(NEW YORK) — Shellie Zimmerman, a fixture in court during the murder trial of her husband George Zimmerman, the Florida man acquitted for the death of Trayvon Martin, said in an exclusive interview with ABC News she is “going to have to think about” whether she stays married to him.
In a wide-ranging interview conducted by investigative freelance journalist Christi O’Connor, Zimmerman said on the evening Martin died she was staying elsewhere because the couple had got in an argument the night before. She added that the struggles of the last year and a half have further strained their relationship.
Shellie Zimmerman, who pleaded guilty to perjury Wednesday for lying about the couple’s finances during her husband’s bond hearing, refused to comment on whether she was pressured to do so.
But she said a part of her feels “slightly” like she was hung out to dry when he did not stand up for her when she lied to a judge about how much money they had received in donations from outsiders and that the entire ordeal has hurt their relationship.
Shellie Zimmerman declined to say whether she and her husband remain together, but did say she felt “very much alone” without him in the courtroom to support her when she pleaded guilty Wednesday.
“I can rationalize a lot of reasons for why I was misleading, but the truth is I knew that I was lying,” Shellie Zimmerman said. “I wish a lot of things were different. I can’t tell you how many times I have laid at night saying God, I wish these circumstances had been different.”
Shellie and her husband spent a year and a half in hiding, isolated and in “terror” for their lives as they awaited the trial for the death of the unarmed teenager in 2012.
“I think we have been pretty much like gypsies…We’ve lived in a 20-foot trailer in the woods, scared every night that someone was going to find us and that we’d be out in the woods alone and that it would be horrific,” she said.
It put a strain on their marriage.
“It’s difficult to communicate with your spouse when you’re under so much scrutiny from both sides and I think we both have been fighting for our own individual struggles to be heard by each other and that’s been difficult,” she said.
Mrs. Zimmerman refused to go into details about the argument she had with her husband the night before Martin died that ended with her going to stay with her father, and did not want to give many details about their relationship.
“Does George have a temper? How volatile did it get the evening before?” asked O’Connor.
“Not going to answer that,” responded Zimmerman.
The Zimmermans have lived with bodyguards since her arrest for perjury in June 2012, but she said she is thankful that they escaped most of the anger directed at her husband.
“It got very crazy. Living with bodyguards. It kind of feels like you’re with a babysitter. You really can’t make any choices for yourself anymore…We were in hiding. We were in the woods,” she said.
During the ordeal she said she wished she stood up for herself more and that she felt like she was directed to do a lot of things by George and relinquished a lot of control to him, but she said she did so because she did not want to stress him out.
“George has never laid a hand on me nor has he ever used any sort of force. I was concerned that we were living in something that we’d never experienced before and that there is a first time for everything….I just always had that kind of fear in the back of mind,” she said.
Mrs. Zimmerman says the experience that probably sticks out most in her mind was the moments immediately following the not guilty verdict.
“The deputies were so afraid of people shooting into the windows of the courthouse that they were pushing us up against the wall so that we couldn’t be seen by the people outside and that was really scary because at that moment it became very real. It’s been real this whole time, but that was a distinct moment for me that I’ll never forget, being pushed against the walls and thinking at any second, my life could be over,” she said.
Since George Zimmerman was acquitted in July, he has kept a relatively low profile except for one glaring exception — his visit to a Florida gun manufacturing plant that had manufactured the weapon he used to kill Martin.
“Do you think that was right, sensitive?” asked O’Conner.
“No” responded Zimmerman. “I just think that he’s…been living in a pressure cooker and he is doing and thinking things that none of us can understand right now.”
She said she believes her husband’s story that he shot and killed Martin in self defense, and said the most hurtful thing she experienced was hearing that he was a “murderer or some sort of racist.” But she also expressed sorrow and anguish about what the parents of Trayvon Martin have dealt with.
“If I could speak to them I would say that I’m so deeply sorry for their loss…I can’t even begin to understand the grief that a parent experiences when they lose a child,” she said.
Shellie Zimmerman faces 100 hours of community service and one year probation for her perjury, but because she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor she avoided a more serious felony charge and can continue pursuing a career in nursing. She wants to do her community service in a Christian ministry and move on with her life. She says she decided to go public because she wanted to set the record straight.
“I answer to a higher power and I feel I’ve been given a tremendous opportunity to regain my life and because of that graciousness I want to devote the rest of my life to making sure I speak up, making sure I don’t allow myself to be silenced and part of that means telling the truth,” she said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Terry Sater, WISN
Stephanie Elam, CNN
Samantha Beech, CNN