November 25, 2013
George and Shellie Zimmerman during the second-degree murder trial. (Joe Burbank/AP)
George and Shellie Zimmerman during the second-degree murder trial. (Joe Burbank/AP)

Shellie Zimmerman, the estranged wife of George Zimmerman, said some things last week during a riveting interview with Katie Couric that should not go unremarked. She doesn’t believe the killer of Trayvon Martin “maliciously went out to murder someone that night.” She believes George has “unraveled,” “is a ticking time bomb” and has behaved “like a monster” since he was found not guilty of second-degree murder last July. Shellie revealed why she didn’t press charges against him during their domestic dispute in September. And she had a message for Trayvon’s mom, which which was guaranteed to go over like a lead balloon.

What happened to George?

Couric: It seems as if a very different picture of him is now emerging with all these things, all these run-ins and incidents. So, who was or who is George Zimmerman? Who is the George Zimmerman you know?

Zimmerman: I don’t know. I don’t know who George is anymore. I’d like to think that I married a person that was a good person. In going through the past year and a half, I don’t know how that changes a person or how a person’s spirit breaks. But it certainly seems like that’s what happened to him. I found out he was lying about a lot of things and he became like a pacing lion. Very unpredictable. Every single day it was like adrenaline going through my body constantly not knowing what it’s going to be like from day to day.

Couric: He was very unpredictable? Mercurial?

Zimmerman: Yes.

Couric: Were you frightened?

Zimmerman: I was. At times, I was …

Couric: I know that you married him back in 2007. Was there a time when you were ever happy?

Zimmerman: Yes. Yes, there was. In the beginning, yes. And we were great friends and I thought he was a wonderful person. That’s why I married him.

Couric: What do you think happened?

Zimmerman: I don’t know. I haven’t seen him in a couple months. But it certainly seems like something snapped in his spirit.

Couric: And made him behave like what?

Zimmerman: Like a monster…

Couric: I think in some ways it seems as if George is a ticking time bomb. I mean giving all these incidents, these run-ins. You know, repeated incidents over just this last year. What do you think is going to happen to him?

Zimmerman: I don’t know. I certainly hope that there are no casualties. I hope that there’s no violence. But he does seem like a ticking time bomb. I know I’m certainly  afraid. I just hope that he can get maybe the help that he needs to deal with his situation and that no one else will be hurt.

About Shellie Zimmerman’s 911 call

Couric ran through the list of George Zimmerman’s run-ins with the police since his July acquittal, including the most recent incident with his girlfriend, Samantha Scheibe. She then asked Shellie, “Do you think that he unraveled after the Trayvon Martin trial or did you see glimpses of this kind of behavior earlier?” Here we find out the reason Shellie didn’t file charges despite her dramatic 911 call to police in September.

Zimmerman: I think he unraveled after the trial. I think, obviously there was the prior domestic dispute with his ex-fiance. So, I think he may have had that potential all along. But certainly we’re hearing about more now. He had never assaulted me before like he did during our domestic dispute. So I would have to assume that he, yes, he did unravel after the  trial.

Couric: Why weren’t charges filed following the incident between the two of you?

Zimmerman: Charges were not filed for a couple reasons. Mainly, it was selfish on my part and looking back I probably should have sacrificed myself in order for him to go to jail and be charged. But I’m on probation and the police made it very clear if charges are filed we’re all going to go to jail and that I would have to stay there quite a while.

Couric: Probation for?

Zimmerman: The perjury.

Zimmerman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor perjury charge for lying to a judge about her and George’s finances during a June 2012 bail hearing after George was finally arrested for the Feb. 26, 2012, shooting death of the unarmed 17-year-old in Sanford, Fla. This was not her shining hour.

Racist?

Couric: Do you believe that George is a racist?

Zimmerman: No. Not at all.

Couric: Why?

Zimmerman: Because George had such a good heart. I, we, both mentored two African American children. The majority of his friends are African American. I just cannot go to a place in my heart where I would ever think that he’s racist.

Just like saying “this isn’t racist” is not some shield from bigotry, mentoring black kids and having black friends is no automatic pass or absolution from the taint of racism. History is littered with complicated and painful examples of this, which explains why Shellie can’t go there.

When Couric asked Shellie if she believed George “murdered Trayvon Martin,” she gave a most legalistic answer. “No. I don’t believe he maliciously went out to murder someone that night,” she said. Legally, Shellie might be correct, but morally? That’s another question. And given George’s pattern of behavior on display of late, even she acknowledges that his actions cast doubts on what happened that rainy night.

Message to Trayvon’s parents

Couric: I know that you have something you’d like to say to the parents of Trayvon Martin.

Zimmerman: Yes.

Couric: What is that?

Zimmerman: That I’m so sorry for their loss and what I go through and what I have gone through is nothing compared to what they experience, the loss that they’ve experienced every day of their life. And they’ve inspired me to take a terrible situation like this and try to at least make something positive come out of it. I pray every single day for them. I carry Miss Fulton in my spirit with me everywhere that I go. And I just want to build a bridge between them and I. That if I can be of any support, you know, any conversation, that I would absolutely love to [do] that. I think that it would be healing for all of us.

Couric: But what if they looked at you, Shellie, and said, ‘We believe your husband killed our son. We do not believe justice was served.’

Zimmerman: That’s their right to do so. I respect everyone’s opinion, just like I hope anyone would respect mine.

I reached out to Benjamin Crump, the Martin family attorney, for a reaction. He told me Trayvon’s parents have no response.

Shellie Zimmerman comes off as a quasi-sympathetic character in her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s violent drama. A drama that got more curious today as the indigent George Zimmerman dumped his public defender to hire a  private defense attorney from Miami. But until Shellie Zimmerman can understand that feeling justice wasn’t served is more than an opinion for Trayvon’s family, her quest to “build a bridge” between herself and them will be short-lived.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.