Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By RENE STUTZMAN and JEFF WEINER Orlando Sentinel
ORLANDO, Fla. — George Zimmerman’s wife filed for divorce Thursday evening, her lawyer confirmed, less than two months after the former Neighborhood Watch volunteer was acquitted of murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Shellie Zimmerman, wife of George Zimmerman, appears at the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford, Fla. on Aug. 28. She filed for divorce on Thursday, her defense lawyer confirmed.
The Associated Press/Orlando Sentinel
In this July 13, 2013, file photo, George Zimmerman, center, talks to his attorneys Don West, left, and Mark O'Mara during jury deliberations in his trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Fla.
The Associated Press/Orlando Sentinel
Shellie Zimmerman, 26, was not available for comment, but her attorney confirmed their marriage was over.
“After much soul searching and recent disappointments, Shellie feels compelled to officially end her six-year marriage to George Michael Zimmerman,” said attorney Kelly Sims.
He gave no details of their breakup but provided a copy of the paperwork and Shellie Zimmerman’s financial affidavit. It reveals that she’s deeply in debt, owing creditors more than $90,000.
The couple separated Aug. 13, according to her divorce filing, and Shellie Zimmerman wants a judge to award her custody of both dogs, Oso, a 2-year-old, 120-pound Rottweiler, and Leroy, an 8-year-old mixed breed.
“The marriage between the parties is irretrievably broken,” the pleading says.
Shellie Zimmerman is asking for an “equitable distribution” of their assets, property and debts.
She has no income but $12,729 in assets – mostly her 2009 Honda Accord — and $103,756 in debts — mostly school loans, an auto loan and credit card bills.
Since they split, he has given her $4,300 from his legal defense fund, according to the affidavit.
She also asks that George Zimmerman be required to provide her with life insurance.
The Zimmermans were married Nov. 17, 2007, in Daytona Beach in a ceremony officiated by a close friend, Sondra Osterman. They have no children.
News of their separation comes a week after Shellie Zimmerman pleaded guilty to perjury — lying to help her husband get out of jail — at a court hearing in Sanford. Her plea deal calls for her to serve a year of probation. Notably absent at that 10-minute hearing was George Zimmerman.
That was a marked difference from what happened at Zimmerman’s murder trial in June and July. Shellie Zimmerman was listed as a witness and therefore was banned from the courtroom most days, but on the days she was permitted to attend, she sat behind him. At times, as they walked down the courthouse hallway, they held hands.
When the not guilty verdict was read July 13, she broke into tears and embraced her mother-in-law.
Shellie Zimmerman hinted about the breakup in interviews last week on “ABC News” and “Good Morning America.”
When asked about the future of their relationship and whether they were still together, she said, “I’m not going to answer that.”
“Of course, I want to have children and stay married ...,” Shellie Zimmerman said.
“With George?” freelance journalist Christi O’Connor asked.
“That’s something I’m going to have to think about,” Shellie Zimmerman responded.
She also revealed she wasn’t home the night her husband killed Martin. The Zimmermans had had an argument, she said, and she was staying with her father.
Before the shooting Feb. 26, 2012, the Zimmermans were a working-class couple, struggling to pay the bills. She was studying to become a nurse. His job was to help assess the riskiness of mortgage applicants, but he was a community college student, studying to become a cop.
After the shooting, they quickly packed up their belongings and went into hiding, something that did not stop a series of death threats.
In her interview on “ABC News,” Shellie Zimmerman spoke about that life.
“We have been pretty much gypsies for the past year and a half,” she said. “We lived in a 20-foot trailer in the woods, scared every night that someone was going to find us and that it would be horrific.”
Martin’s death became a civil rights cause celebre after Sanford police refused to arrest Zimmerman, saying they could not find enough evidence to disprove his self-defense claim. He was later charged by a special prosecutor with second-degree murder but was acquitted.