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Florida shooter Zimmerman needs protection while out on bail, lawyer says


George Zimmerman, center, speaks with his attorney Mark O'Mara, right, during a bond hearing in front of a judge at the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford, Florida, April 20. Zimmerman has pleaded not-guilt to second-degree murder in the February shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The defense attorney representing George Zimmerman, the Florida man charged with second degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, said his client was wearing a bulletproof vest when released on bail Monday morning, due to continued threats to his client in the emotionally charged case, WESH-TV reported Tuesday.

Mark O'Mara also said he was considering seeking a taxpayer-funded bodyguard for Zimmerman if the threats continue, according to the report.

"The way this case has been portrayed, he's guilty until proven innocent, and people are so inflamed against him, he has to be protected, and that's a shame," O'Mara said, speaking to WESH, an NBC-affiliated station in Orlando, Fla.

Zimmerman pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the shooting death of Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old who was walking to his father’s fiancee's home in a gated community in Sanford, Fla.  Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, said he acted in self-defense in the Feb. 26 encounter.

Zimmerman was not charged for more than six weeks, sparking nationwide protests and a debate about race and equity in the justice system. Zimmerman, 28, is white and Hispanic; Martin was black.

An attorney representing the Martins also spoke to WESH to discourage any vigilantism against Zimmerman.

"They don't condone it. They don't want it," said Martin family attorney Natalie Jackson. "If that's what (others) are doing, please stop."

Also on Tuesday, O’Mara blasted a Twitter account pretending to be Zimmerman's for trying to incite anger against his client.

One fake tweet suggested Zimmerman was seeking permission to carry a gun, which was false, O'Mara said. "That's disgusting and should be prosecuted," he told WESH.

Twitter policies do allow parody accounts, but users are told to make it clear that they are not the real person, which O'Mara says was not done in this case.

"It's somebody out there saying, 'Let’s drum up more passion against George and here's how I'll do it'," O’Mara said.

Zimmerman's arraignment is on May 8. He waived his right to be present.

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