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George Zimmerman will seek 'stand your ground' hearing

George Zimmerman, 28, appears in a booking photo released by the Seminole County Sheriff's Office on Sunday, June 3, 2012.
August 9, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
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.

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.

Thursday, prosecutors released more evidence against Zimmerman, including Zimmerman's application to a county sheriff's civilian academy; the bag of Skittles Martin was carrying at the time of the confrontation; and the 911 call Martin's father made when he realized his son was missing.

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. Zimmerman claims Martin punched him and slammed his head against a sidewalk.

Evidence released by prosecutors, the website statement said, shows "clear support for a strong claim of self-defense." The statement urged "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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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