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Zimmerman lawyer expects Florida to be stingy about legal costs

George Zimmerman confers with his defense counsel, Mark O'Mara (R), Don West (2nd R), and Lorna Truett (background) after working out the wo
George Zimmerman confers with his defense counsel, Mark O'Mara (R), Don West (2nd R), and Lorna Truett (background) after working out the wo

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - The attorney for George Zimmerman said Tuesday he expects to recover from the state no more than a fraction of the defense expenses, despite his client's acquittal in July on murder charges in the death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

Attorney Mark O'Mara is planning to seek reimbursement from the state for defense costs estimated at $200,000 to $300,000, but expects to receive $50,000 or less because of limitations on what the state can approve.

"I just think it's patently unfair that the state by overcharging a case they could not prove at trial gets to cost either Mr. Zimmerman, or me, or the donors a whole bunch of money that they're not responsible for," O'Mara said at a news conference.

Prosecutors contended that Zimmerman profiled Martin who was walking to the townhouse where he was staying in the central Florida city of Sanford in February 2012. The former neighborhood watch volunteer shot Martin during a confrontation, and told police he acted in self-defense.

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 sum sought by O'Mara does not include his standard fee, which he said in this case would have totaled about $1 million for 16 months' work, or the fees of other lawyers on the defense team, all of whom worked for free. O'Mara said the state's Judicial Administrative Commission rules on reimbursement requests.

Some of the Zimmerman's defense expenses, particularly fees for expert witnesses, remain unpaid. Some defense costs and Zimmerman's living expenses were paid by donors who gave $314,000 as of January through a defense website.

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