By MIKE SCHNEIDER
Trayvon Martin's mother has asked for an undisclosed amount of money from a state fund set up to help crime victims with things like funeral expenses and counseling, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The documents, obtained through a public records request, show Sybrina Fulton applied for the compensation benefits after her son was fatally shot last February by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in a gated community in Sanford, Fla. It was not immediately clear how Martin's family would use the money.
The state Attorney General's Office, which administers the Crimes Compensation Trust Fund, refused to disclose the sum sought by Fulton and her former husband, Tracy Martin. Payouts can reach $30,000.
Zimmerman, 28, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and says he shot the 17-year-old in self-defense under Florida's "stand your ground" law. The law allows people to use deadly force, rather than retreat, if they believe their lives are in danger. He is free on $1 million bond as he awaits trial. Zimmerman wasn't charged until 44 days after Martin's death, and in those weeks protesters accused the Sanford police department of being racist and botching the investigation.
In a March 29 letter, a claims analyst with the Attorney General's Office notified Fulton that she had been deemed eligible for the compensation benefits. However, no check had been issued to Martin's parents as of early August.
Notes taken by a victims' advocate who works for the State Attorney's Office in Sanford show that Tracy Martin had a life insurance policy through his employer that paid for most of the expenses incurred from Trayvon Martin's death. Despite that, Tracy Martin still had out-of-pocket expenses of $1,300, according to the notes in the records obtained by the AP.
The Attorney General's Office paid out more than $25 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year to more than 16,000 compensation claims.
Money for the fund comes from court fees assessed on offenders, as well as other sources. Applicants can be reimbursed for lost wages, funeral expenses, medical expenses and mental health counseling.
Fulton's friend filed the initial application on her behalf as a favor, but Fulton hasn't had time to fill out the paperwork needed to process the claim, said Ben Crump, an attorney for Martin's parents. She didn't want to disclose how much she was applying for and what expenses the money would cover, Crump said.
"She has a big stack of papers at her house," Crump said. "I'm going to encourage her to fill it out."
A hearing on the scheduling of Zimmerman's trial is set for later this week.
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