SANFORD, Fla. — George and Shellie Zimmerman struggled with money problems. The year they married, he was sued, accused of failing to pay a credit card bill. Three years later, she was sued for the same thing.
Both were in and out of community college, records show, and spent their first years together in a home owned by her parents.
Then their lives were turned upside down — George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, in February — and the money began pouring in.
Now what Shellie Zimmerman told a judge about family finances has made her a focus of national attention.
It is the reason her husband is back behind bars and the basis for her Tuesday arrest on a charge of perjury.
What is known about her?
She is a 25-year-old Longwood native who wants to be a nurse and, when pressed, aggressively defends her husband. Although George Zimmerman has been vilified, especially on the Internet, for killing Martin, she testified at his bond hearing in April that she had never seen him angry.
“Do you believe he’s a danger to the community?” asked his attorney, Mark O’Mara.
“No, I do not,” she said.
She and family members did not respond to phone calls and email from the Orlando Sentinel, but acquaintances described her as respectful, polite and a good match for Zimmerman.
George Michael Zimmerman married Shellie Nicole Dean in November 2007 in Daytona Beach, according to public records. He was 24. She was 20 and a cosmetologist who specialized in facials.
She enrolled at Seminole State College — formerly Seminole Community College — in the fall of 2008 and left the school in the fall of 2010, their records show.
Olivia Bertalan, a neighbor the couple helped after a burglary, described Shellie Zimmerman as a “stay-at-home student.”
“We had common interests,” Bertalan said. Both wanted to become nurses.
The couple had moved into Sanford’s Retreat at Twin Lakes in 2009, records show.
Frank Taaffe, one of George Zimmerman’s most visible friends and early defenders, said he met Shellie Zimmerman once or twice at homeowners association meetings. She was much less active in that group than her husband, he said.
Together the Zimmermans mentored two black middle-school students, a brother and sister, according to family members. Leanne Benjamin, a longtime friend of George Zimmerman’s, met the children in December, she said.