Last Updated:November 28 @ 08:46 am

Zimmerman will seek 'Stand your Ground' hearing

By Curt Anderson

MIAMI (AP) - George Zimmerman will seek to have second-degree murder charges dismissed under Florida's "stand your ground" law in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, his attorney said Thursday.

The hearing, which likely won't take place for several months, will amount to a mini-trial involving much of the evidence collected by prosecutors as well as expert testimony from both sides. Although the posting did not say so, legal experts say it's likely that Zimmerman himself would testify since he is the sole survivor of the Feb. 26 confrontation.

"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," said the statement posted on Zimmerman's official defense website.

Under the law, Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester can dismiss the charges if Zimmerman conclusively shows he fatally shot Martin because he "reasonably believed" he might be killed or suffer "great bodily harm" at the hands of the unarmed teenager. The law also says a person has no duty to retreat in the face of such a threat.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot Martin after a confrontation in Zimmerman's gated community in the central Florida town of Sanford, where Martin was visiting. The case drew local and nationwide protests because Zimmerman was not arrested for weeks after the shooting.

Evidence released by prosecutors, the Zimmerman statement said, shows "clear support for a strong claim of self-defense." The statement added that Zimmerman attorney Mark O'Mara "urges everyone to be patient during this process and to reserve judgment until the evidence is presented in the `stand your ground' hearing."

Martin's parents have contended that Zimmerman singled out their son as he was returning from a convenience store because he was black and that it was Zimmerman's aggression that led to his death. Zimmerman, who is free on $1 million bail, faces a possible life prison sentence if convicted of second-degree murder.

If his "stand your ground" claim succeeds, however, the criminal charges would be dismissed and Zimmerman could not be held liable in any civil action such as a wrongful death lawsuit. Prosecutors would likely appeal a successful self-defense claim.

A spokeswoman for special prosecutor Angela Corey declined comment Thursday. An attorney for Martin's parents did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

Legal experts have said that Zimmerman's credibility is a key to his claim and that he undermined his own cause by deceiving the judge about his finances during an April bond hearing. That alleged deception led to perjury charges against Zimmerman's wife, Shellie. She has pleaded not guilty.

Lester, who will also decide the self-defense claim, said Zimmerman "flaunted the system" by making misleading statements about how much money the couple had raised through online contributions from supporters. The judge revoked Zimmerman's initial $150,000 bond and had him returned to jail, then allowed him to be released on the higher $1 million figure with additional restrictions.

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  1. thomasjeffersonComment by thomasjefferson
    August 9, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

    This has gone on long enough. Blacks think they can get away with anything. Mobs beating up on people with impunity, voter intimidation. This has to stop.

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  2. Charles MartelComment by Charles Martel
    August 9, 2012 @ 4:20 pm

    Since there is no evidence that Zimmerman was anywhere but laying on his back with Martin on top of him beating his head against the sidewalk and ground when Zimmerman shot Martin, there is no reason other than politics for Judge Lester to let this go to trial.

    The Martin family has filed an insurance claim against the homeowners’ associations insurance policy. If the insurance company pays, then I will view them as an accessory after the fact to assault. Any judge who approves such a payment (the insurance company wimped out and submitted it to a court for approval) should be disbarred and impeached.

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  3. CharlieComment by vietnamvet
    August 9, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

    ~~ “Martin’s parents have contended that Zimmerman singled out their son as he was returning from a convenience store … ” ~~

    Uhh … singled him out? Singled him out of what group of possibilities? As I understood the 911 call (and I understand it perfectly) Martin was alone and acting ‘suspiciously’ in the eyes of a resident who saw him just standing around … in the rain … in back of a line of condos.

    Martin’s parents, the adults who make up the broken home that raised the young wannabe gangsta’, should look to their own lousy parenting skills instead of blaming a stranger that their son intended to kill.

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  4. teapartyproudComment by teapartyproud
    August 10, 2012 @ 5:51 am

    This judge has already shown he’s against Zimmerman from the start with this bogus bail dust up. Zimmerman will not get a fair trial and the judge will not dismiss the charges for self defense.

    This case is just too politically charged, the judge wants to get re-elected when his time comes up, and Zimmerman is a member of the wrong minority.

    In a fair and just trial, Zimmerman would be found not guilty easily. In this case, that will not happen. He will be sacrificed to appease political correctness and avoid the race riots which would surely follow a not guilty verdict.

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