George Zimmerman, who shot teenager Trayvon Martin, 17, to death on Febraury 26 and was charged with second degree murder on April 11, is formally arguing self defense. He is requesting a hearing under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” statute.
Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Mara announced the defense on his website. If the court rules in favor of Zimmerman, the criminal case against him would end and he would be immunized from civil action.
Recorded audio of Zimmerman’s conversation with a 911 dispatcher on February 26 confirm that Zimmerman exited his vehicle and followed Trayvon Martin as the teen walked from a 7-Eleven with a pack of Skittles candy and an Iced tea. Zimmerman was armed with a Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm handgun.
Zimmerman called police saying Martin looked suspicious. Martin had no prior criminal record. Zimmerman, 28, the son of a retired judge, does. Zimmerman was previously arrested for domestic violence, resisting an officer without violence and resisting an officer with violence — a felony charge.
Zimmerman’s bond was temprarily revoked during his current criminal case after it was revealed he and his wife lied to the court about the amount of money he had at his disposal.
Opponents of the Stand Your Ground law argue that it is arbitrarily enforced and places police in a position of being judge and jury. Zimmerman was free for 46 days after shooting Martin to death. Only after national media attention, protests, a Justice Department investigation (which is ongoing) and the appointment of a special prosecutor was Zimmerman finally charged and arrested for second degree murder in April.
“In the case against George Zimmerman, a “Stand Your Ground” hearing will essentially be a mini-trial. Most of the arguments, witnesses, experts, and evidence that the defense would muster in a criminal trial will be presented in the “Stand Your Ground” hearing,” O’Mara said in a statement.
“The primary focus of a “Stand Your Ground” hearing is whether George Zimmerman reasonably believed that his use of his weapon was necessary to prevent great bodily harm to himself at the hands of Trayvon Martin,” O’Mara added.
LAUREN VICTORIA BURKE, Politic365 Managing Editor, publishes the blog Crewof42 on the Congressional Black Caucus. She is heard every Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET on WMCS 1290 in Milwaukee on Earl Ingram’s show The Evening Rush as well as on WPFW every Friday at 6:30 p.m. in Washington DC. You can e-mail her at LBurke007@gmail.com follow her on twitter at @crewof42.