Social media has already played a key role in the case of George Zimmerman, who is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of a 17-year-old African-American, Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, who claims he shot Martin in self-defense, has excited comment and argument across the political spectrum, much of it online; now defense attorney Mark O’Mara is establishing an official Web site and social media presence for his embattled client.
On the Web site, www.gzlegalcase.com, O’Mara explained that the Web presence will be used to keep the public updated about the case, hopefully sidelining fake social media accounts maintained by people claiming to be Zimmerman. By so doing, the Web site and social media push aims “to discourage public speculation about the facts of the case” -- something O’Mara says has unfairly prejudiced the public against his client.
O’Mara admitted that it is “unusual for a legal defense to maintain a social media presence on behalf of a defendant,” but reasoned that “this is a very unusual case.” Indeed, he went on, “We feel it would be irresponsible to ignore the robust online conversation, and we feel equally as strong about establishing a professional, responsible, and ethical approach to new media.”
This is actually Zimmerman’s second online initiative. Last week O’Mara revealed that a Web site set up by Zimmerman before he was charged with the murder (which has now been closed) succeeded in raising more than $200,000 via PayPal, which will now go to Zimmerman’s legal defense fund.