Neighbourhood watch volunteer to challenge murder charge
MIAMI — The U.S. man charged in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen that led to national protests will try to have the murder charge dismissed under Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defence law, his attorney said Thursday.
George Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch volunteer, shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin after a confrontation in Zimmerman’s gated community, where Martin was visiting. The case drew anger because Zimmerman was not arrested for weeks after the shooting.
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.
“Most of the arguments, witnesses, experts and evidence that the defence would muster in a criminal trial will be presented in the ‘stand your ground’ hearing,” said the statement posted by Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara on Zimmerman’s official defence website.
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.
Under the “stand your ground” 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.