They got to know Zimmerman in 2004 when he and a black friend opened up an insurance office in a Florida building where Benjamin worked. They grew close and the couple spent time with him during the trial.

Over dinner with Zimmerman recently, Benjamin said he told them he would like to go to law school.

“I’d like to help other people like me,” she quoted him as telling them.

Zimmerman, an insurance investigator, attended community college and was a credit shy of an associate’s degree in criminal justice but was kicked out of school because he posed a danger to the campus, according to family sources.

“Everybody said he was a cop-wannabe but he’s interested in law,” Benjamin said. “He sees it as a potential path forward to help other people like himself.”