Six recorded conversation between George Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, have been released to the public, possibly revealing a conspiracy to lie to the court about their assets. NBC's Kerry Sanders reports from Florida.
Speaking by phone from jail, George Zimmerman gave detailed instructions to his wife to conduct a series of money transfers and transactions in allegedly coded exchanges that were intended to hide from the court how much money had been raised to help pay for his legal defense, Florida prosecutors say.
Transcripts of the phone calls, which were part of the evidence that the state had introduced in a request to get Zimmerman's bail revoked, were released by the court on Monday. Zimmerman's attorney called for a hearing to stop the release of more than 140 other calls.
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., in February. He says he shot the unarmed teen in self-defense.
Prosecutors released six recorded calls Zimmerman made from April 12 through April 17 while he was in Seminole County Jail. In the calls, he gave his wife Shellie detailed instructions to change passwords and answer security questions for accounts, allowing her to move money. He then instructed her to move the money in a series of transactions carried out over days.
The calls show that Zimmerman and his wife attempted to hide their assets from the court, prosecutors alleged. Before his bail was set at $150,000 on April 20, Shellie Zimmerman testified that she and her husband were broke, and that she didn't know how much her husband's legal defense fund had amassed.
Prosecutor say the calls show the Zimmermans knew they had raised at least $135,000 before his arrest.
Accusing the couple of lying about their assets, Seminole County Circuit Court Judge Kenneth Lester revoked Zimmerman's bond on June 1 and sent him back to jail. Shellie Zimmerman was charged with perjury and released on $1,000 bond.
The attorney defending Zimmerman, Mark O'Mara, played down the relevance of the phone conversations in an interview with NBC News on Monday.
"(The calls) certainly suggest that they knew how much money that they had in the account that was coming through," said O'Mara. "Let’s not forget, though they were not honest with Judge Lester at first, that it was disclosed four days later. The money was transferred to my trust account and taken care of."
Zimmerman's fundraising website was shut down on April 24.
The content of the conversations with his wife was expected to play an important role in Zimmerman's next bond hearing on June 29.
Prosecutors argued that the Zimmermans were speaking in code on the phone calls, which they knew were recorded — using $10 in their conversations to represent $1,000 — to mask the large transactions.
"In my account, do I have at least $100?" Zimmerman asks his wife in a conversation on April 16.
"There's, like, $8," she says.
"OK, so total, everything, how much are we looking at?" he asks.
"Um, like, $155," she answers.
In other conversations he instructs her to transfer increments of $10 from his account to hers and to the account of his sister, Suzie. He also tells her to pay off the bills, including a Sam's Club credit card, American Express and Walmart.
Prosecutors allege the couple was moving money out of an Internet PayPal account that they referred to as "Peter Pan," as it was flooded with donations, the Orlando Sentinel reported, citing prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda.
On Monday, prosecutors also released the couple's bank statements, showing a series of transfers between the PayPal account and their personal accounts, the Sentinel reported.
The couple made sure the transfers were under $10,000. Transactions of amounts larger than $10,000 within a given 24-hour period must be reported to the IRS.
In the calls, Zimmerman asks his wife to buy bulletproof vests for the two of them and for defense attorney O’Mara, because of concerns for their safety in the racially and emotionally charged case.
"As uncomfortable as it is, I want you wearing one," Zimmerman told his wife. He was wearing a bulletproof vest when he left jail after posting bond later in April. O'Mara has reported receiving threats.
Neither Zimmerman nor his wife made any direct comment in the calls on the criminal charges he faces or about the victim.
On April 12, a day after Zimmerman was arrested, his wife told him about donations and messages flowing in through a website set up to support him — to the extent that they crashed the site several times.
"Wow, that is awesome," Zimmerman said.
O'Mara acknowledged the calls from jail may have damaged Zimmerman's credibility for the upcoming murder trial.
"Don’t forget that his credibility is of some relevance but much more important are the facts of the case," said O'Mara. "So if we have forensic facts, if we have eyewitness or ear-witness facts, if we have injuries that were sustained and what they mean, those are the facts that a jury should really look at. They may never need to get to the point of George’s credibility because the facts themselves may speak loud enough to give the true signal."
NBC's Jamie Novograd contributed to this report.
More content from msnbc.com and NBC News:
- Prosecutors may use unaired portions of NBC's Sandusky interview
- Toxicology tests ordered in Rodney King's death
- Good Samaritan pays towing bills for woman set on fire
- Video: High-speed highway robbery caught on camera
- NJ cop surrenders after 10-hour standoff with fellow police