The defense team of George Zimmerman, the man charged with the second degree murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, has added veteran attorney and murder defense specialist Donald R. West to its ranks. The team, headed up by attorney Mark O’Mara, will formally announce the addition today.
West is well-known in the Orlando area due to his involvement in several high profile cases. Most notably West represented Orlando music producer Lou Pearlman, the man behind groups such as the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, in 2008 on charges of fraud, related to a Ponzi scheme. West also served as co-counsel in the case of Joseph Spaziano, helping the convicted murderer and rapist escape death row.
Prior to coming onto the Zimmerman case, West had been working with the federal public defender’s office in Orlando. Upon entering into the Zimmerman case he left that job. West will make his first court appearance in the case tomorrow, during a hearing regarding the public release of evidence before the trial.
Zimmerman’s defense has been gaining ground, with a fund that gains an average of $1,000 a day to cover his legal and living expenses. It has not been specified how much or even whether or not his lawyers will be paid, though West told the Orlando Sentinel that he hopes to be.
Both O’Mara and West are certified by the Florida bar as criminal trial specialists, with West having held the rank for more than two decades. Under the charge of second degree murder, Zimmerman could be facing a life sentence for the shooting he claims was in self defense.