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Zimmerman's wife 'stood by her man' in Florida perjury, lawyer says

George Zimmerman with his wife Shellie (R), arrives in Seminole circuit court on the opening day of his trial, in Sanford, Florida, June 24,
George Zimmerman with his wife Shellie (R), arrives in Seminole circuit court on the opening day of his trial, in Sanford, Florida, June 24,

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - George Zimmerman's wife, who pleaded guilty on Wednesday to perjury, was channeling hit country song "Stand by Your Man" when she lied to a Florida court about the couple's finances after Zimmerman's arrest for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, her lawyer said.

The lawyer, Kelly Sims, spoke to reporters after Shellie Zimmerman pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of perjury for lying in a bond hearing last year.

Shellie Zimmerman told the 2012 hearing the couple was essentially destitute, even though they had accumulated about $135,000 between them through contributions to an online legal defense fund, prosecutors said.

Circuit Judge Marlene Alva in Sanford accepted a deal in which Shellie Zimmerman agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor perjury rather than the original charge of felony perjury in an official proceeding.

She was ordered to serve one year of probation, perform 100 hours of community service and write a letter of apology to Judge Kenneth Lester, in whose court the perjury occurred.

Sims said Shellie Zimmerman was scared and caught off guard when she was asked in court about the couple's ability to make bond.

"So she stood by her man like Tammy Wynette," Sims said, referring to the singer's hit single "Stand by Your Man."

In her one-page apology to Judge Lester, Zimmerman acknowledged that she had lied in claiming that she and her husband were destitute.

"Over the last 16 months, I have become intimately aware of the justice system, and the absolute importance of all parties being truthful," she wrote in her letter to Lester.

George Zimmerman was acquitted in July of murder in Martin's death, but his wife still faced the perjury charge for telling Lester that they had no money at a bond hearing.

George Zimmerman was arrested last year, about six weeks after he shot Martin, who was walking to the townhouse where he was staying in the central Florida city of Sanford.

The case drew national attention to Florida's self-defense law, known as Stand Your Ground, while also sparking intense debate on racial profiling and equal justice for African-Americans.

The Zimmerman's family credit union accounts showed that Shellie Zimmerman had transferred more than $74,000 from her husband's account to her own during the five days before the bond hearing, an investigator with the state attorney's office wrote in an affidavit supporting her arrest.

The Zimmermans discussed the transfers in coded language in several phone calls recorded at the jail in the days preceding the bond hearing, the affidavit said. They also talked about moving money to Zimmerman's sister's account and about taking money from a safety deposit box, the affidavit said.

(Editing by David Adams, Tom Brown and Cynthia Osterman)

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