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Donations to Zimmerman's defense fund up by about $20,000, lawyers say

George Zimmerman gets out of jail, but the judge in his case will now require advance notification before Zimmerman can leave the county. NBC's Jay Gray reports.

Updated at 5:27 p.m. ET: SANFORD, Fla. --  A day after a Florida judge raised George Zimmerman's bond to $1 million dollars, donations to a legal defense fund in Zimmerman's name have gone up by more than a third, according to a statement released Friday by his legal defense team.

Read statement here

The statement was posted on www.gzlegalcase.com, the official website for Zimmerman's legal defense. The website is managed by the law firm of Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's defense attorney.

Zimmerman was released from the Seminole County Jail at 2:49 p.m ET Friday after posting $1 million bond.

Zimmerman posts $1 million bond, released from Florida jail

According to the statement, supporters donated approximately $20,000 since Thursday, when Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth R. Lester, Jr. released his bond ruling.


The number marks -- in only one day's haul -- a sharp spike in donations making up a significant portion of earlier totals.

According to the statement, Zimmerman's legal defense fund had previously received approximately $55,000 in donations during the two months prior to the ruling.

Zimmerman, 28, is accused of second-degree murder in the Feb. 26th shooting death of Trayvon Martin, 17, inside a gated community here in Sanford.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, pleaded not guilty and told police he acted in self-defense after Martin punched him and knocked his head against the pavement.

Thursday, Seminole County Circuit Court Judge Kenneth R. Lester, Jr. ordered Zimmerman's bond raised to $1 million in light of revelations Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie Zimmerman, had misled the court about their finances during an April 20 bond hearing.

Last month, Lester yanked Zimmerman's earlier bond of $150,000 and ordered him back to jail after prosecutors showed that the couple failed to disclose at least $130,000 in donations to a Pay Pal account.

"Under any definition, the defendant has flaunted the system," Lester wrote in his ruling Thursday, noting that Zimmerman also failed to disclose a second passport.

"Although there is no record of flight to avoid prosecution, this court finds that circumstances indicate that the defendant was preparing to flee to avoid prosecution, but such plans were thwarted," Lester added in his ruling.

'Now is the time'
Within hours of the bond ruling, Zimmerman's defense team countered with its own strongly-worded statement, declaring that Zimmerman was not a flight risk, and renewing calls for donations.

"For those that think Mr. Zimmerman has been treated unfairly by the media, for those who feel Mr. Zimmerman has been falsely accused as a racist, for those who feel this case is an affront to their constitutional rights," the statement read, "now is the time to show your support."

Zimmerman quietly left jail earlier this afternoon, dressed in the grey suit he has worn to court appearances. He answered no questions from media, and was whisked off in a large SUV.

A bond document released by the Seminole County Sheriff's Office on Friday showed Zimmerman paid a bail bond company $100,000 in cash -- 10 percent of the $1 million dollar bond.

View bond document here (pdf.)

His parents, the document shows, put up their house as collateral.

Speaking to reporters outside jail several minutes after Zimmerman's release, Don West, a lawyer for Zimmerman, said his client needed only to place $85,000 of the cash amount, because the bail bond company considered as credit a payment in April of $15,000 on an earlier bond. (Zimmerman paid $15,000 -- 10 percent -- to secure release on April 23 on his original bond of $150,000.) 

Renewed efforts
The defense team's renewed fundraising effort may demonstrate the mounting expense of a legal case in which each twist and turn produces new costs -- and ever more attention from the national media.

O'Mara, Zimmerman's lead defense lawyer, told WESH-TV's Bob Kealing Thursday that Zimmerman's legal defense could cost up to $2 million.

In an interview with NBC News last week -- before the renewed fundraising effort -- O'Mara said that Zimmerman's defense fund had about $211,000 dollars but the money was already being spent on hiring staff and other legal costs.

According to O'Mara, Zimmerman's defense fund is managed by a third-party administrator who is a former IRS agent.  O'Mara established the fund after he shuttered Zimmerman's Pay Pal account.

WESH is NBC's affiliate station in Orlando.

Also Friday, Zimmerman's lawyers said a security team has established a "safe house" in Seminole County where Zimmerman will stay "until a more permanent secure location can be established."

Among the conditions of Judge Lester's order, Zimmerman cannot leave Seminole County without authorization from the court, and is barred from drinking alcohol or holding a bank account.

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