for the case itself, Zimmerman says, "I cannot discuss the details of the event on February 26th" to allow authorities "to proceed with their investigation unhindered."
"I thank you for your patience and I assure you, the facts will come to light," it continues, quoting a philosophy attributed variously to the Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., and to sociologist James W. Loewen (who is credited): "People have a right to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. Evidence must be located, not created, and opinions not backed by evidence cannot be given much weight."
A grand jury had been scheduled to convene Tuesday to review the Martin shooting, but the special prosecutor appointed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement that she had decided to retain the authority to decide whether Zimmerman should be charged.
Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Martin's family, wasn't available for comment.
Here's the full statement from Zimmerman on his website:
I am the real George Zimmerman. On Sunday February 26th, I was involved in a life altering event which led me to become the subject of intense media coverage. 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.
It has come to my attention that some persons and/or entities have been collecting funds, thinly veiled as my "Defense Fund" or "Legal Fund". I cannot attest to the validity of these other websites as I have not received any funds collected, intended to support my family and I through this trying, tragic time.
I have created a Paypal account solely linked on this website as I would like to provide an avenue to thank my supporters personally and ensure that any funds provided are used only for living expenses and legal defense, in lieu of my forced inability to maintain employment. I will also personally, maintain accountability of all funds received. I reassure you, every donation is appreciated.
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