SANFORD, Fla. (UPI) — A Florida judge sentenced a man convicted of shooting at George Zimmerman in a road-rage incident to 20 years in prison Monday.
On Sept. 16, a Seminole County jury convicted Matthew Apperson, 37, of attempted murder, armed aggravated assault and shooting into a vehicle.
On Monday, Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson handed down the state-mandated minimum of 20 years for shooting at another person with a gun. He was also given a 15-year concurrent sentence for aggravated assault.
Zimmerman was acquitted of murder for shooting Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, in 2012 in Sanford, while serving as a Neighborhood Watch volunteer.
Apperson’s mother, Janet White, said her son acted in self-defense and Zimmerman was at fault.
“We will hold our collective breaths to see what outrageous acts he [Zimmerman] performs next,” White said.
Before the sentencing, Apperson’s wife, Lisa, accused the judge of making unfair rulings and allowing an innocent man to go to jail.
“I can’t wrap my head around all of it,” she told WFTV after the sentencing. “The lies, the things people have held onto, it’s just so much injustice and it’s such a shame.”
On May 11, 2015, Apperson shot at Zimmerman in Lake Mary after following him, flashing his lights and honking his horn.
The bullet shattered the passenger-side window of Zimmerman’s truck. It missed Zimmerman, but he was cut by the shattered window.
Apperson said he acted in self-defense and Zimmerman had threatened to kill him.
Zimmerman said he blamed Apperson for pulling the trigger and “I don’t believe in blaming the gun.”
“The crux here is Mr. Apperson’s blatant disregard for my life, any life … anybody driving up and down Lake Mary Boulevard,” Zimmerman told the judge Monday.
The judge agreed with Zimmerman.
“There is nothing that Mr. Apperson did in his encounter with George Zimmerman on May 11, 2015, along Lake Mary Boulevard that was reasonable, prudent or cautious,” Nelson said.
Zimmerman has been involved in several confrontations, including a dispute with his estranged wife and father-in-law on dividing belongings, a new girlfriend who said he threatened her with a gun then locked her out of the house and two incidents involving Apperson.
On Sept. 9, 2014, the two men shouted at each other on a road. Apperson accused Zimmerman of threatening him and called police. Zimmerman wasn’t prosecuted in this incident. Two days later, Apperson saw Zimmerman outside his office and was concerned Zimmerman was waiting for him.
The judge denied defense attorney Michael LaFay’s request to free Apperson, a paralegal, while he files an appeal and awaits its outcome.
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